Summary: a journey through the scriptures noting how the 9th command has been broken
Islington Baptist Church
March 24, 2002
Do not bear false witness against other people
Please don’t raise your hands, but how many of you have appeared in some sort of court before?
How many of you are aware that people have used and continue to use the legal system to ruin and destroy other people and to pervert what justice is all about.
Today we are going to be considering the 9th command which says “Do not bear false witness against your neighbor”
In the broadest of senses this command addresses the general topics of honesty, making false accusations against other people and being a truth teller. HOWEVER, I would like to propose to you that properly understood the 9th command concerns the testimonies and words of those who appear before the courts; for you see the 9th commandment anticipated a developed judicial/legal system within the land of Israel (a judicial/legal system which to this point in the people’s history did not exist but here they received while they were camped at the base of mount Sinai)
At the heart of this command stands the whole concept of justice—and we must not forget that Jesus came to establish a community of justice.
In order for their to be justice their needs to be truth. The cornerstone of the legal system is to be to be the truthfulness and honesty of those using it.
The problem that this command anticipates is people using the legal system and the courts to bring harm to other people. The way that this command anticipates people using the legal system for such purposes is by their coming not as truth tellers but as false and malicious witnesses. ---False accusations against others, particularly in the legal setting, is what the 9th command specifically forbids.
Because what I am saying may seem as a new or strange take on 9th command please turn with me to Deuteronomy 19:15ff. In the book of Deuteronomy the 10 commandments are given in ch.5. Through the rest of the chapters of Deuteronomy the 10 commands are expanded up, clarified, and dealt with in some instances with case studies as it were. In Deut. 19:15ff the 9th command is expanded upon when it says….. Hence proving my point to you that the 9th command first and foremost concerns the negative and untruthful things people will say about others while before the courts.
By the way: the principle and wisdom of having at least 2 witnesses in the judicial courts of the land to convict a person is carried on through into the operation into the church in the whole sphere of church discipline. For example in II Cor. 13:1 “Every matter must be established by 2 or 3 witnesses” and then in I Timothy 5:19 it says “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by 2 or 3 witnesses”
By way of focus today, I want to walk you through some of the scriptures whereby false and accusing witnesses have used the legal system to destroy innocent people. The applications and relevancy of this command will become obvious.