Sermons

Summary: Most Christians go their whole life and do not break some of the commandments, but it is not likely that anyone even gets through childhood without breaking this one. We talk so much about other people. We are all mini versions of the National Enquirer.

An unusual trial took place in London in 1670. The

defendant was none other than the founder of Pennsylvania,

William Penn. He was the leader of the Society Of Friends,

known as the Quakers, and he was charged with inciting a

riotous, seditious assembly. Parliament had made the

Quakers an object of persecution, and the judges were in

accord with the conspiracy against this religious minority.

The jury was ordered to agree on a verdict of guilty before

the trial began. Fortunately, the jury had a mind of its own,

and returned the judgment, guilty of speaking aloud on

Grace Church Street. For this, of course, there was no

penalty.

The judge was outraged, and refused to accept the

verdict. He sent them back to reconsider. When they

returned again with the same verdict in writing, the judge

lowered the boom on them and said, "You will not be

dismissed until we have a verdict acceptable to the Court,

and you shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire and

tobacco, and no one may communicate with you. We will

have the verdict, or you shall starve." The jurors in

defiance, after several days of imprisonment, reversed their

decision to not guilty. The judge became increasingly brutal,

but could not break them. The Court finally dismissed the

jury after fining them forty marks per man, and

imprisonment until paid. William Penn was jailed on a

contrived contempt of court charge, and returned to the

Newgate Prison.

This historical incident demonstrates that loyalty to the

truth does not always lead to immediate justice.

Nevertheless, it is the only hope of ever having justice at all.

Those who refuse to bare false witness in obedience to God,

rather than lie in obedience to the state were actually the

greatest friends of the state, for when all such people are

gone, the state has no future, but that of enduring the wrath

of God.

The courts require witnesses to swear to tell the truth.

They make it a crime not to tell the truth. So the truth is

absolutely essential to any system of justice. Every nation

has recognized this, and that is why perjury is universally

condemned and severely punished. God knew Israel could

not be a united people, and a representative of the God of

justice, if truth was not honored among them. Therefore, we

have the ninth commandment, which makes the preservation

of truth one of the basic principles necessary for a good

society. The whole legal, social, and moral fabric of society

will unravel in utter chaos without the thread of truth

running through it.

This is another reason why Americans have good reason

to fear for the future of our nation. The credibility gap is a

big topic in our day. It means that there is so much lying

going on that we don't even know for sure if the credibility

gap is a fact or a lie. Spurgeon said, "If all men's sins were

divided into two bundles, half of them would be sins of the

tongue." Just listen to a partial list of the sins of the tongue.

Lying, calumny, slander, misrepresentation,

contumely, insult, scurrility, railing, detraction,

whispering, backbiting, false witness, deprecation,

vilification, insinuation, abuse, tattle, insolence,

sneering, taunting, jives, jeers, defamation, libel,

satire, sarcasm, lampoon, censoriousness, slashing

criticism, surmising, attributing motives, and last

but not lease, gossip.

That is an impressive array of weapons which the tongue

has to use in the battle for evil. These weapons are not just

used by politicians, but by everybody. Paul writes to the

Christians at Corinth in II Cor. 12:20, "I fear that perhaps I

may come and find you not what I wish.....That perhaps

there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness,

slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder." The church has

never been without its storehouse of sins of the tongue.

Therefore, the study of the ninth commandment is directed

at ourselves, and not just those of the world. Let's consider

first,

1. PERJURY.

This is a voluntary violation of an oath. The

subtlety with which men can bare false witness is amazing.

A case reported in a popular magazine revealed how even

the truth can be used for bearing false witness. The case

dealt with a will that was being contended based on the

deceased not being right in the head. Testimony was given

that he put his head between the curtains dividing the living

and dining room and cried, "Baaa, I'm a billy goat." This

way true, but as further probing brought out, it was while

playing with his grandchildren. True statements designed to

mislead are just as much lies as outright falsehoods.

No system of law will lead to justice when perjury is a

common practice, and this seems to be the case in our land

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