Summary: The 9th commandment is a specific warning against perjury (lying in legal proceedings) but there’s a principle in this commandment that we often overlook: that we are to be men and women of integrity.
What If They’re Wrong Series Exodus 20:16 "Truth or Consequences"
We’ve been looking at the Ten Commandments for the past few weeks.
We’ve compared each of them to the wisdom of our day and found that in every case, our conventional wisdom falls woefully short in providing us with any sort of truth.
In fact, we have seen in many cases how our culture blatantly lies to us.
We’ve seen how our culture has shown us that:
• it’s o.k. to steal,
• it’s o.k. to engage in premarital and extramarital sex,
• it’s o.k. to kill a human being if it’s going to be an inconvenience,
• it’s o.k. for children to be undisciplined and disrespectful,
• it’s o.k. for us to work long hours without a day off,
• it’s o.k. for us to make a mockery out of God’s name,
• it’s o.k. to make and worship our own idols, and
• it’s o.k. if everything is relative and we aren’t tied down by absolutes.
In fact, our culture not only says it’s o.k., it says these things are normal; even required if we’re going to make it in this crazy world.
But we’ve seen how destructive and painful it can be when we buy into those cultural lies and stray from God’s standard.
Today, we’re looking at the 9th Commandment: "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."
It’s a specific warning against perjury (lying in legal proceedings) but there’s a principle in this commandment that we often overlook: that we are to be men and women of integrity.
We are to be sound in moral principle and character.
We are to be upright and just in our dealings with others.
The cultural lie associated with this commandment is, "Everybody lies, might as well make it advantageous for myself."
And that’s true.
• In Boston, a minister noticed a group of boys standing around small stray dog. "What are you doing, boys?" he asked. "Telling lies." One of them replied. "The one who tells the biggest lie gets this dog." The minister was shocked and said to them, "When I was your age, I would never have thought of telling a lie." The boys looked at each other, seemingly a little crestfallen. Finally, one shrugged and said, "I guess he wins dog."
There is a biblical prohibition against lying.
People lie for a number of reasons: self-preservation, pride, fear.
Lots of people in the Bible were caught in lies. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rahab, David - all lied.
But this commandment isn’t just about lying.
It runs deeper than that.
It addresses our propensity to be dishonest and untruthful in our dealings with other people to the point that we hurt them.
One version of the Bible translates it this way, "Do not lie about your neighbor." (NCV)
It’s more about trashing a person’s reputation by what John Gill refers to as whispering, tale bearing, backbiting, slandering, telling lies of him, traducing his character by innuendos, sly insinuations, and evil suggestions, whereby he may suffer in his character, credit, and reputation, and in his trade and business.
Politicians notoriously violate this commandment.
Are you familiar with a T.V. show called "Spin City"? It used to star Michael J. Fox.
It’s a satire on our political process.
Our political leaders lie and it is called "spin."
Hence the title of the show.
Political "spin" is revered as an art form.
If politician can successfully "spin" a version of truth so as to either soothe his listeners or deceive them, he’s considered to be an exceptionally good politician, someone worth looking up to; a leader.
When was the last time you heard someone running for office say of his opponent, "He’s a good man with excellent qualifications. Even if I lose the country or the state or the city or the ward will be in good hands"?
No, we don’t hear that sort of thing.
We hear politicians trying to trash the reputation of their opponents to make themselves look better.
And we hear them trashing the reputations of innocent people whom they fear will get in the way of their agenda.
• One recent example of this type of behavior is the slamming of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. If you’ve been keeping up, and I’m sure most of you have, then you’ll note that she has been bashed not only by Democrats, but also by the press and uninformed Americans as well. Her crime: certifying the election results in accordance with the laws of the State of Florida.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but if you want both sides of the story you really have to search.
Politicians tend to take a calculated risk that you won’t take the time to search; that you’ll believe what they tell you.