Sermons

Summary: Sermon on the ninth commandment.

AM Sermon preached at Central Christian Church March 18, 2007

God’s Top Ten The 9th Commandment Value Truth

[OPENING SLIDES---WILL PROGRESS AUTOMATICALLY TO A BLANK SLIDE]

Rick Atchley in his book Sinai Summit relates a story about Abraham Lincoln’s work as the postmaster of New Salem, Illinois. When Lincoln was postmaster at the age of 24 he received an annual income of $55.70. The post office at New Salem ended up closing in 1836 and several years passed before an agent from Washington arrived on the scene to settle accounts with the ex-postmaster Lincoln who at the time was struggling to make ends meet as a lawyer. The agent reviewed the books and informed Mr. Lincoln that there were seventeen dollars due to the government. Lincoln crossed the open room, opened an old trunk and took out a yellowed cotton rag bound with a string. Untying the cloth he spread out the seventeen dollars. He had been holding it for all those years. “I never use any man’s money but my own,” he said. Now Mr. Lincoln could have lied about the money and probably gotten away with it. But even then, twenty four tears before he entered the White House, the rail splitter was showing the character that earned him the title of “Honest Abe.”

After relating that story Atchley asks, “Don’t you wish out government officials and American citizens were as truthful and honest today as Honest Abe?” I think we do---but at the same time I think most of us doubt we’ll ever see it again. Truth in government---what a shame that most laugh at the possibility. There was Watergate. Then there was Clinton’s looking into the camera and declaring “I did not have sex with that woman.” Recently there was Bush administrator I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s lying to the FBI about the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity. Is their any wonder why we’re skeptical?

Lying is so ingrained in our culture that we’ve come to joke about some of the more common lies. Doug Mushrow has written an article titled “19 Great American Lies.” Here are a few of the classics:

[SLIDE] 1. The check is in the mail…

[SLIDE] 2. Your table will be ready in a few minutes…

[SLIDE] 3. We service what we sell…

[SLIDE] 4. One size fits all…

[SLIDE] 5. Money cheerfully refunded…

[SLIDE] 6. I just need five minutes of your time…

[SLIDE] 7. It’s not the money, it’s the principle…

[SLIDE] 8. I’m from the government and I’m here to help you…

[BLANK SLIDE]

What we sometimes forget is that our lying can get us into trouble… Like the guys who skipped school and then lied about it.. The way the story’s told---it was a beautiful unseasonably warm morning and four high school boys who weren’t quite ready for their Spring Break to come to an end decided to ditch their Monday morning classes to play Frisbee in the park. After their morning of fun they grabbed a quick lunch on their way to school. As they were getting nearer to the school they all agreed they’d blame their tardiness on a flat tire and the problems they encountered getting it fixed. The four of them walked into their afternoon class together and the most outspoken boy in the group explained their predicament of the flat tire, the spare that wasn’t any good and the length of time it took to get some help. He finished, “It’s not like we were trying to skip school. It’s just something that happened. You understand that don’t you Mr. Ray?” “Yes, I think I understand what happened. Something happened here while you were gone this morning. We had a pop quiz. So take out a sheet of paper and a pencil. I’ll be asking you the exact same questions I asked on this morning’s quiz---except for one. The first question I want you to answer is “which tire went flat?”

You know we may sometimes laugh and joke about the subject but deep down we know that lying’s not really all that funny. Ask Martha Stewart if her lying to investigators about her investments was funny since it cost her some prison time. Ask Hector Venancio Castro-Vasquez who recently lost his US citizenship status and is scheduled for deportation because he lied on his naturalization application if he thinks what he did is funny. I’m sure he would tell you it’s not.

Well folks, God doesn’t think lying is funny, either. That’s why we have this ninth commandment as part of God’s Top Ten list. The ninth commandment reads--- [SLIDE] Exodus 20:16 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

The commandment brings to mind a courtroom setting in which a person is called as a witness before others. That witness is expected to tell the truth. In fact in our courts we typically swear in witnesses—they’re asked “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?” And whoever they had better tell the truth because even if they’re not on trail---if their testimony proves to be false---because they intentionally lied they will be charged with perjury. In this ninth commandment God is making it very clear He does not want us to give a false testimony in a court of law. But that’s not the only point of application. As we’ve been looking at these commandments together we’ve been finding that they both discourage sinful behavior and encourage right behavior. They not only forbid but they invite. While we are not to murder we are to cherish the sanctity of life. We’re not to commit adultery but we are to honor marriage and live lives of sexual purity. We’re not to take what is not ours but we are to be generous with what is.

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