The ninth commandment given to Moses by the Lord on Mt. Sinai is “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
This commandment is not simply meant for the neighbors that live near you but for everyone with whom you are in contact. As we are reminded when someone asked the Lord “but who is our neighbor?” The Lord’s answer is that everyone, even the person that you consider of a lower class, or an enemy, is in fact your neighbor.
What does it mean to “bear false witness”? One meaning is to lie when you are asked to testify on behalf of another. This happened in the case of the Israelites when someone might make an accusation against another. It should be noted that if you lied when making a charge against someone else, you could actually be punished with the sentence that the defendant would have received had they been guilty. This helped to cut down on liars taking the stand or making accusations for selfish gains.
To bear false witness also means to be dishonest and deceitful. God wants us to be a people of integrity, a truthful people. Truth is one of the great dividing lines between God and Satan. Satan is called the father of lies. You and I are asked to clear our hearts and to make sure that we are truthful with others, with ourselves and with God. Our relationships are built on trust. If we thought people were liars we would never place trust in them. Our aim is to be truthful people who make it our goal to despise falsehood and love truth. Why? Because Jesus Christ is The Truth. Loving the truth helps us to know and to love Him.
Any given day one of your lives could be turned upside down if somebody wanted to do so based on nothing more than a lie. Likewise we should remember that even little lies begin to turn our lives upside down.
There are so many aspects that we could cover here but it is always easiest to bring the topic back to the unifying factor who is Jesus Christ, the truth. Our relationship with Jesus Christ sets the stage for every other relationship that we have on earth. Are we truthful with Him? Do we open our hearts to Him everyday and pour out our own sins and shortcomings? Do we confess our sins to Him in the presence of a priest? Or do we simply go about our lives pretending that we have no sins and that everything is alright?
I have visited people who were sick and asked them if they would like to confess and sometimes they look at me funny and say “I have nothing to confess.” That is a shocking statement. It either means that they confessed very recently (which is usually not the case), or they actually believe that they have not sinned (which is a delusion), or I should be venerating them as a living saint! Yet even the saints, especially the saints, confessed their sins! If we say that we are sinless, we lie to ourselves and to our neighbors and to our church community. If we are bold in lying to the Lord who knows and sees all, we will no doubt be much more bold in lying to one another.
I am asked by the Lord to be bold in confessing my sins and quick to repent. I also need to be extremely truthful with myself. I have to ask myself whether or not I am doing my best to obey the Lord and to love others around me. Am I doing my best to live a holy life or simply going through the motions? Am I in love with God or with the sins in my life? Am I truthful or hypocritical? What kind of person am I when I am alone and no one is looking? If you get down on your knees and pray fervently and ask these questions, you may find that your critical honesty starts the process of healing emotionally, mentally, relationally, and spiritually.
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:6-10).
The ninth commandment is all about the truth. Truth with God, truth with ourselves, truth with our neighbors. The truth really does set us free.
May God restore us to true fellowship with one another and with the One who is Himself the Truth! And glory be to God forever AMEN!