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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Ten Words (9)

The penultimate of the Ten Words (Commandments) gives the instruction: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour." ( Ex 20:16), so has to do, basically, with truth.  This, of course, is no more, or less, than we would expect from the God Who, in His incarnation, stated: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life;" (John 14:6).

Warren Wiersbe (one of my favourite contemporary commentators) writes: "Speaking the truth.and honouring promises, is the cement that holds society together.  To tell lies in court is to undermine the very law itself, which explains why Moses required the witnesses to be the executioners in capital crimes (Deut.17:6-13).  It's one thing to lie; but quite something else to kill in order to protect your lie.  The commandment also prohibits slandering people." (in loc).

Lying, of course, is increasingly common in our contemporary society.  In the UK, a General Election is in the offing, and politicians of every political shade and hue, are making promises galore.  Yet, in so many cases, they already know that what they are saying is a lie.  Mind you, an increasingly sophisticated electorate is increasingly sceptical of promises - especially those made by the 'traditional' parties who have shown, in the past, how little store they put by this commandment!  In spite of the efforts of bodies such as the Advertising Standards Authority (in the UK), manufacturers continue to make exaggerated, or misleading, claims about their products.  On the Internet, there are those who lie about their own identity in order to entrap an unsuspecting child for their own paedophile purposes.

Lying has almost become an accepted way of life.  Oh, I know that many of us would only admit to what we, euphemistically, refer to as "little white lies".  However, if truth be told (!), a lie, is a lie, is a lie - regardless of its alleged colour!   Our world is accurately described by Isaiah's description of ancient Israel: "No one enters suit justly, no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity." (Isa 59:4).

The final point made by Dr Wiersbe, is of great importance.  Sometimes, we do not consider gossip and slander as lying.  After all, we are just passing on what we have been told!  Perhaps that is the problem!  Or we may allow others to make assumptions that are, themselves, untrue.  I confess to that sort of behaviour myself.  I know that I have often been very good at "telling the truth" - but ensuring that it is not "the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."!

Is there an answer?  There is.  Paul urged Church members in Ephesus to "... put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." (Eph 4:24-25).

God wants us all to commit ourselves to truth and reflect it in everything we do. That is why He commands us: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour."

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