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False Witness

Encounters with the Ten  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Story:
“A minister said to his congregation, ‘Next week I plan to preach about the sin of lying. In preparation for that message, I'm asking all of you to read Mark 17 this coming week.’
The following Sunday, he stood up to preach and asked, ‘How many of you took the time to read Mark 17 this past week?’ Nearly every hand went up. Minister smiled and said, ‘That's very good, but Mark has only sixteen chapters. I will now proceed with my message on the sin of lying.’”
This morning we will continue our Encounter with the Ten and consider the sin of lying.
You know, this is one command that we all need to take some time to think about because lying is so common…even in the church.
It is said that 91% of people lie regularly.
In many ways, lying has become so common in our world we are no longer shocked or aghast when lied to. We just kind of expect it.
Someone once said, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”
Charles Spurgeon once said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
Both, unfortunately, are constantly seen in our world today.
And how many of us would admit that at times, we might lie?
Or, maybe we don’t like the term “lie” or “lying.” You might prefer:
Stretching the truth; not being completely honest; fibbing; embellishing; fudge; invent...
Whatever you call it, it is still lying.
So, this morning we will look closely at the ninth commandment and get a better understand on why God’s wants His people to be honest.
Turn to Deut. 5:20

Body

The first question to always ask deals with the context: what did this mean to the first people who heard it?
If bearing false witness sounds like legal terminology it’s because it is.
The command forbids damaging someone’s reputation and character by making statements about them that are not true.
This was especially true in legal proceedings because in any society or community members should have confidence in a fair hearing and settlements of claims.
Recent research has shown that the following institutions are the five least trusted in America:
Journalists - 70% saying they don’t trust
Organized labor - 73% saying they don’t trust
Big business - 78% saying they don’t trust
Criminal justice system - 78% saying they don’t trust
Congress - 82% saying they don’t trust
The church was 12th least trusted, at 47% saying they don’t trust!
Thus, the clearest teaching of this commandment is to not make false statement about others within a legal or public setting.
However, the principle behind this command goes much deeper.
We see the truth behind the command really being a reflection of who God is:
God is truth, He is not a liar; thus we too must be truthful. Anything else is sin.
And, like with all the commands, we can see there is a practical side and a spiritual side to it:
Practically: a society cannot function if people are bearing false witness against their neighbor. Chaos will ensue.
Spiritually: as I’ve already mentioned, God is truth, not a liar; we must reflect the actions and attitude of our Lord. As Jesus said, our yes is to be yes, and our no to be no. That’s it.
And in Deut. 19:19 we see that bearing false witness was a serious offense.
Deuteronomy 19:19 ESV
then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
What that means is that the person bearing false witness would be given the same punishment they were seeking for the person they were lying about.
The principle goes even deeper still.
As believers we find over and over again in Scripture that we are not to lie, under any circumstances…court of law or not.
Turn with me to Colossians 3:9-11
In this passage, Paul is talking about our new life in Christ; a life not defined by the old worldly practices, but by new godly characteristics.
Instead of the old self: characterized by (but not limited to) anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene language, and lying;
Put on the new self: compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, and truthful.
And look at verse 11, those who belong to Christ are no longer identified by worldly standards:
Like ethnic background, skin color, language differences, pre-conversion religious identification, social standing, or anything else the separates people
But now identified as of Christ, belonging to Christ, wanting to be like Christ, loving like Christ, forgiving like Christ, truthful like Christ!
Church fights could go away if people would realize that Christ is all that matters and he indwells all believers!
More about lies:
So what kind of lies are common today?
Lying
Pretty straightforward, this is attempting to deceive someone by telling a false statement.
People do this to:
Save face
Cheat someone
Protect themselves
Hurt someone else
Trial of Jesus…
The bottom line is that there is never a good excuse for lying.
Gossiping
We all need to pay attention to this, because churches are extremely prone to gossiping.
Sometimes this is hidden as a “prayer request” that’s really not a prayer request; sometimes in “concern”; but whenever we pass on stories that may or may not be true, we are gossiping.
It’s best to talk to the person and talk to God. That’s it!
A good test: have I said this to the person’s face?
Beware of “somebody said...”
Flattery
Just the opposite: if you say something to someone’s face you would never say behind their backs, you are using flattery.
People use flattery all the time to try to woo people to their side.
Obviously, not all positive comments are flattery. It’s flattery when it is disingenuous and when the focus is to benefit ourselves not the other person.
Exaggeration
Fish stories…
Church stories...
How difficult our situation is...
Silence
This is the practice of not saying what should be said to set the record straight.
True, sometimes we need to be silent:
Do I look fat in this?...
But when we hear someone’s reputation being hurt because of a lie, we must speak up, or we are a party to the lie.
Too often Christians allow bad things to continue because they are afraid to stand up and say the right thing.

Challenge

The challenge this morning is this:
If you are a believer, you have put on the new self; in which we are identified as Christ’s.
There is no place for a lying tongue when it comes to the new self.
So we have to repent of lying and turn to the origin of truth; our Lord.
If you are here this morning and you’ve never trusted Jesus as Savior, let me tell you about the ultimate lies:
There is no God…
Psalm 14:1 ESV
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.
There are other ways to God besides Jesus...
John 14:6 ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
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