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The Ninth Commandment

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The Ninth Commandment:  Lying

Pastor Oesterwind

February 8, 2009

Introduction:  Not long ago, FOX premiered “Moment of Truth,” a TV show that wrestles with whether or not anyone is ever willing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Contestants are hooked up to a state-of-the-art lie detector test in order to determine whether or not they are spinning lies while asked a series of questions.  If contestants tell the truth, they'll win $500,000. To add a little drama, the show mixes spouses, old flames, family members, friends, and co-workers into the audience. Here are a few of the questions that have been asked:

  • Have you ever lied to get a job?
  • Do you like your mother-in-law?
  • Have you ever stolen anything from work?
  • Would you cheat on your spouse if you knew you could get away with it?

The show was touted as “the first game show where you already know all the answers!”  But despite their foreknowledge, contestants find the game difficult.  This is the genius of the show—FOX executives know that humans are depraved and lack integrity.

We all have secrets we don't want to tell anyone.  What if you had to answer these kinds of questions while your spouse, family members, friends, bosses, and co-workers watched and listened?  What if you had to answer these kinds of questions in front of the church?  It would be terrifying.  While nearly everyone in the world condemns lying, just about everyone in the world lies in some way every day.  Jesus taught that only the truth will set you free.

Keith Missel, Aurora, Ohio

Transition:  The ninth commandment states…

Exodus 20:16
16“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

·         In the strictest sense, this command prohibits perjury in a court of law.

·         This was important in the day this command was written.

o   People charged with a crime in Moses’ day were presumed guilty until they could prove they were innocent.  We approach things differently today in America.  Thus, it’s hard for us to wrap our minds around this.

o   Some other judicial systems in the ancient world were quite willing to convict someone on the testimony of one witness.  God was careful to distinguish His system from that of the world.

o   Many times, it came down to one person’s word against another person’s word.  Since punishment hardly involved penal correction but rather death, a false witness could lead to a death sentence for an innocent man.

Deuteronomy 19:15
15“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”

Numbers 35:30
30Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty.

Deuteronomy 17:6
6Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.

·         The accuser was the person to cast the first stone when someone was sentenced to die.

Deuteronomy 17:7
7The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you.

John 8:7
7So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

·         What if the accuser lied?

Deuteronomy 19:18-19
18And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, 19then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.

Transition:  The most heinous form of lying would be lying that causes the death of an innocent person.  God’s Word prohibited adultery and Jesus intensified this prohibition by revealing that if a man even thinks lustful thoughts for a woman other than his wife, he has already committed adultery. 

While the most heinous form of lying leads to another person’s death.  There are other forms that greatly harm the people around us.

James 3:6
6And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

James 3:8
8But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

The NT is clear about the subject of lying:

Colossians 3:9
9Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds.

Ephesians 4:25
25Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.

What form of lying is most common in the church today? 

2 Corinthians 12:20 (NKJV)
20For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults.

Galatians 5:19-20 (NKJV)
19Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies.

Ephesians 4:31 (NKJV)
31Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Here are three different regions that Paul writes to.  All of these warnings and commands from Paul centered on the sins of the tongue.  He was concerned that believers use words to build up rather than tear down.  The most vicious form of lying and tearing down one another is gossip.  Gossip robs people of their reputation.  Something the Bible highly values.

Proverbs 22:1
1A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Slander (tearing down the reputation of another with the spoken word) or libel (tearing down the reputation of another with the written word) are so terrible because once committed, the victim rarely is able to defend himself.  It all happens secretively.  He has been crushed by the tongue.

Even if gossip has an element of truth, it is often information shared with the wrong people and for the wrong reason.  People cannot excuse this behavior because they share something which is truthful.  Why?  Because they are sharing the truth in order to harm another person.  That’s never right. 

·         We must speak truthfully.

·         The truth we know shouldn’t be shared with all we know.

·         Truthful information about a person must be shared in a way in which we would do so if the person were present as we relayed it.

While we may refuse to actively gossip, often we passively gossip by listening to it.  People who listen enjoy the tearing down of another - especially if it’s juicy!

Proverbs 18:8 (NKJV)
8The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.

When someone starts to gossip, you should…

·         Stop them

·         Redirect them

Matthew 18:15
15“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”

Transition:  The antidote to lying is telling the truth.  Lying is diabolical.  Truth-telling will set you free.

Romans 3:4
4 …Let God be true but every man a liar.

John 1:14
14…The Word [Jesus Christ] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Isaiah 53:9
9And they made His grave with the wicked— but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.

John 14:6
6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 18:37 (NKJV)
37Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

1 John 4:6 (NKJV)
6We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

John 17:17 (NKJV)
17Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

With these stern admonitions, is it ever permissible to lie?  The Bible never condemned the Hebrew midwives that deceived Pharaoh and were used of God to stop his plan of killing all the Hebrew infant boys.  The Bible does not condemn Rahab for deceiving the Canaanites and hiding Joshua’s spies.  Had the midwives or Rahab not lied, innocent people would have been murdered. 

We live in a sin-filled world.  Extreme cases like these should never be used to justify lies we tell in a tough spot.  Even though these people lied, it was still wrong.  Yet, if I were the German hiding Jews during WWII, I’m sure I would have lied as well.  Like I said, we live in sin-filled times. 

Transition:  That God wants us to tell the truth is made particularly clear in Acts 5 - the story of Ananias and Sapphira.

Acts 5:1-3 (NKJV)
1But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?

·        A contrasting conjunction joins chapter 5 to chapter 4.  Ananias and Sapphira saw what Barnabas had done (4.36-37) and decided they wanted some attention from the church.

·        Barnabas gave all; this couple pretended to give all but kept back part.  A and S acted as if God did not see them or as if God did not exist. 

·        Peter knew what they had done; God had revealed to him the truth.  Satan hooked A and S; they welcomed the lie - a diabolical lie directed at God.

Acts 5:4-6 (NKJV)
4While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

·         Satan filled the heart; but Ananias conceived.  He was fully responsible.

·         Ananias didn’t have to give anything to the church.  Church members should give from a free will not as a result from pressure.  Ananias chose to lie in order to gain prestige.

·         It was the last thing he had ever done. 

Acts 5:7-10 (NKJV)
7Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.” 9Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.

·         Sapphira comes along later, completely unaware of what has happened to her husband.

·         Peter gives her time to repent, but she continues her husband’s lie and shares in his judgment.

Acts 5:11 (NKJV)
11So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

·         Peter and the apostles were not the objects of fear; the church feared God.

·         The lies A and S told are no worse than the ones we tell.  If God took their lives, then we deserve death as well.  If God carried out this sentence on us, there would be no Heritage Baptist Church.

·         When we meditate on this passage, we ought to fear God enough to tell the truth!


1.       All of lie all the time.  Sometimes we lie by sending the wrong impression to people with just a look.  Other times, we feel as if it’s the only way out.  But our old nature is fed by the lies we tell.

2.       This is why we need a Savior.  He died for our lies and other sins.

3.       We may be tempted to pretend that we have arrived spiritually.  If that’s the way we think, we’re no different than A and S.

4.       Sitting here this morning and acting out the part of an obedient believer when we know we’re not is a lie.  It denies the saving work of Christ who alone has the power to redeem us.

5.       The real truth about you and me is that which people would see if we didn’t cover up our lives with sanctimonious and deceitful spiritual language. 

6.       The big lie this morning is the spiritual falsehood of making people believe that we are on the inside what they perceive we are on the outside.

Matthew 23:27-28
27“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Jesus also said,

John 8:32
32And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

If you really know the truth about yourself, then you should wear out 1 John 1.9:

1 John 1:9
9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Ask God to show you the lies you tell yourself and the lies you make others believe.  Bring all that before Him and agree with Him that it is sin and hypocrisy.  When you do this, He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you.  It’s only then that you will know the truth that shall make you free.

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