What does the Bible say about bearing false witness?

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By BibleAsk Team


Bearing false witness, or lying, is addressed numerous times in the Bible, reflecting its importance in ethical and moral discourse. The Bible provides several references that highlight the seriousness of falsehood and the consequences of deceit. By examining these passages and their broader implications, we can gain insight into the biblical perspective on truthfulness, integrity, and the impact of dishonesty on individuals and society.

1. The Ninth Commandment: Prohibition of False Witness

Exodus 20:16

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

The ninth commandment, part of the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments, explicitly prohibits the bearing of false witness against one’s neighbor. This commandment underscores the importance of truthfulness and honesty in interpersonal relationships and legal proceedings. Bearing false witness not only violates the trust between individuals but also undermines the pursuit of justice and righteousness in society.

2. Consequences of False Witness

Proverbs 19:5

“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies will not escape.”

Proverbs, known for its wisdom literature, warns against the consequences of bearing false witness. Those who engage in deceit and falsehood will ultimately face accountability and judgment for their actions. While falsehood may seem advantageous in the short term, its long-term consequences are severe and inescapable.

Proverbs 19:9

“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies shall perish.”

This verse reinforces the theme of accountability and judgment for those who engage in deception. The fate of false witnesses is depicted as perishing, indicating the serious repercussions of dishonesty in both temporal and eternal terms.

3. God’s Hatred of Falsehood

Proverbs 6:16-19

“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.”

In this passage, lying and bearing false witness are listed among the seven things that the Lord hates and considers abominable. This strong language underscores the moral repugnance of falsehood in the sight of God. Lying is not merely a matter of personal ethics but an offense against the character and righteousness of God Himself.

4. The Importance of Truthfulness

Ephesians 4:25

“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.”

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul exhorts believers to speak truthfully with one another, emphasizing the importance of honesty and integrity in interpersonal relationships. As members of the body of Christ, believers are called to uphold the values of truth and righteousness in their words and actions, reflecting the character of God to the world.

Colossians 3:9

“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,”

Similarly, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul admonishes believers to refrain from lying to one another, highlighting the transformative power of the gospel in overcoming sinful behaviors, including deceitfulness. As recipients of God’s grace and redemption, believers are called to live in accordance with the truth and to manifest the virtues of honesty and integrity in their lives.

5. Condemnation of False Witnesses

Psalm 27:12

“Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence.”

The Psalms often express the psalmist’s plea for deliverance from adversaries and false witnesses who seek to harm him unjustly. False testimony not only jeopardizes the innocent but also reflects the wicked intentions of those who seek to manipulate truth for their own nefarious purposes.

Psalm 120:2-3

“Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given to you, or what shall be done to you, you false tongue?”

In this psalm, the psalmist appeals to God for deliverance from lying lips and deceitful tongues. False witnesses are condemned for their treachery and deceit, and the psalmist seeks divine intervention to thwart their malicious schemes.

6. Jesus’ Teaching on Truthfulness

Matthew 5:33-37

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses the issue of oath-taking and truthfulness. Rather than resorting to elaborate oaths to affirm the truthfulness of their statements, Jesus instructs His followers to let their yes be yes and their no be no. This straightforward commitment to truthfulness reflects the integrity and sincerity that should characterize the lives of believers.

John 8:44

“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

In this passage, Jesus confronts the religious leaders who oppose Him, accusing them of being children of the devil due to their rejection of the truth. Jesus identifies Satan as the originator of falsehood and deception, contrasting His own commitment to truth with the deceitfulness of the evil one.

Conclusion: Upholding Truthfulness and Integrity

In conclusion, the Bible contains numerous references that condemn the bearing of false witness and emphasize the importance of truthfulness and integrity in the lives of believers. Falsehood is depicted as an offense against God’s character and righteousness, deserving of judgment and condemnation. Believers are called to speak truthfully with one another, reflecting the sincerity and integrity of their commitment to Christ.

In a world characterized by deceit and dishonesty, the biblical injunctions against bearing false witness serve as a reminder of the enduring value of truth and the moral imperative to uphold honesty and integrity in all aspects of life. As followers of Christ, believers are called to be bearers of truth, shining as lights in a dark and deceptive world, and bearing witness to the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Categories Law

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