Exodus 20:16 – “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
“You must not convict anyone of a crime on the testimony of only one witness. The facts of the case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 16 “If a malicious witness comes forward and accuses someone of a crime, 17 then both the accuser and accused must appear before the Lord by coming to the priests and judges in office at that time. 18 The judges must investigate the case thoroughly. If the accuser has brought false charges against his fellow Israelite,19 you must impose on the accuser the sentence he intended for the other person. In this way, you will purge such evil from among you.
After looking at the following types of lies, the obvious lie, the libel, slander and exaggeration we come to the fifth:
- Silence or Innuendo
We can even bear false witness by failing to speak the truth, sometimes by not saying something we can hurt others or allow a false witness to exist on someone, or we can create a false witness by holding back truth! Comments like, “If you only knew what I knew about so and so, but I promised not to say anything…” can lead people to believe things that are not true. It was the failure of many who chose not to speak up in World War II when Hitler did his atrocities that allowed them to continue. This failure to speak the truth can also be a form of bearing a false witness. The following story reveals this so powerfully. After a speech, pro-life activist Penny Lea was approached by an old man. Weeping, he told her the following story: “I lived in Germany during the Nazi holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. I attended church since I was a small boy. We had heard the stories of what was happening to the Jews, but like most people today in this country, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of the wheels moving over the track. We became disturbed when one Sunday we noticed cries coming from the train as it passed by. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews. They were like cattle in those cars! Week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those old wheels because we knew that the Jews would begin to cry out to us as they passed our church. It was so terribly disturbing! We could do nothing to help these poor miserable people, yet their screams tormented us. We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. By the time that train came rumbling past the church yard, we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears, we’d just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more. Years have passed and no one talks about it much anymore, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians yet did nothing to intervene. When it comes to truth we need to speak up. It’s here that we see the:
Deuteronomy 19:15-19 reveals that it was so important to God that peoples’ lives be preserved from false testimonies or witnesses that He required that there be at least 2 or 3 others to speak the same thing before something should be regarded as true. This is a good idea for today also! Too often things get passed around as “truth” on the sole testimony of one person. We must remember that a single person can slant the truth in such a way as to be viewed from their own framework but coming through several sources helps to mitigate that the truth will remain intact. It’s amazing when there is a car accident how different witnesses will describe it differently. But God didn’t just require more than one witness He also said that someone guilty of a false testimony would be punished with the same punishment that he intended for the person they bore false witness against. You see it isn’t the things that go in one ear and out the other that hurt as much as the things that go in one ear, get all mixed up, and then slip out the mouth. People’s lives are too important to God to tolerate false testimonies. As the Father of all truth, God is inherently against all lies! Satan however is called the “father of all lies” he is the “deceiver,” and when our lips lie, we are speaking the language of Lucifer and not the Lord. Think of Lies this way – Living investing evil and Satan. The truth is lies only yield more sin! As Oliver Wendell Holmes said “Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle that fits them all.” The tragedy of lies is that both the one who told them suffers, as does the person for whom they are about. Ultimately, the entire society suffers as well as our relationship with God. So what about you, is there any area in your life where you are tempted to not tell the truth?