Q. 112. What is God’s will for you in the ninth commandment?
A. God’s will is that I never give false testimony against anyone, twist no one’s words, not gossip or slander, nor join in condemning anyone without a hearing or without a just cause. Rather, in court and everywhere else, I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind; these are devices the devil himself uses, and they would call down on me God’s intense anger. I should love the truth, speak it candidly, and openly acknowledge it. And I should do what I can to guard and advance my neighbor’s good name.
We long to stand upon a solid foundation. We desire to know that our actions will keep us secure in this world and the next. While Christ alone is this foundation in the eyes of God, the Lord has also decreed in his word that certain actions can sustain us in life. Read Psalm 15. This psalm declares that the one whose speech is blameless will never be shaken. What a promise for us to reflect upon when we consider the commandment not to give false testimony.
The root of all falsehood lies in a denial of God, a refusal to worship and honor the truth. Romans 1 chronicles a list of actions that occur when one refuses to worship God and at least 5 of the items in the list have to do with the tongue. Let us never forget that we are called to control our tongues. Read Romans 1:28-32 and James 3:2.
To declare that lying and deceit are marks of Satan is a grand statement. But the Scriptures actually go further in saying these methods of speech are a native language of evil. Read John 8:44. It is because of this that we must strive to speak words of truth and life for God loves truth. This means slanting or twisting the truth, even leaving a part of the truth out in order to color another’s decision is not appropriate.
Read Genesis 3:1-5. In this brief story about the fall of humanity we find the very tactics of evil displayed: truth distortion and lies. As believers we are called to be people whose word can be counted upon. The old slogan, a man is only as good as his word, was meant to impress upon people the importance of following through with what one says and promises. Unfortunately, we live in a society where one’s word is irrelevant, what matters is the legal contract, and lawyers can manipulate even those. God despises such activity. Let’s return to being a people known for truth and integrity. Read Matthew 5:37 and James 5:12.
Judgment falls upon those places where truth has perished. Read Jeremiah 7:28-29. But as Christians we have been redeemed from judgment and set in life. We must boldly declare the truth. What is the truth? First and foremost the truth is Jesus Christ. We must speak and teach about him boldly. Second, we must declare the truths contained in the scripture. There are many doctrines God wants his people to know and internalize and so Christians must strive to study and understand the Word of God. Thirdly, we must teach the truth of the other disciplines, i.e. science, humanities, etc. in ways that accord with the revealed word of God otherwise the truth is be obscured. Read John 14:6, Titus 2:1, and Romans 1:18-20.
Finally, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we must return good for evil and seek to win our brothers over by our talk. When cursed, we will bless; when put down, we will encourage; when berated, we will pray. This is the life of one seeking to honor God and fulfill the commandments. Read 1Peter 3:8-12, 1Thessalonians 5:11, and Luke 6:28.