In my recent articles, we’ve been exploring how the Golden Rule can be lived out by
following the spirit of each of the 10 Commandments. The first three commandments speak to
our posture before God, the fourth commandment focuses on the Sabbath rest that God wants to
give us, while commandments five through ten detail what Jesus spoke about when He said
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind” was really
the first and greatest commandment. The second, He says, is like unto it: “Love your neighbor
as yourself.” This is because all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.
God desires that we live out the Golden Rule in every aspect of our lives, treating other people
the way we want to be treated.
As we delve into the 9th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your
neighbor,” we will look at both the natural and spiritual implications.
Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man who has friends, must himself be friendly.” We should
recognize that we don’t want people to judge us falsely, so we have to be careful not to judge
others. The late Dr. Edwin Louis Cole, founder of the Christian Men’s Network used to say,
“Assumption is the lowest form of knowledge” and “We tend to judge others by what they do,
but ourselves by our good intentions.” It’s easy for us to be critical, opinionated, and always
second-guessing the actions and motives of other people.
I Corinthians 10:10 says that one of the five offenses that kept Israel out of the Promised
Land was “murmuring,” or backbiting and gossip. I liken that to a spiritual immune deficiency
disease because the body destroys itself. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage Four B
Cell Lymphoma, which caused certain cells in my body to destroy other cells of my body. The
doctor’s prognosis was grim, which is our spiritual prognosis if we participate in murmuring,
backbiting, or gossip. Praise the Lord, God brought me through lymphoma victoriously and, by
His grace, I am still standing.
That is why it is so important for us even today to not bear false witness, murmur,
backbite, or undermine other people, and not to rob others of what God intends for them. Even if
we are not in agreement with someone, we have to be careful how we speak. James is very clear
that the tongue is a small part of the body, but it can do great damage. The seemingly
insignificant tongue can bring blessings or curses, so we must watch our words. It’s easy to get
into a routine of responding according to the flesh instead of the spirit. But today, I want to stress
the importance of not bearing false witness against others. Keeping a right attitude will help us
not to judges by what they do or don’t do while judging ourselves by our good intentions. Yousee, we all want grace—so we must also give grace.
I often remind myself, my family, and those around me that we should always speak the
truth in love—seasoned with grace, of course, but the truth, nonetheless. It’s about HOW we
speak the truth that will render transformation, encouragement, and help building people up in
the faith. When we speak truth in the wrong way, it diminishes people, depreciates people, and
breaks people down. Bullies are often those who gossip and say negative things about or to
others as they try to bring them down to their own level. As Christ followers, we have to be
above that. We must take the high road and be Christ-like even when we disagree. We can
disagree with civility and in a way that allows a sense of redemption.
Sometimes we think we’re speaking the truth but our own perception is skewed. We may
read something online or on social media and immediately form an uneducated opinion because
we have not done our research to find out the whole truth. In the movie “A Few Good Men,” the
general being questioned on the witness stand says, “You can’t handle the truth.” The reality,
however, is that we need to be those who love the truth so that we can handle the truth. We have
to be lovers of truth more than lovers of ourselves. We need to love the truth, love the Lord, and
love the way He works in and through us to disseminate His love and truth with grace and
mercy. The truth can set people free.
Nothing is dearer to God than the integrity of His Word. The importance of God’s Word
cannot be overstated. The psalmist noted, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your
name.” (Psalm 138:2b). The New Testament stresses the steadfastness of His Word, which
brings great comfort to all of us who believe Him for the assurance of our salvation:
In the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago. (Titus 1:2
In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the
unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, in order that by two
unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong
encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before
us. (Hebrews 6:17-18 NAS)
The biblical record is clear—God’s character is beyond suspicion and it is not possible
for Him to tell a lie or break a promise! His very nature is the basis for commanding His people
to be honest and upright.
THE BEGINNING OF LIES
Genesis, known as the book of beginnings, records the first lie in chapter 3. Predictably
enough, it was uttered by satan. The original command not to lie is found in Exodus 20:16: “You
shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Bearing false witness has to do with lying
about some aspect of a person’s character or actions. God directly commanded Adam and Eve
not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. He warned that
disobeying this command would result in death, but satan tempted Eve and deceived her by
bringing a false witness against God:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God
had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat
from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “From the
fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is
in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it,
lest you die.’” And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! For
God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will
be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5 NAS).
Ironically, satan, the actual liar, accused God of lying. He talked to Eve about the
character of God and suggested that God lied when He told Adam and Eve that their
disobedience would result in death. He implied that God had selfish motives and was
withholding something good from them, but we know He was actually protecting them. Sadly,
Eve’s agreement with satan’s false witness against God ultimately led to the spiritual death of the
entire human race.
We can learn much about dealing with satan’s lies by studying this account. One of the
primary strategies satan used to deceive Adam and Eve was distracting them from God’s best.
Satan introduces thoughts into minds so that he can work his destruction. In Eve’s case, he did
this by bringing up the topic of God’s restriction concerning the trees.
Eve’s conversation centers on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which was
forbidden, but she makes no mention of the tree of life, which was permissible. We see that she
was distracted from the goodness of God’s provision and desired what was forbidden. As she
continued to talk with the serpent, the desire for what she could not have grew until the forbidden
tree had replaced the tree of life in the center of her heart. Satan diverted her affection then chose
a lie that catered to her desire. He designed it to be the perfect lie, something she wanted to hear,
making it easy to get her to embrace his false witness concerning God.
Through cunning and subtlety, satan distracts the heart from God and causes it to set its
affections on something else. Once this initial work of distraction is accomplished, he presents us
with the perfect lie. Only a sincere love for God, His truth, and the power of the Holy Spirit can
keep us from falling victim to this deception. We should give thanks to God for His faithfulness
to protect us from the lies of satan. Satan’s deception is a powerful, seductive spirit that
supernaturally deludes men and women and brings them under its influence. Only those who
really love the truth of God’s Word will be able to resist the power of this temptation.
Even genuine Christians lose sight of the truth and allow their carnal desires to pull them
away from Christ. Business professionals may initially sincerely desire to make money for the
Kingdom of God but after a time, as God prospers them, they lose sight of their original mission
and focus on money and the prestige that comes with it.
Ministers are susceptible as well. When things are tight and tough, they spend a great
deal of time in prayer and reading the Bible. But when busy-ness and prosperity come, they may
spend less and less time in prayer and reading God’s Word. Blessings and prosperity leave them
most vulnerable to deception.
A.W. Tozer said, “Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us.” We live in
such a self-centered, self-absorbed society that it’s easy to lose our focus on God and others. The
greatest commandment is to “love God with all your heart, soul, and mind,” and the second is to
“love others as yourself.” It’s not about me; it’s about God and others and stewarding what He
entrusts to us.
Any time we forget the truth of God and begin to get lost in the appetites of the flesh,
compromising the truth becomes easy. Loving truth more than life itself is imperative; otherwise,
we are no match for the lies of the devil, and we will perish in his deception.
Satan takes truth and mixes it with just enough lies to deceive those who do not love the
truth; in doing so, he is able to wreak havoc on God’s people. Jesus warned His followers to
expect such attacks (see John 15:18-20). The Book of Acts tells how this happened to God’s
servant Stephen. False accusations were brought against him and, on the basis of false testimony,
he was stoned to death, martyred just like Jesus.
How is the Christian supposed to act in light of such tactics? Jesus gives the answer in the
Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil
against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is
your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Being slandered for Christ’s sake is a great honor; it is evidence that the Spirit of God is
resting upon you and satan considers you a threat to his kingdom. Being aware of satan’s
strategy when the attack comes should bring encouragement rather than discouragement. We
must examine our deeds. But if satan’s accusation is false, we can rejoice in suffering for Christ
and continue walking in the footsteps of the Lord.
WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?
Tragically, satan often dupes believers into repeating allegations and criticisms against one
another. Much of what is passed around within the body of Christ is only partially true or are
outright lies. By repeating them, Christians are actually harming the very Church they claim to
love. This is why the Bible states:
A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any
sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter
shall be confirmed. (Deuteronomy 19:15 NAS)
Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three
witnesses. (1 Timothy 5:19 NAS)
In order to establish a defense against slander, God requires that all accusations be
substantiated by reliable witnesses. Far too many lives and ministries are destroyed because of
gossip, rumors, and unsubstantiated allegations. God desires better than that for His people. He
wants our hearts to be so full of love that we refuse to repeat evil concerning others. God says in
His Word, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
God is seeking intimacy with people of sound character. David writes about the type of
people God chooses to dwell with:
O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill? He who
walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He
does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a
reproach against his friend. (Psalms 15:1-3 NAS)
The love for gossip is not easily mastered but the first step toward deliverance is
recognizing it for what it is. It is not a joke—it is sin and acknowledging this truth is vital in
order not to walk in self-deception (the most dangerous of lies). After acknowledging our need
for help, we must call out to God for His grace.
HYPOCRISY: THE ULTIMATE LIE
Loving the truth of God’s Word more than the flesh empowers us to withstand the
seduction of satan’s deception. If we believe the father of lies, we begin to walk in compromise
and self-deception, and while we still profess to love God, we no longer love our neighbor but
begin to say and do things that will bring him harm. We may put other people down in an
attempt to get ahead, and before long our Christian witness becomes watered down. We become
hypocrites and the cause of Christ suffers.
Multitudes are in the valley of decision today, hungry for the truth. They are desperate for
what is genuine. When we don’t reflect God in our lives, they won’t receive what we have to
say. Unless we experience freedom within ourselves, others are not able to receive freedom. The
answer for a hurting world is genuine Christian character.
Scripture tells us:
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,
and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according
to the image of the One who created him. (Colossians 3:9-10 NAS)
Lying is associated with the old man, the individual you were before you believed in
Jesus. Now you are a new person who has been renewed and conformed to the image of His
It is impossible for God to lie, so let us strive to be truthful in all we do, just as our Father
Click here to listen to this message from Doug’s weekly podcast along with the rest of the Golden Rule series.