Love Letter #9, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,”
by Carlton P. Byrd
Early in my ministry, I stood up at one of my church’s weekly, corporate worship experiences and said to my congregation, “Next week I plan to preach about the sin of lying. In preparation for next week’s message, I’m asking all of you to read Hebrews 14.” With visible and verbal affirmation, the church members nodded and said, “Amen,” indicating that they would oblige.
The following week, I stood up to preach and began my sermon by asking, “How many of you took the time to read Hebrews 14 this past week?”
Nearly every hand went up. Smiling, I then responded, “That’s very good, but the Book of Hebrews has only 13 chapters. I will now proceed with my message on the sin of lying.”
Love Letter #9, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” or “Thou shalt not lie,” or “No lies about your neighbor,”1 is a command of prohibition that comes to each of us reminding us to be careful in how we use our tongues particularly regarding another individual. When God gave this commandment, He provided it for the purpose of putting some boundaries on how we speak about others knowing that blessed communication can become cursed communication, honesty can become dishonesty, and truth can become lies!
Sadly, however, many of us have witnessed people’s characters assassinated, reputations slandered, and name’s defamed, defaced, and devalued – all based on someone making up counterfeit charges against another individual. Put another way, people speak negatively about another and they have no idea what they’re talking about. Or, people talk about others and they’re fully aware that what they’re saying is not true, but they say it to cause intentional injury, harm, or hurt. As a result, someone’s dream in life becomes nothing but a nightmare because of what someone else said about them. But God’s word is clear, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.”2
Regrettably, however, people, whether professionals, politicians, or parsons, all have a propensity to prevaricate (lie). People lie to others. People lie about others. People lie to themselves. People lie about themselves. And most disappointingly, people lie to God.
People, whether professionals, politicians, or parsons, all have a propensity to prevaricate.
Why all this lying? John 8:44 is clear, “Satan is a liar, and the father of lies! There is no truth in him!” From the dawn of earth’s history to the present day, he’s been a liar! He was successful in deceiving one-third of the angels in
heaven,3 along with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.4 He even attempted to deceive Jesus.5 But the good news is Satan can’t fight Jesus and win! He lost in heaven,6 he lost at Calvary,7 and he’s going to lose at Jesus’ Second Coming!8
Jesus’ counsel in defeating a deceitful, dishonest devil is to stand on the Word of God! Withstanding Satan’s lying temptations in Matthew 4, Jesus always stood on God’s Word by saying, “It is written.”9 And that’s our prescription to overcome Satan and his deception—the Word of God! “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”10
As our Creator, God loves and knows what’s best for us. As His beloved creation, He admonishes us that if we are to love Him (Love Letters One through Four) and love one another (Love Letters Five through Ten), we must refrain from lying to Him, lying about Him, lying to others, and lying about others.
No one is a victor with lying. Hurt, pain, and damage have all been realized in relationships due to deception. Satan experienced the devastating effects of deception in heaven, and he will experience its deadly impact at Christ’s Second Coming. His experience was “written aforetime for our learning,”11 Let us not travel the same road in our life’s journey with deception. God is a God of truth and challenges us to “tell the truth.”
This article is part of our January/February 2018 Issue
CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.
*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.
1 Exodus 20:14
2 Proverbs 12:22
3 Revelation 12:4
4 Genesis 3:1-13
5 Matthew 4:1-11
6 Revelation 12:7-9
7 Luke 24
8 Revelation 14:6-12; 15:2, 3; 20:1-3
9 Matthew 4:4, 7, 10
10 John 17:17
11 Romans 15:4