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The Ten Commandments Series: The Ninth Commandment

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The Ten Commandments Series

The Ninth Commandment

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God hates lying­ and we should hate it also. Lying is one of the most common sins, destroying trust and relationships everywhere. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate” (Proverbs 8:13 Proverbs 8:13The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the fraudulent mouth, do I hate.
American King James Version×
; emphasis added throughout). Related sins often occur together.

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight” (Proverbs 12:22 Proverbs 12:22Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.
American King James Version×
). “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” (Proverbs 6:16-19 Proverbs 6:16-19 [16] These six things does the LORD hate: yes, seven are an abomination to him: [17] A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, [18] An heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, [19] A false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brothers.
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). Of those seven abominations, notice how many relate to the Ninth Commandment!

Many scriptures speak of the power of the tongue for either healing or harm. James 3 is all about the tongue. It describes it as “a fire, a world of iniquity” and “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (verses 6 and 8). Deliberate deception is certainly a deadly poison. The Bible gives us stern warning that “all [unrepentant] liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8 Revelation 21:8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
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).

Deception is so prevalent that it has many forms, degrees and synonyms: deceive, falsify, perjure, exaggerate, twist, trick, distort, mislead, forge, disguise, cheat, counterfeit, etc. Incidentally, a half-truth is a half-lie. Half-truths are often especially deceptive and damaging.

Dishonesty corrupts everything! We see it all the time in advertising, labeling, business, news, politics, government, religion and in personal relationships. It is shocking, depressing and frightening to see many people—even in high positions—flagrantly and brazenly lying!

A healthy civil society rests on the foundations of truth and trust.

“Deceitful above all things”

Human nature is fundamentally deceitful. “Who can understand the human heart? There is nothing else so deceitful; it is too sick to be healed” (Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version×
, Today’s English Version). To understand the various nuances of this verse, read it in several Bible versions. All human beings are tempted to lie. Even the youngest children often lie until they are taught not to.

Relentlessly pouring fuel on the fire of human nature is the “ruler of this world,” the “Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” and is “the accuser of our brethren” (John 12:31 John 12:31Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 12:9-10 Revelation 12:9-10 [9] And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. [10] And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brothers is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
American King James Version×
). Jesus said Satan is “a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44 John 8:44You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
American King James Version×
). Lying “give[s] the devil a foothold” in our lives (Ephesians 4:25-27 Ephesians 4:25-27 [25] Why putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. [26] Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath: [27] Neither give place to the devil.
American King James Version×
, New International Version).

To establish and spread counterfeit Christianity, Satan regularly influences religious people to become “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 [13] For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. [14] And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. [15] Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
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). Satan has also been successful in promulgating the colossal and crazy lie of creation without a Creator (Romans 1:18-32 Romans 1:18-32 [18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. [24] Why God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. [26] For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. [28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, [31] Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
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)!

One lie leads to another, which makes one’s life quite complex. The more a person lies, the more he needs a good memory, because it is easier to remember the truth than to remember all the lies he has told.

Many people have gone beyond being immoral—they have become amoral, their consciences no longer discerning between right and wrong. Paul describes them as “speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2 1 Timothy 4:2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
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). A liar can become a chronic liar, a compulsive liar or even a psychopathic liar.

Why doesn’t the commandment simply say, “You shall not lie”?

Each of the Ten Commandments refers to a whole category of sins, but the worst form is the one that is stated. For example, the Sixth Commandment forbids the many ways of hurting people but it specifically states the worst way, which is murder. Likewise, there are many types of deceit and dishonesty, but generally the most damaging type is perverting justice with testimony that is both “false” and “against” another person.

Many scriptures emphasize God’s dedication to justice.

God hates it when penalties are too great or too small, especially when a false witness causes an innocent person to be punished or when he causes a guilty person to go unpunished. This applies to courts of law (where it is perjury when the witness is under oath) and everywhere else such as with slander and derogatory gossip.

“You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous” (Deuteronomy 16:19 Deuteronomy 16:19You shall not wrest judgment; you shall not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift does blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.
American King James Version×
). Similarly, “you must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand. You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice. And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor” (Exodus 23:1-3 Exodus 23:1-3 [1] You shall not raise a false report: put not your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. [2] You shall not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shall you speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: [3] Neither shall you countenance a poor man in his cause.
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, New Living Translation).

A “good name” is priceless (Proverbs 22:1 Proverbs 22:1A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.
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; Ecclesiastes 7:1 Ecclesiastes 7:1A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
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). The destruction of a good reputation can be as tragic as a murder. The murder of Jesus was actually accomplished through slander! Note that Satan (Greek: satanas) means adversary and devil (Greek: diabolos) means accuser or slanderer.

Negative gossip is a type of slander. Even when stating something that is factually true, it is nasty gossip if it might hurt a person’s reputation. (However, it is not gossip when one is reporting a crime, sin or serious problem to the proper authority so it can be corrected.)

One can be a false witness in two ways—by saying things that are untrue or should not be said, or remaining silent when something needs to be said to bring about justice.

Isaiah 59 is a prophecy of the terrible lack of justice and truth-telling in the world. Today’s governmental “justice systems” tragically are infected with much injustice. In a court of law, anyone who testifies must swear (or affirm) that he will “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” But a large percentage of those witnesses have no intention of abiding by that vow.

People think their lies will go undetected and unpunished but sins are “against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23 Numbers 32:23But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.
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). Jesus said “that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36 Matthew 12:36But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
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).

The cancer of hypocrisy—living a lie

There are different forms of hypocrisy. One type is putting on a good facade that doesn’t match up with what is on the inside. Another type is being two-faced, putting on an act to impress or influence whomever you are with at the time. Another type is flattery. One of the worst types relates to the Third Commandment—claiming to represent God while not upholding godly attitudes and actions. Think of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11 Acts 5:1-11 [1] But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, [2] And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. [3] But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? [4] Whiles it remained, was it not your own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? you have not lied to men, but to God. [5] And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. [6] And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. [7] And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. [8] And Peter answered to her, Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? And she said, Yes, for so much. [9] Then Peter said to her, How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried your husband are at the door, and shall carry you out. [10] Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. [11] And great fear came on all the church, and on as many as heard these things.
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).

It seems the sin of religious hypocrisy disgusted and infuriated Jesus more than anything else!

It seems the sin of religious hypocrisy disgusted and infuriated Jesus more than anything else! (See Matthew 15:1-20 Matthew 15:1-20 [1] Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, [2] Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. [3] But he answered and said to them, Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? [4] For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and mother: and, He that curses father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But you say, Whoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatever you might be profited by me; [6] And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [7] You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, [8] This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [10] And he called the multitude, and said to them, Hear, and understand: [11] Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. [12] Then came his disciples, and said to him, Know you that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? [13] But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up. [14] Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. [15] Then answered Peter and said to him, Declare to us this parable. [16] And Jesus said, Are you also yet without understanding? [17] Do not you yet understand, that whatever enters in at the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? [18] But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. [19] For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: [20] These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands defiles not a man.
American King James Version×
, Matthew 23:1-39 Matthew 23:1-39 [1] Then spoke Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, [2] Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: [3] All therefore whatever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not you after their works: for they say, and do not. [4] For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. [5] But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, [6] And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, [7] And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. [8] But be not you called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all you are brothers. [9] And call no man your father on the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. [10] Neither be you called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. [11] But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. [12] And whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. [13] But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in. [14] Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation. [15] Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. [16] Woe to you, you blind guides, which say, Whoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! [17] You fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold? [18] And, Whoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is guilty. [19] You fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift? [20] Whoever therefore shall swear by the altar, swears by it, and by all things thereon. [21] And whoever shall swear by the temple, swears by it, and by him that dwells therein. [22] And he that shall swear by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him that sits thereon. [23] Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone. [24] You blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. [25] Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. [26] You blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. [27] Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. [28] Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. [29] Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, [30] And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. [31] Why you be witnesses to yourselves, that you are the children of them which killed the prophets. [32] Fill you up then the measure of your fathers. [33] You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell? [34] Why, behold, I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you whip in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: [35] That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. [36] Truly I say to you, All these things shall come on this generation. [37] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! [38] Behold, your house is left to you desolate. [39] For I say to you, You shall not see me from now on, till you shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.
American King James Version×
and Mark 7:1-23 Mark 7:1-23 [1] Then came together to him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. [2] And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashed, hands, they found fault. [3] For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. [4] And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables. [5] Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not your disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands? [6] He answered and said to them, Well has Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] However, in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [8] For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things you do. [9] And he said to them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition. [10] For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother; and, Whoever curses father or mother, let him die the death: [11] But you say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatever you might be profited by me; he shall be free. [12] And you suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; [13] Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which you have delivered: and many such like things do you. [14] And when he had called all the people to him, he said to them, Listen to me every one of you, and understand: [15] There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. [16] If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. [17] And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. [18] And he said to them, Are you so without understanding also? Do you not perceive, that whatever thing from without enters into the man, it cannot defile him; [19] Because it enters not into his heart, but into the belly, and goes out into the draught, purging all meats? [20] And he said, That which comes out of the man, that defiles the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
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.)

Choose a life that is the opposite of lying

In Ephesians 4, Paul talks of “putting away lying” and “speaking the truth in love” for “the edifying of the body of Christ” (verses 25, 15, 12).

May we always seek the truth and speak the truth. May we always study God’s Word to learn and live by God’s absolute Truth. And may we imitate the One who is “the way, the Truth, and the life” (John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
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). 

This article is part of a series. To read other articles that focus on the Ten Commandments in this series please go to the following website: https://www.ucg.org/tags/the-ten-commandments-series.

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