False Testimony – Gospel in Life

False Testimony

Tim Keller |  August 19, 2007

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  • Mercy & Justice
Deuteronomy 5:1-6, 20
RS 196-15


We’re looking at the Ten Commandments, and today we’re getting to the ninth commandment. I always tend to hear all the commandments in Cecil B. DeMille tones. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” I don’t know if you remember it. There was sort of a little pillar of fire, and these little comments were coming out of it into the stone tablets in the Cecil B. DeMille movie, The Ten Commandments.

In spite of how famous these Ten Commandments are — by far, the most influential, ethical set of directions in the history of the world — most of us don’t know exactly what each commandment requires, and even fewer of us know how to get the power to be able to actually and practically live as the commandments require.

We’re going to take a look here at the ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” As we look at what the text tells us, we’ll see three things. We learn what people need, why they need it so much, and how you can become the kind of person that gives it to them.

Deuteronomy 5:1–6, 20

The commandment that says, “Don’t spread false rumors about your neighbor” may seem easy to understand. But it’s actually a deep rule that tells us about our need for honesty and straightforwardness, and how much we want these qualities in our lives. This rule can help us become people who live and share these important values.

1. What people need

This commandment tells us how important it is to speak the truth. It says that our words are actions, and they have intentions and effects. It’s not just about not lying; it’s about communicating in ways that are honest, clear, and helpful. Not being truthful can have serious outcomes, hurting individuals and entire communities. Even small lies can have a big impact on our personal lives and our society.

3. How do we become the kind of people who can do it?

If we’re only honest because we’re afraid of getting in trouble or because it benefits us, that’s not enough. There will be times when telling the truth is hard. Real honesty comes from caring about others. This is what the commandment is saying when it talks about setting our neighbors free with the truth, just like God set us free from slavery in Egypt. Jesus Christ, who was completely honest even when it cost him his life, shows us the way. He teaches us to find security and happiness in his truth, which he gave up his life for. This helps us create a community based on love and honesty.



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