The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Deuteronomy 5: 1-21 Then Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I am speaking today in your hearing, that you may learn them and observe them carefully. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today. The Lord spoke to you face to face at the mountain from the midst of the fire, while I was standing between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord; for you were afraid because of the fire and did not go up the mountain. He said, ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. ‘You shall have no other gods before Me. ‘You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. ‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day. ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you. ‘You shall not murder. ‘You shall not commit adultery. ‘You shall not steal. ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.’
If you have children you have probably seen the watered down version of the ten commandments designed to make it easier for a child to memorize. Typically the ninth commandment, ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor’, is reduced to things like: ‘no lying, or always tell the truth’. While these are accurate terms in a very narrow sense, they do not capture the essence of the ninth commandment.
The Westminster Larger catechism explains in rich language what the ninth commandment is forbidding.
The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful or equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of the truth or justice; speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, talebearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vainglorious boasting, thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession; unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any; endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.
Now, to properly unpack all of this would take more time than we have available today, so, I would like to focus on a few lines from the confession: wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil.
Yesterday in Indianapolis, approximately 2 dozen Christian men and women stepped into a mosh pit speaking the truth in love to their neighbors. What was promoted as an event of tolerance and inclusion, Indy Pride Fest quickly degenerated into an insane scene of rage, hatred, violence, intolerance, perversion, and the promotion of lies, the likes of which I had not experienced before. Truth was twisted. Lies and slander were thrown about. The truth about God was exchanged for a lie, and the Word of God was shown to be true again, as many were seen to have been given over to degrading passions.
Proverbs 25:18 says
Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow Is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor.
Is this not true? Were not the lies being slung at us yesterday at times like flaming arrows directly from the evil one? Were not the lies being leveled against our Lord Jesus delivered like the blows from a club and thrusts of a sword?
As I fluctuated between compassion, anger, and flat out nausea as the scene unfolded before us yesterday, I remembered the words of Jesus as He reminded us that “if the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you”.
Any lies uttered against you and I yesterday, are lies uttered directly against Almighty God. Any lies that will weasel their way onto social media over the next few days and weeks, are lies leveled against God, Who is not a liar. As we spoke the truth to those who were perishing, Satan, the father of lies, showed up. This should serve to remind us that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Those who blasphemed our Lord, mocked you for your faithfulness, denied the truth of God’s Word, and uttered all manner of wickedness against you falsely on His account, are to be pitied. They are doing the work of their father the devil. Our response, in relation to the ninth commandment, should be to not repay evil for evil. Instead of hanging our heads low, and shrinking back, let us rejoice!
Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-12:
"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
If you are able, let us kneel together and pray for grace and mercy to our Heavenly Father.
Heavenly Father, we come before You this morning tired and wounded, yet thankful for Your Mighty Arm of protection and Your generous provision in the face of conflict. We know that Your Son Jesus is the truth, yet everywhere we look, and sometimes within our own hearts, we hear lies about You. When we speak the truth in love, the response is often lies and slander being used to silence us. Father, sometimes we too engage in bearing false witness, repaying evil for evil. We take attacks against You personally, forgetting that hatred for you is at the root of the conflict, and call You a liar as we respond in ways that marr Your good name. Father please forgive us for when we bear false witness against our neighbor by failing to speak Your truths unashamed. Please forgive us for repaying evil for evil when we witness lies being leveled against You. Father, please help us to walk in the Spirit, so that our response to lies being uttered about You will be a response filled with love, seeking to see a soul saved from damnation, rather than one meant to simply even the score. It’s in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
Deuteronomy 30:6-10 “Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. The Lord your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.
Leader : To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 6/9/19 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie.)