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Do Not Bear False Witness

Original Publication Date
November 13, 2015
Updated
Nov 12, 2022 3:00 AM
Tags
CommandmentsFalse Deities and ProphetsLaw
Bible References
Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:20
Status
In progress
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on November 13, 2015 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.
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Introduction

The ninth commandment is not to bear false witness against people, which is often taken as a command not to lie. John 14:6 tells us that Jesus is "the Truth" with drives home the fact that truthfulness is an important part of righteousness. God's commandment here is about more than just lying, however.

Commandment

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Bible Verses

Discussion

It's not hard to conclude that lying is wrong; we know bad things come from lying. The issues that really stem from this commandment are "little white lies" and gossip.

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There is also the question of lying for a good reason. For instance, would it have been ok to lie during American slavery to help the Underground Railroad? Would it have been ok to lie during Nazi Germany if you were hiding a Jewish family? I didn’t write about this in 2015, but plan to expand the post to include discussion of this as well.

Little White Lies

The phrase "little white lie" is used to describe a lie that had good intentions,[1] like a parent telling their child they sound good singing even though they sound horrible. What's the harm? Well, when the child goes singing in front of their peers and gets laughed at, it's probably going to hurt worse, especially since the child's peers will be more brutal about the situation. We all tell these, sometimes without even thinking; I did so just today, twice.

The first time was due to me not wanting to attend something; instead of simply saying "I don't want to come" I said I had a prior obligation a few hours before the event (which was true) and would drop by if I finished in time. The fact of the matter was that I knew I would be done in time to attend, and I knew I would likely not attend. Some of it was the intention not offend those inviting me, but the other part was laziness. I knew that if I said I didn't want to come, a distinct difference and truth than being unable to attend, questions would arise to why.

Laziness is at the root of the second lie I told today as well. This time it started with me not paying attention to what was being said and inadvertently saying I went to one store when I actually went to another. I could have corrected the person once I realized what was happening, but laziness convinced me otherwiseβ€”why bother, it didn't really matter did it? That was the devil's voice in my head. The conversation was brought up later, likely God's way of giving me a chance to tell the truth, but instead of doing the right thing, I gave into laziness again. I didn't want to explain why I didn't say something earlier. I didn't want to explain why I went to the other store. But this behavior reveals much more about me and a deeper problem that God wants us to avoid.

I didn't want to explain why I didn't want to attend because that is a form of validationβ€”without a reason not to attend, they would have insisted I come, that I would have fun, etc. With the other scenario it was more about embarrassment and not wanting to explain a complex story. But what happens when someone is asking me about my faith? When they ask about why I can't attend something on Saturday or why I follow God's dietary law, what will I say? Will my avoidance of confrontation lead me to deny myΒ LORD?

At the time, I didn't think it was a big deal, but as I sat to write this post I thought about the deeper issues involved. I lied twice without even thinking about it... I broke one of God's holy commandments twice, knowingly and didn't think about the wrongness of it until tonight. Plus it's possible I only thought about it because I was writing this post. "White lies" are gateway lies. We are deceived into believing it's ok to disobey God for the good of another person, or because it doesn't really matter whether we went to McDonald's or Wendy's (not the stores from my story, just an example). This is the same prideful pitfall that lead Eve to think it was ok to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. We can't fall down that path. I know I'll be thinking more about the words coming out of my mouth. No more laziness.

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Side note: the phrase β€œlittle white lies” irks me the same way angel hair pasta, angel food cake, and devil food cake do… but that’s a different topic.

Gossip

Gossip is one of those things that shifts and changes as we age. In middle school and high school, being the first to know something made you cool, or at least made you feel cool. As an adult, gossip is more of an inquiry, an "is this true" type of conversation. However, once a thought is placed in someone's head, you can't get it back. Gossip is slander, even if you admit you don't know if it's true. An example is when one of my male friends outed himself, he placed suspicion on others, claiming they wanted to date him or named guys he had dated. In particular, two of these guys were also my friends; one was dating my best friend and the other was the guy every girl (including myself) had liked at some point. I felt guilty suspecting my best friend's boyfriend of being both closeted and a cheater (based on on my friend's story). Eventually I told my best friend, who ended the relationship. It's possible he was gay and cheated on her, it's possible that he was gay but didn't cheat on her, but it's also possible that neither occurred. Once that box of worms was opened, it couldn't be closed. Even "positive" gossip, such as that a person received a promotion, can lead to negative consequences if it turns out to be false. It could be an embarrassment for that person. That old adage "believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see" is quite true here. We often don't know the entire situation when it comes to gossip and we shouldn't make it worse by listening (allowing our own perceptions to be sullied) or passing it along.

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Later in life, I had conversations with people about celebrity gossip. Speculating about what happens in celebrity marriages or why celebrities behave a certain way is still gossip. Yes, they put their business out there sometimes (and sometimes its put out there against their will), but that doesn’t mean we have the right to speak on it. More recent (as of 2022) examples of this are the divorce of Megan Good and Devon Franklin, anything with Kanye West, anything with Will and Jada, etc.

Examples from the Bible

Abraham is a habitual liar. He uses the same lie twice, and both times it causes trouble. Like little white lies, Abraham's lie isn't a full-fledged lie, but really is an omission of truth. He introduces his wife as his sister without ever admitting that she is also his wife. This leads people to covet a married woman and even leads to adultery in one case. This brings about God's wrath on an unsuspecting king.[2][3]

References and Footnotes

  1. Quinion, Michael. "White Lie".Β World Wide Words. 2015
  2. Genesis 12
  3. Genesis 20

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Food and DietActsPeterDiscipleship
πŸ“
Why β€˜The Bride of Christ’ is the Perfect Description
RelationshipsRevelationMessiahProphecy
πŸ“–
Acts 16: Timothy Was Biracial…Sort Of
ActsChapter StudyTimothyGenealogyCircumcisionPaulWomenBaptism
πŸ‘€
Dinah
Character StudyGenesisWomenSexual AssaultDinahJacobLeahLeviSimeonYouTube
πŸ“–
Acts 15: Disagreements in the Church
ActsChapter StudyPaulPeterLeadershipCommandmentsSalvationCircumcisionRepentance and Forgiveness
πŸ“–
Acts 13-14: The First Missionary Journey of Paul
ActsChapter StudyLeadershipThe ChurchPaulGenealogyDiscipleship
πŸ“–
Acts 12: Peter, Rhoda, and Herod
ActsChapter StudyWomenPeterPersecutionRomeHolidayPassover
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Would You Rather?: Fatherly Treatment
Would You RatherEdomJacobJosephGenesisRelationshipsTheft
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Would You Rather?: Feed vs. Heal
Would You RatherSpiritual GIftsJohnMatthew
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Would You Rather?: Ask or Disobey
Would You RatherEstherDaniel
❓
Would You Rather?: Marriage vs. Singleness
Would You RatherRelationshipsLoveRepentance and ForgivenessHoseaPaul
❓
Would You Rather?: Betray or Deny
Would You RatherJudasPeterRepentance and ForgivenessLuke
❓
Would You Rather?: Rahab vs. Mary
Would You RatherRahabMary & JosephWomen
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Theme
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Tragic Hero
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Zoomorphism
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Utopia
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Tragedy
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Tragic Flaw
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Subplot
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Round Character
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Synecdoche
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Symbolism
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Rising Action
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Retorical Question
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Resolution
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Romance
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Plot Twist
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Rebuttal
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Proverb
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Refrain and Repetition
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Plot
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Prologue
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Protagonist
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Pleonasm
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Logos
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Parrhesia
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Personification
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Pathos
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Passive Voice
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Perspective
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Nemesis
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Parallelism
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Omniscient
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Ode
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Non Sequitur
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Parable
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Paradox
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Irony
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Motif
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Intertextuality
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Narrative
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Narrator
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Juxtaposition
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Metonymy
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Jargon
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Inciting Incident
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Imagery
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In Media Res
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Hyperbole
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Illusion
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Idiom
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Homily
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Hypophora
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Flat Character
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Flash Back
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Foil
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Frame Story
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Foreshadowing
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Hero
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External Conflict
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Flash Forward
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Exposition
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Etymology
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Existentialism
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Extended Metaphor
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Exaggeration
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Evidence
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Euphemism
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Enthymeme
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Epilogue
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Elegy
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Epithet
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Enumeration
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Ethos
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Epistle
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Epiphany
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Digression
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Diatribe
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Dialogue
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Dysphemism
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Dynamic Character
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Dilemma
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Dystopia
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Conflict
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Concession
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Comparison and Contrast Essay
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Deus Ex Machina
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Context
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Deuteragonist
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Connotation
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Coherence
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Cliff Hanger
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Colloquialism
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Climax
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Comedy
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Circumlocution
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Chronology
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Cause and Effect Essay
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Bias
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Canon
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Audience
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Atmosphere
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Catastrophe
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Catharsis
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Anthropomorphism
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Archetype
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PSALMS to God is a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel that discusses many topics and issues, always keeping YHWH as the anchor. Hosea 4:6 says β€œMy people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”—here, the aim is to always ask questions and study to find the answers. You can keep up with new content by signing up for the weekly newsletter.
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