The ninth commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16), is not about lying in general. (Although there are plenty of verses in Scripture that do expressly prohibit all lying, such as Colossians 3:9.) The ninth commandment is specifically about testifying falsely against someone in a legal proceeding. It makes sense that this form of lying would be emphasized in a covenant such as the one that God is making here with his people, as this is meant to be the law by which Israel will be governed as nation. Truth is very important to God in all aspects of our life. Scripture is clear that truth is part of the very character and nature of God, while Satan’s character is to lie and be deceitful. In fact, Satan is the father of lies. (John 8:44) This truth theme is especially evident in the Gospel of John, although it is pervasive throughout Scripture. Flip through John’s gospel and look at these verses:

  • Jesus is described as “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 and John 1:17)
  • True worshippers worship the Father in grace and truth. (John 4:23-24)
  • Truth brings freedom. (John 8:32)
  • Satan is a liar and the “father of lies.” (John 8:44)
  • Jesus described himself as “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
  • God’s Spirit is called “the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:17)
  • God’s Spirit guides us into all truth. (John 16:13)
  • God’s Word (the Bible) is truth. (John 17:17)

I could really go on and on. There are many, many Scriptures that support this idea that God is characterized by truthfulness, and that sin is characterized by deception and lying. Whenever sin is involved, lying and deceit are usually also present. And when relationships are characterized by truthfulness, things go so much better because the character of God is on display.

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