The Ninth Commandment
James J. Barker

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." - Exodus 20:16

Text: EXODUS 20:1-20



1.    We have been studying the Ten Commandments.  Of all the ten, the ninth is the only one little babies are guilty of breaking (cf. Ps. 58:3).

2.    One preacher explained this Scripture by saying that little babies often cry, pretending to be hungry, when they really just want attention.

3.    One little tyke was asked by his Sunday School teacher to define a lie.  He said: “A lie is an abomination to God, but a very present help in time of trouble.”

4.    The Bible says, “let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).

5.    Spurgeon said: “A lie travels around the world while Truth is putting on his boots.”

6.    A little boy, standing on a busy city street, approached a well-dressed man and asked: “Mister, did you lose a ten dollar bill?”  The man answered, “Why yes, I did.  Did you happen to find one?”  The boy said, “No.  I just wanted to find out how many people lost ten dollar bills today.  You’re the 55th person.”

7.    Some people lie so much it is hard to take them seriously.  We recently had a president who lied so frequently and shamelessly that no one (not even his fiercest defenders) could believe a word he said.

8.    This is what chief counsel David Schippers said before the House Judiciary Committee in 1998:The president then has lied under oath in a civil deposition, lied under oath in a criminal grand jury. He lied to the people, he lied to his Cabinet, he lied to his top aides, and now he's lied under oath to the Congress of the United States. There's no one left to lie to.  In addition, the half-truths, legalistic parsings, evasive and misleading answers were obviously calculated to obstruct the efforts of this committee.”

9.    Unfortunately it is very commonplace for politicians to lie but according to the Bible, lying is a horrible sin (cf. Pro. 6:16-19; 12:22; 19:9; 25:18).

10. A “maul” (Pro. 25:18) was a club used by soldiers on the battlefield.

11. Let me make this very clear: lying is part of our old nature and should be repented of at conversion (cf. Eph. 4:21-25; Col. 3:9, 10).   “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8; cf. 21:27; 22:15).

12. If you are in the habit of lying, chances are you might not be saved.  You need to get things right with God.






1.    Webster’s Dictionary defines a lie as “a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.”

2.    So a lie is “a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive.”

3.    One lie leads to another.  “O what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!” – Sir Walter Scott.

4.    It’s much easier to just tell the truth.  Mark Twain said: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

5.    A 19th century British preacher named R.W. Dale said “that lying of every kind is one of the very worst sins of which men can be guilty…Lying is sometimes malicious; it is always cowardly.”

6.    All human relationships depend upon truth between man and his neighbor.  Our very faith in God depends upon our conviction of His truthfulness.

7.    The Lord Jesus Christ said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

8.    Therefore, there can be no trust in God, no dependence upon His promises, and no confidence in His Word, apart from the conviction that He is essentially truth and that His Word is true.  Again, I will quote from our Saviour, who prayed to the Father: “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth” (John 17:17).  Colossians 1:5 refers to “the truth of the Gospel.”

9.    Our Lord referred to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17).  The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit is an honest man. On the other hand, our Lord referred to Satan as “a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).  Those who lie are being led by Satan (cf. Acts 5:1-6).



1.    People like to divide lies into white lies and black lies but all lies are bad. The Bible does not suggest that God winks at certain type of lies.

2.    A half-truth is a whole lie.  One thinks of Abraham telling the people of Gerar that Sarah was his sister.  And remember that years later, when Isaac went to Gerar he did the same thing!  Parents, our children are learning from us!  We must be careful that we are teaching them the right things.

3.    A few years back, some were saying that it is no big deal that President Clinton committed adultery, but if he committed perjury (lying under oath) it was an impeachable offense. 

4.    I do not like the way people defend his adulteries but it is true that perjury is a serious crime.  Perjury is a false statement under oath in court.  Unless severely dealt with, perjury will shake the foundation of justice.  And this is what is happening right now in America.

5.    Consider the case of Naboth in I Kings 21.  Wicked Queen Jezebel used false witnesses to testify against Naboth.  Then on the basis of their false testimony, Naboth – a good and innocent man – was put to death, and Jezebel and King Ahab stole all his land and property.

6.    We see a similar situation in the trial of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The wicked religious leaders of Israel brought in false witnesses to testify against our Lord, resulting in His conviction.

7.    Then again, we see the same thing in the trial of innocent Stephen.  Acts 6:13 says the religious leaders “set up false witnesses.”  Stephen was given an opportunity to defend himself so he preached the Word of God to those stiff-necked religious racketeers.  Before Stephen was able to conclude his message, they rushed upon him and cast him out of the city and stoned him to death.

8.    So in the case of Naboth, the Lord Jesus, and Stephen, we see three innocent men killed as the result of false testimony.  Of course there have been many others as well.

9.    If you ever told a lie and the Holy Spirit is bringing it now to your conscience, I implore you to get it right immediately.

10. Here in America we are plagued with lying witnesses, lying judges, lying prosecutors and lying lawyers.  Lawyers often defend their lies by saying it is their duty to get their client off the hook.  No, it is their duty before God to tell the truth!

11. Slander is another form of lying.  Proverbs 10:18 says, “he that uttereth a slander is a fool.”

12. Slander is spreading false reports about another with the intention of destroying their reputation.  One young pastor went to an older pastor and said, “Brother, people are spreading lies about me and my ministry.”  The older preacher replied: “Don’t worry about it.  Just make sure that what they are saying is not true.”

13. D.L. Moody said: “Slanderers are like flies that always settle on sores, but do not touch a man’s good parts.”

14. Shakespeare said: “Who steals my purse steals trash;

‘Tis something, nothing;

‘Twas mine, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands;

But he that filches from me my good name,

Robs me of that which not enriches him

And makes me poor indeed.”

15. David knew what it was like to be lied about (cf. Ps. 41:5-7).

16. The apostle Paul wrote to Titus, “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers…” (Titus 2:3).  The Greek word translated “false accusers” is diabolos – it is where we get our English word “diabolical.” 

17. Paul is literally saying, Christian women should not be “devils.”  The Devil is a slanderer.  In Revelation 12:10 he is called “the accuser of the brethren.”

18. The worst liars are religious liars.  I already mentioned the lying religious leaders who had our Lord killed, and then Stephen (cf. Jer. 14:14; 29:9).

19. In Matthew 7:15, our Lord described false prophets as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”  In Matthew 24:11 our Lord said, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”

20. In fact there are many similar warnings found throughout the Bible.  It is a shame that people are misled by false teachers, but I am convinced that many people like to follow false prophets.  In Isaiah 30:10, the Bible says that the people said to the false prophets,  “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”

21. Lately the media has been bombarding us with information about this oddball actor Tom Cruise, who recently had a baby out of wedlock with his girlfriend, who is also a Hollywood actor. 

22. This strange couple belong to a weird cult called “Scientology” that was started up by a science-fiction writer by the name of L Ron Hubbard.

23. In 1950 Mr. Hubbard made this announcement at an authors’ convention, “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars he should start his own religion.”  So in 1954, Mr. Hubbard started his own religion.

24. He declared that humans are descendants of aliens from outer space called Thetans and that we are nothing more than temporary vessels for the immortal souls of Thetans.  Eight million people believe this nonsense and are active members of the Scientology cult.

25. Now, “science fiction” is not science; it is fiction.  And a religion based upon science fiction is fictitious – that is, it is not true.

26. The dictionary defines “fiction” as “literary work produced by the imagination and not based on fact.”  Therefore, Scientology is a lie.  It is not based upon facts.  It was produced by the devilish imagination of science fiction author L Ron Hubbard.

27. I only use this strange cult as an example (because it is in the news all the time).  But I should remind you that all false religions are based on lies.  Second Thessalonians 2:10 tells us that there is coming a day when the multitudes will believe the lies of the antichrist because “they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

28. Flattery is another form of lying.  To flatter is to praise someone insincerely or excessively, and to gratify by falsification.  Proverbs 20:19 says: “Meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.”

29. There are church members who flatter the preacher to his face and then slander him behind his back.  That is a wicked sin indeed!

30. Other forms of lying include spreading false rumors, exaggerating, misrepresenting the facts, insinuation, gossip, tale-bearing, backbiting, and not telling the truth when it is incumbent upon us to speak up. 

31. What about situations when people impart partial information and deliberately hold back certain facts?  Obviously this can vary depending upon the person’s motives but this is not necessarily a sin (cf. I Samuel 16:1-4).

32. What about subterfuge in the time of war?  There is no doubt that the Bible commends Rahab the harlot even though she deceived the men that were pursuing the two Israelite spies (Joshua 2; Hebrews 11:31).

33. One form of lying that is particularly evil (and dangerous) is when Hollywood makes movies about historical events and historical figures and deliberately distorts the facts (e.g., The Passion of Christ, The Da Vinci Code, The Last Temptation of Christ, etc.).



1.    The most dangerous thing about lying is that a word once uttered can never be called back.  People pass bad checks and counterfeit bills.  These can be retrieved.  But once a word is uttered it is impossible to recover it.

2.    A woman was well-known as a scandal-monger and she went to a pastor and asked for advice.  He gave her a bag of seeds and told her to go out and scatter the seeds one by one.  The next day she returned and he said, “Now go and gather again the scattered seeds.”  She got the message.

3.    Raymond J. Donovan was the Secretary of Labor under President Ronald Reagan.  He was indicted by a federal grand jury on false charges of larceny and fraud, and was later acquitted.  After his acquittal he made this famous statement, “Where do I go to get my reputation back?”

4.    Lying not only leads to ruined reputations, it can often lead to death as we saw in the case of Naboth, Stephen, and others.



1.     The next time you are tempted to lie, remember that lying men sent our Lord to the cross.

2.     And remember that the Bible says “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8, 27; 22:15).

3.     And remember the words of our Saviour, who said: “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:37).

4.     J.C. Massee was a preacher who pastored the Baptist Temple in Brooklyn many years ago.  When he was growing up down south, his uncle was an infidel who used to stand by the church door and dispute the preaching to those who came to hear.  On one such occasion, a visiting preacher walked over to him, shook his hand and said: “My friend, you cannot afford to believe a lie.”  The preacher then walked into the church, and after he had finished his message and gave out the invitation, Dr. Massee’s infidel uncle came forward and stood before the congregation.  This is what he said: “I cannot afford to believe a lie, and I am convinced I have believed a lie all my life through.”

5.     He got saved that morning and lived the rest of his life trying to undo the evil results of his past mischief.

6.     Maybe there is someone here today who has been believing a lie. Are you willing to take that chance and spend eternity in hell?  

7.     Let me encourage to get right with God today (cf. I John 2:21, 22).

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