Exodus 20:16 Don’t bear false witness against your neighbor.
It’s been said that liar’s don’t go to hell when they die. They go to congress.
This week the Democrats blocked the Republicans from sending out a mailing to their constituents regarding the health care bill being worked on. The reason for blocking it was because the Democrats say it’s untruthful. Republicans, for their part, are calling for a flag on the play because they believe it’s very truthful. Each side is accusing the other of lying.
It’s fascinating to me how both sides can say that the other side is lying. Somebody has to be telling the truth right? It’s especially confusing on an issue like health care that is a monumental problem with a lot of moving parts.
As best I can tell it’s not so much that either side is lying in the traditional sense of the word. Rather it’s that they both take a simple piece of accurate information from a very complex situation and declaring it the whole truth.
Of course convoluted problems require convoluted solutions; solutions that can’t be communicated in a 30 second sound byte. Instead we get a piece of the truth, told it’s the whole truth, and are expected to believe it.
It’s my position that taking a piece of truth and declaring it as the whole truth is in and of itself a lie.
More specifically I think it’s an example of bearing false witness.
The only example in scripture where the phrase “false witness” is used as an example is in Matthew 26. . As Jesus stood accused the chief priests and Sanhedrin sought out false witnesses to testify against Him. The ones that they finally found some one who testified that Jesus said He would tear down the temple and rebuild it in 3 days.
That is what He said. It was a piece of the truth but not the entire truth. Another way to put it is that it was the right information but the wrong implication.
He was talking about his body and the resurrection from the dead in 3 days. In fact the disciples would look back to that statement as a foundation of their belief in Him. (John 2:19-22) It was an early example of “gotcha” politics.
Bearing false witness is definitely lying but it’s deeper, it’s more dangerous, it’s being tricky with the truth.
It’s not just politics of course. It’s a part of our every day lives.
Every time you or I say the words, “ you know (INSERT NAME), they’re really good people BUT”. This is always followed by something that completely negates that fact that they’re a “really good person. The justification for this is usually that it’s true. We somehow feel justified in sharing bad information about each other as long as it’s true.
It’s a part of the truth, but not the whole truth. It’s the right information, but the wrong implication. The whole truth is that person who is a brother or sister in Christ that I am “speaking the truth about” is a blood bought, robed in righteousness, positionally pure (I know positionally isn’t a word but it sounds good) and engaged to be the Bride of Christ. They are someone that Jesus loves very much; that He is very passionate about.
When we do this we’re aligning ourselves with the one that Jesus himself said is a liar. Revelation 12:10 records that Satan accuses us before God himself. The stuff that he says about me, well it’s a piece of the truth. “God you know Darren lied about” or “Darren stole” and that part is true. But it’s a piece of the truth, and if it’s declared as the whole truth it’s a lie. The whole truth is that Jesus paid the price of that lie and that theft.
Here’s the great news.
1 John 2 says if any man sins, know this, we have an advocate or a defense lawyer with the father. John goes on to call Jesus the “good and faithful witness.” Jesus tells the whole story. Yes they have sinned but my blood has cleanses them, and the father says case dismissed, lack of evidence.
So the question for me is am I a false witness like Satan or am I a true and faithful witness like Jesus? Acts 1 records that some of Jesus last words was calling you and I to be His witnesses. A true and faithful witness is called to tell the truth, the whole truth, not just a piece of it, or just being tricky with it, but the whole entire truth.
I love my wife very much. If someone says, “well you know Shannon, I really like her but you know (INSERT SNARKY COMMENT)” that is going to infuriate me. It’s going to cause me to come to her defense. To put it simply, it’s not going to go over well.
How would I expect Jesus to respond with me trash talking His bride?
Are we being good and faithful witnesses for our colleagues, the people we work with, our friends and family? Am I telling the truth? Maybe instead of the “you know Darren, he’s a really nice guy BUT”. Maybe we can just stop with the “but”. Don’t go any further than that.
And if you’re thinking, well it’s not true! Be a good and faithful witness on behalf of Jesus, He’s the one that makes it true about you, and He’s the one that makes it true about the person we’re so tempted to speak badly about.
We’ll dig more deeply into this tomorrow night at Conduit. I hope you can join us.
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