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The Ninth Commandment: My Neighbors Right to An Honest Day in Court



Exodus 20:16 (KJV)

16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.


So let us talk about lying and the legal system


Just Who Is My Neighbor?

·        The key word in this commandment is the word ‘neighbor.’

o   Many people quote this commandment as ‘Thou shalt not lie’ but that that is not what how the commandment reads.

§  Three important words are tacked to the end of that ‘against thy neighbor’.

·        And so the question invariable arises ‘who is my neighbor’?

o   Neighbor in the Old Testament did not mean, ‘The person who happened to live next door to you’

o   Now, this initial thread here gets down into the idea of Bible Interpretation and how to do it properly.

o   In order to apply the principles of the Bible, you first have to understand the Bible verse you are studying in its context.


o   The Bible is an eastern book.

§  You cannot understand an eastern book with your western mind.

o   If you lay your western mind over the Bible, you will absolutely mess-up or miss God’s intention in many verses or passages of scripture.

§  You cannot just read the Bible with your 21st century understanding because your 21st century background colors your current understanding.

o   Instead, you have to study the Bible in its pristine context; in the context of the day and age of the Old Testament.

o   Once you understand the Bible in context, you then take the underlying principle taught in that passage (if it is appropriate to the Covenant we are in) and upload that to the 21st century. This is how proper Bible study or exegesis should occur.

o   When you drill down into the word ‘neighbor’, you will find that the term is full of Blood Covenant implications. The word drips with the idea of covenant.

o   Leviticus 19:18 defines ‘neighbor’ a little differently than Americans do.


Leviticus 19:18 (ESV)

18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.


o   Notice in this passage of scripture that the word ‘neighbor’ equates to ‘sons of your own people’.

o   The Land, that God promised Israel, which Joshua and the children of Israel conquered, was doled out by order to each of the tribes of Israel.

o   That land, once distributed, was in turn passed to the descendants of each family or tribe.

§  Let us go back one verse in Leviticus 19 and look at verse 17…


Leviticus 19:17–18 (ESV)

17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.


o   Notice the word ‘brother’ and the word ‘neighbor’ are equivalent in this passage.

o   So, a physical blood relationship existed between these ‘neighbors’.

o   The Old Testament term ‘neighbor’ and the term ‘brother’ were equivalent

o   So, the ninth commandment was literally, “you shall not bear false witness against your blood related brother.”

o   But there is another level of distinction to be noted here.

§  These ‘family members’ were not only ‘brothers’ related by human blood but they were also Blood Covenant brothers by the Abrahamic Covenant.


·        So, this 9th commandment has a double punch

o   When this commandment was broken by a person in Israel, it was a double violation.

§  It was a violation against family

§  It was a violation against the covenant that bound the family.

§  Now that we have talked about the ‘neighbor’ part let us talk about the ‘false witness’ part.


Do You Swear to Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth…

·        The commandment is a narrow application of the principle of ‘not lying’.

o   ‘Bearing false witness’ is legal language

o   The 9th commandment actually was designed to protect family members from being falsely accused legally.

§  The commandment is literally ‘do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…’

o   The legal systems of ancient times hinged many times on the accusation of a single person.

o   In Old Testament days, it was literally one person’s word against another.

o   The importance of accurate testimony and truthful eyewitness’s were of utmost importance in the legal systems of ancient times.

§  A false testimony or charge could be devastating to a ‘neighbor’.


The Ninth Commandment Is A Mirror Showing God’s Likeness

·        The commandment is a mirror showing who God is.

o   God is a God of integrity

o   DEFINITION: in•teg•ri•ty (în-tèg¹rî-tê) noun

§  1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. See synonyms at honesty.

§  2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.

§  3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.


·        Integrity speaks of honesty

o   One fellow said, “Integrity is like virginity–once you lose it, it is gone for good. . . .”

§  I agree with this statement to a certain extent but not  100% because integrity can be restored it just takes a long time and the ‘long-time’ process must be respected.

§  It has happened in peoples marriages – someone is unfaithful. Can integrity and honesty be restored to an extent where each one ‘trusts’ the other again?  Yes, but it takes a long time and a great amount of walking upright day in and day out. Integrity is not restored by saying “I am sorry”.


·        Integrity speaks of wholeness

o   ILLUSTRATION: Japanese House that Stood

o    Frank Lloyd Wright was given the impossible task of building the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.  No comparable construction job ever before had been undertaken.  With patience he laid plans for the immense building in the land of earthquakes and terrible tremors. After carefully reviewing the situation, he found that eight feet below the surface of the ground lay a sixty foot bed of soft mud Why not float the great structure on this and in some way make it absorb the shock of the earthquake?  After four years of work amid ridicule and jeers of skeptical onlookers, the most difficult building in the world was completed and soon arrived the day, which tested  it completely. The worst earthquake in fifty-two years caused houses and buildings all around to tumble and fall in ruins.  But the Imperial Hotel stood because it was able to adjust itself to the tremors of earth.                 – Arthur Smith

§  This house stood because it had structural integrity.  It was whole, it was complete even with pressure applied to it.

o   When we talk about the integrity of God we are saying, …

§  ‘Is God’s Word whole? 

§  Is it complete? 

§  Can we put pressure on it and will it hold?’


OIL AND WATER: Blood Covenant and Lying

·        When we speak of the issue of ‘not bearing false witness’, we are coming in line with the essential core of what a Blood Covenant is.

o   A Blood Covenant was an agreement signed literally in blood whereby you gave your word that you fulfill or do certain things.  You spoke the truth and committed to that truth in blood.

o   The question that arises is ‘how dare one who has committed such an oath with his neighbor then turn around and lie about his neighbor (in giving false witness)?



·        You’ll never understand God, (the light will never dawn on your spirit man) until you understand the fact that God is not a man that He should lie. 


Numbers 23:19 (KJV 1900)

19 God is not a man, that he should lie; Neither the son of man, that he should repent: Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?


1 Samuel 15:29 (KJV)

29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.


Ezekiel 24:14 (KJV)

14 I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD.


Titus 1:2 (KJV)

2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;


·        One of my favorite verses along this line is in Hebrews 6


Hebrews 6:13–14 (ESV)

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”


Hebrews 6:17–18 (ESV)

17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.


·        Now, think about what God did here with Abraham and his seed.

o   God was willing to show Abraham that He was a God that cannot lie.

o   So, He backed His Word that He had given to Abraham with an oath. The oath was the Blood Covenant oath that He swore – or the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant that God swore in blood.

o   God bound Himself with an oath when He already given Abraham His Word.

o   God condescended to Abrahams level and spoke comfort to his heart by cutting a covenant with Abraham communicating with him a language that he understood – blood covenant language.

o   You see Abraham understood the mechanics of blood covenanting because that is how agreements or contracts were done between people in ancient days.

o   Understand that the God who cannot lie had already given His Word to Abraham. And He really technically did not have to give him anything else! His Word is enough!

o   God took that He spoken to Abraham previously and wrapped it in the ceremony of blood covenanting so Abraham had something physical to identify with.

o   Abraham saw the blood – he saw the animal split down the backbone and felt the blood on his feet as he walked the ‘figure 8’ walk between the pieces.

o   We in the New Testament do not need all that ceremony in order to believe Him.

o   All we need is for Him to speak the Word only and we will be delivered.


o   And it is just that simple…

§  If He said it, He will do it and if He spoke it, He will bring it to pass.


o   I am telling you boldly, you will never understand God until you understand the fact that God cannot lie.


o   And now we have the 9th commandment which says ‘You be like Him’.

o   So God cannot lie and you should not lie!

·        Now, if this does not cinch the deal try this on for size.


Leviticus 18:22 (KJV)

22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.


Proverbs 12:22 (KJV)

22 Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: But they that deal truly are his delight.


·        Lying is the same class of sin as homosexuality!


Proverbs 6:16–17 (KJV)

16 These six things doth the Lord hate: Yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood,

·        Here in Proverbs, lying is classed with murder


It would be wisdom to put all this in perspective and understand the importance of following the principles of the 9th commandment in the day and age in which we live!