Exodus 20:16

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 15, 2008


Sometimes it is hard to tell whether something is true or not. Ever had someone send you an email warning you about something and you send it on to all your friends, only to find out later that it wasn’t true?

Can you tell which of these statements are true?

A penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building will embed itself in the pavement. (false)

The Bubbles in bubble-wrap (the packing material) contain a toxic gas. (false)

Unless marked "dairy," fast-food shakes aren't milk, but mostly carrageen gel. (true)

Albert Einstein did poorly in school. (false)

Some Oregon highway workers blew up a whale and showered the town with whale blubber. (true)


In talking about how the movie industry is able to make even the wildest story look real, screenwriter, producer, and director Andrew Niccol has said,

“It's gotten to the point that our ability to manufacture fraud now exceeds our ability to detect it.”

We’re working our way through the Ten Commandments.

Today we’re going to be talking about the ninth commandment …

:16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

The Hebrew text comes in this order:

bear ‘anah – to answer, testify, speak

neighborrea‘– friend, companion, another person

witness ‘ed – witness, testimony, evidence

falsesheqer – lie, deception, falsehood

You could translate it this way: “You shall not testify about another person with a witness that is a lie”

We could simply sum it up with “don’t lie”

One of the obvious implications of this law has to do with the legal system. In Israel, conviction was based on the testimony of two or more witnesses:

(Deu 17:6 NKJV) "Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.

If you accuse someone of something they didn’t do, this would qualify as bearing “false witness”.

(Deu 19:16-21 NKJV) "If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, {17} "then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. {18} "And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, {19} "then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. {20} "And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. {21} "Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

The penalty for being a “false witness” was for you to take the punishment of what you accused the other person of doing. If you accused them of something worthy of a death sentence, then you would be put to death.

One example of “false witnesses” happens during the time that wicked Ahab and Jezebel ruled the northern kingdom of Israel.

When wicked King Ahab (2Ki. 21) tried to buy some prime vineyard property from a fellow named Naboth, Naboth refused to sell. This really bummed Ahab out. Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, figured out a way to get the property for Ahab. She wrote a letter to the leaders of the city to hold a feast, invite Naboth, and told them to …

(1 Ki 21:10 NKJV) … seat two men, scoundrels, before him to bear witness against him, saying, "You have blasphemed God and the king." Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die.
Jezebel used “false witnesses” to manipulate and get what didn’t belong to her.

Jesus knew about false witnesses. When He was on trial before the Sanhedrin, they tried to find testimony from people against Jesus…

(Mat 26:60-61 NKJV) …Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward {61} and said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'"

It’s interesting that what they said was actually true, Jesus did actually make this statement (John 2:19), but they twisted the meaning of His statement. Jesus was talking about the temple of His body, not the temple in Jerusalem.
Truth is not just about making factually accurate statements, but conveying the accurate meaning as well.

I think the principle of this commandment goes further than just dealing with courtroom testimony.

The opposite of telling a lie is to tell the truth.

The Bible says a lot about truth (I found over 200 verses on “truth”)

Defining “truth”

Two main Hebrew words:

truth‘emeth (127x) and ‘emuwnah (49x) – both carry the idea of firmness, faithfulness, steadiness

Ex 34:6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,

The idea of truth as something you can trust because it’s “firm”. It’s a piece of ground that won’t give way under you. If it’s something you can reliably “trust” in, then it’s the “truth”.

In Greek there’s one main word:

truthaletheia (110x) – based on a compound of “not” and “hidden”.

The truth is something that’s exposed, it’s not something that’s covered up or hidden from plain sight.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Hebrew idea of truth is:

Something firm, something you can trust in.

The Greek idea of truth is:

Something not hidden.

In the Bible we see two ways that “truth” is used:

Objective truth – facts that are true.

Our faith is based on things that are true. Our faith if based on facts.
The Bible is truth
(Psa 119:160 NKJV) The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.
The gospel, the good news that Jesus died on a cross to pay for our sins is “truth”
Eph 1:13 In Him you also [trusted], after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation…

Subjective truth – persons that are true, they aren’t phonies.

(Exo 18:21 NKJV) "Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness…

Why truth?

1. God is all about truth.

(Deu 32:4 NKJV) He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.

Why does God not want His people to “bear false witness”? Because He is true. He is truth.

There is nothing false about God. He will not lie to you. He will not lie about you.

If you and I are going to be “God-followers”, then you and I are going to have to learn this concept of truth.

This is at the very core of who God is.

2. God’s people are to be about truth.

Sometimes there are believers who will spend a lot of time getting to know the “truths” about God correct, but without getting to understand the broader implication of truth.

You can know the truth about who God is and still be living a life of deceit and lies.

Look at what the Bible says about God’s people and truth:

(Psa 15:1-2 NKJV) LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? {2} He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart;

When David wrote his song of repentance after having committed adultery and murder, he wrote,

(Psa 51:6 NKJV) Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

In contrast, wickedness is characterized by lies, “un-truth”:

(Jer 9:3 NKJV) "And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, And they do not know Me," says the LORD.

Truth Lessons

1. Truth brings cleansing

(1 John 1:5-10 NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. {6} If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. {7} But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. {8} If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. {9} If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. {10} If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

When we have sin in our lives we are living in darkness. When we are trying to pretend that we don’t have a problem, we’re walking in darkness.

It’s not until we admit the truth about who we are and who God is, that we come into the “light” and find forgiveness.

When I walk into the light of truth about who I am, I will find cleansing.  The blood of Jesus will cleanse me of all sin.

I walk into that light when I confess my sin to God.

2. Truth binds us together

(Eph 4:25 NKJV) Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another.

Sometimes we are afraid of admitting the truth to each other because we are afraid that the other person will reject us if they really knew who we are.

The world teaches us that we need to impress people for them to like us, even if that means telling a little fib now and then.
The movies are filled with stories of people who are trying to impress each other.

God’s desire is that our relationships with one another are based on truth. Truth produces trust. The more you know that I’m going to be honest with you, the more you will trust me.


In 2004 Bella DePaulo, a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who specializes in studying forms of human deception, asked college students and members of the community-at-large to keep a notebook to tally up the number of lies they told in one week. By the end of the experiment, DePaulo found that the students had lied at least once to 38 percent of the people they came into contact with, while the community-at-large had lied to 30 percent of those with whom they interacted.
Based on her research, DePaulo insists that we all fall into one of two categories of liars:
Some of us are “self-centered liars”—we lie in order to make ourselves look better to others.
The rest of us are “other-centered liars”—we lie in order to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings.
The experiment also found that the proverbial “white lie” was more often told to strangers; deeper lies were reserved for those the liar loved most.
“In everyday life, people are often telling lies,” says DePaulo. “[It’s] not to get something concrete that they want, like more money, but for psychological reasons…
“Sometimes in our real lives, our valuing of honesty clashes with something else we also value, like wanting to be gracious or kind or compassionate.”
Brian Lowery, associate editor, PreachingToday.com; source: Jocelyn Voo, "Honestly, all of us are liars," www.cnn.com (1-21-08)

We may be tempted to think that our hiding the truth will keep our relationship together, but it’s just the opposite.  In the long run, honesty (truth) is what holds us together. 

Truth is the basis for trust.  It’s hard to trust someone who isn’t truthful.

3. Truth protects us

As Christians, we are in a spiritual war. There is an enemy that seeks to stop God’s people and stop the work of God on the earth.

The Psalmist describes truth as a “shield”

(Psa 91:4 NKJV) He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
A “buckler” is also a type of shield.

As Paul is describing the Christian’s spiritual weapons, he mentions truth as being like a soldier’s belt:

(Eph 6:14 NKJV) Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth…
In Paul’s day, the belt was the thing that held the rest of the weapons in place, sort of like Batman’s “utility belt”.

We can think of God’s truth as being a shield for us – when we walk in God’s truth we will find ourselves protected from Satan.

But don’t forget the “subjective” aspect of truth.  When you live a life of truth, of openness, of integrity – this will protect you as well.

If you have a reputation as being a tricky, deceiving person, you are going to have a hard time getting people to believe you when things get difficult.
Your habit of deceiving others will end up hurting you.


Seatbelts can be a hassle. Some people just don’t want to be bothered even when the law requires them to buckle up. According to the Associated Press, a New Zealander named Ivan Segedin took it to an extreme. The police ticketed him 32 times over five years for failing to use his seat belt. Even though this was costing him big money, Segedin refused to buckle up. Finally, instead of obeying the law, the man decided to rely on deception. He made a fake seat belt that would hang over his shoulder and make it appear that he was wearing a seat belt when he was not.
His trick worked for a while. Then, he had a head-on collision. He was thrown forward onto the steering wheel and killed.
Discussing the accident, the coroner described the fake seat belt: “Though his car was fitted with seat belts, an extra belt with a long strap had been knotted above the seat belt on the driver’s side, providing a belt to simply sit over the driver’s shoulder.”
Craig Brian Larson, editor of PreachingToday.com; source: "Fake seat belt to fool police causes death of New Zealand driver," The Associated Press (2-22-08)
He was hurt by his own deception.

4. Truth matures us

When Paul is writing to the Ephesians, one of the things he is dealing with is the process of maturity.  An immature church is one where they are constantly being tossed by every new wind of doctrine that blows through.

If you’ve been a Christian long enough, you’ve seen some of these “winds” of doctrines – the “prosperity” doctrine (we all ought to be wealthy), the “holy laughter” thing (people getting “drunk” by the Holy Spirit and acting silly), the “shepherding” movement (you need someone more spiritual than you to make all your decisions for you).  On and one they go.

Paul talks about the key to growing up as a church.  It’s also how we grow up as individuals.

(Eph 4:15 NKJV) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ;

Maturity comes from truth spoken in love.

It seems that as parents one of our hopes is that our children will grow up to be honest.  Remember hearing the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree as a kid?  Our parents were trying to teach us that it was best to tell the truth.  Supposedly when George told his father the truth about chopping down the cherry tree, his father replied, “Hearing you tell the truth instead of a lie is better than if I had a thousand cherry trees.”


Tonto says to his son, “Son, you push-um outhouse off-um cliff?” The kid says, “No, me no push-um outhouse off-um cliff.” Tonto says, “Son, me tell-um you story of Great White Father, George Washington. Many moons ago, when Great White Father was young boy, him chop-um down cherry tree. Him father ask-um, ‘Georgie, you chop-um down cherry tree?’ George say-um, ‘Cannot tell lie, Father. Me chop-um down cherry tree.’ Him father say, ‘Georgie bad, but Georgie honest, so you no get-um punishment.’ Now I ask-um you again...you push-um outhouse off-um cliff?” The kid says, “Yes, Father, me push-um outhouse off-um cliff.” Then Tonto grabs the kid and beats the tar out of him. The kid says, “Father, Great White Father tell truth and get-um off scott-free. I tell-um truth...why you beat-um tar out of me?” Tonto says, “George Washington’s father not in cherry tree when George chop-um down.”

We can tend to say things to cover up the truth.  We’re afraid to face the truth.

Sometimes it’s our pride that stands in the way.


After a long day on the course, the exasperated golfer turned to his caddy and said, “You must be the absolute worst caddy in the world!” “No, I don’t think so,” said the caddy. “That would be too much of a coincidence.”

Actually, the way to improve in things like your golf game, or the way you run your life, is to hear the truth about who you are, not to avoid it.

It’s learning to live in “truth”, in “reality” that grows us up.

I need to recognize the areas of my life that need help. A “to-do” list.

A few years ago I was struggling with a person who was extremely critical of other people, including me.  The more I wrestled with this person’s lack of grace the more I began to realize that I was just as bad – I too needed to learn what it is to be loving and gracious.  It’s one of the growing areas in my life.

A few months ago I was working on the video of my dad’s funeral and I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was a fat, fat boy.  In my head I’ve known I needed to lose weight, but I’ve tried to avoid the truth by not looking too much in the mirror.  I’m now on a diet and have lost half the weight I need to.

When we do premarital classes for couples, we like to include a personality test, a way of showing couples what kinds of things are up ahead for them.  And one of the hardest things about the tests is finding out that each person is flawed.  You can try to ignore those flaws or decide to do something about them.  The latter is what brings maturity.

I need to recognize the areas of my life that are blessed.

Maturity doesn’t just come with the bad news.  It also comes with the good news.

The truth that Paul wrote to the Ephesians about was not just about what needed to change, but the truth of how God had blessed them.

He prayed that they might know just how HUGE the love of God was for them (Eph. 3:18-19).
He reminded them that God was able to do…
(Eph 3:20 NKJV)  …exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
I know I am extremely blessed with a wonderful, beautiful, godly, intelligent, hard-working, gorgeous wife.
I am incredibly blessed with three amazing, handsome, smart, godly sons.
I am blessed with being the pastor of a great church.

Don’t ignore the good truths about your life.

5. Truth saves us

(John 3:16-21 NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. {17} "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. {18} "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. {19} "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. {20} "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. {21} "But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

Both kinds of truth are important here.

Objectively we need to accept and believe the fact that Jesus came to save us.
Subjectively we need to admit that we a sinners who need God’s forgiveness.
We don’t run from the light of God’s truth, we need to run to it.


During the 2007-2008 NFL regular season, New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady set the record for most touchdown passes in a regular season, paving the way for his winning the MVP award. At the age of 30, he has already won three Super Bowls—an accomplishment that sets him apart as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.
In 2005, Tom Brady was interviewed by 60 Minutes journalist Steve Kroft. Despite the fame and career accomplishments he had achieved already, Brady told Kroft that it felt like something was still lacking in his life:
Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, 'Hey man, this is what [it's all about].' I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me? I think, 'It's got to be more than this.' I mean this isn't—this can't be—all it's cracked up to be."
Kroft pressed Brady as to what the right answer was, and Brady added:
What's the answer? I wish I knew… I love playing football, and I love being quarterback for this team. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of other parts about me that I'm trying to find.
Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky; source: www.cbsnews.com and 60 Minutes (CBS, 2007)
Is this the truth about you as well?  Are you finding that after all the things you’ve tried in your life, you’re still empty inside?
Life starts with truth.  The truth that:

You are incomplete.  You are flawed.  You are broken.

Jesus loves you.  He loved you so much that He died to take your place, to pay for your sins.

You need Jesus.

Jesus said,
(John 8:32 NKJV)  "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Are you ready for the truth?


Truth changes us

(John 8:32 NKJV) "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Some secular people like to use this verse in the sense of knowing the truth about yourself, which is okay.

In reality it’s talking about the truth of Jesus – that He is God, that He died for us, that He will save us from our sins.

(John 17:17 NKJV) "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

The word “sanctify” speaks of the process of us being changed, of becoming more pure, of becoming more useful to God.

(Psa 145:18 NKJV) The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.

(John 14:6 NKJV) Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

(John 4:23-24 NKJV) "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. {24} "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

The combination of words “false” and “witness” occurs nine times in the Old Testament.

David knew what it was to be a target of a “false witness”

(Psa 27:12 NKJV) Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.

Six times Solomon uses the phrase “false witness” in the book of Proverbs, like:

(Prov 12:17 NKJV) He who speaks truth declares righteousness, But a false witness, deceit.

(Prov 19:5 NKJV) A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies will not escape.

(Prov 16:6 NKJV) In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.

(John 8:44 NKJV) "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

(John 16:13 NKJV) "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

The Holy Spirit is all about truth. If you are a Christian but you are living a lie, then you are finding yourself fighting the work of the Holy Spirit.

(Rom 1:25 NKJV) who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision


In 2008, New York Magazine ran a comprehensive article about research concerning kids and lying. In one study researchers gathered a group of children together and read them a version of The Boy Who Cried Wolf where the little boy is eaten by the wolf because he lies. In a survey of adults taken before the study, most thought the negative consequences in The Boy Who Cried Wolf would lead the children to be more honest in controlled experiments on honesty and deceit. However, after hearing the story, researchers observed that the children continued their usual rate of lying. Researchers then taught the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. In the story George goes to his father and confesses he cut down the tree. His father replies, “Hearing you tell the truth instead of a lie is better than if I had a thousand cherry trees.” Researchers found that the story of George Washington and the cherry tree reduced lying by 43 percent. They concluded that the threat of punishment simply teaches children to learn how to lie better. When children learn the worth of honesty, as they did in the story of George Washington, they lie less.

Jerry De Luca, Montreal West, Quebec, Canada; source: Po Bronson, "Learning To Lie," New York Magazine (2-10-08)