The Sin Of False Witness…

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

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Rev 12:10

As food and water are to physical health, So Truth is to the Soul and the Spirit. We all need the Truth to live.

Obviously we need the truth about God, we cannot live without the knowledge of God, for that is the very definition of Eternal Life,

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

Notice that Jesus spoke of the knowledge of “The only True God...”. emphasizing that precision and accuracy of that knowledge is essential. Eternal life is specific knowledge, of the one true God, who has fully revealed himself in sending His Son Jesus the Messiah.

Man was made to know God, thus one could say, man was created to receive Truth into his soul. Each one of us only have so much time to open our hearts and receive the truth, is it is very important that what we let into our souls really is true.

The fall of man came about because Satan bore false witness against God, and our first parents were willing receive it. He called God’s goodness into question, implying that God was holding back things which would have enriched and fulfilled the first couple. When they entertained such a notion, they broke away from God, and took the whole race with them into estrangement and separation. Such is the power of false witness.

Adam and Eve needed the truth, but were misled, choosing to believe the Serpent rather than the Word of God.

People are never more like Satan, then when they promote false witness against their neighbor. False witness is literally the Devil’s work, for He is the “accuser of the brethren”.

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. ( Proverbs 6:16-19)

Because of false witness, nations are ruined, wars are started, families are destroyed, people are alienated and estranged, in short Satan’s Kingdom is established. The Kings of the earth, and the ruling elite routinely employ false witness to “divide and conquer” those whom they rule over. Truly the scripture correctly asserts, that “The Whole World lies in the power of the wicked One”.

It is bad enough when sinners bear false witness against each other, but the spectacle of Christians doing so is heartbreaking.

I have seen false witness employed to split churches, separate chief friends, destroy ministries, defame godly and well intentioned people, and to ruin the spiritual lives of those who indulge in or are affected by it.

What is false witness?

It can be the telling of outright lies, mistruths spoken about a person’s character, or it can occur more subtly, such as telling a truth, but keeping pertinent parts out of it, to make someone look bad, or to diminish a person to those who hear it. Sometimes it is not what someone says, but what they don’t say or what they withhold, or emphasize or de-emphasize that paints a false picture about a person.

False witness kills. It is a form of murder, not physical murder, but it is the Spirit of murder, because it alienates, and can destroy a person’s name and reputation. This is why those who indulge in it, are actually guilty of murder.

A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow. ( Proverbs 25:18)

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. (Psalm 27:12)

There are many people who suffer greatly because mistruths and outright lies have been told about them, and there is little they can do to set the record straight.

Another form of suffering comes by believing such lies and being separated from possible friends and allies because of the Power of false witness.

Love is only possible in Truth. We need each other, and we need the truth about each other. To be denied the benefit of the doubt due to someone else’s talebearing. or to lose the trust of those who we once fellowshipped with, is by definition the destruction of God’s work.

Truth and Love are inseparable. We are told to “Speak the Truth in Love…” . The Church is the “Pillar and ground of the Truth”, and the demonstration of God’s Love in this world. “No man hath seen God at any time but if we Love one another God dwells in us…”

Spiritually speaking there is no real truth without Love.

Many of God’s servants have rightly seen that false prophets and false teachers had become a destructive bane on the church, and were raised up to expose them, and to defend the Faith once delivered for the Saints. They are used, to expose flaws and misrepresentations in the teachings of false prophets and teachers, and thus become extremely critical, for a good, righteous cause.

But in those cases, the temptation is to become angry, and to forget Love in the cause of Truth. This is what happened to the Ephesian church Jesus wrote to in the Revelation,

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (Revelation 2:2-4)

“Discernment Ministry” often legitimately requires debate, argument, the marshaling of facts, rebuttal and open reproof. When those who are used in this ministry “lose their first love” they become cranky, abusive, they often rejoice at the discovery of evil in an “opponent”, and delight to expose them, rather than mourn. At times they can easily slide further, not being accurate in their accusations, or shading things to put allegedly false ministers in a worse light, and not being careful to be precise in quotations of those they seek to “expose”. This is no longer discernment, it has become “false Witness”.

Apologetics is one thing, but false witness is something else entirely. It is not hard in the fight to drift from one to the other. Sometimes apologetics can actually serve as a cover for malice, anger, frustration, and even jealousy. These are the works of the flesh, there is nothing of the Holy Spirit about them.

At the end of that spectrum is the angry, bitter spectacle of ministers actually seeking to ruin one another, damaging the names and reputations of those they consider as rivals. A local pastor once confided in one of my elders, that he “prayed regularly that (our) so called Church would shut down and that I would have to leave the ministry…”. Someone had borne false witness about us to him. He never talked to us, He just ran with it.

We could not get further away from the ideal of the Christian ministry than by practicing false witness, the very work of the Devil himself.

Let us remember that one of the names of Jesus, our LORD and Messiah, is “the Faithful Witness”, He is the true witness of and to God the Father, and He bears true witness about all men, thus his witness leads to Life, peace and true communion.

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10 Responses to The Sin Of False Witness…

  1. A word in season. So much grief is caused through this sin – not least to The Lord Himself.
    What shocks me is the absence of Fear of The Lord amongst the perpetrators.
    Examine our hearts Oh Lord. Let there be no wicked thing found therein…

  2. This is such a timely article. I keep up on the latest news in the church, but it can become a source of gossip. A few years ago I was listening to a broadcast that mocked heretics in a funny way, but I felt so convicted about laughing with such a scornful attitude about such serious issues. (I stopped listening because the announcer sounded like he was so superior on doctrine, yet he believed in infant baptism.) I think Christians who have to confront others should do it with a heart of grief and love, and be passionate about our stance, rather than having a heart of almost gleeful, critical, mockery. The worst sins are those that are done in the name of God. We have to be so careful to check our heart and ask God to show us when we are being unfaithful in our witness. It would be horrible to be on the receiving end of mockery and criticism, even if the person was guilty, but how much more horrible it would be if it was a lie!

  3. standingfirm says:

    Jealousy is the wicked spark that fans a inferno. Thanks Pastor Bill for this excellent information. I have seen so much destruction in my lifetime brought about by jealousy and everyone trying to be a “diotrephes”. I personally have been viciously slandered and lied about in a family episode regarding a deceased loved ones will, by my brother. Nothing is more painful then when your own family members do this to you. I have experienced first hand what Jesus talks about in the end days, of your worst enemies being members of your own family. My heart goes out to discernment ministers being lied about and torn to shreds by the lying tongue. It seems those that engage in this sin are ignorant of the book of James.

  4. ONe of your best, and that is not to say any other is of less quality…..people need to hear the whole of God’s counsel.

  5. Deemar says:

    Thank you for the admonition!!!!
    The LORD taught me this as I was sent to “speak the Truth in Love” to a church fellowship that we had been a part of. I was grieved to the core, and had every intention of “working together” to regain our first Love – going back to the mission of the True Church, encouraging them to turn-away from the seeker-sensitive, business model of “church” that we had become. I quickly became the target of “false witness”, as I was ex-communicated from the fellowship, and was lied about to others who were now fearful of having any communication with me, the ‘divisive one’.

    This then sent me into a time of ‘research’, and learning all about the heresies that were currently invading the churches. It is one thing to be aware of them in order to be ‘on guard’ – it is another thing to become obsessed with learning about them, taking pleasure in feeling “justified” for going forth with correction for others. After a period of some time, I ended up spending more time looking for error than I spent studying/living Truth. I had left my “first Love” for the ’cause’ of defending Truth. Yes, Bill you are so correct that this is very easy to slip into.

    The LORD convicted me on this, as I could feel it within myself, that I had gone off-track and was losing the ‘Joy of the Lord’. I was led to the verse in Revelation regarding “losing our first love”, and I knew that the LORD was speaking to ME!!

    This is the narrow road that leads to Life – always living in humility, willing to ‘change course’ if we go astray. I pray that as long as it is “TODAY”, I/we will not harden my/our heart against our Loving Shepherd….
    He IS faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of our unrighteousness as we confess our sin to Him….His mercy is NEW every morning…. He keeps in mind we are ‘but dust’ and knows our every temptation. He IS our faithful HIGH PRIEST who stands as Mediator for His sheep.
    Maranatha, Jesus!!!!! Thank you for KEEPING US as we remain in YOUR GOODNESS!

    • Christopher Smith says:

      In some ways, your experience has been my own, but for a single “Body of Christ” long ago.

      Since then, as a “spiritual refuge,” I have gone from church to church as employment mandated ─ as a “missionary” ─ not admonishing “another man’s servant” but declaring with joy the effectual magnificence of His Word:

      “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
      Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13).

  6. gloria j leese says:

    Not only what you wrote Bill Randels was a blessing of truth …the comments also were a blessing
    to me….and by His Grace many others too. Amen

  7. C Smith says:

    “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yes, and will rejoice” (Php 1:18).

  8. monica says:

    Yes to some important points to consider when living and living as a child that worships God. So sorry to hear you have been hurt that deep, sir. which makes me write back. 🙂 May God heal your spirit. As a christian child and adult, I witnessed loving sacrificial and modest people getting hurt like that. But we have to still carry on even when false history is written, talk with love and only words of encouragement, healing and building!!! (examples available, one could be my dad, hurt to the grave since young by all sorts, even a pastor who was acting (lying) out of a primitive mindset but dad kept building a spirirual shelter and a church in people’s hearts, everyone he met with, intentionally all his life). My dad never spoke out of a dirty mind in fear of ddemounting or killing with the word someone God is already working on. It just amazes me!!!… a forgiver and a true listeners of God. I think this love is so important and I would love to learn to carry forward religiously.

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