From Mount Sinai, God gave the Commandments as an overview of the Law in descending order of honor and authority. #1 No other gods before Me, #2 No carved images to worship, #3 Do not take name of God in vain, #4 Keep the Sabbath holy, #5 Honor your father and mother, #6 Do not murder, #7 Do not commit adultery, #8 Do not steal. The first four were people’s relationship to God, the next six were people’s relationship to others.
#9 Do not be a FALSE witness
The nation of Israel, who had just come from being slaves, had no rights and had only experienced the Egyptian justice system which was dictated by the Pharaoh. After being rescued by the true God, He related the new justice system which was founded upon truth. Before forensics, the most vital and potentially damaging part of the justice system was an eye-witness, as a person’s livelihood or their very lives might be on the line. For this reason, two or three witnesses were required and punished if found to be lying (Deut. 19:15-21). The root of the command to not be a false witness was the desire or ability to lie about a situation to escape judgement or for personal gain. Truth without prejudice is at a premium in any society, especially among God’s people (Ex. 23:1-8).
Even in our modern day, the Bible and the God behind it, are used in court to bind the person to the truth. Satan is known as the Father of lies, and lying and false witnesses were used to put Jesus to death (John 8:44; Mark 14:55-60)! Lying, or falsehood, is not just the opposite of the truth, but the opposite of God, who is Truth. God is pure integrity, having no deception or falseness within His character and God’s children should strive to imitate their Father (Num. 23:19; 1 Pet. 1:14-16). It is this holiness, or ‘set-apartness’ of believers that designates their new nature and their willingness to tell the truth even if it is to their hurt or loss (Ps. 15:1-3; Col. 3:9). God blesses those who fear Him by not becoming a false witness against someone though they could gain from the other person’s conviction. Lying is a lack of trust and faith in God and fear for His omniscience and future judgment (Matt. 12:33-37; Rev. 21:7, 8). A person’s word represents their character, and as God holds to His word, so should believers though they may suffer loss because of it (Ps. 15:1-4). As God is, so should His people be!