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9th Commandment: You Shall Not Bear False Witness

This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Truth or Consequences.

Exodus 20:16

This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Truth or Consequences.

Truth has been kicked down by professors of philosophy and dishonest politicians, and chloroformed by liberal preachers. And now judgment, justice, and equity cannot get through. (See Isaiah 59:14.)

Our job is to set truth back on her feet.

What Is the Ninth Commandment?

Exodus 20:16
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

The Father of Lies

Who is the Father of Lies? Satan himself. (See John 8:44.) The very word “devil” means slanderer.

The Father of Lies Corrupts

Satan used slander to corrupt Adam in Eden, by slandering God’s honesty. God had said, “The day you eat of this fruit, you will surely die,” but Satan said, “You will not surely die.” (Read Genesis 3:3-4.)

Satan’s slander worked: Adam sinned.

The Father of Lies Criticizes

In the Book of Job, Satan appears before the throne of God and slanders Job, a godly man who loved God with all of his heart. (Read Job 1:8-11.)

When Jesus was in the wilderness, Satan slandered Jesus through accusations and temptations. (Read Matthew 4.) Satan has been bearing false witness about Jesus for a long time. (See Matthew 26:59.)

What Does It Mean to Bear False Witness?

There are many ways to break the ninth commandment.


“You shall not circulate a false report” (Exodus 23:1a). A rumor-monger is a child of the Father of Lies.


“Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness” (Exodus 23:1b). It does not matter what people think—you do not bear false testimony. One day you will stand in God’s courtroom. There, the one who set the murderer free will be condemned of murder, and the one who accused the innocent will suffer the penalty the innocent suffered.


“A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin” (Proverbs 26:28).

Flattery is a way of using people. “The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart” (Psalm 55:21a). Flattery and hypocrisy are two sides of the same coin, and God’s Word forbids it.


2 Corinthians 12:20 warns about “whisperings.” You can bear false witness by insinuation—just by the tone of your voice, by the arching of the eyebrows.


Of course, sheer slander is one of the family members of the Father of Lies. “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren” (James 4:11a). James does not care whether the matter is true or not.

When you listen to backbiting and slander, you are as guilty as the person who gives it.

Not Speaking Up

The negative always implies the positive. When the Bible says, “You shall not bear false witness,” it implies that you will bear true witness. So if you are quiet when you ought to speak, you have sinned.

“If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter—if he does not tell it, he bears guilt” (Leviticus 5:1). If you simply say, “It’s none of my business,” and keep silent when a criminal deed is done, or when a good man is criticized, you break the ninth commandment.

Is Lying a Sin?

Proverbs 6:16-19
These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.

Of the seven things that God hates, two of them deal with breaking the ninth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness.”

If you have made a practice of lying, the Bible says plainly that “you are of your Father the devil” (John 8:44) and you will spend all eternity with Satan in Hell. Hell was not prepared for you; it was prepared for the devil and his angels, his messengers. (See Matthew 25:41.) But when you are a false witness, you become one of Satan’s messengers.

“All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8b).

The God of Truth

“You shall not bear false witness” implies, “You shall bear true witness.”

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8; emphasis added).

Our homes ought to be witnesses to the saving power of Christ. One family becomes a witness to another family. Do your neighbors know you are Christians?

You may say, “I haven’t been to seminary. I’m not trained.” Has Jesus Christ saved you? Is He real to you? A witness tells what he has seen and heard—just the facts. Witness about things you do know. And if you fail, that is part of your witness: tell how you failed, and how God forgave you and gave you another chance. Your neighbor is waiting to hear.

Living By the Truth of God

There is a crying need today for families that believe the truth, love the truth, teach the truth, and share the truth. A home that is not built on the truth of God will crumble.

How do we transfer these things to our children, so that our children can go into the school, the workplace, the government, and permeate society with the truth of God?

Teach the Truth of God

The Word of God is truth, so teach the Word of God to your children. Show them that when they tell a lie, they are acting like the devil. Show them that when they tell the truth they are acting like Jesus Christ.

Do not simply say, “Don’t tell a lie, that’s bad.” Give them a theological reason. Tell them why they ought to tell the truth. Talk of these Scriptures when you rise up, when you lie down. (See Deuteronomy 6:7.) Make certain your children understand the holy Ten Commandments.

Model the Truth of God

Fathers, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is that you tell the truth.

You can fail in many ways and still come out fairly good with your children. But if you fail here, if you fail to keep your word and fail to tell the truth to your children, your home is on the road to disaster.

If you have ever made a promise to your child and failed to keep it, ask that child for forgiveness. Confess that you have done wrong. Let your children know that you are a truth-speaker.

Do you ever teach children to lie for you? “Mama said she’s not here.” If we teach them to lie for us, we should never punish them when they lie to us. Moms and dads, tell the truth and keep your word.

Discipline in the Truth of God

Your children should know you will not put up with these three D’s: Disobedience, Defiance, and Dishonesty.

In those moments, the judgment should be sure and swift. Kind? Yes. But stern, too.

If you want your home to win, go back to what God has said. Take the Ten Commandments one at a time—measure your life by them, and teach them to your children.

List of Scriptures Referenced in this Article

Exodus 20:16, 23:1; John 8:44; Genesis 3:3-4; Job 1:8-11; Matthew 4, 25:41, 26:59; Psalm 55:21; 2 Corinthians 12:20; James 4:11; Leviticus 5:1; Revelation 21:8; Acts 1:8

More Bible Verses About the Ninth Commandment

Psalm 15
LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; he who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the LORD; he who swears to his own hurt and does not change; he who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
Proverbs 12:22
Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.
Ephesians 4:25
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.