You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Your Neighbor
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16)
Before this commandment was given, people habitually made false testimonies about their neighbors. People were already good at lying, but since every interpersonal relationship involves profit and loss, it was not surprising that people bore false witnesses for their own profit. Even today, there are witnesses who bear false testimony in a legal court. Even Jesus was put to death unreasonably and it was due to false witnesses. So, we can see how vicious and accursed a sin it is to bear false witness.
False witness. Yet even if we were to determine ourselves not to bear false witness, it is nearly impossible. This is because false witnessing occurs where the relationship involves gains and losses. Thus, unless I accuse the other person, they will accuse me of wrong and therefore cause losses for me. That is why, many times, people do not have a choice but to bear false witness. We see that a lot in movies. The protagonist is shocked by how the other person stabs him in the back. But that person also does not have a choice but to do that in order to save his life.
In the same way, some of the people that killed Jesus had conspired against Him with false testimonies. Yet the majority of the people involved probably did not have any other choice but to go along in order to save themselves. If they did not want to be kicked out of the synagogue, they would have had to follow the mob. So, when we ask, “Who is Jesus?” we must not bear false witness. We know who He is. We know so well that He is the Son of God and Christ. Yet if one denies Him because he wants to save his life, he may say that Jesus is a mere man. But we are not to bear false testimony like that.
Therefore, whether one makes a false testimony or not is tightly linked to life. Unless you are determined to risk your life, you cannot keep this commandment. In order to keep this commandment, you have to put your life on it. Only such a person will not bear false witness.
Yet whatever one says about another person in this world will, in the end, become all lies. Why? Because everyone changes. For example, there is a person called Light. She is most beautiful. She has an upright heart. She only knows how to go forward and never bends. She cannot be bent. So, people testify to that light with all their life. Light is straight. It does not bend. However, that is the only case from the perspective of humans and what we see. If you go onto the macroscopic level and look at the whole universe, light does bend. When light travels past a black hole, even though light is not a physical matter, yet it bends under the influence of the black hole. Even space can become bent. It is fascinating.
Thus, in this world, there is nothing that is immutable. Everything changes. Hence everything that is built upon the foundations based on all the things that change in the world is bound to fall. There is only one truth in this world that never changes. And if one is to build a church, he must build on that. Then it will not be shaken. And that is this truth: Jesus is the Son of God, and He is Christ. This is the only immutable truth out of all the things in this world. That is why the church is built on it. Our faith is established upon it. That is the key that opens the gates of God’s kingdom.
Therefore, if we do not want to make false testimony, we must only speak what is true. If we testify of anything else or anybody else, we will surely become liars. “This person is outstanding! He is great! He is a man of integrity!” The moment we say these things, they are all lies. So, do not talk about me elsewhere. No matter how nicely you talk of me, they are all lies in the end. Is anybody confident that they will not lie? No one? There is no one. Everyone becomes a liar. Hence though I might testify about my own self, I would be a liar. Regardless of how hard you defend yourself by saying, “I never lied! I’m honest!” you are still a liar.
But Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus is Christ. Testifying this truth will never change. This is the only truth that will not make you a liar. When you testify of this, the world will not leave you alone. They will persecute and try to kill you. When that happens, the only truth that we can testify to with all our life is this. Nothing else in this world is worth standing for with all my life. Everything changes. And to testify of those will only make a fool. But this truth will never change.
Thus, when I testify to this truth, I will not be a fool. I become a true witness. Therefore, do not bear false witness but be a witness to the truth only. Be a witness of the ever-immutable truth. That is what we ought to do all the days of our lives. Become a witness of Jesus. Jesus is Christ, the Son of God. Only he who testifies to this is a man of integrity, a man of utmost happiness, and a man that is guaranteed. Therefore, do not try to testify of yourself but testify to this truth.
Whoever determines himself to testify to this truth must not even think of defending himself. He must give it up completely. Then he will be able to witness to this truth. The moment you testify about yourself, you become a liar. And you will lose your right to be a witness of Jesus just as much. So, if you want to be a witness of Jesus, determine yourself. “I will not testify about myself!”
Even if others misunderstand you, be ready to bear all of that and be a witness for Jesus. As you try to defend your innocence, you will end up making testimonies of someone else. It is all connected. When you try to defend yourself, you would have to testify of others’ wickedness, and that would lead to false testimony. Liars are not worthy of testifying to the truth. Therefore, be determined. “I will not defend myself. I will be a witness of Jesus.”
Just as the Lord’s words tell us not to bear false witness of our neighbors, let us pray that we become witnesses of Jesus who testify only about Him.
God our Father, through Jesus, we came to know that there is no truth in this world. Now, by this truth, we have determined ourselves to be a witness of it. Help us to be the witnesses that God approves and testifies to all the days of our lives. In order that our words are not found to be lies, always give us power, answer our prayers, heal the sick we pray for, and grant Your blessings when we bless others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center