Yep, that’s the title of tomorrow’s message on the 9th commandment. If you aren’t in the Phoenix Metro area to attend either our Goodyear or Surprise campuses, you can watch it live here at 9:00 and 10:30 PST.
The 9th commandment says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Basically, we’re talking about everything from flat-out lying to your neighbor to the casual act of verbally throwing them under the bus to cover your booty.
Have you ever wondered why its so incredibly easy to let lies roll off your lips without even thinking? Well, the answer is simple: liars run in your family. In fact, they run in my family too, starting from the very first one.
The book of Genesis tells us that when God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they were given a choice: live as they’d been created to live, as recipients of every gift of God that can a human being can handle, or declare their independence from him and strike out on their own, claiming the earth and their lives as their own.
This choice was manifested in a tree that stood in the middle of the garden. As long as they did not eat from the tree, then their lives would be filled with living constantly under the blessing of God, in perfect relationship with him, each other, and the rest of creation. In the Garden there was no such thing as insecurity, manipulation, fear, or isolation. It was rather a place of perfect freedom, the highest possible pinnacle of human life. But to eat from the tree was to signify a conscious decision to tell God to hit the road – we humans will take it from here.
Well, you can probably guess what happened next. Eve ate the fruit first, being tempted to do so by the serpent. Then she gave some to her husband, who the Bible says “was with her” (Gen. 3:6).
Immediately their eyes are opened and they realize they are naked. Their innocence is taken from them and, ashamed, all they can do is run and hide. God comes looking for them in the same way a parent, who knows exactly where their children are hiding, looks for them. “Where are you?” he calls out.
Adam admits that he’s naked. God responds by asking, “Who told you were naked?” In other words, the Garden has always been a “clothing optional place” why are you so self-conscoius about it all of a sudden? Then he asks the critical question, “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (v. 11)
Here is where art of spin is originated: notice Adam doesn’t answer the question, he diverts the focus off of himself and his own culpability, a classic spinmeister tactic: “The woman you put here with me, she gave me some, and I ate.” (v. 12)
Ha! He only includes himself after he’s passed the buck to his wife and blamed God for creating her in the first place. He’s basically saying, “You know, none of this would have happened if you hadn’t put her here!”
For a moment it seems like it worked: God shifts his attention to Eve and basically asks, “Well?” She then proceeds to blame the serpent: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (v. 13).
Wow. Humanity’s first achievement after declaring their independence from God is to spin the truth to avoid blame and throw each other under the bus. Nice.
All of this should be very telling, however. We don’t “bear false witness” against our neighbor because we have nothing better to do. We bear false witness (i.e., spin the truth, hide the evidence, leave out critical details, blame someone else) for no other reason than to save our own skin. That’s it. Whatever it takes to come out smelling like a rose to the rest of the world, elevating ourselves above our fellow man and yes, even God!
But hiding the truth is serious business, as we’ll dive into more in Sunday’s message. God himself is described as truth in numerous passages in the Bible (e.g., Deut. 32:4; Psalm 31:5). Jesus also refers to himself as “the truth” in John 14:6. Therefore any attempt on our part to alter or hide the truth is a direct attack against God. In fact, to lie even in the slightest is to actually do Satan’s work, as Jesus calls Satan the “father of lies.” (John 8:44).
This comes in all forms: little white lies, slander, and gossip. It’s interesting that the Greek word for “gossip” is ψιθυρισμός, transliterated “psithurismos.” Read that out loud: it actually sounds like gossip being whispered in someone’s ear, doesn’t it?
It takes a tremendous amount of resolve, however, to become someone who speaks the truth. Maybe that’s why Proverbs 24:26 says that an honest answer is like a “kiss on the lips.” – a little unexpected and a little wonderful at the same time!
But to actually own something, to actually admit that it was your fault, and no one else’s, is to introduce a level of clarity and courage into the world that is rarely seen. Dr. Mark Roberts, in his book Dare To Be True, illustrates this well. He tells the story of a man who arrived late to a business meeting. Rather than doing the usual and blaming the traffic, he said basically, “Please forgive me for being late. I did not allow enough time to get here.”
Apparently the response in the room was palpable. While the others excused his tardiness, this “honest answer” paved the way for more honest dialogue in the meeting, as others felt the courage to express their thoughts honestly and truthfully. Apparently, another man then walked in even later to the meeting, blaming the traffic, which gave them all a good laugh.
If you want to hear more, come on out to Compass Church tomorrow or tune in to the live stream if you’re out of town. If you can’t make either of those, then the video should be posted by Tuesday right here.