False Witness (How not to be)
The book of Proverbs is a collection of writings, mainly by King Solomon, who was endowed by God with the extraordinary gift of wisdom. These writings are wisdom which reveals how a person can live a godly and God pleasing life. It provides God’s people with a way to deal successfully with the practical affairs of everyday life, living God’s way, as they listen to Him.
We will look at the topic from Proverbs about being a witness. This theme runs throughout the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament. We can be a true witness or a false witness. Let’s start by looking at being a false witness.
The false witness is part of the very first sins committed by humanity. “Don’t be a false witness” is indeed one of the very 10 commandments that were given by God to Moses (Exodus 20).
In regard to being a false witness, in a simple desert community as ancient Israel were, nearly all such crimes were seen as capital offences. If for somebody was to be a successful “false witness”, that person would be seen as something of a murderer.
Here is what the great reformer Martin Luther said concerning it:
“the commandment against false witness is to prohibit the public judgment and reproof of the neighbour. One can indeed see and hear the neighbour sin, but one has no command to report it to others. If one judges and passes sentence, one falls into a sin which is greater than his (except for judges, parents, and preachers).”
Some tough words there as we start out, aren’t they? The other great reformer, John Calvin, taught that this commandment of not being a false witness, emphasizes that the Christian is to:
“assert only the truth with pure motives for the maintenance of our neighbour’s good name and estate.”
Let us continue by looking within the book of Proverbs at “false witness”. First of all, what is a false witness?
16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
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