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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Ninth Commandment:
False Witness

Exodus 20:16, NRSV
James 3:1-12, NRSV


There can be no love without truth. Without clear vision, love is a business of projection and fantasy. And there can be no truth without love. Without trust and tenderness and courtesy, truth will vanish behind the walls of fear and pain… Truth makes love possible; love makes truth bearable.

— Rowan Williams
Open to Judgement

  • Titus Oates was an English perjurer who fabricated the “Popish Plot”
  • Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings
    • We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.
  • If we ever distort the truth to get ahead of others, we violate this commandment
  • It’s a hard thing to do, taming of the tongue
  • And it’s not easy to be spiritual teacher, as they would be judged harsher
  • RenĂ© Girard’s Mimetic desire
  • Last 4 commandments are about our desires
  • Our desire is triangular; I see something I want, but I don’t just want it; I see other want it too and that make me wanting it even more
  • It is also the origin of human conflict
  • Peace is not a natural state in all places: society, home, work
  • We would gossip, unify one group and degrade others, promote ourselves in the expense of others
  • Lots of times we get peace or resolution only because we have false witnesses or scapegoating
  • “Smoke on the Mountain” by Joy Davidman, wife of CS Lewis, on 9th Commandment (false witness and Titus Oates)
  • Nothing outrages our vanity so much as being unmasked by our own children
  • To tame our tongue
  • James 3:17 The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
  • It’s always possible to start anew, with the spirit of truth, with new heart, with new wisdom, being given a new principle of life

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