Crabtree Acres

False Witness

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

Proverbs 6:16 lists seven things that are an abomination to God: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers. Four out of the seven involve bearing false witness against our neighbor, and maybe more if we look carefully. Haughty eyes give a false impression of being better than another; a lying tongue is obviously bearing false witness, as well as a false witness who utters lies. Usually one who spreads strife among brothers is using lies to do their evil work.

Something that I have come to see about bearing false witness against someone is the destruction it causes, not only to the one who is being lied about, but to the one who tells the lies.

In Numbers 13-14 of the Old Testament is the story of the spies who were sent out by Moses at God’s command to scout the land that God promised the children of Israel. There was one man from each of the twelve tribes sent into the land of Canaan, among them Joshua and Caleb. When the spies returned to the place where the tribes were staying, Joshua and Caleb told the people about the land flowing with milk and honey. They brought back with them bunches of grapes so large that one cluster had to be carried by two men on a pole. They brought back other fruit and evidence of the richness of the land. They also told the Israelites that the Canaanite people were strong and the cities were fortified and very large. They also saw the descendants of Anak there, who were apparently very large and tall, like giants. But they also reminded the people that the Lord is pleased with His people and that God had promised that He would give them the land. The other ten spies exaggerated the same information and talked about the people being too strong and that the land devours its inhabitants and all the people they saw were great in size. The people became fearful and believed the half-truths of the ten spies who discouraged the people from going in to take the land. They even wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb. When the people listened to the lying spies instead of Joshua and Caleb God became angry because the people were listening to the spies who exaggerated the truth and did not trust Him to provide for them. He was ready to destroy all the people with a plague, but Moses appealed to God. God decided to pardon the people because of Moses, but He made the people wander as shepherds in the wilderness for 40 years after this incident. Of the people who left Egypt with Moses only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to go into the land that God promised them over 40 years before. All the others died in the wilderness before the next generation of people entered Canaan.

I see this as a warning to us when we bear false witness and when we listen to false witnesses. Both of these situations are sin, and God will let us wander around in our own wilderness until we repent and correct what we have done. We will not receive the blessings of God, because He is disciplining us to bring us back into a trust in Him. One of the most critical things about bearing false witness is that usually it is impossible to correct. Lies spread so fast that it is impossible to bring truth back into a situation without the lie being out there somewhere to raise its ugly head again. It’s like things that are put on the Internet that never disappear. Actresses who have tried to further their careers in their younger years with pornography usually find the pictures showing up eventually at the worse time. Even those who are trying to be honest people suffer from the lies of others. Joshua and Caleb had to wander around with the others, even though they had been faithful. They received blessing from God, but it was surrounded by suffering and hardship. Our sin keeps us from enjoying the blessings of God but the sin of others also harms those who believe God.

Jesus clearly told us the He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one can come to the Father except by Him. That means that we must accept Truth to know the father. Satan is the author of lies and tries to keep us from Christ by telling us lies about Him. This is the trick Satan used on Eve. He told her what we call half-truths by telling her that the fruit would make her like God, knowing good and evil. This was true to some extent, but God did not intend for man to know evil. He wanted men to know truth in Jesus Christ. There are no such things as “half-truths.” When we have pure water there is absolutely nothing in it except H2O – no dirt, no minerals, no tea, no coloring, and no flavoring. When we have the pure truth of Christ is our lives, there is no place for lies. Christ and Satan cannot both be in our lives. We choose to live for one or the other. Greg and I have debated recently over something Rachel had on her Facebook page. She made the statement that “a lie is the absence of truth.” Greg says that a lie is a perversion of the truth. Either way there is no room for lies in our lives as Christians.

There have been rumors floating around the church that have been destructive to our spiritual well-being here in the church. People have believed lies and rumors that are not even half-truths and have passed them on to others. Our young people have been affected by what they are hearing. A few weeks ago, during the Cottage Prayer meetings, God woke me up in the middle of the night and showed me that our new church addition is like the Promised Land was for the children of Israel. It is a blessing that God wants to provide for us but He will not allow us to have it or enter in until we stop believing the lying spies. As I said before, Satan is the father of lies; when we start believing lies that we know in our hearts cannot be true we are listening to Satan himself. God is not going to let us take lying tongues and fear into His sanctuary. If we want the church to be a light to the community, as we say we do, we must rid ourselves of the lies and pray that God will remove those people who would try to rob us of our faith to trust God to provide for us.

It may seem like a small sin to gossip or pass on tidbits of information that we do not bother to check out for the truth, but we may never be able to correct what we have done. The lies of the spies when out to thousands of people who became fearful and actually tried to kill the men who told the entire truth. Lying actually comes from fear – fear of punishment, fear of being found out as a hypocrite, fear of losing someone’s love and loyalty. Lying also leads to fear; we have to keep covering our lies with other lies until we cannot even remember the truth. The Bible says that fear leads to murder. The children of Israel tried to murder Joshua and Caleb to cover up their own lack of faith in God. We may not murder someone physically, but we can murder them in their spirit with discouragement. I believe it was very discouraging for Joshua and Caleb to see the children of Israel wandering in a wilderness instead of enjoying the wonderful blessing God showed them in Canaan.

Pastor JR shared with us how discouraged he has been, not only over the building, but because of the rumors and lies about him. He told us how he was ready to resign because he honestly did not feel like he should even be pastoring the church. Someone’s rumors and lies had killed his spirit and he had lost his will to continue on with praying, reading his Bible, visiting, and you name it. If we have been part of this discouragement because of believing the “false reports of the spies” we need to repent just as much as the person or persons who started the lies to begin with.

Many church-going people in this world bear a false witness against their neighbor by giving a false impression of their spiritual lives to those around them. Of all the people that Christ confronted while here on earth, the ones with whom He dwelt more harshly were the Pharisees. We certainly do not want to be in that category of those that Jesus condemned the most, but we may be surprised when Jesus says to us “I never knew you.” He commands us to love our brothers and sisters. When we love someone we will not hurt them with lies and rumors. We trust the ones we love to do what God is leading them to do and we do not suspect their motives or easily believe false witnesses against them.

This church needs to be encouraging, not discouraging. We need to be lifting up the members and our pastor in prayer, giving them love in every way we can. There are many people here who are doing things to bless us that we do not even see in this church. We take so much for granted and never say “Thank you”. We have all gotten caught up in our own lives and problems, but that really is no excuse for neglecting our family.

I want to encourage all of us, including myself, to do even more to build up the body of Christ in this church and around us. We do not have time to tear down and discourage. When we are praying and encouraging others, it is impossible to bear false witness against them. Truth does not mix with lies; if we are people of truth, we will not have lies in us.