You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
At that point in time, it was the most honest thing anyone had ever written to me. Ironically, the reason my mother wrote the note was to address the dishonesty that was ruling my life. Even now I cringe at the word dishonest. Is that really how she saw me? An exaggeration here… a little white lie there, does that make a person dishonest? To answer any other way than in the positive would be a lie in and of itself. Lying, gossiping, exaggerating, and even withholding the smallest amount of truth are all products of a dishonest heart.
Scripture is a witness many times over to the warnings and consequences God has laid out concerning the various forms of dishonesty. Proverbs 6:16-19 records, “There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and 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.” The book of Acts tells the story of Ananias and Sapphira who lied to the apostles in order to look good before the community. When Peter confronts their deception the narrative tells us that they fall dead on the spot. In Acts 5:4 we read as Peter responds, “Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.‘ Verse 5 says that when Ananias heard these things he “fell down and breathed his last.” The ninth commandment contains the fundamental truth from which all of these commands proceed. To bear false witness against you neighbor is to invite the discipline of the Lord upon your life… a discipline even deserving of death.
In a recent poll where those surveyed were asked how many times they sin in a given day; the results are shocking. Most people profess that they sin no more than an average of 3 to 5 times a day. Results such as this can only come forth from a society that doesn’t understand the extent of their sinfulness. Our lives are ruled by deception because we fail to treat it like the sin that it is. How often do you find dishonesty proceeding out of your own mouth? Is it a seldom occurrence or does it seem to grow larger with each passing day? Are the lies and exaggerations small or large? Does it really matter? Do you even recognize it as a sin?
Ask the Lord to open your eyes to the depravity of your own being. Ask Him to convict you with even the smallest hint of deception. If you dare, keep a scrap piece of paper and a pencil with you from morning till evening. Tally up the number of times God convicts you of having a dishonest spirit. Two things will come out of this exercise. One, you will realize the extent of your problem, and two, you will begin conditioning yourself to better discern the Holy Spirit’s voice of conviction. Both of these will lead you to a closer relationship with the Lord and a greater disgust for the sin within your heart. One word of caution with this exercise… It will only work if you can promise to be honest with yourself.