Ten Commandments-Eighth Commandment
The 10 Commandments
This Week’s Focus: The Eighth Commandment
You shall not give false testimony
against your neighbor.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.
God forbids us to tell a lie to or about our neighbor, as well as withholding the truth (Proverbs 19:5; Ephesians 4:20-25);
to betray our neighbor (Proverbs 11:13; Matthew 26:20-25);
to slander our neighbor or damage our neighbor’s reputation (Matthew 18:15-20; James 4:11-12).
God requires that we defend our neighbor (Proverbs 31:8-9);
speak well of our neighbor and assume the best about what our neighbor says (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; 1 Peter 4:8-11).
“this commandment forbids all sins of the tongue (James 3), by which we may injure or confront our neighbor. To bear false witness is nothing else than a work of the tongue. Now, God prohibits whatever is done with the tongue against a fellow man. This applies to false preachers with their doctrine and blasphemy, false judges and witnesses with their verdict, or outside of court by lying and speaking evil. Here belongs particularly the detestable, shameful vice of speaking behind a person’s back and slandering, to which the devil spurs us on, and of which much could be said. For it is a common evil plague that everyone prefers hearing evil more than hearing good about his neighbor. We ourselves are so bad that we cannot allow anyone to say anything bad about us. Everyone would much prefer that all the world should speak of him in glowing terms. Yet we cannot bear that the best is spoken about others.” Martin Luther, the Large Catechism, Concordia, p.
· We confess that God’s Word is truth and we are to promote and tell the truth.
· We confess that some oaths are necessary (marriage, military, legal etc.) and that such oaths are to be made with the greatest sincerity and followed in a serious and godly manner.
· We confess that our speech about our neighbor ought to be in keeping with the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) and the call of Christ (John 15:12-13).
· We reject all harmful speech toward our neighbor (gossip, slander, etc.)
· We reject any false witness, in court or elsewhere, that harms our neighbor or reveals our neighbor’s secrets.
1. What problems are we presently facing in society as a result of false oaths or rampant lying and how can we combat it?
2. What proper oaths have you taken and why is faithfulness to them important in your life and relationships?
3. Why has it been necessary for nearly all nations and cultures over time to enforce the truth in trials and other such efforts at justice?
4. Why is gossip such a destructive force and how do we combat it?
5. How does Christ speak to and about us, and how does that help us in our speech?
Lord, we thank You for speaking Your Word of blessings to us. Forgive our sinful speech and grant us the grace to speak well of others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.