What are some ways that we can break the 9th commandment?
This question deliberately gets to the application because, in some ways, it is not hard to read this commandment and brainstorm ways of lying – we are very good at it! The study takes us from the lies of the Serpent in the garden to the lies of the religious leaders at the courtroom on Good Friday. We need to confront the idea that deception is the key ingredient of sin. The study ends being directed to confess that we are sinners that need saving. Having this question at the start of the study enables things like gossiping and cheating to be laid out on the table straight up.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.”
In the beginning (5 mins)
Compare Genesis 2:16 with Genesis 3:1-4. What can you make of the first interrogation recorded in the bible? See also John 8:44.
The serpent twists the emphasis of God’s message: from “eat freely except one tree” – to – “you cannot eat freely!”
Eve adds to God’s message by saying that they cannot even touch it.
Both are giving a false account of what was said by God. A twist and an addition or alteration. The differences are subtle but made a huge impact on the future of mankind!
The command to Israel (5 mins)
The command has been summarised in the heading as “do not lie” but this may cloud the importance of this order. Read and discuss the following references. What is at stake when this law is ignored?
The wellbeing of others, especially the weak, are at stake. Unlawful suffering and injustice is at the heart of this command. Cheating, self gain, gossip, injustice and stealing through lies are all in view here. Who wants to live in a world where we cannot trust one another? Well, this is our reality.
NB: your group may pick up where our study is headed when seeing this passage. If the injustice to Jesus comes up, let it flow. Better to allow your group to see things for themselves than to squash inspiration for the sake of the leader’s agenda!
Israel’s history (10 mins)
Jeremiah laments and weeps over his country because their lying tongues have turned them away from God. Read Jeremiah 8:4-12 and Jeremiah 9:1-9. How much like our own society does this sound? Where does it challenge us?
- Jeremiah 8:4-12
- The attack here is a national one. Israel are charging away from God and ‘they cling to deceit.’ They are lying to themselves as if they are doing what is right. God wants repentance. They do not call the people to repent but declare that all is well. Their lying means no salvation.
- Jeremiah 9:1-9
- The attention here is at the ground level. No one in the land can be trusted. Each of them speaks deceit. Israel is the land of deception. In their deceit they refuse to acknowledge Yahweh. Sound like home?
The Gospel (10 mins)
Read through these references in John’s gospel to hear the gospel account through the theme of truth.
- John 1:14,17; 4:23-24; 7:18; 8:32, 44-46; 14:6, 17; 16:13; 17:17; 18:37-38; 19:35
We can also look at three accounts in Mark’s gospel to see how much people will embrace a lie and reject the truth.
- Mark 7:14-23
- The problem of this world is not the things that we do but why we do them. The problem is our hearts that are deceived and live for ourselves rather than for God. Deception is fundamental to sin because we deceive ourselves about what makes us right.
- Mark 12:13-17
- The scheme of the Pharisees and Herodians was to ‘catch [Jesus] in his words. They identified that Jesus is a man of integrity and is not swayed by people. Jesus sees that their flattery is a trick – they come to him showing respect but they hide their intentions. “But Jesus knew their hypocrisy”. Jesus’ response was effectively to be transparent and give to whomever is owed. Don’t appear to live for God but really be living for yourself.
- Mark 14:53-65
- The people loved lies greater than truth. The truth offended them. They accepted anything as true as long as they got what they wanted: Jesus crucified.
Christian Living (15 mins)
Commandment number 9 is simple: do not lie. But the truth of the matter is that this world loves to lie – to live the lie and even kill for the lie. The epistles challenge us to stop lying to one another. We can focus on the symptoms of a lying attitude such as cheating, stealing, gossip and slander, hypocrisy and such. Or we could read 1 John 1:5-10 and be encouraged to put off all falsehood at its core and live as saved sinners.
1 John 1:5-10
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.