X. The Ninth Commandment: Q & A 76-78
Q. 76 Which is the ninth commandment?
A. 76 The ninth commandment is, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.”
Ex. 20:16; Dt. 5:20.
Q. 77 What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. 77 The ninth commandment requires the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbour’s good name, especially in witness-bearing.
It is important to understand that this is not a commandment against lying. Sometimes, in order to in fact bear true witness, one must lie. This was the case with Rahab, where if she had not lied concerning the spies, they would surely have been pursued and murdered. One might also look at this instance, and others like them, as the deception that is the normal part of war, and by the LORD’s command, they were at war with the inhabitants of his land.
However, the main import is that we are to otherwise be truthful to others, of which the prophets and apostles also affirm (Zech. 8:16; I Pet. 3:16). More specifically this has reference to the two or three witness required for a capital charge, for which one must not lie (Dt. 17:6; 19:15; Pr. 14:5; Mt. 5:33-37).
A. 78 What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A. 78 The ninth commandment forbids whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own, or our neighbour’s good name.
This commandment also means that one must not be a tale bearer (Lev. 19:16; Ps. 15:3). Also, we should not let our silence be interpreted as consent, when we have an obligation to speak the truth (Lev. 5:1). This command also means we should not accept an evil witness against the LORD, or someone misrepresenting another person, that is bearing witness without proof (Cf. Job 27:5; Ps. 15:3; Rom. 3:13; III Jn. 12; I Tim. 5:19). Some cannot but help lie, it is such a part of their very nature, including Satan, the father of this (Jn. 8:44). Flattery is also a form of lying, because it is not sincere, but compliments spoken for ulterior motives (Ps. 12:3).