The ninth commandment upholds truth by condemning lying. Yet, falsehood and mendacity are proliferating more than ever, including in the Christianised western world. A spirit of deception and delusion permeate our culture. Persisting in these tenets of falsehood leads to disaster. Welcome to the last days.
We will look at some of the facets of lying found in our world today. We also look at a prophetic warning from Jesus Himself.
It’s time to rise up and win the battle for truth.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour — Exodus 20:16
The ninth commandment is not just a prohibition against lying and false witness; it is a manifesto on truth itself. In order to win the battle for truth, we also need to compare it with the different aspects of falsehood have infiltrated our language, culture, and society at large today.
So far, we learned about double-speak, spin, mendacity, and ‘smoke and mirrors.’ Here’s a few more tenets of falsehood:
- Half-truth: An interesting and deadly variant of the virus of lies. One could be telling a story that is technically factual but the spirit behind it is evil. With half-truths, presentation of ‘facts’ is not given to shed light, as truth does, but to obscure it. For example, ’tell-all biographies’ may actually be reporting ‘facts’ but the question needs to be asked: Why are they telling us these things? Is it for the public good? Does it bring accountability? Does it shed light? Will it make our society better? Or is their real intention to embarrass, harass, or even destroy a public figure? If the latter, then it really should be labelled as a violation of the ninth commandment. A good rule of thumb against half-truth: If the words are true but the spirit behind it is false, then it is wrong … no matter how accurate the wording may be. Remember, a positive (factual accuracy) and a negative (spirit of defamation and destruction) equals a negative. Only when the facts are true and the spirit behind them is good will you hear the truth.
- A good example of ‘half truth,’ ‘right words, wrong spirit,’ was the girl with the spirit of divination in Acts 16. She followed Paul and Silas while declaring “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” There was no untruth in her statement; however, she kept following and harassing the apostles with this unwanted ‘commendation.’ Inspired by an evil spirit, her words were vexatious to Paul and the Holy Spirit; thus he cast out the spirit from her and she was set free (Acts 16:16-18).
- Gaslighting: This is particularly insidious. It is a form of manipulation, often incessant, to cause a person to doubt their sanity, memory, perception and judgement. A good example was the 2005 movie called Flightplan, starring Jodie Foster. In the film Foster boarded a plane with her daughter, who simply vanished during the flight. The flight attendants and passengers all denied ever seeing the daughter on the flight. Her name was not even on the passenger list! Foster was about to go crazy, doubting her own sanity. Eventually, she found her daughter in the hold of the plane.
- Post-Truth Age: An often used phrase that speaks of shaping public opinion from universal objective truth to personalised, subjective, and emotional truth. It fractures reality into tiny pieces.This is a recipe for societal destabilisation and anarchy.
- Relativism: This is a hallmark of postmodernism. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as: “The doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute.” Relativism can only be true if there were no timeless, universal truth that applies to all people at all times. From a Biblical perspective, we know that this notion is false. God’s truth is for all people, all time, all places.
Lying is the bedrock of evil; it is the devil’s mother tongue. The good news is that God’s truth – universal, enduring, liberating – is readily available. Through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God, you have access to the full gamut of divine universal eternal truth. Receive and retain His truth and you will be set free (John 8:32).
In our next article on the ninth commandment, we will listen to the prophetic warnings from Jesus and Paul.