Tag Archive: truth


We are constantly learning new facts. Our knowledge is gained sequentially; that is, we are always in the process of acquiring knowledge. We are never in a state of complete knowledge, but our knowledge is always being expanded. The sum of what we know today is greater than the sum of what we knew yesterday. In the past 24 hours, we have added facts, observations, and understanding to our reservoir of information. This is a pattern that operates throughout our lives.

Not only do we add items to our body of knowledge, but we also experience the correction of past knowledge as we learn more about our world. Therefore, based upon our perceptions alone, we can never claim to possess absolute truth because something we are certain of at this moment may be proven false in the future as we gather additional information. Our opinions and assertions are subject to modification so that, as just mentioned, we cannot speak with conclusive certainty on any matter as long as the source of our understanding is our accumulated knowledge.

By contrast, God’s knowledge does not increase and is never in need of correction. God does not learn chronologically, as described above. The knowledge of God is at once perfect and exhaustive. As time passes, unlike human beings, God’s knowledge remains what it has always been. The nature of God is such that He has always possessed all knowledge and always will possess all knowledge.

The plans and promises of God rest upon His sure and complete knowledge. Therefore, when God speaks, there is no possibility that His word will not come to pass or that what He declares may be in error. This is so because, once again, God knows all things real and all things possible and His knowledge is comprehensive and impeccable.

With that said, it is a mistake to view God according to our own experience. If we ascribe our manner of gaining information to God, then His word can never be received as sure. If God accumulates knowledge as we do, we cannot find comfort and encouragement in His promises since those promises would be subject to alteration. The knowledge of God, however, as already explained, allows us to embrace every word, promise, prediction, and commandment of God with supreme confidence. Thanks be to God, we are not dependent on our limited and frail comprehension, but we may rest in the perfect knowledge of God who loves us and does all things for our good and His glory.

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In Exodus 20, we read: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (v. 16) This is the Ninth Commandment. It has to do with the communication and establishment of truth. The Hebrew word translated “witness” (ayd) refers to giving testimony or providing evidence. The term rendered “false” (shehker) has a range of translations, such as, lie, false, vain, wrongful, deceitful, and fraud. One thing is immediately clear: that which is prohibited by this Commandment is a deliberate act. This Law is broken when we choose to lie, distort, deceive, or otherwise obscure what we know to be the truth.

Like the other Commandments, this one is grounded in the nature of God who is truth and whose word, therefore, is always truthful. Consequently, to lie is to act contrary to the nature of God and is an affront against Him, regardless of the context. Although we may lie to another person, which is a sin against them, of course, the ultimate offense is against God who has established the concept of truth-telling.

The seriousness of this issue is reflected in the Bible’s rule for judging truthful testimony. A man accused of murder, for example, could not be convicted on the word of a single witness. Two or three witnesses had to come forward before the offender could be judged guilty. The same requirements applied in the case of idolatry (cf. Deut. 17:2-6; 19:15). A liar is described as “treacherous” in Pro. 14:25 and such a person is said to represent the threat of a club, sword, and sharp arrow in Pro. 25:18. A lie, therefore, is capable of much harm and destruction. Reputations can be destroyed by lies; a man’s livelihood can be taken away as a result of lies. Because of the incredibly damaging potential represented in a lie, truth is not to be treated lightly and should never be twisted, omitted, or contradicted.

These requirements for ascertaining truth are a much-needed safeguard against false accusations. As fallen creatures, we are capable of lying about others. We are capable of making deceitful claims. We may be motivated by revenge, self-promotion, or personal gain. We may lie about one thing because we think a person should be punished for something else that has gone undetected.

I believe that misrepresenting truth, by various means, is a common sin in the modern Church. Christians lie when they state something as fact that they know is not true. But they also lie when they “shade” the truth or tell a partial truth. They sin when they allow a wrongful statement or a misleading impression to go unchecked. Any behavior that obscures truth, once again, is a violation of the Ninth Commandment.

Gossip is a dangerous activity when it comes to breaking this Law. If we pass along critical opinions shared by one person regarding another, we may very well be participating in the transmission of lies. We may not know with certainty that what we’ve been told is true (even if it is true, of course, the Bible’s teaching regarding protecting the good name of another comes into play, so it’s best never to join in this kind of conduct).

In my experience as a pastor and counselor, one of the most frequently used excuses for lying is “the greater good.” In the Church, I’ve encountered situations in which one man lied about another and attempted to justify his transgression by saying it was for the honor of Christ or the good of the Body. This is not an acceptable defense according to the Word, however. God does not allow us to violate His Law because we conclude that some good will result.

Before closing, I want to address the question of what should be done when an accusation is proven false. If I accuse another of some sin, but then my charge is not substantiated, what is my obligation? Suppose you have been accused of sin and the matter has been investigated by the appropriate authorities. And suppose further that they determined that the accusations were groundless. Once this judgment was made known, did those who made the allegations have any specific duty to fulfill? Should you expect them to make amends when those in authority dismissed their allegations? It seems to me that, in the very least, those whose accusations are determined to be false should apologize. In fact, I believe they should ask forgiveness for the harm they caused. Are they not in sin if they fail to rectify their untruthful charges?

And what if your accusers made their opinions public even before a judgment was reached? Is it not likely that the damage done to your reputation cannot be undone, especially when those with whom the charge originated refuse to acknowledge their offense or make any attempt to repair the disruption for which they are responsible?

We can acknowledge that it is certainly possible for a man to make a mistake when he alleges sin on the part of another. But as soon as that mistake is revealed or, in this case, as soon as a charge is dismissed, his priority should be the rectification of his error. And this is what you would expect to see unless the motivation behind the accusation was something other than helping a brother see and resolve his transgression. What other explanation could be given when a charge is deemed unwarranted, but the accuser remains silent?

Truth in every circumstance is our mandate. This obligation is emphasized when something we have alleged against another is shown to be false. Our love for the Word of God should cause us to take every precaution when it comes to charging another with wrongdoing. And if it turns out that we are in error, our devotion to reflecting God’s holy nature in everything we say and do should compel us to make immediate corrections.