Lesson 11: March 10-16

‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’


MEMORY VERSE: ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.’ Exodus 20:16. 

STUDY HELP: Sons & Daughters of God, page 64.

LESSON AIM: To consider the scope of the Ninth Commandment.




‘False speaking in any matter, every attempt or purpose to deceive our neighbour, is here included. An intention to deceive is what constitutes falsehood. By a glance of the eye, a motion of the hand, an expression of the countenance, a falsehood may be told as effectually as by words. All intentional overstatement, every hint or insinuation calculated to convey an erroneous or exaggerated impression, even the statement of facts in such a manner as to mislead, is falsehood. This precept forbids every effort to injure our neighbour’s reputation by misrepresentation or evil surmising, by slander or tale bearing. Even the intentional suppression of truth, by which injury may result to others, is a violation of the ninth commandment.’ Patriarchs & Prophets, page 309.


‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour’


1. What is the ninth of the Ten Commandments? Exodus 20:16.

NOTE: ‘The ninth commandment says: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” This does not mean simply that we must not swear falsely against him in court, or that we must not at any time tell what we know is not true; but it means that we must not tell what we do not know to be true. The man who hears something to the detriment of his neighbour, and repeats it to others, not knowing that it is true, is guilty of bearing false witness, as well as of taking up a reproach against his neighbour. The ninth commandment means a great deal more than we are apt to think it does. And so it is with all the commandments. They are, indeed, “exceeding broad.” Here is a safe and simple rule to follow with our fellowmen: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” He who does this fulfils the whole law, so far as it relates to man. That means that we must be as careful of our brother’s reputation as we would be of our own. When we are about to repeat something to the detriment of any one, stop and consider whether we would like to have him repeat such a thing about us. If this rule were followed, it would shut out a great amount of gossip and slander.’  E. J. Waggoner: Signs of the Times, December 3, 1885.


2. How was the false witness to be punished? Deuteronomy 19:16-19. Compare Proverbs 19:5, 9.

NOTE: ‘One of those sins of backslidden Israel over which Jeremiah was grieved, and which ripened Israel to receive the lingering wrath of Jehovah, was slandering. Jeremiah 9:1-4. And when David undertakes to describe the man who will abide in the tabernacle of the Lord, and dwell in His holy hill, among other things he says, “He that backbiteth not with his tongue.” Psalm 15:1-3.’ Daniel T. Bourdeau: Sanctification, page 59.

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