The Ten Commandments: Can I Get a Witness?

“You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16 (NLT)

I am a cop show/courtroom drama junkie.  It might be related to the fact that I have been a law enforcement officer’s wife for nearly twenty-five years.  I simply find the process fascinating.  In fact, when “Law and Order” was cancelled, I felt like a member of the family had died!  One of my favorite channels is the Investigation Discovery (ID) Channel.  Kelly laughs when I watch  “48 Hours:  Hard Evidence,” “Love Kills:  Scorned”  or “Deadly Women.”  He laughs and says he’s concerned that I’m getting ideas.  Truthfully, I love to watch the detectives figure out the clues.  It’s always great to see a saavy prosecutor at work.  And I love the thought of justice being served, even if it happens ten years after the fact.  I’m proud that Kelly is a police officer and I’m proud to be married to a man that has worked hard at making the pursuit of justice more than just a job.

In doing research on the ninth commandment, I found some interesting facts.  This commandment was originally meant to address behavior in a court of law and its meaning was broadened in another chapter in Exodus:

“You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand.  You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice.  And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor.”  Exodus 23:1-2 (NLT)

There are other scriptures in Exodus 23 that tell us not to deny justice to the poor, not to take a bribe, and never to sentence an innocent person to death.   Clearly the law of the Hebrews has affected the judicial proceedings of today’s society.

Hebrew law further stated that a single person’s testimony could not be accepted to convict someone of a crime.  In fact, the law stated that the testimony of two or three corroborating witnesses would be accepted.  There were so many rules and laws against lying in court that if a witness were to be caught in a lie, he would receive that punishment that was intended for the accused.

Jesus addressed not giving false testimony about your neighbor when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:29b (NLT)  (And if you remember the story of the “Good Samaritan,” you know that your neighbor is everyone.)   Surely, when you love your neighbor like you love yourself, you would never think about telling a lie about him/her.  I think a good rule of thumb that will never be cliche is to ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?  What would He say about my neighbor?”

Jesus knew the law.  He knew what was required to testify in a court of law.  After researching the Jewish laws concerning lying in court, it brought another verse to mind:

“For where two or three gather together as my followers,  I am there among them.”  Matthew 18:20 (NLT)

I don’t think it’s coincidence that the wording of Jesus’s promise found some of its meaning from the laws about telling the truth in court.  Jesus is the Truth.  The Truth is present where two or three of His believers are gathered.  Therefore, they can go out and be true witnesses!

We are coming upon the time of the Holy Week, when we remember some sacred times in the life of our Lord.  When you remember this commandment, remember that Jesus suffered at the hands of false witnesses before the court of the Sanhedrin, when the priests were simply trying to find a way to justify putting Him to death.  Remember that because of these false witnesses, He was beaten and tortured and crucified on a cross for our sake.

Because of His sacrifice; because of His great love for us, we must always bear true witness for Jesus.  Today, we are witnesses to a world that has hundred of thousands of distractions and distortions of what the Truth really is.  The devil loves it when we’re distracted.  He loves it even more when we believe the distortion we’re fed by the world.  Jesus needs us in the court of “public opinion.”  He needs us to stand up and be counted for Him.

Will you join me and bear true witness for our Savior?


Image Credits:,,, &

Related Articles:  “Jesus, I Have a Question about the Law”

“Christians, Why Should the World See Us As Strange?”

“Justice Conference:  My Neighbor”


3 thoughts on “The Ten Commandments: Can I Get a Witness?

    1. I love Boston Legal. My current fav is “Harry’s Law.” I watch “SouthLAnd.” It just finished its season so I’ve got to look for another great cop show. Sandy

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