“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16)
The previous three commands address wrongs that we should not commit against our fellow man by actual deed. This command addresses the wrongs we are not commit against our brother with our mouth. In addition to the obvious -– don’t provide false testimony -– there are other ways to sin against our neighbor with our mouth. Gossip, slander, defamation of another’s character and misrepresentation of the truth are things that should not be named among God’s people. Throughout Scripture, we are encouraged over and again to abandon certain habits including those that involve the tongue.
It is my understanding that in Islam it is lawful to lie to an “infidel” -– one not considered to be a brother in their faith. As followers of Messiah, it is not so. Whether it is in regard to an individual or a certain group of people, we are to abstain from assailing them with our mouth. Furthermore, as believers, we are not to slander or speak evil of our enemies even though they slander us. To the contrary, Yeshua said:
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
If we are going to follow Messiah faithfully, there is no doubt that we will be subjected to lies and accusations. However, we are not to respond in like manner. Consider that Jacob — later to be called Israel — was subjected to this type of persecution throughout his life. Esau accused him of stealing the birthright which was not true. Laban accused him of cheating and stealing which was not true. It is more accurate to say that he was repeatedly accused of the very thing his accusers were doing to him.
It will likely be the same for God’s people in the last days, and so let us learn from Jacob’s example. We must do what is right in God’s eyes and guard our mouths even when others speak lies about us. For our part, let us speak truth in love knowing that the man who is allowed to abide in God’s house “does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend” (Psalm 15:2-3)
Blessings and Shalom,