No Lies – Identity and the Ninth Commandment

Lied I, Albert Bloch, 1914

Lied I, Albert Bloch, 1914

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. – Exodus 20:16

Throughout the Bible, God has been fighting for our identity. Beginning in the garden, to the nation Israel, and now in Christ, God’s desire has been for us – the jewel in the crown of his creation – to see our selves as his people.

How we define our self matters. It is our identity.

Hence our worth, our significance, our value, our purpose, should all be questions that are answered by being his. This is made clear with the first commandment.

After the first, the commandments are not simply a list of do’s and don’ts, but rather a list of symptoms of the identity that is misplaced. Sin that results when we seek wholeness apart from God.

Giving false testimony is a strategy basic to the false self – the self defined apart from Christ.

A false testimony is saying that something is true about someone when it is not. This can take the form of slander or flattery.

Or, the false testimony can be denying something is true that is. It is an effort to tear down another. (see Gossip and Identity Building) Thus, by comparison, the one giving the testimony is elevated.

Our life’s values are determined by what is good for our identity. Thus, giving false testimony is deemed acceptable because it benefits the one who lies. The cost to you is a price the one giving false testimony is willing to let you pay. Notice that? The cost is not paid by the liar.

What comes out of our mouth indicates where our heart, the seat of identity, rests. See Jesus words on this in Matthew 15.

As an exercise, read the book of Proverbs and note the verses that deal with the tongue, lying, deception, slander, false witness, or other reference to being untruthful.

The tongue is and important litmus test to God.

Our God is the God of all Truth. It is not something He just tells, it is what He is.


We are to live in truth. Not sustaining a false sense of self with false testimony, but having a heart that rests in the truth of what Christ has done. When our tongues display the symptom of a heart not resting in Christ – false testimony – it is time for recalibration.

How do you define your value?

(For other posts in the series Identity and the Commandments: two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight)

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