The Shorter Catechism, 23

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Q76: Which is the ninth commandment?

A: The ninth commandment is, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour".

See Exodus 20:16 and Deuteronomy 5:20. These commandments are often repeated in the NT.





Q77: What is required in the ninth commandment?

A: The ninth commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbourís good name, especially in witness-bearing.

Truth. That is what is good and acceptable in Godís eyes. God is true; He is the Truth. "The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth", Exod 34:6. Our God is the truth, and therefore He requires that those that obey His will, also are true and speak the truth. Our God is "a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he", Deut 32:4. Therefore, reader, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour". Speak the truth, always and ever. That is what this ninth commandment requires. Let we maintain and promote tha truth between man and man. "Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour", Zech. 8:16. When we speak the truth, then we always and ever will have a good conscience, whatever evil the rest of the world might speak against us. No matter what accusations they might bring against us, when we have spoken the truth, then our conscience will bear witness with us, and God will confirm it, that we have done right. "Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ", 1 Pet. 3:16. Further, this ninth commandment requires that we maintain and promote the good name of both ourselves and our neighbour. "Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record", 3 Joh. :12. When somebody is falsely accused, and we know that he is guiltless, then we should stand up for him, defend him and his good name, and deliver him, as far as lies in our might, from his false accusers. This commandment has the words "you shall not bear false witness", so especially in witness-bearing, we should be true. "A faithful witness will not lie. A true witness delivereth souls", Prov. 14:5,25




Q78: What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?

A: The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbourís good name.

In God is the Truth (and that He is), then every lie is forbidden. Everything that opposes itself against truth, is forbidden in this commandment. Of the sinners, it is written: "with their tongues they have used deceit", Rom. 3:13. But this is forbidden.

When the father asks his son "Why have you done this?", then the son answers: "I done? I have not done it!" - in the mean time the son indeed has done it, but lies to his father. Many citizens lie when they fill in their tax assessment, deliberately hiding their extra income, and also enlarging their deductible expenditures. You shall not lie, reader. Many use a lie for their own good, and to escape from unpleasant situations. All this is forbidden by the ninth commandment. Further, it also forbids anything that is injurious to our own or our neighbourís good name. "LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour", Ps. 15:1-3. Gossip is forbidden, because it greatly injures the good name of our neighbour. Even in the case somebody has done evil, even then we should not gossip, but first speak with that person, in the hope that he will repent of his evil ways. "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people", Lev 19:16.