The Ninth Commandment: Part Two
Prepared for Sunday School. May 25, 2008
[Scroll down blog to Wednesday, May 14, for Part One]
The Ninth Commandment is simple: “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor.”
The HC gives the meaning this way:
Q112: What does the ninth Commandment require?
A112: That I bear false witness against no one, twist no one's words, be no backbiter or slanderer, join in condemning no one unheard and rashly;  but that on pain of God's heavy wrath I avoid all lying and deceit  as the very works of the devil; and that in matters of judgment and justice and in all other affairs I love, speak honestly and confess the truth;  also, insofar as I can, defend and promote my neighbor's good name.
1 and 2: See Lesson for May 11.
3. Be no backbiter or slanderer: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents," (Ro 1:28-30)
4. Join in condemning no one unheard or rashly: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Mt 7:1-2) "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:" (Lu 6:37)
5. but that on pain of God's heavy wrath I avoid all lying and deceit: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (Joh 8:44 av)
6. as the very works of the devil; "Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight." (Pr 12:22) "A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame." (Pr 13:5)
7. and that in matters of judgment and justice and in all other affairs I love, speak honestly and confess the truth; “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;” (1Co 13:6); “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Eph 4:25)
8. also, insofar as I can, defend and promote my neighbor's good name. “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1Pe 4:8)
On this last verse Calvin writes:
“And above all things. He commends charity or love as the first thing, for it is the bond of perfection. And he bids it to be fervent, or intense, or vehement, which is the same thing; for whosoever is immoderately fervent in self-love, loves others coldly. And he commends it on account of its fruit, because it buries innumerable sins, than which nothing is more desirable. But the sentence is taken from Solomon, whose words are found in Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred discovers reproaches, but love covers a multitude of sins.” What Solomon meant is sufficiently clear, for the two clauses contain things which are set in contrast the one with the other. As then he says in the first clause that hatred is the cause why men traduce and defame one another, and spread whatever is reproachful and dishonorable; so it follows that a contrary effect is ascribed to love, that is, that men who love one another, kindly and courteously forgive one another; hence it comes that, willingly burying each other’s vices, one seeks to preserve the honor of another. Thus Peter confirms his exhortation, that nothing is more necessary than to cherish mutual love. For who is there that has not many faults? Therefore all stand in need of forgiveness, and there is no one who does not wish to be forgiven. This singular benefit love brings to us when it exists among us, so that innumerable evils are covered in oblivion. On the other hand, where loose reins are given to hatred, men by mutual biting and tearing must necessarily consume one another, as Paul says (Galatians 5:15.)
“And it ought to be noticed that Solomon does not say that only a few sins are covered, but a multitude of sins, according to what Christ declares, when he bids us to forgive our brethren seventy times seven, Matthew 18:22.) But the more sins love covers, the more evident appears its usefulness for the wellbeing of mankind. This is the plain meaning of the words. It hence appears how absurd are the Papists, who seek to elicit from this passage their own satisfactions, as though almsgiving and other duties of charity were a sort of a compensation to God for blotting out their sins. It is enough to point out by the way their gross ignorance, for in a matter so clear it would be superfluous to add many words.” --Calvin on 1Peter 4:8
“The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” (Pr 19:11)
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (Joh 7:24)
“Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” (Joh 7:51)
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” (1Pe 2:21)
“Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:” (1Pe 2:23)
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Col 4:6)
“Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” (1Pe 3:9)
“8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.
9 He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.
10 He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall.
11 The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. 12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” (Pr 10:8-12)
“13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.
14 Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.” (Pr 10:13-14)
“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” (Jas 3:2)
“34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Mt 12:34-37)
Please click here for a discussion by Ursinus on the meaning of the 112th Question in the Heidelberg Catechism.
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