Mark Twain has never struck me as a go to source for spiritual guidance. But the quote attributed to him above makes a good point. Telling a lie and bearing false witness are not exactly the same thing. A false witness is certainly a lie, but all lies are not a false witness. The size of the fish that got away might be a lie, but no real damage is done to others. I’m not justifying such lies, but a false witness is a whole different thing. There is a reason that the commandment to “not bear false witness against your neighbor” made it onto God’s top ten list of laws.

Libation # 254: The False Witness

“There are 869 different forms of lying, but only one of them has been squarely forbidden. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”* – Mark Twain

Bearing false witness is evil on a different level because it involves the skillful use of creative deception to construct a false narrative that many people will believe and continue to promote, even after the false witness is gone. As Proverbs says, the false witness will perish, but the man who hears him speaks endlessly (see Prov 21:28).

Bearing false witness is a legal issue. It is not just a lie, it is a malicious premeditated lie, designed to pervert justice and bring legal judgement against an innocent party.  Proverbs describes the damage done by a false witness by saying that he who bears false witness is like a hammer, a sword, and a sharp arrow (see Prov 25:18).  The false witness and the story he creates crushes, cuts and pierces, not only innocent individuals, but it rips at the very fabric of society.

Scripture assures us that the person who bears false witness will not escape or go unpunished, if not in this life, certainly the next (see Prov. 19:5).  But in this life it is the job of the courts to make careful inquiry regarding witnesses, and if they are found to be lying, to put them away. The very judgment they sought to bring upon others they will bring upon themselves. (see Deut. 19:18-20).

This is why a nation with corrupt judges is on the brink of destruction. This is why…

  • we must do our part to put people into congress and the White House who will replenish the courts with honest judges, judges who will not be swayed by the false narratives that are hammered into the pubic consciousness by the media, or by the cutting lies of the false witness, or by the piercing doubts promoted by those who believe the lies.
  • we must pray for all men, especially those in authority, that they might have the discernment to recognize false witnesses and the determination to expose them.

Pastor Brad Sherman