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The penalty for bearing false witness in the Old Testament is death. It takes two or three witnesses (Deut. 19:15), not just one. This is a matter of law, and the knowledge of the Law of God came through Moses. The basic rule between individuals was an eye for an eye, and lying in itself might not be a cause for discernable damage. Lying wasn't a matter of law because the circumstances could be justifiable (for example, to preserve life, as when David pretended to be mad) or it might be a case of innocently repeating a falsehood. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Since Christians can know the truth we are responsible for saying the truth, or simply remaining silent. The new Testament standard is higher than the Old Testament standard because it is a higher revelation of the truth of God. The ten commandments inscribed on stone have not been abrogated. They are still the minimum standard for physical and spiritual Israel. But Christians understand them as the beginning, not the end of Christian moral behavior.
The 10 Commandments were a gift from God to God's people to tell them how to live. The first two dealt with people's natural tendency to idolatry and the last eight were God's moral law. God never lies and doesn't allow liars to have a relationship with Him. He was giving in the 10 Commandments His demand to have no other God above Him which includes the god of self and to make no images that a person would bow down to in worship. As God, He was giving His expectations. When Jesus came to earth (He existed from the beginning) He said repeatedly, you have heard, "but I say" to correct wrong thinking of God's people. He also showed inclusion of the Gentiles which was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus explains that He came to fulfill the Law and to teach obedience to the Law. In Matthew 22 He taught what is called the Greatest Commandment which is love of God (corresponding to the first two of the 10 Commandments) and love of others (the moral law of 3-8)-- 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” It really is not loving God or loving others to lie--it is loving self, protecting self or trying to attain something for self. Acts 5 shows that God takes lying very seriously killing two people in the church for one lie. Proverbs 26:28 A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering words cause ruin.Jesus said that anger/hating a person is the same as murder--Matthew 5 21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! And 1 John 3:15 says Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. Also in Proverbs God gives the things He hates which includes two types of people that lie-- There are six things the Lord hates— no, seven things he detests: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, 18 a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, 19 a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family. In John 8 Jesus said that those who love the truth belong to Him and those who lie belong to the devil. 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! Throughout the Bible, God is gracious to be a loving Father who tells His children what He expects. This is for our good to have a desire to not sin, an Advocate in Christ for when we accidentally do sin, and to live a life of integrity and love of others. As Christians we love Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life and want to live as He did (He was sinless and never told a single lie). Jesus said that if you love Him you will obey His commands and that they are not burdensome, so telling the truth is a basic function of following Christ. In Psalm 15 in the Old Testament they were told who would go to heaven-- Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? 2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. God knows every word spoken, every deed done and every thought a person ever had. He knows the heart of a person. That is what makes Him God and worthy of our worship.
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