What does the ninth commandment teach us?


To tell the truth and not to speak evil of others.

The ninth commandment sits down near the bottom of the Ten Commandments, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as important as all the others. It’s part of the second half of the Ten Commandments, a group we nickname “the Second Table of the Law.” As you’ve learned over and over again at this point, that means it teaches us a way to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In Exodus 20:16, God commands, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

When most of us think of the ninth commandment, we think it says, “Do not lie.” But the words we read in our Bibles actually tell us to not give “false testimony.” To understand what the word “testimony” means, we need to talk about courts and judges.

A court is a place where people meet to solve disagreements and arguments about the law. A courtroom is ruled over by a judge. Their job is to figure out the truth about what happened. If they discover someone broke the law, their duty is to punish the evil doer and force them to take the wrong thing they have done and make it right.

Part of figuring out the truth is listening to witnesses: people who saw a crime happen. A witness stands in front of a judge and gives their “testimony.” That means they tell the judge everything they saw. Sadly, sometimes witnesses would give false testimony – they would lie about what really happened, either to protect themselves or a criminal friend. To put it in simple words, they would lie right to the judge’s face!

In the ninth commandment, God tells us to not give false testimony. We shouldn’t lie about what has happened. Whether we are standing before a judge in a courtroom or in front of your mom and dad in your living room, we must always speak the truth. The words we say need to match up with what actually happened. It doesn’t matter if it’s about something small or big. If you tell a “little white lie” or a big whopper, that still makes you a liar!

Instead of lying, Ephesians 4:25 commands us to do the opposite: “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” It’s impossible to love your neighbor if you are lying to them or about them. So no matter the situation, big or small, we should tell the truth! But remember: the ninth commandment is all about love. Not only should the words that escape our lips be true words – they should also be loving words!


+ Have you ever had someone lie to you? How did you feel when you found out they weren’t telling the truth?

+ In what situations are you tempted to be dishonest?


Ps. 15:1-3; Zech. 8:16; 1 Cor. 13:6; James 4:11; Ex. 20:16; Deut. 5:20

© 2023 Andrew Doane. All rights reserved.