Have you been a false witness?


Has there ever been a time in your life when you have been a false witness? What exactly IS a false witness? I’m guessing it is someone who does not tell the truth about what they have seen. Let’s get to the truth of what a false witness is according to the Bible.

Jesus speaks of  ‘false witness’ in Matthew 19:18, Mark 10:19 and several other verses. The word is pseudomartureō (psyoo-dom-ar-too-reh’-o) [to see the meaning of these words, place your cursor over them]. This word is used many times throughout the New Testament. This, it seems, would be the person doing the action as compared to the actual action. When this is used, it is usually speaking about the false witness referenced in the well known Ten Commandments. The Hebrew words used in Exodus 20 is sheqer (sheh’-ker) and  ‛êd (ayd). This is what we would typically think of when we think of bearing false witness. But there is another in the Bible.

Jesus also referenced ‘false witness’ in Mat 15:17-20:

“Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?  (18)  But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.  (19)  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  (20)  These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (ESV)

The Greek word translated as ‘false witness’ here is pseudomarturia (psyoo-dom-ar-too-ree’-ah). From this passage we learn from Jesus this false/untrue witness/testimony comes from the heart. So it can not be lying about something we have seen. And if it comes from the heart, it has to be something personal.

In Rom 2:13-16, Paul writes:

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.  (14)  For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.  (15)  They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them  (16)  on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

The Greek word translated as witness here is summartureō (soom-mar-too-reh’-o). Here the conscience is the thing bearing witness. It seems to indicate that we know when we are doing right and wrong and that our conscience will bear witness to that. In Romans 2, Paul is making the point that even though the Gentiles did not study “the Law,” they were ‘doing’ the Law which was witness to the fact that they had knowledge of the Law. Romans 9:1 ties this type of conscience with the Holy Spirit.

Rom 9:1-2  I am speaking the truth in Christ–I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit–  (2)  that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.

Jesus also talks about a ‘witness’ in John 15:26-27:

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.  (27)  And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

The Greek word translated at witness here is martureō (mar-too-reh’-o).

The same witness in John 15 can also be tied to the Holy Spirit, the hearts, and the minds in Heb 10:15-16

“And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,  (16)  “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”

Revelations also talks about witnesses in Rev 6:9:

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.”

This Greek word is marturia (mar-too-ree’-ah). These souls were slain for being faithful witnesses of the truth of Jesus Christ. I just have to note how it struck me when I read over these Greek words how the word mature keeps coming to mind.

The consciense of the Gentiles was their personal witness, they were doers of the law and the law was written on their hearts. Paul says his conscience bears witness in the Holy Spirit and relates it to the feelings in his heart. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would come and would be a witness. The Lord said that he would put his laws on our hearts, and write them on our minds.

Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit and said in Joh 16:8, 13

And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: … When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

The Holy Spirit would not produce evil thoughts because the Holy Spirit is about convicting sin, righteousness and judgment and is a guide into all the truth. So we would be a true witness if we follow the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, Joh 3:19-21 and Mat 7:15-23

Joh 3:19-21 “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  (20)  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  (21)  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.””

Mat 7:15-23  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  (16)  You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  (17)  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  (18)  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.  (19)  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  (20)  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.  (21)  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  (22)  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  (23)  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

If we can do things that are wrong and not feel bad about them, we are not right with the Lord. If we continue to do things that brother’s and sister’s in Christ confront us with, we are not right with the Lord. If we continue to do things that go against what the Bible says, we are not right with the Lord. This would not make us a false witness though. It would just make us someone who is not ver nice and is not right with the Lord.

The false witness spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 15 comes from the heart, defiles a person, and it is personal. Jesus talked about another false witness, someone who calls himself a Christian, but doesn’t bear the fruits of a Christian. So basically if we call ourselves Christians, anything that we do that is not in the light, that is not a good fruit, that is not in the truth, is being a false witness. Think about that a moment. Anything that a Christian is not willing to expose to the light, is bearing a false witness. Anything that a Christian is ashamed of, is hiding, is kept in the dark, is bearing a false witness. Sometimes we can bear a shame that isn’t ours to bear, but even then, when it is exposed to the light, it can be released. Anything a Christian feels unease about in the heart or mind is a conviction from the Holy Spirit, trying to keep us from bearing a false witness.

I challenge you to go deep. Think back over your day. Are there things you wouldn’t have done if Jesus were standing right there next to you? Sometimes that is a little hard to imagine.

Are there things you wouldn’t have done if your Pastor were standing right next to you? Hmmm, a little easier to picture.

Are there things you wouldn’t have done if another member of your church were standing right there? Ahha

You see, these are all lights, Jesus, your pastor, a church member. If you are not willing to do them in front of them, then you are now feeling a little uneasy aren’t you? What did we discover the uneasiness comes from? So I ask you again, Has there ever been a time in your life when you have been a false witness?

God isn’t about the past, he’s about the future. So don’t hang around in what you did. Ask for forgiveness, repent, and learn to listen more closely to the Holy Spirit. If you about to do something that you wouldn’t do in front of Jesus, your pastor, or another church member … do not do it!

1Jn 2:1-6

1MY LITTLE children, I write you these things so that you may not violate God’s law and sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father–[it is] Jesus Christ [the all] righteous [upright, just, Who conforms to the Father’s will in every purpose, thought, and action].

2And He [[a]that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

3And this is how we may discern [[b]daily, by experience] that we are coming to know Him [to perceive, recognize, understand, and become better acquainted with Him]: if we keep (bear in mind, observe, practice) His teachings (precepts, commandments).

4Whoever says, I know Him [I perceive, recognize, understand, and am acquainted with Him] but fails to keep and obey His commandments (teachings) is a liar, and the Truth [[c]of the Gospel] is not in him.

5But he who keeps (treasures) His Word [who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety], truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected (completed, reached maturity). By this we may perceive (know, recognize, and be sure) that we are in Him:

6Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as [d]a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.

{Ok for all those smarty pants out there, I KNOW that there are things you HAVE to do that you wouldn’t do in front of those people, like showering, dressing, using the toilet, etc. But you KNOW what Jesus is talking about so don’t go there. ;-))}

Mat 7:15  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Mat 7:16  You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Mat 7:17  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
Mat 7:18  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
Mat 7:19  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Mat 7:20  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
Mat 7:21  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 7:22  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
Mat 7:23  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
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One thought on “Have you been a false witness?

  1. Amen, I appreciated this very much. I liked what you had to say here: “If we can do things that are wrong and not feel bad about them, we are not right with the Lord. If we continue to do things that brother’s and sister’s in Christ confront us with, we are not right with the Lord. If we continue to do things that go against what the Bible says, we are not right with the Lord.” Absolutely this is being a false witness, as we are to be witnesses in the way we live. Again I say Amen sister, I appreciate you responding to what God placed on your heart to write here. I will continue to read on. 🙂

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