The Ninth Command: Truth is Sacred

The Gospel: Transforming Liars into Truth-speakers

How do we fulfill the ninth command?

My parents came up with a very devious way to teach their children the need to tell the truth. In the DeWitt house growing up if any of us lied, my parents would say, “Oh that lie made your tongue dirty. We need to wash it.” So in we would go to the bathroom and out came the bar of soap. And some of you know where this is going because you grew up with parents that hated you as well. They would take the bar of soap and rub it on my tongue with some water. Yes, Pastor Steve had his mouth washed out with soap. To this day, I remember that taste. It is one of the nastiest tastes there is.

While that was a pretty good deterrent, it was no solution to the problem. Why? The problem was not the tongue, but the heart. For me to obey the ninth command, I needed to have my heart washed out with soap. “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” (Luke 6:45 NLT)

My tongue was merely saying what my heart was thinking. To truly be clean, I would need the spiritual soap to get down there. That’s why all the jails and courts and punishments and warnings will not redeem one liar into a truth-speaker. Somehow we have to get the truth in our hearts. If the truth is in our hearts, then truth will be on our tongues.

“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5 ESV) This is God’s soap. The ninth command condemns us and it can’t make us truth-speakers and it certainly can’t save us. “We must know the truth if we are to live the truth.”(John Murray, Principles of Conduct, p. 130.) How do we get the truth in our hearts so that our communication can be truth-speaking?

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6) “I am the way the truth and the life.” What is he talking about? A way to get your heart cleansed. A way to get your sins forgiven. Jesus said elsewhere, “The truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) How do we get the truth that cleanses and saves into our hearts?

This is going to sound impossibly simple. We believe. This believing requires a radical turning from sin in what the Bible calls repentance. Essentially, I choose to believe the truth about Jesus, which brings the truth of Jesus into my heart and soul. There, like soap, Jesus scrubs my heart with gospel truth. Truths like, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Truths like, “I am the life.” (John 14:6) Truths like, “Come to me, all who are labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) THE truth that He is Son of God, Savior of the world, my prophet, priest, and king. When the truth is in me, now the truth can flow from me in my words and actions which don’t rely on deceit or flattery but on faith in God. I am now free to speak the truth in love. When truth has my heart, truth has my tongue too.

The gospel does what the ninth command cannot do—turns liars into people who delight in the truth and who speak it too. What a freedom!

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Additional quotations taken from Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

©2014 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

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