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The Ninth Commandment

The Text

The Institutes

The Catechism

The Text

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Exodus 20:16

Rules for Understanding the Commandments

Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law

(links coming in y2k!)
  1. Tempting God
  2. Sanctification and the Law
  3. The False Prophet
  4. The Witness of the False Prophet [Conspiracies]
  5. Corroboration
  6. Perjury
  7. Jesus Christ as the Witness
  8. False Witness
  9. False Freedom
  10. The Lying Tongue
  11. Slander Within Marriage
  1. Slander
  2. Slander as Theft
  3. "Every Idle Word"
  4. Trials by Ordeal and the Law of Nature
  5. Judges
  6. The Responsibility of Judges and Rulers
  7. The Court
  8. The Procedure of the Court
  9. The Judgment of the Court
  10. Perfection

The Westminster Larger Catechism (1648)

Question 143: Which is the ninth commandment?
Answer: The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Question 144: What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
: The duties required in the ninth commandment are,

  • the preserving
  • and promoting 
  • of truth between man and man,
  • and the good name
    • of our neighbor,
    • as well as our own;
  • from the heart,
  • sincerely,
  • freely,
  • clearly,
  • and fully,
  • speaking
    • the truth,
    • and only the truth
  • in matters of judgment and justice,
  • and in all other things whatsoever;

a charitable esteem of our neighbors;

  • loving,
  • desiring, and
  • rejoicing
in their good name;
  • sorrowing for, and
  • covering of
their infirmities;
freely acknowledging of
  • their gifts
  • and graces
  • a ready receiving of a good report,
  • and unwillingness to admit of an evil report,
concerning them;
  • love and
  • care of
our own good name and defending it when need requires;
  • studying and
  • practicing of
whatsoever things are
  • true,
  • honest,
  • lovely, and
  • of good report.

Question 145: What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?
: The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are,

all prejudicing

  • the truth, and
  • the good name
  • of our neighbors,
  • as well as our own

especially in public judicature;

speaking the truth

  • unseasonably, or
  • maliciously to a wrong end, or
  • perverting it to a wrong meaning,
  • or in doubtful and equivocal expressions,
  • to the prejudice of truth or justice;
  • rash,
  • harsh, and
  • partial
  • thinking or
  • speaking
  • too highly or
  • too meanly
  • of ourselves
  • or others
hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession;
  • envying or grieving

at the deserved credit of any

  • and practicing, or
  • not avoiding ourselves,
  • or not hindering what we can in others,

such things as procure an ill name.

The Westminster Larger Catechism (1648) explains our duties under the Ninth Commandment. You will notice that the brilliant Puritan Theologians who compiled the Catechism discerned duties in passages of Scripture which do not begin with the words "Thou shalt" or "Thou shalt not."
Every word of God is a command for us.
But even the "thou shalts" and the "thou shalt nots" demand more from us than we might first think:
How to Study the Ten Commandments

How to use the Catechism for a Moral Inventory

First, you must agree that the Catechism has correctly explained the implications of the Commandment. Assuming it has, you must agree with God that you are obligated to carry out those principles in your life.

Second you must ask yourself if you have violated each aspect of the command.

Third, you must take steps to develop the Character of Christ, and eliminate "character defects" from your life.

The Ten Commandments Home Page

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