Worship Times

Sundays    10:30 a.m.
                    4:00 p.m.

Today's Verse


A FALSE WITNESS

By Mark Grant

In Mark the fourteenth chapter we read, “55Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. 56For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree.

57Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, 58“We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’” 59But not even then did their testimony agree.

60And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 61But He kept silent and answered nothing” (Mark 14:55-60).

On the night that Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot with a kiss in the garden of Gethsemane, and then taken before the Sanhedrin to be put on trial. The chief priests, the elders, and the whole council began seeking a legal execution, but had to put together some kind of case that would stand up against Christ. In a wild frenzied endeavor they tried to bring witnesses against Christ to provide details needed to sustain a capital charge against the Lord. However, the witnesses they had, could not even agree over what Jesus taught concerning raising the temple. The witnesses that had come forward had turned out to be false because their testimonies were so absurd and unconvincing as to be unusable. After searching all night this was all the Sanhedrin had, and no one knew any better than Caiaphas that it was not enough to serve their purpose. That is why Jesus chose not to even respond for it wasn’t necessary since all could see that these witnesses were false.

Over two thousand years have passed since the trial of Jesus. To look back and reflect on it all, at least two observations are obvious: First, the Sanhedrin charges were essentially without any proof. While any man could claim to be the Messiah, it was only Jesus who had actually proven to be legitimate. As a consequence, Jesus had become a threat to the Jewish leaders. In trying to resolve the matter, the accusations that Caiaphas eventually made became so twisted and misrepresented, that they only succeeded in condemning the court. Even though Caiaphas and the Jewish leaders were claiming to be standing for doctrinal truth, Pilot readily recognized that the reason they wanted to condemn Jesus was that they were envious of Him (Matt. 27:18). Because of the highest courts own bitterness and hatred, the entire Hebrew nation became guilty of the blood of Jesus (Matt. 27:25). Second, God has always taught in His word that it is a sin to publicly accuse people falsely without sufficient evidence (Exodus 20:16). In the Sanhedrin’s undertaking, they never succeeded in proving Jesus of any wrong doing that was worthy of death. Pilot himself stated publicly that Jesus was an innocent and a just person (Matt. 27:24). In their attempt to soil the reputation of Jesus, the Sanhedrin’s charges were nothing more than a wild, reckless, and irresponsible disregard for true justice. The Sanhedrin had single-handedly succeeded in arousing the Jewish people to a state of hate and abhorrence for Jesus Christ. In the end, the highest and most sacred court of justice had become guilty of murder.

How do you suppose God views these matters of falsely accusing along with causing harm to others? In Deuteronomy the ninth teeth chapter we read, “15One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. 16If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. 18And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, 19then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. 20And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you” (Deut. 19:15-19). Obviously, the main purpose God gave this law was to prevent one from slandering or falsely accusing another brother. God revealed the fact that a single witness was insufficient to convict a person of sin. Two or three witnesses were required to confirm the facts of the accusations. A scriptural witness was an independent witness and not one who had been told what to say by the main accuser, nor had the story related to him. Rather, each of the witnesses had to be independent, firsthand observers of what was said and had to see what had actually happened. God wanted a thorough investigation and not just hearsay before any judgment was to be pronounced against a brother. If an accusing brother’s charges were found to be false, the false witness was to receive the same punishment that he tried to inflict on his brother.

It is God who teaches us from the Old Testament that if any brother accuses another brother, then he must verify and substantiate his claims or suffer severe consequences. As a result, far less gossip and slander would be generated or allowed. If a brother had to prove a clear-cut, solid charge against another brother, or else be punished himself, he then would be more likely to keep his suspicions to himself until he could prove his testimonial conclusively. Is this not the will of God as well today? Was it not Jesus who taught us by the golden rule (to love your neighbor as yourself) to have respect for a person’s reputation and forbid damaging the character of another person by making statements which are not true, thus causing harm to that person? “11Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” (James 4:11-12). Yes, all of God’s people should have enthusiasm for devotion to doctrinal purity, but it must be tempered with a love for truth, justice, and fellowman (Mark 12:30-31). Love for God and love of neighbor are inseparable. The one is not possible apart from the other. That is why Christians should be honest in their private dealings as well as in their public statements in the body of Christ. In either situation, it is “testifying falsely” when we leave something out of a story, tell a half-truth, twist the facts, or invent a falsehood. Jesus warns that such deception is what defiles a person (Matt. 15:18-20). Yet too often we live under the illusion that others are little affected by our negative verbal behavior. Make no mistake about it, words that slander, condemn, or demean are tools of Satan. It is Satan who is called the “accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night…” (Rev. 12:10). You might also be surprised to know that the Greek word for the “devil” is “diabolos” which means, “an accuser, a slanderer.”

Unfortunately, some members of the church seem to come out of the watery grave of baptism in the “attack mode.” When a brother has a tendency to run roughshod over others, under the pious guise of (standing up for truth), and could care less how much his accusations wound, cut, or injure others, then the evidence suggests his honesty is doubtful and impure. “A man who bears false witness against his neighbor Is like a club, a sword, and sharp arrow” (Prov. 25:18). When a brother seems disinterested in acquiring all the facts or making certain that he has not taken a slanted, inaccurate perspective, then he is going to bring shame and consequences upon himself. “A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies will not escape” (Prov. 19:5). One who gives false testimony or engages in other forms of dishonesty is sooner or later going to be caught in his own web of lies and will ultimately damage himself. Some seem however, to be more interested in simply “striking while the iron is hot.” Again Solomon wrote, “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly” (Prov. 14:29). Here we learn that the person who controls his emotions has great understanding. On the other hand, the person who is impulsive promotes disaster and will only look foolish in the end.

When a brother seems to think that as long as he is upholding Bible doctrine, then he can be as brutal, unscrupulous, and careless as he chooses, then he does not love God. The apostle John wrote, “20If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (John 4:20-21). Every Christian who has ever obeyed the gospel has always claimed how much he truly loves God. The real test that proves this claim is seen in how a brother treats and acts towards his own brethren who are in his presence. Anyone who loves God the Father will obviously show love toward God’s children. To fail this test of love proves that one’s claim to love God is nothing more than a lie. John finally argues that if one fails this test of loving his visible brother, it has become obvious that he does not truly love God, whom he cannot see. Does anyone honestly believe that when there is an obvious lack of love displayed toward fellow believers that this is going to be hidden from view? “10In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…” (1 John 3:10-11).

Jesus does not want his children to believe or engage in exaggerated charges against brethren, but wants every fact confirmed (Matt. 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1). Christians are not to even hear or consider accusations made against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses (1 Tim. 5:19). This explains why it is particularly important to God that fellow Christians not be prematurely accused or condemned. So instead of passing along some wild exaggerated stories, why not follow God’s will and head off the very thing that occurs so frequently among us all? Not to believe in allegations that may have been made for the wrong reasons, such as, personality clashes, distrust, or evil suspicions. Nor allow ourselves to swept into an emotional state of rage to where we falsely accuse our brethren and destroy our relationship, unity, and fellowship. The cause of Christ is mired and hindered by such erratic, reckless displays of zeal. In fact, such methods aid Satan’s attack on the church. “13For you, brothers, were called to freedom. Only don’t turn your freedom into an opportunity to gratify your flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole Law is summarized in a single statement: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” 15But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you aren’t destroyed by each other” (Gal. 5:13-15; NIV).

God challenges all Christians to produce a genuine love for his fellowman and especially to the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). If we would practice this kind of love, then we could truly work together in humility by earnestly contending for the faith with no animosity being displayed (Jude 3). We could stand side by side fighting together for the Gospel, instead of fighting each other (Phil. 1:27). We would be able to pursue peace with all brethren and not just the ones who have the same personal opinions as us we do (Rom. 14:19). Even when dealing with those who are in opposition to us, the Lord’s bondservant should exercise meekness and a gentle spirit, giving each other every benefit of the doubt, with a purpose of instructing, so that people will come to know the truth and turn from the error of their ways (2 Tim. 2:24-26). We should patiently hope, think, and believe the best about one another (1 Cor. 13:4-7). To sum it all up, a right relationship with God leads to right relationships with fellow believers (Rom. 13:8-10).

Such a Christ like attitude being displayed would put an end to the “shoot first, ask questions later” disposition which some seem to be obsessed with. We would avoid angry tirades such as outbursts of wrath, vengeance, or verbal abuse and respond in a more sensible, rational, mature behavior. James wisely advises us to “…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). Let us rise above our pettiness, our quick tempers, and our burning desires for control. These only cause us to prematurely accuse our brothers in Christ and leave only a trail of dissension and turmoil. During Jesus earthly ministry, His strongest admonitions and severest condemnations were leveled against those who were guilty of this accusing mentality (Matt.23: 1-39). Why should anyone think that those who manifest this same attitude toward Christians today are going to receive any different verdict when they stand before Christ in judgment? (Heb. 13:8)

In these troublesome times that the church is facing, let us strive toward godliness, but not to forget to add, “brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Pet. 1:7). What we need in the church today is a clear understanding that obedience to the truth produces sincere love for God’s people, not a scornful, belligerent, quarrelsome attitude displayed toward brethren with false accusations as a result. What we need is a strong dose of Peter’s inspired instruction: “Now that you have made your souls pure by obeying the truth, you can have true love for your Christian brothers and sisters. So love each other deeply with all your heart” (1 Pet. 1:22; NCV).