This Sabbath it is appropriate that we deal with False Witness. Over the last year the Church has been plagued with false accusations and false witness. We have had to deal with people in the Church for it and we have had to deal with people out of the Church in false witness. We have been fascinated with the way people who come in contact with the Church seem to think that it is acceptable to lie and to defame the Church, its officers, and members as though they do God a favour. There have been groups of people attacking the Churches of God for decades and the theme is similar. It is just the lies that get a different spin. Recently we had to deal with a matter of defamation and fraud. That was the wilful misrepresentation of a sermon of another church minister being cut and false comments being inserted into the sermon to attack us. That is an offence at law, but the people seem to think that they do God a favour in committing false witness as long as it is to attack the Churches of God.
We have seen families misrepresented, and false statements made about them, and the litany of lies seems endless.
God has a lot to say about liars and their false witness and defamation, and He is quite clear that a liar will not inherit the Kingdom if God.
Over the last two weeks I have spoken to the heads of a couple of churches regarding false witness and the behaviour of people associated with them. As strange as it may seem, we are often on good terms with the other Churches of God and the problems we face. Many problems arise in the churches from dishonest people who attempt to benefit by deception. Much of the problems in today’s consumer society arise from attempts to benefit by deception. It is getting worse as society degenerates ethically.
Let’s look at what God has to say about liars and about defamation in slander or libel. Slander is spoken defamation, and libel is written defamation.
Psalm 5:4-6 For thou art not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not sojourn with thee. 5 The boastful may not stand before thy eyes; thou hatest all evildoers. 6 Thou destroyest those who speak lies; the LORD abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men. (RSV)
Exalting yourself at the expense of another is boasting. Exaggerating your own prowess, which is usually at the expense of another is abhorred by God. The texts say that the bloody and deceitful man is abhorred by God and He destroys them. The murder of another person starts with vilification and defamation. It is the murder of another person’s, or group of people’s character and identity, and proceeds to physical attacks in hate crimes. It is a fascist and racist mentality. Fortunately, many nations acting within the UN charter of Human Rights have outlawed these hate crimes, and ethnic groups have more protection against attack.
Humility is a virtue with God. The Church has been attacked, and groups destroyed over the centuries by lies and liars. Those people are usually part of the more powerful sects and groups who invent false doctrine and then exalt those systems against the elect who follow the laws of God. Their reward is now, and from the god of this world, rather than from the One True God through Jesus Christ; but they face a penalty from a higher authority.
God determines who will stand on the mountain of the Lord in the congregation of the elect. No person can be in the congregation of the First Resurrection who conspires to attack and defame their brethren by false witness. The parable of the sheep and the goats states quite clearly what will happen to those of the nations that attack us (cf. Mat. 25:31-46).
Psalm 24:3-4 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false [lying: SHD 7723 (BDB)], and does not swear deceitfully. (RSV)
We have watched over the years as people claim to be doing God a favour by attacking the Churches of God. We were often amazed at the actions attributed to others by these self-appointed guardians of truth. We did not know the facts of the matter concerning these other attacks and so we were necessarily silent. However, when the attacks were made on us we knew what the facts of the matters where. In a discussion with the head of another church system for Asia and the Pacific regions recently we said that, from what was said about us being so blatantly false, we now are obliged to disregard everything they have said about others. They have no credibility with anyone.
Most often the people who attack the Churches of God are from other organisations posing as affronted or damaged ex-members of one church system or another. They come into the Churches of God with an agenda and set up the circumstances of the attack and depart, protesting affront and misuse, when the circumstances of their problem arises from their own deceit and dishonesty. Many are simply unbalanced. In fact one group had to advise the people in the group not to go off their medication while they were discussing the church. That illustrates the problem all too well.
Once you destroy your own credibility, it is difficult for you to be accepted even when you are telling the truth. Accusers of the brethren don’t care if they lie, as they have no ongoing reputation to consider in truth. What they do is from the adversary and he is the father of lies, as Christ tells us. Many succeed because unconverted people want to believe the worst of others. Often others seek justification through lies.
God says through His servants:
Psalm 31:18 Let the lying lips be dumb, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt. (RSV)
The accusers of the brethren make railing accusations. It has always been the same. When they could not persuade us to adopt their false systems they attacked us, and when they could, they killed us in an effort to stamp out the truth (see the papers Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Historical Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170) and also General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122)).
Psalm 40:4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. (KJV).
God blesses those who trust in Him and do not turn aside to lies in support of those who wrest truth in judgment. Most often the perversion of truth in judgment is accompanied by lies in accusations. It is written: “You shall not follow a multitude to do evil nor speak in a cause to decline (or follow) after many to wrest judgment” (Ex. 23:2).
Psalm 63:11 But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall glory; for the mouths of liars will be stopped. (RSV).
Judgment and justice have always been the province of the King’s dignity in Israel. In the latter days the administration of elected governments has taken over that role, but the responsibility is nevertheless the same. Liars and cheats often wrap themselves in the flag of whatever nation they are.
As Samuel Johnson so wisely pointed out, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”. In the late 18th century, Johnson expressed resentment that some Whig opponents of the Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, had appropriated the term "Patriots" for their particular faction. They maintained that the prime minister of the day was not focused on Britain's national interest. It was a statement of contemporary politics. Johnson responded that patriotism (meaning patriotism of the sort espoused by these who masked bigotry in patriotism) was a refuge for scoundrels.
It is often the case that sections of the community appropriate the term “Patriots” to themselves and anyone who criticises the action of a community group is a traitor, and the true patriots are those who defame others under the guise of patriotism. These indeed are the scoundrels Johnson was accusing.
The same process was observed recently in Utah when Michael Moore was invited to speak there and the Mormon Right had a fit that someone who was opposed to their particular point of view might actually be given a forum to speak. Truth is not the sole property of one faction or another. Freedom is based on the axiom: “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. However, slander and libel have no part in that process.
The Bible is the central core of truth and it comes from God. Everything else has been left for us to work out and to discern fact from fiction. It is God that reveals knowledge to us in truth and allows us to fit it together in truth. Evolution strikes at the very heart of the Scriptures and the Creation, and that is why Evolutionist accounts are so blatantly discontinuous and false. It is a religion in its own right and deserves to be treated as a religion and compared to the Bible texts. Modern science fits into the Bible texts and is easily explained within it. Evolutionists reject God and they reject the revelation He gave to us. Even those who claim to follow it misconstrue it.
We are to follow God in all things and abide by the Covenant.
Psalm 78:35-37 They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. 36 But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. 37 Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not true to his covenant. (RSV)
God is on the lips of the scoundrels but their hearts are far from Him. The most often spoken word on all sides of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan is God or Allah, meaning the One True God, Eloah of the Bible and Koran texts, and often the Trinitarian God of the Triune system. Yet, Iraq and the surrounding nations, and the world in general, are sliding headlong into sectarian violence and civil war and the hearts of the people are far from God. Sunni Islam is at war with Shi’ia and both are at war with the West. Trinitarian heresy is irreconcilable with Hadithic heresy as both are at war with the Bible and the Koran.
The Lebanon is invaded because acts of war are committed against Israel by Hezbollah, uncontrolled by the government and the parliament of which their political arm is a part. Israel retaliates and Arabs are incensed. Militants fire rockets from Gaza and Lebanon. The Israelis are condemned because they retaliate after the attacks and kidnap of their soldiers. 10,000 people are in Israeli gaols, and the cause of the violence is never addressed and ended. They do no know the way of peace.
In the same way the Church is attacked by lies and deceit and criminal acts,
and when we ask for justice the old slogan is used against us: “Cet animal est
très méchant quand on l'attaque: il se
défend. (This animal is very wicked. When you attack it, it defends itself).
God defends us because we wait on Him. It is often said that we do all things as though everything depends on us, and we pray and fast as though everything depends on God.
Psalm 109:1-5 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. Be not silent, O God of my praise! 2 For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. 3 They beset me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. 4 In return for my love they accuse me, even as I make prayer for them. 5 So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love. (RSV)
We pray for our enemies and they despitefully use us. The only common denominator in these sectarian attacks is false witness. Truth is cast to the ground in political intrigues in all sections of the community. The worst are those who wrap themselves in the flags of their nations. Freedom of speech is confused with licence to defame.
God hates these sins and is against those that use these tactics.
Psalm 120:2-3 "Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue." 3 What shall be given to you? And what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue? (RSV)
David was appalled by the problem then, and it is in the same area now as he was operating from then.
Lies and deceit are the cause of wars and violence in communities. Hatred and persecution stem from lies and deceit in leadership and religion.
Societies stopped duelling over defamation issues by outlawing both duelling and defamation that brought about the problem. A society cannot be just unless it controls both violence and defamation.
An example of the problem is illustrated in the following manner. Canada has twice as many guns per capita as does the USA, yet the murder rate in Canada is so far below that of the USA that they are different civilisations. These facts were noted in the documentary, “Bowling for Columbine”.
The arguments seem obvious to the outside observer. Violence has become a culture in the USA. Why is it not a culture in Canada, or in Australia, or NZ, or the UK or the rest of the Commonwealth? Part of the problem is that over the era that the USA outlawed duelling, along with other nations, it also introduced the First Amendment to the Constitution. Following on that amendment the courts have ruled on what is determined to be freedom of speech. The result has been that abuse and defamation are uncontrolled to the extent that violence has not been rendered a logically unnecessary act there. The results are mirrored in the murder rate in the USA. The people of the USA kill more of each other than any other developed nation by a long way. Much of it is also reflected in the social structure as a result of the prejudice that flows from the mindset established by defamation and lies, and is often based on the poison of racism. There cannot be respect of persons in judgment but that means also that logically there must be respect to the persons in equality of judgment. There can be no prejudice.
The West should be an example for good, and not evil. The society will lose its freedoms as the wanton attacks against persons and property continues. The recent bomb attacks in Mumbai have seemingly no-one taking the blame or “credit”, and no one can work out the true motive as yet. The aim may well be to introduce social controls there as elsewhere that will ensure the slavery of the world.
The non-violent, and the poor and the helpless are caught in the middle of this legal morass. Many can only turn to God for help.
Proverbs 19:21-22 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established. 22 What is desired in a man is loyalty, and a poor man is better than a liar. (RSV)
God works all things to His purpose. Man proposes and God disposes. What God desires of men is loyalty, and a poor man is better than a liar. If you plan a rebellion, and find yourselves on the seat of your pants with nothing, and are becoming spiritually dead and wondering what happened, then you had better be aware that God has dealt with you. It is a fact that you have only one option and that is to repent. If liars have led you down the garden path, then take stock of your situation and repent. Let them sit on their own and contemplate their navels while God deals with them. A liar will not inherit the Kingdom of God, and that also means those associated with them promoting the same false witness. Everyone can repent of sin and falsehood, and turn to God and to Christ and the Church, and will be received in repentance. You just might have to serve a bit longer before your comrades trust you again with responsibility. Some may never be trusted with the same responsibilities.
Don’t play games with the witness of God. Every word of God is true and an
inspiration to those who trust in Him.
Proverbs 30:5-8 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you, and you be found a liar. 7 Two things I ask of thee; deny them not to me before I die: 8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; (RSV)
It is the responsibility of the Churches of God to be stewards of the mysteries of God, and publishers of the gospel of the Kingdom of God based on the Law and the Testimony. Remain steadfast in the truth. That also means that you should not dig pits for others and misrepresent what they say. We have also noted that tendency among some people claiming to be upright members of the faith. Such people do not last long in the body of Christ.
False witness is used to stop the work of God. They tried it with Nehemiah but it did not work and they try it with us. No organisation can exist and be run on falsehood and deceit, and so those who would attack us invent defamation based on false witness.
Nehemiah 6:1ff. ... 8 Then I sent to him, saying, "No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind." 9 For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done." (RSV)
God says what He will do with a False Witness and those who utter lies. The work will continue unabated. Those of the faith stand firm against attack. The Church is the thin red line against the adversary. Stand fast and see the salvation of our God.
Proverbs 19:5,9 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who utters lies will not escape. ... 9 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who utters lies will perish. (RSV)
David gave us the requirements to inherit the Kingdom of God.
Psalm 15:1-5 A Psalm of David. O LORD, who shall sojourn in thy tent? Who shall dwell on thy holy hill? 2 He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart; 3 who does not slander with his tongue, and does no evil to his friend, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; 4 in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 who does not put out his money at interest, and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved. (RSV)
God has given His decision on these matters and declared what the end shall be from the beginning.
Revelation 21:7-8 He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murders, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters and all liars, shall have their part in the lake, which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Thus ALL liars will be in the Second Death. They will die and be burned once and for all in the fire of the Great White Throne Judgment after the Second Resurrection (see the paper The Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143)).
So it is for those who fear the Lord and are part of the body of Christ working
to publish the Good News of the Kingdom of God. They are subject to the same
laws and the same penalties. Do not slander or libel your brethren. Work towards
establishing the soon coming Kingdom of God on earth. God is working still.
Help to establish the body of Christ and support it. Do not libel and slander
the servants of God lest He rebuke you. Return to God and be at peace with the
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