These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (Pro. 6:16-19).
“He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit” (Pro. 12:17).
Note just a few accounts of false accusations in Scripture and the resulting troubles caused by them.
- Satan accused God of lying to Eve in the matter of eating the forbidden fruit ( 3:1-6).
- Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, and when she could not, she accused him of attempting to force her to commit adultery. Let’s not forget that Potiphar’s wife false accusation caused Joseph to spend time in prison ( 39:7-20).
- Under the Old Testament Law, a test for adultery might be instituted by the husband against the wife ( 5:11-31). When the spirit of jealousy overtook a man, he had a way to discover the truth, and the wife could be exonerated if his accusation were false.
- Even though Korah and his sons were given a special job of handling everything to do with the tabernacle, he was jealous of Moses and accused him of usurping authority given to the nation ( 16:3) In verse 13 Korah says, “Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?”
- Saul falsely accused the prophet Ahimelech of helping his enemy, David (1 Sam. 22:11-16)
- Joab falsely accused Abner of feigned allegiance to King David (1 Samuel 3:24-27)
- Against Elijah by Ahab (1 Kings 18:17,18)
- Gehazi, when he ran after Naaman, and misrepresented that Elisha wanted a talent of silver and two changes of clothes (2 Kings 5:20-24)
- Against Naboth by Jezebel and her conspirators (1 Kings 21:7-13)
- Against Jews, returned under Ezra (Ezra 4:6-16; Nehemiah 6:6-8)
- Sanballat in trying to obstruct the rebuilding of Jerusalem ( 6)
- Haman, in his conspiracy against the Jews because of his hatred for Mordecai ( 3:8)
- The priests, the prophets and all the people spoke falsely against Jeremiah ( 26:8,11; Jer. 37:13, 14; Jer. 43:2, 3)
- Amaziah the priest spoke against Amos (Amos 7:10,11)
- Satan falsely accused Job of serving God for profit (Job 1:9,10; Job 2:4, 5)
- Herod the Great spoke to the wise men, professing to desire to worship Jesus ( 2:8)
- Those who “found” Mary to be with child, spoke against her to Joseph ( 1:19)
- The multitudes falsely accusing Jesus of being gluttonous and a winebibber (a wino – 11:19)
- The Scribes and Pharisees falsely accuse Jesus of blasphemy, when he forgave sin ( 9:2-6; Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21)
- False witness against Stephen (Acts 6:7-15)
- Against Paul (Acts 17:7; 21:28; 24:5, 6, 13; 25:2,7; Romans 3:8)
- Against Paul and Silas (Acts 16:20,21)
These are only a few of the many examples we have in Scripture where false witnesses accused the righteous with devastating results. Authors of modern day fiction use false charges against the innocent as building blocks for plots. For example, the books and films To Kill a Mockingbird, The Crucible and A Passage to India are constructed around such trials. So what’s to be done? There is a biblical solution to the problem of false witnesses against someone.
First, there are multiple passages in the Bible that show how vile a false accusation really is. If you do not understand from context, then study the other sins compared or listed with the phrase. Note the commands not to “bear false witness” (Exod. 20:16; Exod. 23:1; Lev. 19:11-20; Deut. 5:20; Psa. 101:5; Prov. 10:18; Matt. 15:19; Matt. 19:18; Matt. 26:59-60; Mark 10:19; Mark 14:56-57; Luke 18:20; Acts 6:13; Rom. 13:9). Revelation 21:8 strongly condemns all liars.
Second, under the Mosaic Law there was a rather harsh punishment for the one who bore false witness.
If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; 17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; 18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; 19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. 20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. 21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot (Deut. 19:16-21).
Applying this Old Testament law did not stop all false charges, but it deterred the sin greatly; however, Christians have a new and better law in the New Testament. Christians are held to a higher standard (Matt. 5:17-48). Keep in mind too that the Jews under the Old Testament had both a religious law and a judicial law with the same officials judging. New Testament Christians are often tempted to take their grievances against each other to the civil courts when elders in the church have been given the duty of solving such issues between brethren.
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren (1 Cor. 6:1-8).
If you follow the news to any extent, you know we have abundant examples of false accusations against the innocent today.