August 8, 2021

Live by the Spirit: The Ninth Commandment

Scripture Reading: I Kings 21:1-16
Teaching Lesson: Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 112

Whoever you might think was or is the worst political leader in the world, long before him or her there was King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of Israel. Together, they are one of the worst political couples ever to take power in this world. This morning we have a read a brief account of just one rotten incident that took place while these two were in charge. Ahab wants a vineyard that is close to his palace but Naboth, the owner of a vineyard, will not give it to him.
For this reason, he is then accused falsely of “cursing God and the king” so that the king could then take his vineyard deceitfully.
Royal privilege crushes the one without advantage and it’s all accomplished by bearing false witness against one’s neighbour. Violation of the Ninth Commandment is evil and it runs against the vision and values of God’s Kingdom. To be led by the Spirit is to walk in the light of God’s Word and in his Word God reveals his will for our lives in the Law. Today we turn our attention to the Ninth Commandment from Exodus 20:16 which says, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.” Leviticus 19:11 it states it simply saying, “Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.”

Questions:
What does Q&A 112 say we ought to do in order to obey the Ninth Commandment?
What does it mean to “speak the truth in love”?
Does King Ahab get the vineyard he wanted?
What is the significance of it being an “inheritance”?

Naboth’s vineyard is more than a piece of property. Throughout the text it is called his “inheritance” that came from the Lord. The land is an inheritance and it was God’s gift of grace to him and his family for perpetuity. In Scripture (as it still often is today) an inheritance (land rights) are not something you just give away. You would not just “sell out” to someone who wants it. God’s people received the Promised Land as a gift of grace from the Lord. In our text, Ahab “takes possession” of that which was not his to take. Naboth is robbed of the grace imbedded in the Law just as much as he is robbed of his property. The vehicle used to make all this possible is the breaking of the Ninth Commandment.

Questions:
What is the lie and half-truth spoken by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden?
What does Jesus call the Serpent in John 8:44?
Can power and greed ever lead to healthy relationships?

Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body.” Our first calling towards our neighbours is to show them love by speaking “truthfully”. We need grace and truth in all our relationships. (This means we can disagree with one another without becoming disagreeable!) When exercising the positive side of the Ninth Commandment we are to do so in the context of grace and truth.
Together they lead to “Love” which becomes the overarching consideration. Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Questions:

How was Jesus himself a victim of “false witnessing”?
What happens to Naboth after he is accused by false witnesses?

The Conclusion:
How will we obey the positive side of the Ninth Commandment? Let it begin in your home. Let truth and love characterize your relationship with your spouse, your children, and your parents. If the home is a mess, then you cannot expect better things outside the home. If anger, mistrust, and deception characterize family relationships, this will work itself into your relationships outside the home. Beyond the Christian home we must actively engage in the positive side of this law in the Church, our schools, at work and everywhere. Speaking the Truth in love keeps us rooted in Christ because, as it says in John 14:6, he is the Truth. If we stand on the side of truth, we stand with God. Words have the power to shape human life. Words spoken about someone else carry great significance. We must learn to weigh the truthfulness of our words and actions by God’s law of love. In this way peace and fellowship are established in the world. In this the Kingdom of grace is revealed.