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Friday, July 01, 2022

2022.07.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:16

Read Exodus 20:16

Question from the Scripture text: What must you not bear? Against whom?

What does God expect out of how we use our mouths?  Exodus 20:16 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the God Who designed us to be speaking creatures requires that we use that speech for the good of our neighbor. 

In the eighth commandment, we were reminded that God is the good Giver of possessions, and that we should therefore respect the property of our neighbor and desire to be an agent of God’s good to him. Now in the ninth commandment, the Spirit extends that especially to one of our neighbors greatest possessions: his name.

Proverbs 22:1 says that a good name is better than great riches. There are many heart-reasons why a sinner might risk others’ names by speaking that which is false.

We must guard against the enmity or envy that would desire to take this good name away from our neighbor. And we must guard against the pride that seeks to advance our own name by some twisting or embellishing of what we say. And we must guard against the ambition of trying to get something by saying what we think the listener wants to hear. And we must guard against the unbelief that thinks that God needs us to lie in order to protect from evil or promote the good. 

As our larger catechism says, the ninth commandment requires “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.”

God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), and Satan is the father of it (John 8:44). We were created to image God, especially in part by speaking. Our mouths exist, first and foremost to praise Him (cf. James 3:9a). But our mouths therefore exist also to bless men who have been made in the likeness of God (cf. James 3:9b). Our words, therefore, are greatly important. Whether to our neighbor’s face or behind his back, we must seek to do him good with our words. There is enough that could be said here that it would fill many of these little devotionals, but it might serve us well just to consider these two paragraphs from our larger catechism:

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; appearing and standing for the truth; and 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, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging talebearers, flatterers, and slanderers; love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requireth; keeping of lawful promises; studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.

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; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful or equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of the truth or justice; speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, talebearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vainglorious boasting, thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession; unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any; endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.

Here is one of the great places that Christ’s grace in the believer is seen: in the sanctifying of his speech.

In what situations are you most tempted to speak a falsehood or bend or exaggerate the truth? How does this relate to the purposes for which God has enabled you to speak? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for creating us with the ability to honor You with our speech and also bless our neighbor with our speech. Forgive us for turning our mouths into instruments of self-service, and give us grace from Christ to use our mouths in a godly manner, for we ask it in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent, Who Will Abide” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

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