May 2, 1993

Protect the neighbour

Ps 82:3, 4.

Psalms 82 is one of the clearest commands for the child of God to do all he can to stand against wickedness in society, even if the wickedness is not directed toward him personally. Although the word gods here refers to judges, the implications of this Psalm speak to every Child of God.

This psalm points out that those whose duty it is to defend, refuse to defend; they have exalted themselves above their responsibility to defend the poor, fatherless and needy. Therefore, they will be judged by the Lord Himself as He would judge any other person.

(Note that the Lord God has appointed His people as, what we could call,guardians of His creation. In his fall, Adam lost his guardianship; the child of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, is restored to the place of guardianship which Adam lost. Consequently, the child of God is responsible for the helpless.)

The thought of Christian responsibility toward the helpless is found inJas 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world. Visit in this passage does not mean simply go pass the time of day. Visit carries with it the implications of looking after their welfare. In other words, visit implies: defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. (Ps 82:3, 4; v. 2, the Lord asks how long will His people tolerate the wicked's activity against the poor, fatherless and needy.)

There are many passages like Ps 82 which demand that the Child of God get involved in social issues. It is because Christians refused to obey passages such as these, that the wicked man now controls society.

There are several of the ten commandments that forbid a Christian from sticking his head in the sand and ignoring the situations around him. A couple would be: Ex 20:13, Thou shalt not kill. Another would be: v. 15,Thou shall not steal. Every commandment can be reversed which would make these two commandments say, Thou shalt do all thou can to preserve life &to protect thy neighbour's possessions.

But the one I want to look at today is the ninth commandment: Ex 20:16,Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

This commandment deals with loving our neighbour as ourselves and being a true witness. All of our words and actions are to be within the confines of this commandment. All our words and actions are to be according to love and truth.

Ph 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. We are to love one another as we love ourselves, and no one that I know of lacks "self-love" even though they have not been to seminars to learn how to love themselves.

The word of God goes further than loving our neighbour as ourselves; 1 John 4:20 tells us that our love for the Lord is shown in our attitude one toward another. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

Our words toward others and concern for other's welfare reveal our love toward them and toward the Lord. Love for our neighbour will fulfill God's law toward him which includes confronting him with his sin.

Ro 12:9 [Let] love be without dissimulation [or without hypocrisy, undisguised, sincere]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

1Th 4:12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and [that] ye may have lack of nothing.

The ninth commandment deals with proper witness.

The ninth commandment primarily forbids false testimony against our neighbour, particularly in a court of law. It also includes our speech. Not only are we to speak the truth about our neighbour, but we also are to seek to protect and further both his physical welfare and his good name.Obviously, when the witness in a court of law is permitted to perjure himself, the complete legal system breaks down; there can be no justice for anyone because Godly justice is based upon a true witness.

The reason injustice prevails in society is because injustice prevails in the church. The church is failing to enforce laws against perjury according to 1 Cor 5:11.

Lev 5:1, when one witnessed a lawless act, he was required to take the proper action.

When we bring this over into the New Testament, we see that we are not permitted to ignore lawless acts and words in the church or in the community in the hope that they will go away.

Mat 5 clearly tells us that if we do not act as light in the darkness around us, the darkness will take over. The Lord also tells us that if we do not act as salt, corruption will take over. Christ is not telling the child of God to be light in bright situations, nor is He telling the child of God to be salt in salty situations. Clearly, the Lord is requiring the child of God to take action in the corruption around him.

Therefore, when a person says that a particular area of life is so corrupt that he does not want to get involved (not sinful area), he is going directly against the Lord's words of Mat 5.

Furthermore, the child of God is required to take action against EVERY EVIL SITUATION that the Lord brings to his attention.

Ps 50:18, if the bystander does not take action against the evil deeds around him, he becomes partaker in those evil deeds.

Deut 22:22-29 is given with the assumption that the innocent bystander would take action if he knew of the evil deed.

In other words, when a Christian sees the evil going on around him, God forbids him to stick his head in the sand and say, "It doesn't involve me." God clearly tells us that it does involve us as individuals, and if we do not cry out, God Himself will judge us.

Scriptures teach that we will reap what we sow. And if the Christian community sows indifference to evil, they will reap the evil against them and the Christian community will be powerless to stand against the evil.

There is a second point in the ninth commandment that we should mention:

It clearly prohibits lying about another, and, thus, it protects his/her good name. It protects the innocent from false, worthless and unfounded charges which might endanger the person or name of the individual in any way.

Note here that something as simple in our eyes as giving a false impression about another has one tenth of the law of God against it. We do not really hold such activity as being equated with adultery, idolatry, theft and murder, but God, in Exo 20, places it between theft (v. 15) and covetousness (v. 17).

In fact, at times we work at giving a false impression concerning othersby giving the truth about a matter in a bad light. We know that the truth given in a certain manner will rase doubts in the minds of others, so we give the truth.

Thus, this commandment would prohibit even the truth about a person if that truth is meant to undermine the person's good name or work. (Remember, truth is ALWAYS according to the total revelation of God's word.)

People are particularly bad about subtly undermining the good name of a pastor; they know they cannot openly speak out against him, so they speak the truth about certain matters (either in or out of context) for the specific purpose of undermining him. The matters may be true enough, but the purpose behind the truth is to undermine or outright destroy the individual.

Thus, the ninth commandment requires:

1) we do all we can to assist the helpless when the wicked move against them. 2) we must speak out against evil wherever and whenever it is found. 3) we protect the good name of those around us. The person does not have to be saved to require our protection, because God requires that we love our neighbour as ourselves. 4) the child of God that sticks his head in the sand and says "it is none of my business" is a disobedient child and will be dealt with as such.