In his commentary on the Larger Catechism, Johannes Vos explains, “The general scope of the ninth commandment is the sanctity of truth and honesty in human society, and the duty of maintaining our own and our neighbor’s good name.” Because truth is an attribute of God, and because we are created in His image, we are to support, defend, and uphold the truth in our lives, our homes, our churches, and our society.
Three Ways to Live Out the Truth
In light of the fact that God is a God of truth and has concern for the truth—seen particularly in the ninth commandment—what are some practical ways we can live out that truth in our daily lives? Let me give you three.
First, diligently keep watch over the sins of the tongue. As James says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness” (3:6). The image goes on, conveying how quickly a fire can spread. We should heed the warnings of Scripture: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish” (Prov. 19:9). By nature we have prejudice against the truth and should be watchful for ways that we continue to distort the truth. False speech—the sins of gossip, slander, lying, bearing false witness, etc.—should have no place on our lips, for these not only grieve the heart of the God of truth, but they can easily spread and cause great harm to our neighbors. Rather, we are to speak “truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) and promote the good name of our neighbor.
Second, because God is both sovereign and the source of all truth, we can trust Him and His Word. He is reliable and His promises cannot fail. The inerrancy, infallibility, and truthfulness of His Word provide a solid foundation upon which to build a coherent and consistent worldview—one that gives hope and elicits trust while living in an unstable world. Jesus prayed for His disciples, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). The Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesians of their sealing by the Holy Spirit when they heard and believed “the word of truth” (Eph. 1:13). We are called to put our trust in the true and living God, “who never lies” (Titus 1:2). The reality that our sovereign God is the source of all truth gives rest to weary and wandering souls.
Third, study and know the truth, “which will set you free” (John 8:32). Truth is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ, who is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (14:6). He is called the “true light” (1:9), the “true bread” (6:32), and the “true vine” (15:1). As the embodiment of truth, Christ bled and died so that we could be forgiven for all our false testimony and sins of the tongue. We should cultivate a deeper knowledge of Jesus and His truth—meditating on that truth day and night, hiding it in our hearts that we might not sin against Him, and availing ourselves of it through the regular preaching of God’s Word. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16).
Jesus came into the world “to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37), and the world rejected Him and scoffed at Him. But His sheep know the voice of their Good Shepherd, and they follow Him. He gives them eternal life, and no one will snatch them from His hand. We, too, bear witness to the truth in a world that desperately needs the Savior, a world that needs the voice of the Shepherd who leads them to the green pastures of His transformative grace. May we love, speak, and walk in God’s truth—that we may glorify God and enjoy Him forever.