Annotations to the Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 43
Lord's Day 43
What is required
in the ninth commandment?
I must not give false testimony against anyone,
twist no one's words,
not gossip or slander,
nor condemn or join in condemning anyone
rashly and unheard.
Rather, I must avoid all lying and deceit
as the devil's own works,
under penalty of God's heavy wrath.
In court and everywhere else,
I must love the truth,
speak and confess it honestly,
and do what I can
to defend and promote
my neighbour's honour and reputation.
Q. & A. 112 Respect the Name of Your Neighbour
- The ninth commandment is concerned with the neighbour's name, that is, what people think of him, his reputation. Scripture says, in Ecc 7:1, of a person's name: "A good name is better than precious ointment."
A person's name determines his standing in society (see, e.g., Lk 7:4-5). He who attacks a person's name attacks his standing among men. The most serious sin against a person's name is perjury, i.e., false testimony before a judge (1 Kings 21:13). By forbidding the most serious sin, God forbids every sin of this type.
- The commandment Forbids: Twisting someone's words by adding something to or deleting something from them; gossip and slander; and condemning someone rashly and unheard, or joining in doing so.
Also, we must not immediately repeat everything that we hear, even if it is true. 1 Pet 4:8 says: ". . . love covers a multitude of sins."
And James says in 1:19: "Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak. . . ."
The commandment also forbids all lying and deceit whereby we deliberately misrepresent things in order to gain advantage or to hurt another person. These include lies to prevent loss to yourself and to further your business, as well as the white lie.
- The Catechism calls lying and deceit the devil's own work. Those are the only things the evil one does himself. He does not steal or kill, he lies only (Jn 8:44). That is how he destroys God's whole creation.
God hates all lies. Prov 12:22 says: "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight."
- The commandment Requires: That I defend and promote my neighbour's honour and good reputation; and that, in court and in all other situations, I love the truth and speak and confess it uprightly.
The Jesuits' doctrine of mental reservation.
- What does the ninth commandment deal with? What does Ecc 7:1 say? What does a person's name denote? What significance does a person's name have among men?
- What does the commandment forbid? May we repeat everything we hear? What does Jas 1:19 say? What else does the commandment forbid?
- What does the Catechism call lying and deceit?
- What does the commandment require?