What does the Bible say about false accusations?

The Bible makes it clear that false accusations are evil and should have no place in the life of a believer. In the Ten Commandments, God commanded: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16). And again, a few chapters later, this same commandment is expounded upon: "You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness" (Exodus 23:1). We see similar exhortations in the New Testament. First Peter 2:1 instructs, "So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander." Ephesians 4:25 says, "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another" (Ephesians 4:25). Revelation 21:8 includes liars in a list of those who will be cast into the lake of fire. In John 8:44 we learn that Satan "is a liar and the father of lies." Clearly falsehood of any kind is contrary to God's character, and thus it has no place in the life of a believer.

False accusations are the opposite of peace. They stir up chaos: "For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit" (Psalm 35:20). So, what motivates people to make false accusations about others? A couple obvious reasons come to mind. First, people make false accusations as a way to seek revenge. They want to harm the person they are falsely accusing. Second, they do it as an attempt to gain or maintain power.

In Deuteronomy, specific instructions are given to the Israelites about how to handle false accusations: "The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst" (Deuteronomy 19:18–19). These stakes are quite high; if a person falsely accused another intentionally and their falsehood was proven, they themself would have to bear the punishment they sought for the other.

We see this exact scenario play out in the story of Haman and Mordecai, found in the book of Esther. Haman was second in command to King Ahasuerus, and he sought revenge over Mordecai because Mordecai had refused to bow down to him and was also favored by the king. Haman formulated an evil plot to falsely accuse Mordecai of evildoing, and he had gallows constructed for the specific purpose of hanging Mordecai from it. Haman's evil scheme was exposed, however, and in the end, he instead was the one who was hung from the gallows intended for Mordecai (Esther 5:9–14; 6:4)."

Jesus dealt with false accusations from the Pharisees throughout His ministry all the way to His crucifixion. Isaiah prophesied this about the Messiah: "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth" (Isaiah 53:7). Even Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus to be crucified, knew Jesus was innocent, but he gave into the Jew's false accusations because he didn't want them to riot (Matthew 27:22–26).

Under Mosaic Law, the people who falsely accused Jesus should have been crucified instead of Him, but Jesus showed them mercy instead when He said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Jesus' sacrifice fulfilled the Mosaic Law and made a new law of mercy and forgiveness for all who put their faith in Jesus as Lord: "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17; cf. 3:16–18).

Throughout our lives, we will have people falsely accuse us, but instead of acting in any sort of violent retaliation, we can rest in the fact that God knows the truth. Peter instructs us to behave in such an upright way that it puts our accusers to shame: "Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame" (1 Peter 3:16). Jesus actually said that we are blessed when this happens to us for His sake: "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11–12). It is not up to us to avenge ourselves (Romans 12:19). We should seek wisdom from the Word so that in all circumstances we may honor God (Psalm 119:69–70).

Stay strong; God sees and knows the truth. We have this promise from Him: "No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD" (Isaiah 54:17) (see also Romans 8).

Related Truth:

Is lying a sin? What does the Bible say about lying?

Is telling a lie ever the right thing to do?

What does the Bible say about honesty?

What does the Bible say about trusting others?

What does it mean for Christians to be in the world but not of the world?

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