The ten laws governing prayer, Final
May 08, 2014
Law 9: You shall not bear false witness
This law governs all conversation and prophecy in daily life. The primary application is that in daily life we are not to misrepresent either God or our neighbor. For this reason, we should take care how we speak of others, because we seldom—if ever—know people fully. We may see their actions, but do not understand their motives or what drove them to those actions. Too often we presume to know hidden motives without proof.
Perhaps the broadest application of this law is in the witness of our life as a whole. We were created in God’s image, but if we do not manifest God in our lives, then we bear false witness to God Himself. The correct and perfect image of God was seen in Jesus Christ, of whom it is said in Revelation 3:14, He is “the Amen, the faithful and true Witness.” He did only what He saw His Father do, and said only what He heard His Father say (John 8:28).
This is how to keep Law 9. The divine plan is designed to bring us to that glorified state through the pattern of the feast days.
When we apply this law to prayer—especially when coming to the divine court or engaging in spiritual warfare—it is imperative that we be true and faithful witnesses. This is the only way that we can win court battles without incurring liability ourselves. Any infraction of the law can be used against us by the Accuser. If we are not careful, we may suffer injury, or (in spiritual warfare) we may suffer casualties.
It was the wisdom of God that gave me twelve years of wilderness training (1981-1993) before He would allow me to take the lead in spiritual warfare. In those years the fire of God burned within me, overthrowing heart idols and bringing correction where it was needed. By the end of that time, I knew the awful power of heart idolatry, the greater power of the blood of Christ, and the security in the realization of the righteousness of Christ imputed to me.
If our prayers are done with a heart of love and the character of Christ, we will not bear false witness. It is also important to know how to handle false witnesses who rise up against us, because this is one of the most difficult problems that we face. It is inevitable that we should fall short of the glory of God, and it is just as inevitable that others will take notice of our sins and character flaws. Those who love us will bring correction in a loving manner, but those who hate us will use the occasion to try to destroy us.
Those who are motivated by hatred, rather than love, cannot possibly avoid bearing false witness, for they presume to know the whole truth, including heart motives. We see this often in the psalms, where David appeals to God on account of the many false witnesses that had risen against him. No doubt those false witnesses thought that David needed to be punished for his past sins. They did not realize that God had already judged David (with love), and that David had already obtained forgiveness.
When David’s enemies brought up the case again to the divine court, they acted as false witnesses, because they were accusing David of sins that had already been forgiven. When we accuse others of sin, we seldom take into account how God has already judged the person and brought him/her into the place of peace and reconciliation. One cannot be judged for the same crime twice without bearing false witness.
The law in Deuteronomy 19:16-21 says that false witnesses will receive the same judgment that they thought to place upon the accused. Hence, even to accuse a forgiven sinner brings liability upon the accuser. This is why it is so important to know the law when we go before the divine court in spiritual warfare, or even to pray generally before the throne of grace.
Law 10: You shall not covet
This law establishes the spiritual foundation of the entire law. Paul equates covetousness with idolatry in Colossians 3:5. For this reason, it relates directly to the first and second law. Heart idolatry causes men to steal or usurp what belongs to others. This law prohibits selfishness and promotes generosity.
If we pray with covetousness in our hearts, we will inevitably ask for things that are not ours to have. Paul says we are to covet the best gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31) and to covet to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:39), but we are not to covet a calling that is not ours. Neither are we to covet another person’s calling. We are to discover our own unique calling and then ask for the gifts necessary to fulfill that calling.
Each calling in itself confers a measure of authority to fulfill that calling. Many are not content with that level of authority, and they covet greater authority that they perceive has been given to others. There has been much conflict in the church between people competing for authority and recognition. In every such case covetousness is evident, and even sincere believers are often ill equipped with the spiritual gifts to discern the problem and to resolve it peaceably.
One general principle is that no man can keep you from your calling. If any man challenges your calling or authority, you need not defend yourself, for the calling is God’s to defend. We see this in the example of King David when Absalom challenged him for the throne. David left Jerusalem without trying to defend his right to the throne (2 Samuel 15:25). It is a truth that if we truly know our calling and are secure in the knowledge that God has given us that calling, then we will not need to defend it at all costs. We will view opposition as a divine delay that will work together for our good.
I have seen some people spend much of their lives either trying to prove their callings to others or trying to defend their callings against all competitors. In my view we ought to let God do this, and we should focus on doing what we are called to do or on preparing our hearts for the calling that is yet to be manifested.
Hebrews 13:5 says,
5 Let your way of life be without covetousness, and be content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
In other words, we need not covet other people’s goods or their authority. God will never leave us or forsake us. He will always provide for what we need to accomplish that which He has truly called us to do.
Our prayer life ought to reflect our contentedness and our patience. I too had to learn this lesson. It was one of the big lessons of my wilderness training period, for I thought I was ready immediately to start the work that God had called me to do. For years I sat on the edge of my seat, not able to make any long-term plans, because God was going to call me back into ministry work at any moment. It was only after I got tired of such anticipation and gave up completely that God began to move me into position for a new ministry.
Even now I have to be vigilant, lest I become impatient in moving to the next phase of ministry. I must focus on the present work, which always prepares me for the future.
Covetousness affects all areas of our lives, including prayer. James 4:3 says,
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
To ask with wrong motives is to ask with covetousness. As I said earlier, this includes asking for tangible things as well as asking for spiritual authority. We may certainly inquire about such things, but to insist upon obtaining our desire, as if it were our right, is most likely evidence of covetousness.
The laws of God all apply to prayer in some way, because prayer is the foundation of our spiritual life and our relationship with God and men. We have been accustomed to applying these laws to our actions, behavior, and even the motives of our heart, but we do not often see these laws as guidelines to prayer. I hope that this short study will give you a new perspective that is helpful.
This is the final part of a series titled "Ten laws governing prayer." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones