A Vicious Witness

“When there is found among you, in one of your gates which Jehovah your God is giving to you, a man or woman who does that which [is] evil in the sight of Jehovah your God, in transgressing His covenant, and has gone and served other gods, and worshiped them; or the sun, or the moon, or [of] the host of the heavens, which I have not commanded; and it has been revealed to you, and you have heard, and searching have searched; and, behold, [it is] true; and the thing is confirmed, [that] this hateful thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or that woman who has done this evil thing, the man or the woman; and you shall stone them with stones, and they shall die. At the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses shall he that is to die be put to death. He shall not be put to death at the mouth of one witness. The hand of the witnesses shall be first on him, to put him to death; and the hand of all the people last. And you shall put away the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 17:2-7).

One witness shall not rise against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin which he sins. At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses a thing shall be raised up [to judgment]. If a vicious witness rises up against any man to charge apostasy against him, then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before Jehovah, before the priests and the judges who shall be in those days. And the judges shall carefully investigate and, behold, [if] the witness [is] a false witness, [and] he has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he plotted to do to his brother. And you shall put away the evil from among you. And those who remain shall hear and fear, and thereafter shall not add to commit any such evil among you. And your eye shall not pity; life [shall go] for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deuteronomy 19:15-21).

Do not receive an accusation against an elder unless on [the testimony of] two or three witnesses” (1 Timothy 5:19).

[Underlining mine]

I was thinking about accusations and how God prescribed they be dealt with.  Consider many valid reasons WHY the testimony or accusation of only one witness is NOT accepted or received.  In Deuteronomy 19:16 we read of the rising up of “a vicious witness.”  A vicious witness gives false testimony.  A vicious witness makes false accusations.

God takes serious accusations, seriously — and so ought we.  May God’s sincere followers love, honor, and glorify the One who is TRUTH (John 14:6) in all of our thoughts, words, and deeds.

To conclude, here is a quote from John Calvin on 1 Timothy 5:19 (which I cited above).  [Note:  I am not endorsing or promoting John Calvin as a true Christian when I quote from him.]

“Against an elder receive not an accusation…After having commanded that salaries should be paid to pastors, he likewise instructs Timothy not to allow them to be assailed by calumnies, or loaded with any accusation but what is supported by sufficient proof. But it may be thought strange, that he represents, as peculiar to elders, a law which is common to all. God lays down, authoritatively, this law as applicable to all cases, that they shall be decided ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses.’ (Deu_17:6; Mat_18:16.) Why then does the Apostle protect elders alone by this privilege, as if it were peculiar to them, that their innocence shall be defended against false accusations?

I reply, this is a necessary remedy against the malice of men; for none are more liable to slanders and calumnies than godly teachers…Not only does it arise from the difficulty of their office, that sometimes they either sink under it, or stagger, or halt, or blunder, in consequence of which wicked men seize many occasions for finding fault with them; but there is this additional vexation, that, although they perform their duty correctly, so as not to commit any error whatever, they never escape a thousand censures. And this is the craftiness of Satan, to draw away the hearts of men from ministers, that instruction may gradually fall into contempt. Thus not only is wrong done to innocent persons, in having their reputation unjustly wounded, (which is exceedingly base in regard to those who hold so honorable a rank,) but the authority of the sacred doctrine of God is diminished.

And this is what Satan, as I have said, chiefly labors to accomplish; for not only is the saying of Plato true in this instance, that ‘the multitude are malicious, and envy those who are above them,’ but the more earnestly any pastor strives to advance the kingdom of Christ, so much the more is he loaded with envy, and so much the fiercer are the assaults made on him. Not only so, but as soon as any charge against the ministers of the word has gone abroad, it is believed as fully as if they were already convicted. This is not merely owing to the higher degree of moral excellence which is demanded from them, but because almost all are tempted by Satan to excessive credulity, so that, without making any inquiry, they eagerly condemn their pastors, whose good name they ought rather to have defended.

On good grounds, therefore, Paul opposes so heinous iniquity, and forbids that elders shall be subjected to the slanders of wicked men till they have been convicted by sufficient proof. We need not wonder, therefore, if they whose duty it is to reprove the faults of all, to oppose the wicked desires of all, and to restrain by their severity every person whom they see going astray, have many enemies. What, then, will be the consequence; if we shall listen indiscriminately to all the slanders that are spread abroad concerning them?” (John Calvin)

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