In the late 17th century, the Anglican Ezekiel Hopkins wrote An Exposition of the Ten Commandments. In the section on the prohibition against bearing false witness, Hopkins spelled out the three components that make up telling a lie.
In the outline below, I will provide Hopkins’ three ingredients and add my own comments.
1. There must be the speaking of an untruth.
This ingredient focuses on the actions of the tongue or the mouth. It is the verbal communicating of what is not true.
2. It must be known to us to be an untruth.
Here is the ingredient of the mind. It is not false witness when you think you are telling the truth.
Let’s say that I run hot water into the kitchen sink. My wife walks in seconds later and asks me if the water is hot. I tell her that it is hot. Unknown to me the cold water handle has slipped and allowed a surge of cold water to cool what was hot.
Did I lie or bear false witness? No. My mouth communicated what I thought was true was in my mind.
3. It must be with a will and intent to deceive him to whom we speak it, and to lead him into error.
The final ingredient is of the heart. It gets at the issue of desire, will and intent.
When all three ingredients are put together, the liar intends in his heart to deceive, knows that his testimony is false and speaks the lie to another person so as to deceive that person.
Thank the Lord that Jesus, who is The Truth, died and was raised for liars. For who has not mixed these three ingredients together?