Can you imagine being locked up, in a prison, for a crime you didn’t commit? In Biblical language, you would be the victim of a “false witness.” Most of us have not spent time in a real prison, chained by a false accusation, but what about the daily atmosphere we live in? There are victims in the family of God, unaware that what they are believing as truth is actually misinformation from the kingdom of darkness.
Whenever I see the injustice of false witnesses portrayed in a story, something deep inside of me yearns for redemption. This is illustrated in one of my favorite classic movies, Call Northside 777, based on the true life story of Frank Wiecek, framed in 1932 for the murder of a Chicago police officer. His mother, a cleaning woman, posted an ad in the newspaper asking for anyone that had information on the crime; meanwhile, her son was eleven years into his sentence. Nice to have parents that believe in you! This story has a great ending, as newspaper reporter Jim McNeal, played by actor Jimmy Stewart, does some great detective work to expose the frame-up. Classic black and white, great acting; I recommend it.
When discussing movies of redemption, one must include the fictional story of businessman, Andy Dufresne, played by actor Tim Robbins, who was framed for the murder of his wife and her lover, and sentenced to a life term in the notorious Shawshank Prison. This is not for the faint of heart, and definitely for mature audiences only, but what this man endures over the course of 19 years, and the glorious freedom he gains, makes the Shawshank Redemption a great story of perseverance and freedom.
What kept Tillie Wiecek motivated to believe for her son’s release? What kept up her strength, laboring in a menial cleaning job to save money for a newspaper ad, that eventually brought the breakthrough? How did Andy endure Shawshank Prison and not give up on his hope for freedom? In these scenarios, the force that drove them was their “knowing.” They knew what the truth was, and refused to give up. In one story, it was the gathering of evidence that eventually overturned the conviction of Frank Wiecek. In the fictional tale, Andy orchestrated a brilliant escape, and in the process, exposed the ungodly, corrupt rule of the prison warden.
A common testimony of the false witness, is that compared to others, or to some devious plumbline disguised to look credible, your life just doesn’t measure up. There is a vast assortment of arenas where this plays out on the human soul, but oftentimes, the false witness is centered on our sense of significance. Does my life really matter? Am I enough? Tragically, in real life, many never gain a full release from the prison of accusation and falsehood, but are kept confined in a place that Jesus died to release them from.
Mysteriously, falsehoods against God were formed in the heart of Lucifer, which he passed along to dupe a third of the angels. It’s a massive riddle for me as to how Lucifer could be offended at God, when there was no devil to tempt him. The garden story was a further proliferation of a false witness, victimizing our first parents with this deception: You are not enough. God has withheld something from you. Adam and Eve plunged from a clean, shame-free status, to the realms of separation – a permanent fissure between them and God, causing them to run from the One who is Truth Himself. There was human fallout as well; the way they viewed themselves and one another was altered. Hiding replaced vulnerability with fear and doubt crowding into what was formerly a pristine state of confidence and security.
Lies are dangerous and injurious to the soul. “Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor.” Prov. 25:18 NASB There is one hero of the faith, who felt this in a physical way as well. Acts 6:13-15 But through it all, Stephen kept his gaze heavenward and has inspired millions of people that have read his story. Jesus Himself felt the array of false witnesses, mainly from the religious hierarchy. Even after He was resurrected they tried to frame it all as a hoax. Sound familiar? The very same forces are at work in today’s world, attempting to discredit what God has accomplished in your life. 2 Cor. 11:3-4
Thank God that we have redemption. Jesus fulfilled His mission: to “proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Is. 61:1 Jesus is the Repairer of the Breach Is. 58:12 and has bestowed this mantle and mission upon the church, to partner with him against the false witnesses arrayed against His bride. We are no longer separated but joined together as one. 1 Cor. 6:17 Yet false witnesses keep coming, creating multiple opportunities every day to anchor our souls in the truth.
Saboteurs of the soul do not easily relinquish their identity, stubbornly refusing to move until the light of truth exposes them.
Every false witness, lie, accusation, evil stronghold – must go. It takes work to ferret out the false and continually anchor myself in truth, but I am not alone. I have someone on the inside, delighting in me, and working on my behalf. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Phil. 2:12-13 NASB A little word study from Strong’s Concordance on “work” – literally, “work down to the end-point,” i.e. to an exact, definite conclusion; bring to decisive finality (end-conclusion). God’s rescue (salvation) is ongoing and His good pleasure is to see it lived out and enjoyed to the greatest possible measure.
“Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” Ps. 27:11-14