Is it Okay to Lie?

I spent a portion of my life with someone who would lie about things – big things, little things, important things, and things that didn’t matter anyone else. I got to the point where I felt that I could not trust most everything that came out of their mouth. If I had a dollar for every lie that came out of that person’s mouth, I am fairly certain that I would be well off, maybe even a millionaire. So, suffice it to say I don’t like lies. I don’t like any lies. Little lies – big lies – white lies – or half truths (what is a half truth? A lie) – I don’t like any of them. My cardinal rule is don’t lie to me, because if you do, you’ve broken my trust and it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to earn trust back from me. 

As a kid, I told a few lies here and there in an attempt to keep myself out of trouble. But, as I think back on my childhood, I don’t know that I ever got away with any of the lies I told. It seems to me that I was always caught. And, I was always punished – that was back in the days when there was no such threats of Child Protective Services stepping in when kids got a spanking. Yes, those spankings hurt, no they were not abuse, and they taught me that telling lies was not acceptable. 

God’s standard calls for honesty. God hates lies. I cannot find anywhere in the Bible where God says that it’s okay to lie. That said, there are incidents of people lying in the Bible and in those instances the person(s) who told the lie(s) were not condemned, nor did it seem like they were punished for doing so. 

Take the Hebrew midwives in Exodus 1:15-22 who lied to Pharaoh about the births of healthy male babies to the slaves. God’s Word tells us that children are a gift from God. God’s laws forbid murder. So my assumption is that in fear of God, the midwives do not murder the male babies. God is involved in the matters of his people, and here it appears as if God steps into this situation in a little different manner. The plans of Pharaoh were evil, and God foils Satan’s plan which is being worked out by Pharaoh. After lying about the conditions of the births of the male babies, God rewards the midwives. 

Then we have Rahab in Joshua, chapter 2. When Joshua sends two spies into Jericho to get information, they get aid from the prostitute Rahab. She hides the spies, lies to the King, and the spies are safe. She exhibits a small seed of faith. Then in Joshua, chapter 6, Rahab and her family are saved from the destruction of the city. She becomes an honored important part in the lineage of David (and Jesus) as the mother of Boaz, who becomes the husband of Ruth. In the famous “Hall of Fame” in Hebrews, chapter 11, only two of which were women, and Rahab is mentioned not because of her lie, but because of her faith. 

So, perhaps what justified these two examples of lying in the Bible not being condemned is that in the cases where man’s law conflicts with God’s law, the lies were in reverence to distinct evil circumstances. And, even though the perpetrators of the lies are not punished, there is no where that I can find that God claims these lies as righteous. These two cases never should be used as an excuse for when we want to lie. Note that those two cases were extreme circumstances. Honesty is the best policy!

“You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. (Leviticus 19:11, ESV)

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, ESV)

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight. (Proverbs 12:22, ESV)

There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19, ESV) – *Side note: did you notice that lying is mentioned twice in these verses?*

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44, ESV)

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, ESV)

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. (Psalms 127:3, ESV)

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