Is it ever right to lie? This question has been asked of me a couple of times in the last few months. My simple answer is no. Many people disagree with me on this, but before you judge what I am saying, I hope that you will hear out the case that I present before you, with ample evidence from the Word of God.
There has been much debate about this question. I do not want to look at opinions. Instead, I want to look at what the Word of God says. Even though there is much debate there is a very simple answer to it. The Lord says in Exodus 20:16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” To bear false witness means to lie or to deceive or to be untruthful. You might say that your neighbor is the person that is living next to you or the people that you like and are friends with. When Jesus is asked the question “Who is my neighbor" in Luke 10 by a lawyer, He answers the question with the story of the Good Samaritan. I believe some background information on the Samaritans and the Jews is needed to fully understand who our neighbor is. They hated each other. The Samaritans were half breed Jews and that was the reason they were hated by the Jews. Because the Jews hated them they hated the Jews back. The Jews would even travel on the east side of the Jordan River along the part that boundaries Samaria so that they would not have to go through Samaria. That is how much they hated the Samaritans. So that is the background.
In Luke 10 we see this man was travelling along, he was ambushed and beaten by robbers in the heart of Judea, where the Jews were from. His own people and “men of God” would not even stop to help him, but a Samaritan, who was not even from that region, who was travelling in the heart of the region, stopped to help a man that he was supposed to hate and who was supposed to hate him. So as you can see it is not just the person next door who is our neighbor or all your friends. It is people in the next subdivision over, in the next zip code, in the next city or town, in the next county, in the next state, in the next country and all around the world. Everyone is our neighbor, those who are not friendly to us and those we love, those who hate us and those who love us. Therefore, we are not to lie to anyone no matter what.
God takes lying/ bearing false witness very seriously, so also should we. Proverbs 19:5” A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who tells lies will not escape.” (NASB) We think we can get away with lying, but we cannot. We either continue on telling more lies to cover up the truth, but the truth ends up coming out anyway or it immediately comes out. When we lie and it is found out it makes us look foolish. It says in 1 Peter 2:1 “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,…” It says to put aside ALL deceit, not just a part of deceit or just a small portion of it, but ALL of it.
In Psalm 34:13 it says, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” We are to keep our lips from speaking deceit.
If we pattern our lives after Christ, as we should be doing, then we will find the passage in 1 Peter 2:21-24 of an interest. It says “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
Christ is the example for us to follow in His steps. He committed no sin nor was any deceit found in His mouth. Christ did not lie or deceive anyone ever. There was no need for Christ to deceive anyone, because He was entrusting Himself to the Father in all things. If we are to follow in Christ’s step’s that is a strong indication that we are to not lie or deceive anyone ever.
The question is do we entrust ourselves to Him who judges righteously? If we say we are entrusting ourselves to Him who judges righteously then there is no other answer to our first question, of is it ever right to lie. The only answer is no. Even if the result of us telling the truth is that we are sent to prison or we are martyred for Christ at least we will be entrusting ourselves to the Father. We will be letting, His will be done in our life and we will not be sinning against Him.
You might say, well what if you are taking Bibles into a country that is closed to Christians or hiding Christians in your house to keep them from getting caught? To even ask this question makes me wonder if you really are entrusting yourself to the Father. For you to lie and sin against God means that you do not trust Him to work everything out. Even in these instances it is not right to lie.
Rahab is an example that many people use, to say that it is alright to lie. Unfortunately, there is no way that anyone can say this to be fact, especially when the rest of the Bible speaks, bluntly against lying, bearing false witness and deceit. Let’s take a look into the passages used to justify this a little closer. James 2:25 “In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?” It is saying she did a good work, by receiving them and sending them out another way. James is not commending her for lying. Do you think that if she would have told the guards right where they were that the results would have been any different? I don’t think so. Even though we sin against God, God still uses us. Sometimes we put Bible characters into a light that makes then look perfect as if they never sinned or we say that because they did a specific sin then it is ok for us to do that also. The only one that was ever perfect was Jesus Christ and that is why He is our example. Rahab’s lie was not pleasing to God and by telling it, the guard’s shut the gate, but God knew all of this would happen, so He provided Rahab’s house to be on the wall, so the spies could get away. Hebrews 11:31 is another passage about Rahab, “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.” Rahab believed in the one true God and she can be commended for her faith. Think of all the other characters that are commended for their faith yet they also lied. Abraham (Genesis 20), Jacob (Genesis 27), and David (2 Samuel 11-12) are a few. So how can we even say that it is right to lie?
If we say that lying is right then every other sin is right to do at some point in time. There is, therefore, no moral standard and we have blurred the lines between right and wrong. There becomes no black and white, only grey. When this happens we are lying to ourselves about the absoluteness of what God commands us to do and by doing that we are not pleasing God. Do we trust God enough to keep His commands even when it could get us mocked, persecuted, thrown in prison, or even killed? These are questions we must ask ourselves. I pray that Christians around the world will heed this and turn toward righteousness and truth, to cling to it and to not depart from it. If they depart from truth, then there is no Truth in them and they are not truly followers of Christ. Friends, please do not allow yourself to think that it is right to ever lie. You can see that God hates it and so also we should hate it.
Solomon was a very wise man. His words in Proverbs should be read and heeded. I will leave you with this passage.
"He who speaks the truth tells what is right,
But a false witness, deceit.
There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Truthful lips will be established forever,
But a lying tongue is only for a moment.
Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
But counselors of peace have joy.
No harm befalls the righteous,
But the wicked are filled with trouble.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
But those who deal faithfully are His delight."