Is it ever okay to lie?

Many think so. I mean, what’s wrong with a little bit of misleading communication so that you a surprise party is successful? What’s wrong with lying to the enemy in wartime? It must be okay to tell white lies in order to smooth over a volatile situation, or sell something, or….

Is it ever okay to lie?

My grandmother used to call lies fibs. I thought it was hilarious, because my dad would make sure we children knew she was talking about lying.

Many people think some lies are fine, and other kinds of lies aren’t. Where should a Christian draw the line?

There are several ways the Bible answers this question. After sharing them, we’ll ask some questions at the end. Are you ready?

One of the Ten Commandments (God’s moral law) states, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour (Exodus 20:16). This basically prohibits slandering or lying about someone.

Does this prohibit lying altogether?

In my recent study of Proverbs, I came across this passage: These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (6:16-19). Two of the seven abominations are lies. These are things that God hates.

Let’s find the source of lying. Jesus said, Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:44). From this verse, we see that untruths and lies are straight from the devil, along with murder. The devil is a deceiver, because he began telling lies in the first place. Remember his subtle lies to Eve?

We can contrast lying with the opposite, which is truth.

Jesus is truth. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

The Holy Spirit is truth. Jesus said, But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me (John 15:26).

God the Father is truth. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he (Deuteronomy 32:4).

The Bible is truth. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17).

The church represents truth. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

What about mild deceptions? Are they okay when they’re for good reasons, like birthday parties, for example?

It’s interesting to note how many times deceipt is connected to wicked people. In the book of Proverbs, we read:

  • The wicked worketh a deceitful work (11:18).
  • The counsels of the wicked are deceit (12:5b).
  • Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil (12:20a).
  • The folly of fools is deceit (14:8b).
  • Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips (Proverbs 24:28).
  • So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport? (26:29) Only kidding!
  • About transgressors: He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin (26:24, 28).

Let’s set up a hypothetical situation. You live in a place in the world where there’s conflict. The enemy comes to the door of your home and asks, “Is your father home?” He is.

If you say yes, the enemy will come in and carry him away. You may never see him again.

If you lie and say no, the enemy will probably come in and look for your father anyhow.

You could keep your mouth closed, refuse to answer, and possibly be mistreated for doing so. That’s another option.

What should you do?

What do you think?

Are lies ever acceptable behavior for a Christian? Do you have a Scripture to back up your opinion?

I would love to have a lively, non-condemning discussion. I reserve the right not to publish unkind comments, but Walking in the Way welcomes honest opinions, both pro and con.  

20 Popular phrases: are they true?

A month ago, we analyzed several popular phrases. (You can access that post here.) Here are twenty more. Enjoy delving into these.

  1. You can do anything you want to do. If you don’t want to do something, you probably never will, but you can’t do anything you put your mind to. For example, I might want to be an astronaut, but my lack of abilities and training—and my age—would rule me out. I might want to be a world-renowned artist, chef, or singer, but I’m not up to that level of expertise. Not everyone has the ability to do everything, even if they want to.
  2. All things work together for good. The whole verse reads, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Always read a Bible verse in its context. This one’s about believers who are living in God’s will. Then, everything works together for eternal good—even if we may not understand what’s happening at the time.
  3. Follow your heart. The worst advice, ever. Emotional decisions are usually wrong. The Bible says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9) Jesus said, For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (Matthew 15:19). Thankfully, we can follow God’s guidance. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  4. When someone dies, people say “Rest in peace.” It’s a nice sentiment, but the truth is that departed souls either go to heaven or hell. We don’t exactly know what those in heaven do. Are they resting? Not sure. Praising Jesus? Yes! Hell is awful, a place of torment with no rest at all. This is why it’s vitally important to share the good news of Jesus’ salvation with everyone. When people are bereaved, we need to be especially careful that our speech is true and helpful. Many times, the best thing we can say is, “I am praying for you.” Be there, if you can, and demonstrate that you care.
  5. God isn’t finished with me yet. This one definitely has some truth to it. Any born again Christian finds himself somewhere along in the sanctification process. God hasn’t yet brought him to perfection. That only happens through the merits of Jesus and when one arrives in heaven. The problem is, this sentence is sometimes used as an excuse, which is sad indeed. Our failures aren’t God’s fault ; they’re ours.
  6. Read your Bible, pray every day, and everything will be rosy. Oh yeah? Tell the New Testament apostles and martyrs that one. Tell that to Christians who suffer in jail because of their faith. This has no biblical basis at all. Jesus said, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
  7. I just sinned; God understands. Yes, God understands our frailties. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). But, excusing sin is never right. God even helps us out of serious temptations—if we’re willing to flee from them. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  8. God won’t let anything bad happen. If that were true, there would be no sin at all in the world. Adam and Eve would never have had the freedom of choice. All through history, bad things have happened, because of sin. The Bible says, Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren (James 1:13-16).
  9. Pass this meme on, and God will prosper you. These kinds of statements show our ignorance of the nature of God. Who are we to manipulate God? The mere sharing of a post doesn’t make God do anything. The prosperity gospel concept isn’t biblical, either.
  10. When people die, they turn into angels and look down on us. Angels and departed souls are two totally different created beings. Angels were created as servants of God and messengers to man. They have many different functions, but they are not people. Humans have the opportunity on earth to be saved, but angels can only appreciate salvation from afar. Do departed souls in heaven look down on those on earth? I have my doubts. There is no sorrow or sin in heaven, so I question if they can witness what’s going on in this sinful world. When Jesus related about the man in hell who talked to Abraham (Luke 16), it doesn’t seem like any of them was actually looking down on earth and able to witness what was happening—even to the rich man’s brothers. It’s okay if you differ with me, but I don’t find this happening in the Bible.
  11. You’re safe in the center of God’s will. If you read Hebrews 11, it speaks of exemplary Christians: Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:38). The Bible does not guarantee safety to any Christian. In fact, many suffer for His sake.
  12. If you have enough faith, God will heal you. This is a dangerous teaching, as it’s false and misleading. While the Bible does state that the prayer of faith shall save the sick (James 5:15), it also shares how Paul asked three times that his thorn in the flesh be taken from him, and God refused saying, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Paul’s response was acceptance. He said, Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (1 Corinthians 12:9). It’s not always God’s will to heal.
  13. When you read your Bible or pray, the devil gets scared. I read at least once that the devil sees a godly woman getting out of bed in the morning and says, “Oh no, she’s up!” This might bring a chuckle, but it doesn’t represent truth. The devil fears no one but God. Only God has more power than he.
  14. God made me this way. This is often used as an excuse for personal sins. We should never blame God for our own sinful choices. The truth is that God made us with one purpose: to glorify Him. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Revelation 4:11).
  15. A single person must still have something to learn from the Lord, therefore they don’t yet have a spouse. This shows a huge misunderstanding of biblical teaching. The Bible clearly talks about singles and married people, both equally in the will of the Lord. Paul even says he wishes everyone would remain single, as he was. (See 1 Corinthians 7:32-40.) The Bible never makes a similar statement to this about singles, and neither should we.
  16. Ask Jesus to come into your heart. The idea comes from Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. It is misleading, especially to children, to tell them they need to ask Jesus into their hearts, because children usually think literally. But, someone can be saved by wording their giving of themselves to the Lord this way. Personally, I prefer explaining repentance from sin, understanding that Jesus is the only One who can save, and calling opon Him for salvation. The Bible does refer many times to Jesus and the Holy Spirit dwelling in a born again believer.
  17. God wants you to be rich, so give, and He will give you back many times more than you gave. First, God wants you to be holy. Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:16). God does promise to meet our needs. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). This passage is about giving: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38). It’s a general statement that those who give will reap goodwill from others. There isn’t anywhere in Scripture that says God wants people to be rich.
  18. At death, people “cross that chilly River Jordan” over into heaven. A friend actually heard someone say that the reason a man in their church was lingering in a coma was because “he was looking for a shallow place to cross.” The idea of passing over Jordan comes from the Old Testament, where the Israelites were on the verge of crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land, Canaan. It has nothing to do with death. 2 Corinthians 5:8 describes a Christian’s death as being  absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Jesus said to the thief beside Him on the cross, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43). Nowhere in the Bible does it say people cross a river in death, not even a warm one.
  19. Christians should always be happy. While there are some who give the impression that life is all ha-ha and smiley, you won’t find that in the Bible. It is unreal to deny grief, sorrow, and trials. While a Christian has deep, abiding joy, he doesn’t always have to display a goofy grin across his face. He can be genuine. In fact, Christians are supposed to Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15).
  20. You deserve it. Well, no one deserves anything good. The Prophet Ezra prayed, And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this (Ezra 9:13-15). Thank the Lord for His mercy, in spite of our great failings. We are so undeserving!

May the Lord help us all to be careful in our speech and writing and give us discernment. May we always communicate biblical truth.

Again, thank you, girlfriends, for your help in my brainstorming session. You guys are the best!

Have you enjoyed these? Please let me know. Any additional popular phrases you’d like to share? Feel free.

A wise person hears

I began reading Proverbs again and was impressed by the purpose statement at the beginning of Chapter 1:

  • To know wisdom and instruction;
  • to perceive the words of understanding;
  • To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
  • To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion (verses 2-4).

Wow! We could study that list for a while. How do we get wisdom, instruction, understanding, justice, judgment, equity, subtilty, knowledge, and discretion? By reading God’s Word, specifically the book of Proverbs.

Chapter 1 continues with these statements:

  • A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction (verses 5, 7).

Let’s pause and think about these. The wise person will listen and learn. What does he listen to? Wise counsel.

I don’t know about your life experiences, but I sometimes find it hard to listen to what someone tells me I need to do. When I take a second and ponder the advice, I understand that the statement was made with a concern for my wellbeing. It’s wise counsel. If I act on the advice, I am learning from wise counsel.

Verse 7 has a double message. The first is that respect for God is the beginning of knowledge. Do you want to be smart? Love God. Know important things? Love God. Want wisdom? Love God.

The second part makes a very strong statement: fools despise wisdom and instruction. Woah! Who doesn’t want to be taught and listen to wisdom? Who’s the person that thinks he knows it all?

A fool.

As we go through the book of Proverbs, we see many contrasts between wise and fools. And, I’m afraid all of us find ourselves more than once on the wrong side of these terms.

Wise people:                                      

  • choose to respect God        
  • dwell safely
  • quietly don’t fear evil                     

Foolish people:

  • love deception and folly
  • scorn Truth and its followers
  • hate knowledge
  • refuse wisdom and counsel
  • are fearful, distressed, and anguished
  • hate reproof
  • will reap destruction

All of this is in just the first chapter. We’ll do more studies in Proverbs in the future. What a practical book!

The virtuous woman: could you be one?

Near the end of the famous Virtuous Woman passage, we read: Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all (Proverbs 31:29). To be sure, the woman in Proverbs has me beat on many counts. I mean, when’s the last time I bought land and planted a vineyard, made my own clothes out of tapestry, or wove fine linen belts to sell? I’m afraid the answer is never.

But, I have done my best to make sure my family is adequately clothed and fed. I believe my husband safely trusts me. I try to do him good and not evil every day. I don’t work out as I should, but I have strong arms and can do what I need to. I even actively care for the poor. I strive to watch my mouth and say kind, helpful words.

Many daughters have done virtuously. Could this include me?

Oh, and the maidens part. Today, maybe it means we take good care of our dishwashers, clothes washers, dryers, and electronic kitchen gadgets, etc. I don’t know. But, maybe we’re caring for our helpers when keep those things clean and in good working order. What do you think?

The Virtuous Woman isn’t idle, and she is an example to her children. Her husband praises her.

Can this be us?

I think so.

I’ve heard this passage expounded by many people, each with a different view of this lady. Some say that she is an example for everyone, which is true. Some say she’s probably the composite ideal woman, which is probably true, as well. Others proclaim that no one woman could possibly add up to her. Well, maybe so, but she did have help to accomplish all these things. She supervised her household, and I can see that she—like a business owner today—might be able to accomplish all of it with a troop of helpers.

Can I be a virtuous woman? Yes, I think so.

Can you? Of course.

When we boil down Proverbs 31:10-31, the essence is that a virtuous woman cares for her household. She makes her husband, children, and home a priority. She works hard so that they’re provided for.

And, she loves God. Period.

Maybe the lady of Proverbs 31 truly excels them all—and outdoes the rest of us. But, maybe we qualify as some of the many daughters who have done virtuously. I hope so.

I love the end of this chapter. Such truth: Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised (verse 30).

The next verse speaks of the rewards of a woman who works hard: Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates (31). Remember, her husband is the city leader at the gate. He benefits from her care and hard work.

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies (verse 10). A perfect ruby is worth more than a diamond the same weight. This lady is worth much more than rubies.

I want to be a virtuous woman.

How about you?

Do you think she’s achievable? I do.

What are your thoughts? Please share.

Women of the Bible 8: Who are we?

S was shopping with Helena, who also went to her church and was in her clique of friends. “If E wouldn’t be so stubborn, she might be a nice person. Except, did you know … she has a special ‘friendship’ with that butcher man? Her husband hasn’t found out yet, but I thought I’d let you in on it, so you can pray for her.”

S continued on her way, picking up pomegranates to examine them for ripeness, pushing the tips of melons and choosing a large one, collecting rice, wheat kernels, and dried beans in cloth bags, and chatting it up with Helena all the while, lots of gossip in her wake.

Suddenly, she spotted E, the woman she was gossiping about, and ducked behind a fruit stand, finally silent. No way did she want to meet that person.

But E had seen her. She and S went to the same church, but they were archenemies. E couldn’t believe how S acted. Why did she always have to take the other side of every issue? Why did S have to seek the limelight, even publicly putting her down? Oh well, E would do the Christian thing and greet her, even though she’d rather stab her in the back—which she often did with her words.

E embraced and kissed S as if they were friends. It was good no one could see her facial expression. Oh, how she hated pretense—but in order to look good, she’d stoop to anything.

Apparently, word got out that E and S made trouble in their local church. The traveling leader called them out by name in his letter. I beseech E, and beseech S, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. How embarrassing!

Seriously, what right had he to name them?

Who were E and S? These are their real initials.

Who was the traveling leader?

For extra credit, where was the missionary when he wrote the letter naming these women? And, what authority did he have to call out two contentious people in the church?

Can you think of another Bible verse about divisive people in the church? Please share.

Why is it so serious when Christians don’t get along in a local church?

Do you think E and S changed their ways and made peace?

What’s the lesson for us today?