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.