Do you think that there are times when it’s okay to lie? If so, when is it acceptable?
The Father of Lies
We know where the first lie in history was told and by whom. It was Satan, or the devil. Satan first lied to humans in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2). He was the first liar. In fact, he is the father of all lies; all he says are lies. The only time you could believe Satan was if he told you he was a liar. In rebuking the Jewish religious crowd, Jesus said, “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). Even though they claimed to be the children of Abraham, which they were, there is no salvation by race because it’s all about grace. No one gets into heaven on Abraham’s coattails. Jesus went on to say to the Jews who claimed to know God, “You have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word” (John 8:55). The point of all these verses is that Satan is the father or originator of lies. He is still lying today, and so are his demons. He inspires his false teachers and pastors, who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, to lie too. I’m not sure he can even tell the truth since he’s been a liar for so long. He may not even recognize the truth anymore
Rahab was a prostitute in the ancient city of Jericho. However, this woman ends up in the lineage of Jesus Christ, as we find in Matthew 1:5. Apparently, this woman was forgiven by God for her former life of prostitution. Why? Certainly it was because she came to believe in God and also to believe God. There’s a difference between believing in God and believing God. Even the demons believe in God and tremble, but that doesn’t mean they’re saved (James 2:19). How did Rehab, who was living in the pagan nation or city-state of Jericho, come to believe in God? By the time the spies had secretly entered Jericho, Rehab had already heard about what God had been doing for Israel, as she told the spies, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you” (Joshua 2:9). “And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11). By God’s miraculous powers, Rahab was convinced that this was the one, true God, which explains why she hid the spies and then lied to the king and his men about their whereabouts (Joshua 2:3-7). She lied to protect their lives. But does this mean its okay to lie?
Everyone’s a Liar
The Bible teaches we’re all liars. But God cannot ever lie; it goes against His very nature. There is no lie, deceit, or sin of any kind in God, for He is holy, pure, righteous, and just. As for us, the Apostle Paul correctly wrote,”Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true” (Romans 3:4), just what the psalmist had written earlier: “All men are liars” (Psalm 116:11). Moses wrote in the Book of Numbers that “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it” (Numbers 23:19). So we see that all humans have lied, but God never has even one time. This shows that God does not approve of lying. In fact, one of the Ten Commandments is that we’re not to bear false witness (lie) (Exodus 20:16). Are there exceptions to this law?
Lying to Save Lives
There are countless accounts of people lying to save someone’s life or save the lives of many. During the Holocaust, there were many Germans who risked their lives to hide the Jews from the Germans who were trying to exterminate them. During the Civil War, many in the North lied about hiding runaway slaves so they wouldn’t have to be returned to their slave owners and possibly beaten, nearly to death, for running away. History is full of accounts where people lied to save lives. Is this sin? Is it ever okay to lie? Lying is always sin, but there are very special occasions when it is okay to lie. What if you knew that someone was coming to take your spouse or children for sharing the Gospel or professing faith in Christ? What if there were Muslim extremists who wanted to murder as many Christians as they could find and you were hiding them. Would you feel so guilty about lying to them that you’d turn them over, only to have them all murdered? Which is worse: lying or having someone murdered? When there are things like this to consider, it can be hard to try to decide what the right thing to do is. Which is the greater sin: having someone who’s innocent murdered or lying to hide them? I love what Dr. R.C. Sproul from Ligonier Ministries said, and I paraphrase: Those who deserve the truth should receive the truth. He believed the Christian should always tell the truth. However, there are exceptions when certain moral issues seem weightier than telling a lie. In other words, if you could lie to save a human life, would you? I think most of us would. Based on this premise, there are times when we can lie in order to preserve a higher, moral cause; in this case, saving someone’s life.
If you still don’t think we should lie to save someone’s life, what would you do in this case? Your family is hiding from the authorities in your home. They come to your door and ask if your family is there. Do you tell them the truth and, as a result, they are all murdered? Or do you lie in order to save their lives? Knowing that God will forgive us of all our sins (1 John 1:9), isn’t it okay to lie if it means you’ll save someone’s life? What do you think and why?
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman
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