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In my humble opinion, in general I believe it is wrong to lie. However, in special circumstances I believe that it is acceptable to lie if you are protecting a greater good. Rahab's lie protected the lives of two men who were sent to spy acting on Joshua's orders. Likewise was the case with the Hebrew midwives. Is this a contradiction in God's Word? The answer is no. To understand why, look at the ninth commandment in Exodus 20:16. Do not bear false witness AGAINST your neighbor. In common words, do not lie to promote the detriment of another person. Do not lie for the purpose of getting something you don't deserve. What is your personal motive for lying? Are you trying to harm the character of another person? Are you spreading gossip which is almost always a lie? Are you lying about someone else so that it benefits you personally or financially? Are you lying to make yourself look good? Are you lying just to lie? What is the motivation in your heart? If Rahab had told the truth about the men in her house, she would have stood against God and aided evil. If the Hebrew midwives had killed the male children as the king of Egypt had directed them, they would have been on the side of evil. However, they saved the lives of countless male babies and were rewarded by God. Their personal motivations rested in a healthy fear of The Lord and a desire to protect the babies from the king's evil command. What is the condition of your heart? What is your secret personal desire? What cause are you promoting? Jesus made it clear that before a sin manifests itself outwardly, the foundation for the sin already existed inwardly in the heart. The question should prompt each of us to look inwardly at what are thoughts and desires are. Examine yourselves constantly to see if you are walking in the faith.
In my opinion, some clarification is needed about the commandments and the scriptural understanding of what a “liar” actually is. While I'm not at all promoting the practice of lying, the original Ten Commandments, upon which the New Testament tenets of faith were built, do NOT actually tell us "Thou shall not lie." Here's what the Bible says in Exodus 20: 16 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. This referred to the instances in which someone might raise a complaint against another and possibly even take that person to court. It was a command to be truthful in bearing testimony about others; it was not a command to never tell a lie. As I stated in my response to Michael's answer, there are instances in which the responsibility to uphold a higher moral law, such as saving a life, can create the necessity to tell a lie. Corrie ten Boom's family lied to hide Jews, the Hebrew midwives lied to save the Hebrew babies, and Anne Frank's family was kept alive due to the willingness of her host family to lie to keep them safe. Here are two laws in play, both of which God wants us to keep, but in some situations they work against each other: 1) the command to hold human life as sacred, and 2) the command to uphold the truth. In cases like these, one has to decide which tenet of the faith--both of which need to be held in reverence--trumps the other. Which is the higher command when one needs to be broken in order for the other to be honored? Clearly, saving human lives is of the utmost importance to God, even if a lie must be told in order to do so. It’s true that the NT contains verses that condemn being a liar. Acts 6:13 And set up false G5571 witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law. Rev 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars G5571. Rev 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, G5571 shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. You can see that the same word in Strong’s Concordance, G5571, is used in these three verses in the KJV. The meanings of this word are lying, deceitful, false in Greek. When you look at the Greek meaning and view the word in context, it would seem that the reference to lying has nothing to do with simply saying something that’s untrue; rather, being a “liar” means saying something meant to sway someone from devotion to God, to misrepresent the gospel, or to claim to be a follower of God while being deceitful and false, living a life in secret that doesn’t truly honor God. Again, I am in no way trying to advocate for telling lies or for being purposely deceitful. I’m just asserting that in the cases in which a lie must be told in order to uphold a higher law, such as saving a life, the lie is justified. Even if it isn’t, God graciously forgives ALL sin.
It is ALWAYS sin to lie. Period. Lying is the devil's native language, and the commandment says we must not lie. Exodus 20:16; Colossians 3:9. There is no qualification there, no waiver, to guide us as to when we must not lie and when we may lie. It's a blanket prohibition. We have Abraham lying, Isaac lying, Rahab lying (all appearing in the human genealogy of Jesus), but that does not make it right. I know one cult which justifies lying for their members. It's satanism. We have cases like Nazi Germany. Terrible scenarios, and may I never be in such a situation, God help me. Yet lying, even to save my own family, still constitutes sin! God has myriads of ways to rescue His children. Sometimes He requires that they honour Him with their lives (as some of us will do come the tribulation), and shunning that duty by lying is sin. If it is His desire that you should NOT die at that particular time, He will rescue you. Look at the Hebrew boys in the fire. They had resolved that even if they should die, so be it. Daniel 3:17-18. A pastor was going to baptize candidates in China, which was unlawful at the time. He came to a roadblock, and the police asked where he was going. He told them. Now, you only got arrested when you have actually baptized. So the police followed the pastor and his candidates. But God sent rains between them, and the police couldn't keep pace. They were left behind, and baptisms went on flawlessly. I know the risks here were not as serious as during Nazism, but we are never justified to speak the devil's native tongue. No, it is NEVER ever right to lie. I will probably lie, and so may you. But that does not make it right then. It will still be sin, from which we must seek salvation. Bless.
I assert this emphatically that any and all lies are sin. Our Lord in Jn. 8:44 clearly stated, without any reservation, that lies are from Satan. And Rev. 21:8, 27 and 22:15 assert that lie and its adherents have no place in God's kingdom. In my personal life there have been instances when I lied. But there is no justification for any lie, whether white or black. Corrie Ten Boom Perhaps lied. I have read her book, The Hiding Place. In that book there is an instance some men were hiding under a table and a cloth was covering the whole thing. Since the police had suddenly come they did not have time to go to the secret hiding place. All the ladies including Corrie were stunned and mum, but there was one lady who always told truth, and would never lie. She smilingly said to the policemen that there were men hiding under the table. The policemen were taken aback with such straightforward statement. They did not believe her and without searching the house left. Some may refer to the instances like 2 Chron. 18:18-21 to justify some of the lies. But it is God's way of doing. If we do not want to believe the truth, then we have no option but to believe a lie (2 Thess. 2:9-12). In fact telling a lie is a tacit confession that God is not omnipotent (and it is true for the violation of all commandments).
Another thought to consider about telling the truth, or not telling a lie, is: one does not have to tell everything he knows about a subject in order to be honest. Jesus did not tell everything he knew about the kingdom of God. This is why he spoke in parables. Mark 4:10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ ” NIV See also: Matthew 13:10-17 and Luke 8:9-10 NIV There are situations in life when one can choose his words wisely and make his comments without telling everything he knows that might hurt someone or some cause. Pray to God and ask for wisdom to handle these situations in the right way.
Lying in the Old Testament was sometimes permitted to avoid a greater evil, but with Christianity there is a higher standard. Christians are not permitted to lie, but are permitted to remain silent rather than answer any question which might incriminate them. The true Christian standard is the example of Jesus Christ, not the Old Testament commandments.
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