Is it ever right to lie?

Is there any situation/circumstance wherein lying is not a sin, such as telling jokes, keeping non-judicial secrets, playing games, etc?

Related topic: https://ebible.com/questions/4975-is-it-right-to-lie-for-the-sake-of-politeness-to-keep-a-surprise-party-secret

Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

1355970312 Ron Ray
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.

January 12 2014 6 responses Vote Up Share Report

Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
The Bible nowhere presents an instance where lying is considered to be the right thing to do. The ninth commandment prohibits bearing false witness (Exodus 20:16). Proverbs 6:16-19 lists "a lying t...

July 01 2013 9 responses Vote Up Share Report

Open uri20130622 23898 8dsex Kelli Hamann Supporter Pastor's Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Teacher, Writer, Cellist
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.

January 12 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Stringio Nathan Toronga Christian Elder.
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.


January 12 2014 10 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Ben Zickefoose Retired, Kinesiology Dept. ACU, TX & traveling ministry.
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.

April 11 2014 6 responses Vote Up Share Report

Isabella earrings Dan Rivers Christian, Husband, Grandfather, Son, AT&T retiree
I tend to believe that if you lie and some good occurs as a result then it's okay.

Someone told me a story about a woman who knocked on his door and said she needed help because her husband was looking for her so that he could kill her...

He let the woman in and let her call the police. In the meantime a man knocked on his door and asked if a woman, his wife was in side...

What should the homeowner say? What would you say?

What did Rahab say in Josh 2:2-4?

If you tell him the truth he might kill her and you and your family...

How would God have handled this...Well Abraham and Sarah lied about Sarah not being his wife in order to save his life and he was made a rich man afterwards by King Abimalek and then the King who hadn't lied, was scolded and threatened by God...Gen 20:2

Sarah lied when she said she hadn't laughed when Jesus (the Angel of the Lord) said she would have a child.

Jacob cheated his brother Esau and lied to his father with the help of his mother Rebecca. 

Moses committed MURDER...

Yet neither Abraham, Jacob, Rahab, Sarah, Moses were punished by God. In fact there is NO mention in the Bible that what they did was wrong!

Someone commented that Christians are held to a higher standard...
I don't think so...

As a matter of fact those OT people I mentioned had the same standing we have.

They WERE NOT under the law, just as believers after the cross are not under the law...Rom 6:14

And when there is no law, sin is not counted against you!

Rom 5:13 NIV - {13} To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is NOT charged against anyone's account where there is NO law.

Rom 4:15 NIV - {15} because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

It's like driving down a road without any speed limit. Any speed you travel at will not be breaking the law...

In John's epistles he says that we CAN"T sin...

1Jo 3:9 NKJV - {9} Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he CANNOT sin, because he has been born of God.

I believe he says that because if we are able to "SIN" then it would have to be charged against us, as Paul says, and that would mean that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was not sufficient to take away all our sins, past, present and future. And we know that is NOT true! 1 John 2:2

Another reason John would say that is because we are led by the Holy Spirit. He is the one that gives us the desire and enables us to do what pleases God...And the HS would not lead us to "sin" because the fruit produced by the Spirit is...

Gal 5:22-23 NLT - {22} But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

The HS would never lead us to anything that is not pleasing to God!

Eph 5:9 NLT - {9} For this light within you produces ONLY what is good and right and true.

All Glory and Praise to God!

August 01 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Shantkumar S. Kunjam An Indian, Mennonite Church, Pastor, Administrator, Bishop,
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).

January 16 2014 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Kenneth Heck
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.

April 11 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Stringio Vincent Mercado Supporter Skeptic turned believer, Catholic, father of 3
Three things we need to consider when judging an action - the Intention, the Deed, and the Consequence.

If both the intention and the deed are good, the action is good. If either the intention or the deed is bad, the action is bad. As a rule, the ends does not justify the means. A good deed can be done with a bad intention, like alms giving to gain vain glory; a bad deed can be done with a good intention, like stealing to feed the hungry. 

The consequence can make the action more or less good, or, more or less bad. 

In the case of lying, the deed is bad, obviously. Even if the intention is good, the action is still bad. If the consequence is favorable, the action is less bad; if the consequence is terrible, the action is more bad.

September 21 2015 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Open uri20160209 18523 1apwix2 Allen Anderson "donnelly star" reporter
Yes, I think it is under certain circumstances. For many years I had to tell my mom a "lie." She suffered a stroke and was in a local nursing home for six years. At times when we could visit her, she would mention that she wanted to come home, but no way could that happen given her health. I did not feel right telling her that outright, so I said,"You have to get better first," which I guess was not an outright lie, but not the whole truth.

July 14 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

95 1 Jay Saunders
First of all the bible does not say, "Though shall not lie." It says, "Though shall not bear false witness."

So if you went to court and lied or you lied about your testimony about God in your life doing this or that, that would need to be repented of and if possible, made right with whomever you have wronged.

But what if you were hiding Jews from the Nazi's or slaves from slave hunters? You might have to lie for the greater good.

Lying may be necessary to protect someone from evil, so it isn't always a black and white issue in all situations.

Some day they may be tracking down Christians during the tribulation period and it may be necessary to lie to protect someone. Situations can arise where lying protects someone for some greater good..

A testimony in a trial is not a place to lie.The truth is absolutely necessary for justice to prevail, even if it condemns someone you love that has broken the law or committed an evil deed.

July 15 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini James Kraft 74 year old retired pipeline worker
The truth is, all men are liars. How many murders do you have to commit to be a murderer? Just one. How many lies do you have to tell to be a liar? Just one. 

If you have ever told one lie in your whole life, then you have to go to hell forever to pay the penalty for that one sin. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

First John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Jesus paid the penalty for all sin so that any one who would believe on Him alone, would be saved and given eternal life. 

To say we have not lied is telling a lie and not the truth.

Romans 3:23 All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. All, no some, but all. Romans 3:10 There is none righteous, no not one. 

The bad news is we are all sinners. The good news is Jesus paid the penalty for all our sin and gave us His perfect righteousness when we accept Him alone as the only way of salvation by grace.

July 15 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Grant Abbott Child of Father, Follower of Son, Student of Spirit
In my view God's commandments are perfect, absolute and crystal clear. Psalm 19:7-9 says "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord true, and righteous altogether.

In Matthew 19 when Jesus encountered the rich young ruler who asked how he could obtain eternal life, what did Jesus say? If you want to enter life then keep the commandments. The man then recited the commandments including, "You shall not bear false witness".

Bearing a false witness is telling a lie. Anything we say that we know to be untrue is a lie. Saying it is OK to keep silent to protect ourselves when we know the truth is also a lie. People who fail to reveal what they know in court are perjuring themselves. What will Jesus say when we have kept silent and not shared the gospel because we were afraid of persecution.

Deciding that lying is OK in certain rare circumstances is extremely dangerous for at least 2 reasons:
1) It puts us in the position of playing God, deciding what is right and wrong. Once that happens we are no longer usable in the kingdom of God.
2) It opens the door for Satan to begin taking us down the slippery slope of moral decay. He will place us into situations where lying seems like the right course of action until we are captivated and in slavery to this sin.

We need to take the counsel of the bible "as a whole" in determining if any action is God pleasing or not. Jesus told the apostles not to worry when they were brought before religious and political leaders because his Spirit would give them the words to defend themselves - to tell the truth in a way that will accomplish God's purposes.

We have the same Spirit they had. We have the same access to God through prayer that they did. So whenever we encounter situations where we don't know what to do or say (and think that lying may be appropriate) it is imperative to PRAY until we have discerned God's will. Even if we only have a moment to decide, our prayer for help will be answered just in time.

Whenever we earnestly seek God's will through prayer he promises to reveal it. Whenever we have any doubt about how to follow God's perfect law that gives freedom, all we have to do is pray.

Once God has revealed his will to us, our response will always be good, pleasing and perfect to God. It will never be a sin because the direction came from God.

Let's stop playing God with the difficult interpretations of his law and start asking for the revelation of his will. He is always right and he will always answer that prayer.

September 09 2016 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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