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The Bible is clear that lying is a sin and is displeasing to God. The first sin in this world involved a lie told to Eve. The Ten Commandments given to Moses includes "You shall not bear false witn...
The Biblical idea (and jewish idea) of lying were somewhat different from the catch-all modern definition. For example, for a jew, it was actually impolite and cruel to tell a friend "you made a bad purchase", even if they had. The duty of love towards a friend trumped cold 'truthfulness', and one was to compliment the purchase. [Advice before the purchase was perfectly acceptable]. This is why it is not only important to understand the culture and context of scripture as written [ie the difference between false witness and a lie in general, or how a lie was defined in Bible times], but it is of even more importance to subject everything to the moral law. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself". (Mark 12:29-31) On this hangs all the law and the prophets. (Matt 22:34-37) So, is a lie intending to harm your neighbor? Then it is a malicious lie. Is it intended for the benefit and love of your neighbor (such as the surprise party) or to protect the innocent? Then it is not a "lie" of the type the Bible condemns. Furthermore, there are many times in the Bible where people (or spirits) acting on behalf of God, used deception as a means to an end. It was not automatically considered wrong, and is even commended at times: (Ex 1:15-22, II Kings 10:18-31, Exodus 8:20-28, 1 Sam 16:1-13, II Chron 18:18-22, James 2:25, Judges 4:18-22, etc) What then, is the different between a deception that is commended, and a lie to be utterly condemned? Scripture condemns as lies such things as: False witness in court (Deut 19:15-21): This is a severe form of lie, as a person's life, future, or reputation could hang in the balance. Any mistruth in a court of law is never acceptable. (Although, as Jesus showed, one could remain silent (Mark 14:57-64), and as Paul showed, one could tailor one's argument to the court rather than directly answer questions (Acts 23:26). Jesus is perhaps the best example of being indirect and avoiding direct answers, preferring to get to the heart of issues, as he often answered questions with yet another question). False rumors, slander, gossip: (Ex 23:1, Lev 19:16, Prov 26:22, Jer 9:4-6): This includes any lies or exaggerations done under the cover of 'prayer requests' or 'concern'. It is better not to bring something up at all the facts of the case could be misconstrued, or of telling the matter is going to lead to the tale spreading rather than reconciliation. (Prov 11:13) Malicious lies: Lies deliberately done to harm another person - whether to hurt their reputation, or just to hurt them, such as belittling sarcasm. (I Cor 13:6, Eph 4:32, Isaiah 59:3, Prov 26:26) Distorted perception and action: (Ex 32:7-10, Isaiah 5:20-23, Rom 1:21-32) When our hearts harden to God's truth and light, then our vision becomes distorted, and our actions eventually become more and more depraved. Lies to deceive into error: (Gen 3:1-7, Isaiah 5:18-19, Jer 9:8, Titus 1:10-11, Matt 24:24) Lies of false image/hypocrisy: (Matt 6:5, Matt 6:16, Matt 23:28) It really, then, comes down to a matter of the heart and subjection to God. Truth remains truth, but as Jesus points out to Satan, it is the higher truth, the eternal truth that matters. Temporal truths only stem from the eternal - not the other way around. In none of the numerous biblical examples was temporal truth changed (The spies really were under Rahab's straw, we might say the midwives were lying through their teeth to pharoah, Jehu's plan to slaughter the prophets of Baal was quite opposite from his stated plan to worship Baal, etc]. Yet, the temporal took a back seat in view of God and the eternal plan. As such, if someone lies to protect someone else's life from an unjust genocide, or uses tact, or throws a surprise party - they are still following the Royal Law. Their heart is towards God and towards each other.
These verses pretty much say it all, God not only hates lying, but He considers it an abomination! Proverbs 6:16-18 (AKJV) 16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
I think this is pretty obvious from scripture in all candor but here is what comes to my mind... First there is the 10 Commandments about not bearing false witness... that's lying and it is definitely a no-no. Then what I recall the most about lying is Proverbs 6 and John 8: Proverbs 6: 12 A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, 13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, 14 with a perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; 15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. 16 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. And John 8:44 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 has nothing to do with 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. I don't think there is anywhere in scripture that advises us to be like the devil in any way shape or manner! In fact, our way is the truthful way for Jesus IS truth and the truth WILL set you free! So definitely YES lying IS a major sin! Blessings, in HIM, Lynn
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