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Victory Christian Tabernacle Church



Is It Ok to Ever Tell a Lie?

Posted on January 20, 2012 at 3:15 AM

“Is It Ok to Ever Tell a Lie?”

By Rev. / Dr. James May

Lying is probably one of the most common sins that we commit.  When we research our Bible there is nothing that indicates that lying could be considered the right thing to do.  The Bible prohibits us from “bearing false witnesses against our neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16).  The Bible also list “a lying tongue” and “a false witness who pours out lies” as two of the seven abominations to the Lord.  (Proverbs 6:16-19).  However there are some instances where a lie may be warranted.

Before we talk about instances where lying may be permissible, let’s look at what a lie really is.  Lying is a form of deception, but not all forms of deception are lies.  Lying is giving some information while believing it to be untrue, intending to deceive or mislead by doing so.

A lie basically has three essential features:

  • A lie communicates some form of information or misinformation 
  • The liar intends to deceive or mislead
  • The liar believes (or knows) that what they are 'saying' is not true

A lie does not have to give false information, nor does a lie have to be told with a bad (malicious) intention.  An example of this is if I wanted to eat the last apple in the bunch, and I tell you that a worm is in the apple to mislead or deceive you into not wanting the apple, and I believe this is not true, I have told a lie.  However, I bite into the apple and there is a worm inside it, I told the truth about the worm; however I still lied. 

If I tell my children that “Santa Clause” will bring them coal for being disobedient,my intentions are not bad (no malice) they are to compel obedience.  However, I still told a lie.   

So the question then remains, is there ever a time when lying is the right thing to do?  

There are at least two instances in the Bible where lying produced a favorable result. For example, the lie the Hebrew midwives tell Pharaoh seems to result in the Lord’s blessing on them (Exodus 1:15-21), and it probably saved the lives of many Hebrew babies. Another example is Rahab’s lie to protect the Israelite spies in Joshua 2:1-6. It is important to note, however, that God never condones these lies. Despite the “positive” outcome of these lies, the Bible nowhere praises the lies themselves. *1

Then we look at the dilemma of Cornelia "Corrie" ten Boom.  Ms. Boom was a Dutch Christian,who with her father and other family members helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II,by hiding Jews in her home to protect them from the Nazis.  She repeatedly told Nazi soldiers who came to her home that she did not know where any Jews were hiding.  Her family was eventually arrested due to an informant in 1944.  Should she have told the truth and allowed the Nazis to capture the Jews she was trying to protect? Or, should she had lied and denied that she knew anything about them?  If the Nazi’s had captured the Jews, it would have surly meant death for them. The Bible nowhere states that there are instances where lying is the right thing to do. At the same time, the Bible does not declare that there is no possible instance in which lying is an acceptable option.

In an instance such as these, where lying may be the only possible way to prevent a horrible evil, perhaps lying would be an acceptable thing to do. Such an instance would be somewhat similar to the lies of the Hebrew midwives and Rahab. In an evil world, and in a desperate situation, it may be the right thing to commit a lesser evil, lying, in order to prevent a much greater evil. However, it must be noted that such instances are extremely rare. It is highly likely that the vast majority of people in human history have never faced a situation in which lying was the right thing to do. *1

Many lie on resumes,’ job interviews, income tax returns, insurance claims, and other events that seem to help us attain a “gain” or an “advantage.” These are not exigent circumstances that would prevent loss of life or derail a greater evil.  Other exigent circumstances to lie might be when lies are told to protect innocent persons who would otherwise suffer injustice or to prevent "irreversible harm" from being done.  Prisoners of war who are forced to "lie or die" would seem to fit under the category of exigent circumstances.  

Think of a person who has to kill someone to prevent from being killed.  The killing is wrong, but “justified” because of the situation. 

There are many examples of liars in Scripture.  Jacob and his mother Rebekah lied and got Isaac to give his oldest son Esau’s blessing to Jacob (Genesis 27).  Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property, withheld some of the proceeds from the sale, and then lied to the Holy Spirit about it  (Acts 5).  Lying leads to misery, loss, distrust and can influences others to sin.  It can also bring judgment from man and God.   

Telling " half-truths"' are also lies.  In the bible, Joseph's brothers sold him to the Midianites, dipped his coat in blood, brought it to Jacob and said, "We found this coat. Does it look like your son's or not?" This was technically true, but they omitted pertinent facts so they could lead Jacob to believe a wild animal had killed Joseph (Genesis 37:28, 31-33).

One of our worst sin, is that we lie to ourselves.  We deceive ourselves into thinking that we are something that we are not.  We  pretend to the world that we “got it like that!”  We are sick, hurt, in pain, suffering and in need of prayer, yet we are too “holy” (or unholy) to ask for help or prayer.  In church we act as Christians, outside of church we could pass for one of the "devil's disciple."  The bible says “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise” (1 Corinthians 3:18). (also see James 1:22, 26)


The bible says in Zechariah 8:16 that we should speak to every person the truth.  “These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates.” (also see Ephesians 4:25).

Lying is directly related to Satan.  Jesus said regarding Satan: "there is no truth in him." (John 8:44).  The “Fall of Satan” was because Satan lied to himself, believing he could overthrow God and Heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14).  Mankind lost its “Garden of Eden” and suffered punishment because Adam and Eve fell for the lies of the Serpent (Genesis 3:1-24).   Remember the lies and deceit Satan conveyed Jesus while he fasted for forty days and forty nights (Luke 4:1-13).   James 3:9 tells us that blessing and curses should not come out of the same mouth.  In other words, lying one minute then using the same tongue to praises God the next minute shouldn’t be.  There is an old saying among Christians, “tell the truth, shame the devil.”


In conclusion, lying is wrong, it is a sin, (Exodus 20:16) however, it may be justified in certain circumstances (Exodus 1:15-21- Joshua 2:1-6). However, those circumstances are rare and should not be used as a "spring board" to justify lying.  Jesus says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).  This tells us that falsehood will keep us in bondage.  “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)  God bless!

*1- excerpts from Got


Rev,/ Dr. James A. May is the Pastor of Victory Christian Tabernacle Church, Detroit / Southfield Michigan. This ministry comprises of supporting other Christian by providing worship service preaching, training in evangelism, defending the Christian faith, providing Chaplin services for nursing homes and care centers, assist new churches in kingdom building, and provides other Christian services as needed. http//



Categories: Spirtual Growth