Is It Ever OK to Lie?

This week, Pastor J.D. answers a question submitted from Ruperto. He asked, “Is it ever OK to lie?

Show Notes:

  • That’s a tough one. The easy answer is to say “no” as we point back to the ten commandments.
    • Thou shall not lie—it doesn’t get more simple than that
    • Matthew 5:37: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”
    • So Jesus seems to saying that there’s not a lot of grey here. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
    • But then it becomes a little bit trickier when we consider certain scenarios, even biblical scenarios, where lying doesn’t seem like it’s wrong. It almost seems like it’s the right thing to do.
  • For example, in Exodus 2, Pharaoh had commanded all of the Hebrew midwives to kill every newborn baby boy. When Pharaoh called the Hebrew midwives in to ask them why there were Hebrew baby boys still being born, they told him that Hebrew women were different than Egyptian women—that they were more “vigorous” and they’d all have their babies before the midwives got there, which meant they could not murder the baby boys, which was a lie. 
  • Think about Rahab. She lied to the Jericho authorities when they came looking for the two Israelite spies that she had hidden in her roof.  She was called righteous. “By faith Rahab… did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” Hebrews says that the proof that her faith was genuine was that she hid the spies. (Hebrews 11:31)
  • But of course the problem with that is you start using that reasoning to justify all kinds of lies. You think “I don’t want to hurt someone” so you tell them a lie. You want to be “kind” to them. 
    • If I tell them the truth, they’ll get hurt.
    • If I tell them the truth, I’ll get fired and my family will go hungry.
    • And that is sin.
  • So, how do we interpret this? Well, there is a very important principle that we need to understand and that we also need to be very careful with, and I like how Paul Carter at The Gospel Coalition said this: There is a difference between a general principle and a recognized exception to that principle. 
  • This is very similar to the call we have to obey our governments. Romans 13:1 says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities… The authorities that exist have been established by God.” There is no caveat given here, and yet, the Bible also tells us that the very man who wrote those words (Paul) would “break the law” by continuing to preach the gospel when the governmental authorities told him not to.
    • So was he a hypocrite? No! He was stating a general principle in Romans 13:1, with the understanding that there are exceptions.
  • Those legitimate exceptions come—and only when—you are lying or disobeying government to prevent yourself from sinning/breaking God’s laws. Protecting Jews, or something like that. When someone else will use the truth to sin in a way that basically makes you complicit in it.
  • Short of those very few, very narrow and limited exceptions, you should tell the truth and trust God with the results, good or bad, because our God is a God of truth and we glorify him most when we radiate truth like he does.

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