Saturday, November 29, 2008

Is it ever right to lie?

By Abraham Israel -

Question: "Is it ever right to lie?"

Answer: The Bible says that a lying tongue is an abomination to the Lord (Prov 6:17; 12:22), he who has a perverse tongue falls in to evil (Prov 17:20), a righteous man hates lying (Prov 13:5), whoever hides hatred has lying lips (Prov 10:18), a lying tongue hates [those who are] crushed by it (Prov 26:28), a lying tongue [is] but for a moment (Prov 12:19), Getting treasures by a lying tongue [is] the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death (Prov 21:6). Nowhere in the Bible is lying considered to be a right thing to do. In the Old Testament the ninth commandment says, “You shall not bear false witness [i.e. lies] against your neighbor” (Deut 5:19; Exodus 20:16). False witness is someone who speaks lies (Proverbs 6:19). The Bible says vividly that a man lying to his neighbor is committing sins and trespassing against the Lord (Lev 6:2).

Lying is a spirit which causes people to be influenced by it, when people resist the truth of God (1 Kings 22:22-23). So only the Psalmist cried to God saying, “Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips [and] from a deceitful tongue” (Ps 120:2). God will allow send such lying spirits to those who do not receive the love of the truth, who do not believe in the truth, but hate righteousness and desirously walk in wickedness (2 Thess 2:10-12). Even prophets of God who had wrong motives in the Old Testament were influenced by these lying spirits to mislead God’s people using the name of God (Jer 29:23; Ezek 13:19). True Love “rejoices [only] in the truth” (1 Cor 13:6). God encourages everyone to “…Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; Give judgment in your gates for truth” (Zeph 8:16).

Scripture after Scripture speaks very negatively against lying and forecasts only destruction, doom and gloom for all those who make it as a habit to practice such lawless behavior. These scriptures are Ps 119:29, 163; 120:2; Eph 4:25; Col 3:9. God has as clearly as crystal has expressed that “…all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Rev 21:8).

There are many people who have lied for some reason or the other in the scriptures. Jacob who very name means “Supplanter or Deceitful [One Who Takes the Heel]’ (Gen 25:26). Jacob deceived his father to receive the family blessing of birthright which only belong to the firstborn legally (Gen 27:22-30, 35-36). The Lord did not accept the doing of Jacob as something commendable, but he allowed Jacob to repent in his own time and gave him a transformed name and character only after he repented of his wrongdoing (Genesis 32:6-11, 22-30). The Lord truly blessed Jacob only after He repented of his inability and unworthiness to please God through his own effort (Gen 32:30). In the New Testament God judged the couple Ananias and Sapphira for lying to His apostolic messenger Peter. Apostle Peter then equated it directly as equal to lying to the Holy Spirit. As a result both of them died and great fear came upon the Church and all those who heard these things (Acts 5:1-11). This shows that God hates lying as a serious offence and that He may judge it severely any time He chooses.

People try to justify lying at rare instances as unavoidable by pointing to two instances in the Bible where they believe it produced favorable result with God. Actually they are mistaken. The first instance is when Hebrew midwives lied to Pharaoh and saved many Hebrew babies as a result of it, they say that the Lord blessed them because of it (Exodus 1:15-21). Actually the Lord did not bless them for their lies, but for their faith in Him as the real God. Their faith in their heart caused them to act according to God’s plan. Considering the scenario at that time, they too were pagans who because of their faith in the God of Israel as the true one, they lied to Pharaoh. It was their faith in God that justified them. It is the same in the case of the second instance of Rahab’s life too. She lied as a pagan because of her real faith in the real God who could only save her from destruction (Josh 2:1-24). The prime thing is that in both instances the people who lied were still pagans with a only beacon of childlike faith rising in their heart for the true God (Exod 1:15-21; Heb 11:31; James 2:25). God justified these ungodly people because of their faith (Rom 4:5). One sin is enough to throw us away from heaven, in that way we are all ungodly whom God has justified though the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross (James 2:10; Rom 3:10; 5:1, 6) that “He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith of Jesus.” (Rom 3:26). Once we become justified, we become righteous and godly in Christ Jesus, after this we do not have the rights to turn the grace of our God into lewdness [vulgarity] and deny the only Lord God Christ as the ungodly men do (Jud 1:4; Rom 5:9). Justification through Jesus Christ makes a righteous man obligated not to lie no matter what the reason in their lives, as the righteous man will “hate lying” because of the nature of God in him (Prov 13:5). The Bible does not give an option to choose lying in instances where it seems acceptable and also nowhere does the Bible state lying as the right thing to do.

The question that still remains in some people’s mind is– Is there ever a time when lying is the right thing to do? The answer is a clear no. The most commonly misused illustration of this dilemma comes from the life of Corrie ten Boom in Nazi Germany. Essentially the story is this: Corrie ten Boom is hiding Jews in her home to protect them from the Nazis. Nazi soldiers come to her home and ask her if she knows where any Jews are hiding. What is she to do? Should she tell the truth and allow the Nazis to capture the Jews she was trying to protect? Or, should she lie and deny that she knows anything about them?

In such a scenario a believer is expected to pray to the Lord to “do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt 6:13). In all the cases discussed below, God responded to deliver a believer from such evil tyrants where God blinded them so as not to see what is before them. This was true when many Bibles were taken in to communist countries where the guards who checked the vehicles at the entry point could not see loads of Bibles in the car. It has also happened just a few decades back in another case where a minister of God who was arrested and jailed for life in the most highly secured prison in China walked before the securities to the main gate to escape their evil clutches unnoticed and finally escaped in the same way out of the communist nation.

In the Bible too when Elisha prayed to God to strike the people with blindness who came to arrest him, God responded to his faith and did just that (2 Kings 6:16-18). Also when the men of Sodom wanted to harm Lot and break the door of his house for not handing over the angelic visitors to partake in their lustful perverse behavior with them, the angels struck the men with blindness so that they became weary trying to find the door (Gen 19:4-11). So the bottom line is God is able to protect his people in such situations. It is up to the people of God to trust God and ask God to supernaturally intervene in such situations by faith. Or else the believers can pray preventive prayers such as ‘Lord please do not allow the soldiers to come and check for people in our home!’ in situations discussed above as Corrie ten Boom’s situation. Even though we are living in the evil world, we are not of this evil world system of governance (John 16:33; 17:6, 14-16). Lying is of the world. But we are of God and we belong to His heavenly government which has commanded us to overcome the world by faith (John 18:36; 1 John 4:6; 5:4-5).

No matter what the desperate situation you may face, it is not a right thing to lie saying that, it is a lesser evil to lie in order to prevent a greater evil from happening as though God cannot prevent things from happening and protect His people. It is unbelief to say and think like this as the Bible says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do [it], to him it is sin.” (James 4:17). Praise the Lord!

No comments: