Is it ever permissible to lie?

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In the ancient pagan societies, to lie was always punished severely. In Athens a false witness was heavily fined. A person who gets convicted three times of this crime, looses his civil rights. In Rome, a law of the Twelve Tables sentenced the person convicted of lying to be pushed headlong from the Tarpeian Rock. In Egypt, the penalty of lying was amputation of the nose and ears.

And God’s Word contains clear prohibitions against lying, in both the Old and New Testaments:

  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16).
  • You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another (Leviticus 19:11).
  • These six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue… (Proverbs 6:16-17).
  • [A]ll liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).
  • But there shall by no means enter [eternal life] anything that defiles or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27).

According to the Ten Commandments whoever changes in any way the exact truth, in order to have personal gain or for any other purpose, is guilty of bearing “false witness.” The hiding of truth that might result in injury to oneself or others—this too is bearing “false witness.”

Jesus said about the devil that “he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). The devil deceived one third of the angels in heaven by his lies and caused them to be banished from heaven with him forever (Revelation 12:3-9). And by his lies in the Garden of Eden he brought about the destruction of our first parents and the entire human race (Gen. 3:4).

All the suffering, pain, and death we have today is the direct result of the devil’s lies. Those that choose his lying ways will share his final destruction, for “without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Rev. 22:15). The Bible is unmistakably clear about the consequences of lying and there is no time when lying would be justifiable.

In His service,

The BibleAsk Team

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