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Some quote the story of Rahab’s lie (Joshua 2) to show that it’s OK to lie to save the life of someone in danger. But if we examine the story of Rehab the harlot, we find that she was a Canaanite pagan woman who didn’t know about the morals of God’s law . The Canaanites were grossly wicked people, steeped in idolatry and immorality. When Rehab met the two Israelite spies, and based on her very limited knowledge of God, she made the decision to follow her conscious and hide them.
When the king of Jericho asked Rahab for the spies’ whereabouts, she had to choose between her country and her conscience. But with whatever light she did have she made the dangerous decision to cast her lot with God’s people. In doing that, she displayed great faith and courage as she risked her own life to save God’s people.
In her effort to save the spies, Rahab said a series of lies. She was faced with what seemed to her a choice between a greater and a lesser evil: to share in the responsibility of the death of two men whom she believed to be messengers of God, or to tell a lie and save them. To a Christian, a lie can never be justified, but to a person like Rahab the light of the truth came gradually to her.
God winked at Rahab’s ignorance because of her very limited knowledge of His righteousness. The Bible says in Acts 17:30, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” God holds His children accountable for willful sins “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).
The case of Rahab is an example of God honoring a person due to her obedient faith — in spite of a personal character flaw. It is true that she lied in the process of hiding the spies, which was wrong but her faith and obedience allowed her to receive forgiveness for her past sinful life. And she was praised for her faith but not for her lie (James 2:25; Hebrews 11:31).
In His service,