We have been told that telling lies is a sin, but many people doubt whether it really is so. What about the so-called white lies for the best? Let’s investigate this question together.
Saying that you are older to buy alcohol beverages or cigarettes, saying that you are actually younger to avoid curious looks, or not telling your parents how the real situation with your grades is – are all of these situations really that bad?
Surprisingly people split down the middle when answering questions of this kind. Some people believe that a lie cannot be qualified as a sin unless it hurts someone. Others claim that telling lies is always sinful no matter what circumstances you are doing it in.
The first group of people uses the story of Abraham and Sarah, his wife as an example to illustrate their opinion.
Abraham and Sarah
Remember the story that took place when Abraham lied that Sarah was his sister and not his wife for he was afraid that the Egyptians would get too jealous of him and his wife that decide to kill him to be with her.
The story is written in the book of Genesis, chapter 12: “And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarah, his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.
And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.
And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?
Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.”
Moreover, Abraham turned out to be a great coward, as he did not only do it once but repeated the same thing years later.
As we can see from the Bible, no lightning came out to kill him right away. Thus, can it mean that sometimes God has nothing against certain lies we tell?
As particular sources claim, “Some again say that Sarah was Abraham’s half cousin, so he was technically correct. Once again, the intention was to mislead. What was interesting in both these cases is that God had to intervene to bail them out. This is the same God who did not intervene to prevent Abraham from “going onto” Hagar and bringing Ishmael into this world. I dare say that God didn’t think Abraham’s and Isaac’s lies were deal-breakers.”
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Let’s see what other verses state that lying is a sin. The first thing we learn about lies is that Satan is the father of lies. Knowing God’s attitude to this fallen angel, we can assume what His attitude toward lies is.
Apart from that, the ninth commandment states that “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16)
Thus, we see that saying lies about your neighbor is a sin in Christianity in all of its denominations, including Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. People that defend the position that lies are only sinful when they hurt feelings of other people. Here is what such people state: “That makes a huge difference because now it’s not talking about lying in general but a very particular form of lying. Bringing a false accusation against someone is an affront to the justice of God. So it is very clear that God hates this kind of lying. This thought is repeated over and over in the book of Proverbs. That book has many references to lying, but many of them are all in the context of lying against one’s brother or neighbor to accuse them wrongfully.”
Besides, these people claim that the Bible distinguishes different types of lies that are dishonoring God when His children spread these lies. Among them are false accusations against people around you, telling lies when pursuing personal profit in certain areas, and changing and spreading misleading information about Jesus. Other than that, these people believe should not be called a sin.
Moreover, they claim that the consequences that come right after a person lies are merely social and cannot be qualified as a sin. Therefore, Christians are reading to much into the problem of sin.
However, other people believe that any type of lying, even the one that is used for the good, is dangerous and is not pleasing God. God takes His Word seriously and stands for each of it no matter how people try to find additional ways to get through the process.
Here is another story from the Bible that proves our point that lying is always a sin for Christians. This story is about Ananias and Sapphira, a husband and a wife that accepted Christ and joined the early Church. As a result of their repentance, they sold their house. However, when asked about its value, they lied. And here is how God reacted to this lie:
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira, his wife, sold a possession,
And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine, heart, to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.”
(Acts of the Apostles 5:1-11)
As you see from this story, God does not tolerate the lie. Even though these two people did not falsely accuse anyone, not they hurt anyone’s feelings, God still did not tolerate them and took measures right after they sinned. This story completely debunks the theory that not all lies are a sin.
Another verse that demonstrates that lies are a sin can be found in the Colossians: “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” (Colossians 3:9)
From this verse, we can understand that is something a sinful man would do before he met Christ and was changed by His grace. However, people that in Christianity are called as “born again” no longer follow the sinful desires of their hearts and can overcome a desire to sin which might lead to lying.
One more verse that shows that any lying is a bad thing in the eyes of God is in the Revelation when liars are mentioned in the same place with other sinners that never repented before Christ: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
God is not mentioning a particular type of lie which is more sinful than the others. He is stating that any lie is a horrible deed in the eyes of God. And even if you have not murdered anyone or worshiped idols, but lied, God will put you in the same place where other sinners go unless you believe in Christ and can be saved by His grace and changed by His power.
These are the verses that prove that God does not support lying in any way. He states that He himself is a Father of truth; so no lies can be found in His presence. That is exactly why His children should stay away from these sins too.
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