Is it ever acceptable to lie for Jesus?

A writer in a recent article I read raised that question because of an incident in which he had been involved. He had been invited by a radio host to do a live interview and accepted. When he arrived there was a prominent Christian personality present and he soon learned the “interview” was an ambush to engage him in a debate.

When the session was over he asked the radio host and his opponent why they had deceived him and had not been honest about why he was invited. He said they told him “they believed that I wouldn’t have accepted their offer had I been told the truth. When I questioned them about the deception, I was told that since the debate was to further God’s wishes, a minor deception of this sort was acceptable.”

I have not mentioned those involved because I was not there and do not know if the story itself is true, but let me say unequivocally that the rationalization that “to further God’s wishes, a minor deception of this sort was acceptable,” in this situation is nothing less than reprehensible.

If we as Christians expect to be believed at any time, we must be honest at all times. The person who lies supposedly furthering “God’s wishes” is blatantly furthering nothing more than his own interests. God would never ask us to lie for Him; He doesn’t need that kind of help.

There are accounts in the Scriptures of saints and sinners who have lied, but not a single instance where it has been condoned or encouraged by our Father.

A notable case occurs in the beginning of the Exodus narrative, Exodus 1:8-22. Concerned that the Hebrew slave population may threaten the security of Egypt, Pharaoh orders the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah to kill the Hebrew baby boys while being born.

When his orders are not followed the midwives are called to give an account. They told Pharaoh, “the Hebrew women…are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.” This could not have been true in every case and was an obvious lie, but Pharaoh does not punish the midwives and God “established households for them.”

Did God bless the midwives for lying? That seems to be the case, but further reflection reveals the answer. The midwives “feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.”

God blessed them not because they lied, but because at the risk of their lives they honored Him and refused to kill those baby boys. In such extreme circumstances, if in our human frailty we lie, as any of us are apt to do, I think God is graciously understanding and forgiving.

But the thought that God is served by the use of deception is the gravest deception of all. In our conversations we are exhorted to speak “the truth in love,” Ephesians 4:15. Because if it’s not true; it’s not love.


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