Does the Bible allow lying, is it ever permissible?
A lie is done by speech or action promoting that which is false, it is with the intent to mislead or delude (often for profit or promotion). In Scripture the word is used to designate all the ways in which men deny or alter the truth. The dictionary definition is “To make a declaration which is untrue. v. lie, fabricate, snow, falsify, fib, forswear, misrepresent, perjure, prevaricate. To convey a false impression. v. lie, deceive, falsify, fib, fast-talk, mislead, misrepresent, prevaricate (American Heritage Dictionary). Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as Statements that contain falsehoods, 1: to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive 2: to create a false or misleading impression imputing dishonesty.
The Scriptures expressly condemn lies calling the Devil the Father (originator) of them to man (John 8:44). It was Satan who first distorted God’s instructions to Adam and Eve. By having them disobey it affected not just them but all of us through history.
The Bible specifically tells us not to lie: One of the 10 commands of Moses “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor “ (Exod. 20”16; Deut.19:16) this is repeated in Prov. 25:18 “A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow.” Jesus spoke of bearing false witness (Mt.19:18). At his trial (Mk.14:56) many were false witnesses against Jesus.
Liars are condemned throughout the Bible, especially in Proverbs (Skills for living)
Prov. 14:5 “A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies.’
Prov. 12:19-20 “The truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy.
Prov. 12:22 “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.
Prov. 26:28 “A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
Prov. 6:19A “false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.
Prov. 12:17 “He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit.”
Rom. 13:9 Paul sums up the commandments, which includes "You shall not bear false witness," in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
We see that God speaks well of those certain instances when lies were done to save peoples lives, especially the Saints: which is loving your neighbor as yourself. God did not approve of those who lied, but did not rebuke or punish them. So there are exceptions when it comes to saving a life.
Abraham:in Gen. 12:13-19; 20:2-13, wanted to protect his wife. Gen. 12:12-13 Said to Sarah when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, 'This is his wife'; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. "Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you." He was unaware that the Lord would plague Pharaoh’s house because he thought she was unmarried, taking her.
Isaac in Gen.26:7-9 did the same thing to preserve Rebekah.
Michal 1 Sam. 19:11-17, (chap. 20) went to save David’s life.
Rahab: Josh 2:3-7 the king of Jericho heard of the spies being in his country. So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, "Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country." Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. "And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them." (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.)Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.
Rehab lied to save the spies lives, saying they just left, they went that away, and instead hid them. She is she is in the Messiahs genealogy (Mt.1:5), counted among the faithful, in the hall of faith (Heb.11; Jms.2:25)
The Hebrew midwives
Exod. 1:15-20 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, "When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live." But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?" And the midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them." Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty.”
The midwives lied to save Moses (Exod.2) who would become the deliverer of the people.
Eph 4:24-25 “and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another.” Lies are in opposition to the new nature the believer is given and they are to cease. But God regards saving a life more important.
Another example is Herod; he wanted the wise men to return to him after they found the child.
Mt. 2:13 “Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." They were to wait in Egypt until Herod died. V.16 “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.”
The magi lied to Herod to save Jesus’ life. In the same manner, Germans hid Jews in their home and lied to the Gestapo to save lives.
God does not approve of teaching lies or teaching that lying is acceptable;
Psalm 52:2-4 “Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. You love evil more than good, lying rather than speaking righteousness. Selah You love all devouring words, you deceitful tongue.”
In the latter times deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons are taught in the church by men who “speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2). Teaching or promoting a lie to the church and in the rare instance (as an exception) lying to save someone’s life from harm are two very different matters. God did not punish lying when it comes to saving a life from those who want to do evil (such as take life). This does not mean we are to look for instances to lie, but if it is a choice of life or death, we are to choose life.
It is often the needy, the poor that suffer from lies. We should not allow liars to lie for profit, for power or position.
Isa. 32:7 “Also the schemes of the schemer are evil; he devises wicked plans to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaks justice. It is often the most religious and pious people that will lie Jer. 7:4 "Do not trust in these lying words, saying, 'The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.'
Isa 59:13 “In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.”
Hosea 4:1-2: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed.”
Rev. 21:8 speaks of those who continue in sins, it includes those who continue to lie and not repent "will have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone”