Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

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Wisdom of Jesus Part 3: Lying

Lie to Me

Should Christians ever lie?

Published on: Dec 20, 2009

The joke has been made that “A lie is an ever present help in a time of need.” I have had many discussions with believers regarding the use of lies in dire circumstances. Escaping Nazi Germany is always an example that justifies the use of lies. Likewise, there are numerous biblical examples of godly people lying that are cited, too.

My wife and I started watching the TV show, “Lie to Me,” because of the intriguing use of body language to determine when someone is lying. They used to show many still pictures of famous people caught in the act of lying who had the same facial expression as the character in the show. They don’t do that as much anymore, perhaps because of lawsuits.

Nonetheless, on a recent episode a disgruntled farmer parked his tractor outside a government building where the Lightman Institute is located with a possible bomb. As it happened a group of children were touring the institute and had to sheltered. Stuck with the job of entertaining the kids, Will Loker (played by Brendan Hines) gets the kids to write a song on lying called, “White Lie.” Since we recorded the show, I was able to rip an mp3 of the song and copy the lyrics for this post. You can play the song and read the lyrics as it is sung.

White Lie

I say I’m 10 when I am 9 and a half
My uncle tells a joke and I try to laugh

In gym I fake a headache when I want to quit
I say I love the sweater that my grandma knit

But that’s a white lie
(echo) White Lie
That’s the kind you want to tell

A white lie
(echo) White Lie
So your Mom won’t have to yell

A white lie
(echo) White Lie
Everybody does it ’cause it feels alright
And its more polite

But a lie is still a lie even when it’s white

I pretend I’m asleep when my Dad walks in
I said I ate my chicken but I just ate the skin

Your face can say you’re lying when your mouth says you’re not
Your pants are on fire but they’re not too hot

When it’s a white lie
(echo) White Lie
It’s the kind you want to tell

A white lie
(echo) White Lie
So your Dad won’t have to yell

A white lie
(echo) White Lie
Everybody does it ’cause it feels alright
And it’s more polite

But a lie is a lie even when it’s white

While it might be hard to say what’s true
Would you want a white lie told to you?

But that’s a white lie
(echo) White Lie
It’s the kind you want to tell

A white lie
(echo) White Lie
So your Mom won’t have to yell

A white lie
(echo) White Lie
Everybody does it ’cause it feels alright
And its more polite

But a lie is still a lie even when it’s white

We were grateful that the writers of the song stood by truth by concluding that even though a white lie makes social interactions go smoother, “But a lie is still a lie even when it’s white”.

And this is my point for today. Christians justify the use of lies, but Jesus never lied. He is Truth incarnate. If Jesus ever lied, even a white lie, He would have sinned and would have disqualified Himself as a suitable sacrifice for our sins. Jesus is our standard. Lying is not an option for followers of Christ.

However, I should state this qualification. We are not sinners in Christ. Sin is no longer imputed to us who trust in Jesus. A religious mindset regarding sin is legalistic and puts one under the law, not grace. Nonetheless, even though sin is not imputed to us, consequences to sin remain. When a believer chooses to lie, a consequence always follows. That consequence may be as benign as “Verily, they have their reward,” which means you may have had a greater blessing if you told the truth, instead of simply avoiding the awkward moment of a white lie. Or it could have devastating consequences depending on the nature of the lie.

So how did Jesus avoid lying? There are many examples. The most famous is the tax coin.

Matt 22:17-22
17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way. (KJV)

A friend and reader made this comment in a previous post in this series:

I really appreciated this: “We are not obligated to answer any one’s question.” Having grown up with a legalistic sense of honesty that has gone quite beyond its bounds, I realize that we do not owe everyone an “honest” answer–we do not owe everyone an answer at all. Thank you for confirming this permission to me.

Our natural minds tend to feel like we have to answer every question asked directly. Jesus never answered their question directly. The direct question asked was, “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” A direct answer would have been a “yes” or “no”, which they had hoped He would have done so they could trap Him. A tactic used by lawyers who force the witness in the stand to do. Although, I believe, in America we still have the right to remain silent. Which Jesus did with Pontius Pilate, although His silence in that case was because He knew He had to die on the cross and He remained silent to further the cause of the Father’s plan.

God has given us the wisdom of Jesus through the new birth. The disciples (which include us) were given this advise by Jesus.

Luke 12:11-12
11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. (KJV)

The Holy Spirit can not lie, for He is God, and God can not lie. So what the Holy Ghost will give you in that hour will be the truth, but it may not be a direct answer that could entrap you. However, the condition given is that “we are not to take thought as to what we are to say,” or in other words, rehearse in our minds what we are to say. Not thinking of what to say is a form of self denial, self control, and a dying to self, that allows the exchanged lives to operate.

I have never faced the magistrates in this way, but I had an occasion to speak at my step father’s funeral. I had no plans to speak, but an open mic was provided, and I felt the prompting of the Spirit to go up. What was said came directly from Jesus and brought a surprise outburst of applause from the mourners.

If we choose to lie, even a white lie, we deny the power of God. For God will not function in a lie. There is much fear in the church today that we are going to face the end times tribulations. If we are faithful with little we will be faithful with much. If we are in the habit of speaking the truth without lying, relying on the Holy Ghost now, then we will do so in tribulations. Jeremiah said,

Jer 12:5
5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? (KJV)

If we struggle with telling the truth in light afflictions, how shall we speak the truth in wisdom during tribulation? And of those troubles Jesus said,

Luke 23:31
31 For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? (KJV)

But we are not to fret and worry over the troubles to come. For God has given this promise, and all the promises of God are yea and amen.

Isa 40:31
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (KJV)

Do not weary in telling the truth. Lying is not the way of Christ. But wisdom in how to speak the truth is His way.

Comments to Original Post

Kat
Submitted on 01/13/2010

This is something I’ve learned, too, that we are not obligated to give everyone an “honest answer”. We don’t have to answer at all. Thanks for this piece. I’m still learning not to stupidly volunteer information.

Alexander
Submitted on 01/13/2010

I had to set the series down because of work, but I am anxious to get back to the topic.

Codie
Submitted on 01/22/2010

Hey I was wondering if anyone knows the guitar chords to this song… If anyone can tell me what the chords are then I could figure out the arrangement. Thanks

Alexander
Submitted on 01/22/2010

Sorry, I don’t know.

Guitar Learning
onlineguitarschools.com
Submitted on 08/02/2010

I think lying is part of one’s personality trait that is associated with certain individuals. And there are some situations in life where the most honest and truthful person in the world would lie for their existence. 🙂
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Alexander
Submitted on 08/02/2010

I would agree that because of our fallen condition on planet Earth, lying is a natural part of life, but it is not the design of God. He is Truth and can not lie. We were made in His image, therefore we were designed to speak the truth. My point regarding Jesus is that He proved that it was possible to never lie, even in this fallen world. His grace covers our lies, but lying is not His will for us.

Manouche
Submitted on 12/18/2010

To Codie:
I don’t know the real chords but mine are A D A E like this:

(A) I say I’m 10 when I am 9 and a half
My uncle tells a (D) joke and I (A) try to (E) laugh

(A) In gym I fake a headache when I want to quit
I say I love the (D) sweater that my (A) grandma (E) knit

But that’s a (A) white lie
(D)(echo) White Lie
(A) That’s the kind you (E) want to tell

(A) A white lie
(D) (echo) White Lie
(A) So your Mom won’t (E) have to yell

(A) A white lie
(D) (echo) White Lie
(A) Everybody (E) does it ’cause it (D) feels al(A)right
And its (D) more po(A)lite

But a (D) lie is still a (A) lie even (E) when it’s white(A).
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Alexander
Submitted on 12/18/2010

How kind of you to try an add the chords.

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