Can a Lie Be Justified?

A false witness will not go unpunished, and one who utters lies will not escape.—Proverbs 19:5

Will the universe sustain a lie? Today the church is being inundated with a philosophy called “situational ethics,” which would have us believe that sometimes a lie can be right. I think that is a deadly and diabolical doctrine. A lie is never right—no matter what attempts we might make to justify it. “God is not a man who lies,” says the Scripture in Numbers 23:19, and in 1 John 2:21 we read, “No lie comes from the truth.” God cannot lie, and He will never delegate to you the task of lying for Him. When we take dishonesties into our lives we take fire into our lives—here and hereafter: “All liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur” (Rv 21:8).

“Situational ethics” proponents come up with all kinds of possible scenarios, such as: “What if someone came to your house to murder a member of your family and asked if that person was in. Would it not be right to lie in those circumstances?” Can you see the thrust of this question? It is the argument, “This is what we ought to do because it makes sense.” But once we view sin as an “ought,” it is magically turned into something that is “good.”

The Bible does not teach that anyone in any situation ought to sin. First Corinthians 10:13 teaches that because God is faithful, we will never find ourselves in a situation where we must sin, but there will always be a way of escape. God never calls upon us to break one of His laws in order to keep another.


O Father, in a world that seems to be always looking for excuses and exceptions, help me to steer my life by the clear statements of Your revealed will. I don’t want to measure up to exceptions; I want to conform to the rules—Your rules. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Jn 8:31-47; Col 3:9; Rv 21:8

Who did Jesus say is the source of lies?

What was Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians?

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