The following is an answer to David Codrea who runs the War on Guns blog. He disagreed with my assertion that it is wrong to lie – period. This disagreement arose over the issue of the Olmert government in Israel taking government issued guns away from settlers, and the settlers giving them up. David held that it would be fine to lie to the government. I hold that it is never right to lie, as that is a sin before God.
Please be advised, this is a much longer article than I normally publish on the blog. However, I do believe you will be blessed by it.
I know David, you think you’ve got me. That’s all right. However, my reply will not be short, as you require a decent, proper answer to your assertion.
To begin, the commandment of the LORD God is very plain:
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 19:16-19)
Moreover, to lie, is to follow after the father of lies, the Devil:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)
Thus, lying is not an option as it directly disobeys the express command of God. Thus, it appears that we are left between a rock and a hard place by your scenario. However, there are some things that are beyond our limited understanding, but not beyond the understanding, scope and power of the LORD God.
Now, I will not tell you that one must blindly believe and trust the LORD God for the outcome for such situations as that would be superstition. The LORD does not operate through, nor does He acknowledge superstition. Instead, one must operate by the instrument of faith.
Thus, the instrument of faith is extremely important to understanding everything that follows.
Now, allow me to present a couple of instances where individuals in Scripture chose different options for dealing with their situations, and the results of their choices. I will begin with the Hebrew midwives in Egypt:
And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. (Exodus 1:15-17)
Now, it is quite plain that the Hebrew midwives were disobedient to the commandment of Pharaoh and they were called into account for their disobedience:
And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. (Exodus 1:18-21)
Okay, they lied. Moreover, the LORD God still blessed them and gave them houses. Now, that would seem to indicate that one could lie and the LORD God will still bless. Additionally, much like your hypothetical situation above, the Hebrew midwives lied for the express reason of saving Hebrew babies. In your situation, one is doing it to save one’s family. Fair enough.
However, we need now look at the situation in Babylon with three Hebrew men who refused the commandment of another king:
Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:13-18)
Now that is bold, and seemingly stupid. After all, how can one know what will happen. Even the Hebrew men acknowledged they do not know for certain what God would do. However, they did know that they could trust the LORD for the outcome. At this stage, everything is seemingly in the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, and he has full control. Moreover, by their reply they have invited certain death.
Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. (Daniel 3:19-27)
There is here a world of difference between the way the LORD blessed the Hebrew midwives and the three Hebrew men. The midwives only received houses, but the three Hebrew men walked with God Himself in the midst of a fire that killed the very men who threw them in.
Now, there is a significant difference between the way the LORD God protected the Hebrew midwives and the way the LORD protected the Hebrew men. Thus, analogous to your proposed situation, there are three more options to telling where one’s family is:
1. Refusing to speak at all.
2. Telling them that you will not say at all. In short, saying “Go ahead and kill me, I will not tell you.”
3. Preaching unto them the gospel.
Of the five options available, the very last one is one that the LORD God will honor every time. I know this as it is expressly His promise that His word will accomplish the work He has for it:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8-11)
However, if one has no understanding of the promise of the LORD as they cannot see, then they will not understand the power of the fifth option. That understanding of the power of the word of God comes by the instrument of faith. Without this instrument, one is blind to the express will of God in situations, and to the power of God to change hearts in an instant. The LORD God does have the power to restrain someone, no matter how evil their intent. As in the case of the Hebrew midwives however, the power of God to work on Pharaoh was limited by the fact that they lied to cover up their activities. The Scripture is quite plain: had they simply told Pharaoh they will not kill the LORD’s heritage, no matter the consequences, the LORD would have done some other thing to protect them and the Hebrew babies. However, they lied as they could not see by faith the LORD’s will in this. Thus, they chose a lesser option. The LORD blessed them, as saving life is better that allowing murder to take place. Nonetheless, the blessing was not of the magnitude of the blessing of the Hebrew men for boldly testifying of their confidence in the LORD God to save, one way or the other.
This is not to say the Hebrew midwives had no faith. Rather it is to say that their use of it wavered as they allowed what they saw and heard with their physical senses to overwhelm what faith showed them.
At this point, it must be clearly understood that faith, that is, the faith described in Scripture, is not merely believing, or hoping in God or the things promised in Scripture. Rather, the faith that enables on to be born-again in Christ is given to the individual upon their consideration of what the LORD states in His word:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
This then is a promise by the LORD God that whosoever will hear His word and seriously consider it, then He will grant them the means to see the truth of what He states. Thus, faith is a spiritual instrument that belongs to the LORD and he grants it to anyone who fulfills the criteria He set forth.
Faith, like many other instruments, enables one to perceive things not readily apparent to someone who does not possess the instrument. Some examples I frequently use are radar, a microscope, and a radio, all of which enable the possessor to perceive certain things that cannot be perceived by someone who does not possess any one of those instruments.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:1-3)
In the situation you propose, if faith is not in use, then one’s perception of the options available is indeed limited. On the other hand, faith would show that the LORD God is sovereign and is in full control of the situation. Even if one doesn’t fully grasp what the LORD is doing with the situation (as in the case of the Hebrew men), one is still assured that the LORD God has his reasons for allowing the situation, and His purpose is beyond the mere moment we are dealing with.
Additionally, for the child of God (one who is born-again in Christ) there are a couple of things we are expressly told concerning our life on this earth after salvation. I will not say they are easy things to remember, as the implications are far-reaching:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
However, the child of God should understand by the instrument of faith that absolutely nothing happens without the LORD’s express permission, and no one, but no one is able to go beyond the limits of action set by the LORD. This was made clear in Job when Satan challenged the LORD concerning Job:
And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. (Job 2:3-6)
On this, I am reminded of a Romanian Baptist preacher, whose testimony I heard several years ago. Dr. Josef Tson lived under Ceausescu, but was able in the late 60’s to leave (not legally) and was trained at the Baptist School at Oxford. They stressed repeatedly that the sovereignty of God must be the pillar of one’s theology. When he finished his training he elected to return to Romania. There he suffered greatly under the persecution of the secret police. However, he relates that he always understood Romans 8:28 to be active, and the LORD was the one in full control of the situation. Josef Tson, by faith, perceived and understood the working of the LORD in his life, and the lives of all who persecuted him.1
We must also know and understand what Elihu understood when he testified to Job and his three friends about the sovereignty of God and the LORD’s ability to instantly take someone’s life if the LORD deems necessary:
Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity. For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways. Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment. Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world? If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust. (Job 34:10-15)
Fundamentally, there are two different perspectives one can have:
1. The perspective of this world, and the limited perception of our physical senses. This will yield the response that you advocate — lying to protect your own life and the lives of your loved ones. Nevertheless, lying is still a sin before the LORD, and we will answer for it.
2. The perspective of faith, and having the mind of Christ toward this world and all in it — even those who are evil. This yields a perception of the state of the soul of the individual, and that they are in need of the salvation Christ offers them. This salvation WILL change the very nature of their heart and soul, and they will no longer desire to harm you or your loved ones. Yes, there are modern, current testimonies of this happening, where kidnaping “victim” witnessed to their kidnapper and the kidnapper repented, believed the gospel, and then released the “victim” and turned themselves in.
You must remember, the child of God, who is born-again in Christ Jesus, has a very different purpose in their life from someone who is not born-again: they are to be witnesses of the grace that is in Christ, of the righteousness of God, and of the salvation and reconciliation the LORD God offers through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The child of God also should never be concerned about dying, as for them it is a matter of simply going home. The apostle Paul put it this way:
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:21-24)
There is your answer David. I could have simply slammed down the Scripture and the commandment, but you deserve a better answer than that. You may still disagree. However, I would that you consider what the Scripture states seriously, and consider Who really is in charge of everything.
I trust the LORD to watch over you and yours. May the grace of God be upon you.