When Truth and Morality Collide: Is Lying Ever Justifiable?

In the realm of moral dilemmas, the question of whether lying is ever acceptable has been debated for centuries. Are there circumstances where lying is not only justifiable but necessary? Let’s explore the biblical perspective on this issue, keeping in mind the values of conservative Christian readers.

The First Liar

Scripture tells us that Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). He was the first to deceive, starting with the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2). Satan continues to spread lies through false teachers and false prophets, who are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. God, on the other hand, is incapable of lying, as His nature is holy, pure, righteous, and just (Numbers 23:19).

Rahab’s Deception

Rahab, a prostitute from Jericho, is an intriguing character in biblical history. Despite her sinful past, she is found in Jesus Christ’s lineage (Matthew 1:5). Her faith in God led her to hide Israelite spies and lie about their whereabouts to protect their lives (Joshua 2:3-7). Does Rahab’s story imply that lying can be acceptable in certain circumstances?

The Human Condition

The Bible acknowledges that all humans have lied (Psalm 116:11). However, God’s commandments make it clear that bearing false witness is not permissible (Exodus 20:16). So, should there be any exceptions to this rule?

Saving Lives Through Deception

Throughout history, people have lied to save lives. Consider the Germans who hid Jews during the Holocaust or those who helped runaway slaves during the Civil War. Are these acts of deception sinful, or are they justified due to the higher moral cause of preserving life?

Dr. R.C. Sproul from Ligonier Ministries once said, paraphrased, that those who deserve the truth should receive the truth. However, there are exceptions when certain moral issues seem weightier than telling a lie. In other words, if lying could save a human life, would you? Most of us likely would. Based on this premise, there are times when lying can be acceptable in order to preserve a higher, moral cause; in this case, saving someone’s life.


Imagine your family is hiding from authorities in your home. They come to your door and ask if your family is there. Do you tell them the truth, knowing they will be harmed, or do you lie to save their lives? Knowing that God forgives our sins (1 John 1:9), is lying justifiable if it means saving someone’s life? What do you think, and why?

As we grapple with such moral dilemmas, it’s essential to remember that God’s grace and forgiveness extend to us all. While we strive to live according to His commandments, we must also acknowledge that there may be moments when truth and morality collide, and we must make difficult decisions.