There Are Lies in the Bible

Yes, really — there are lies in the Bible. There’s no use in denying it. In fact, those lies are there for a good reason.

The Bible is a collection of divinely inspired books. God, who cannot lie (Titus 1:2), guided men to write down His revealed truth (cf. John 16:13-14; 2 Peter 1:20-21). However, what those inspired men wrote includes history. That history often records statements made by people who were not speaking at God’s direction. Some of those statements were well-intentioned, some were not. And some were just plain old lies.

You don’t have to read far to find them. In Genesis 3, Satan deceived Eve by convincing her that (1) she would not die if she ate the forbidden fruit and (2) God had only forbidden it in order to keep her and Adam from becoming like Him. Both were lies, and Adam and Eve paid a heavy price for believing them.

While Satan is “the father of lies” (John 8:44), the Bible also records several liars of the human variety.

On two occasions, Abraham lied to a king by claiming that his wife Sarah was his sister. Both times his lie put others in peril and earned him a royal rebuke (Genesis 12, 20).

King Saul defied God’s instructions, then lied about it to the prophet Samuel, blaming his actions on the people. Samuel rebuked him, announcing that God had rejected Saul as king and would give the throne to another (1 Samuel 15).

An old prophet of Bethel lied to a younger prophet about having received a message from God. The younger prophet’s acceptance of the lie led to his death (1 Kings 13).

Gehazi, servant of the prophet Elisha, lied in order to enrich himself. God struck him with leprosy (2 Kings 5).

A young Amalekite lied to David by claiming to have killed King Saul, evidently thinking David would reward him for dispatching his nemesis. Instead, David executed him for daring to harm God’s anointed (2 Samuel 1).

The prophet Hananiah falsely proclaimed peace and restoration when God had decreed destruction and exile. Because Hananiah had “made the people trust in a lie,” Jeremiah declared that God would remove him from the earth. Hananiah died soon afterward (Jeremiah 28).

Ananias and Sapphira lied about their generosity toward the needy in the Jerusalem church. Peter noted that the couple had not lied to men, but to God, and both were struck dead (Acts 5).

Notice that these lies had various motives: a malicious intent to harm others; a desire for popularity, acclaim, or reward; fear of what others might think or do; an attempt to shift blame. Notice that they all led to trouble; some of them proved to be fatal.

These lies, like all of Bible history, are recorded to instruct and warn us (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). Lying erodes trust, breeds confusion, stains reputations, damages relationships, and much more. “A lying tongue hates those it crushes” (Proverbs 26:28a). And regardless of other consequences, lying works spiritual death. God says that lying is an abomination to Him (Proverbs 6:17), that it keeps people out of His kingdom (Revelation 22:15), and that His children must lay it aside (Ephesians 4:25). Let’s see that we do.