John Piper considers what the Bible says about lying–and what it says about truth.
“Is honesty really the best policy?” This is a notorious question. And it is important, but not as important as asking what it is inside of us that tempts us to be dishonest. My first response to this question is to note that it is possible to be a person who never lies and yet still be a hardened sinner, cut off from Christ in unbelief. You can be virtually free from lying and still be unregenerate and bound to sin because there are plenty of cultural and personal incentives to tell the truth that have nothing to do with God. It isn’t necessarily holy to want a reputation of dependability–to be known as a person whose word is as good as an oath.
At the same time, it is also possible to be a person who fears the Lord, walks by faith and yet feels constrained in extreme, life-threatening situations to oppose evil by lying. There are several stories in the Bible where this is exactly what happened.
The Hebrew Midwives
In Exodus, Pharaoh decides to weaken the people of Israel by killing every newborn boy (Exodus 1:16, NRSV). But the midwives disobey and let the boys live. When the king of Egypt asks them why they’re doing this, they answer, “The Hebrew women … are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them” (Exodus 1:19).
Now, regardless of how vigorous the Hebrew women are, this statement is a lie. It is meant to lead Pharaoh to believe a falsehood–namely, that the midwives were doing their best to obey but just couldn’t get there in time.
Does their dishonesty displease God? It doesn’t seem like it, according to the next verse: “God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.” They’re not rebuked; they’re blessed.
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SOURCE: Relevant Magazine