Is it wrong to lie in order to save someone's life?

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Is it wrong to lie in order to save someone's life?

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This question is a challenging one for Christians. While the Ninth Commandment clearly tells us not to "bear false witness" (Exodus 20:16), we know it takes a great deal of faith to fully obey God under all circumstances. Thus, a person would have to make a decision based on his or her trust and faith in God at the time. No one can give another person permission to lie. Many justifications for "doing good" could result.

Let's consider the likelihood of someone having to lie to protect someone and note some scriptures showing us how God works in our lives.

First, we must understand that being forced to lie to save someone's life is a very unusual circumstance—one that doesn't normally happen in most people's lives. While this scenario can arise during war or when someone is committing a crime, it is not something most Christians will have to face. Why not? Because Jesus teaches us to pray that we will not be led into temptation (to sin, as in breaking His Commandments) and that we might be delivered from evil (Matthew 6:13). Jesus does not ask us to learn how to convincingly lie in order to deliver ourselves or someone else. If we truly love others, we will also pray for them and ask God's blessing and protection upon them as well. God, of course, is far more powerful than any soldier, army or criminal and is fully capable of protecting us and others without forcing us to break one of His Commandments.

Secondly, we need to realize that even though we will face problems and trials in our lives, God promises to deliver us. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 it says, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."

Additionally, the Bible is filled with scriptures showing that God is our Deliverer. Psalm 97:10, for example, says, "You who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked." God loves us and wants us to learn to trust Him for protection. He also expects us to be wise and not unnecessarily place ourselves in harm's way. Furthermore, God wants us to hate evil (a broad concept that includes lying)—not look for ways to make it acceptable.

To gain a greater understanding of the Ninth Commandment, read the chapter titled, "Truth as a Way of Life," in our free booklet, The Ten Commandments.