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Lie - Its OK to Lie

Insight, Volume 2 pp.244-5 Lie


The opposite of truth. Lying generally involves saying something false to a person who is entitled to know the truth and doing so with the intent to deceive or to injure him or another person. A lie need not always be verbal. It can also be expressed in action, that is, a person may be living a lie.


Especially serious have been the religious lies, as they have endangered the future life of persons deceived by them. Said Jesus Christ: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you traverse sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one you make him a subject for Gehenna twice as much so as yourselves." (Mt 23:15) The exchange of God's truth for "the lie," the falsehood of idolatry, can cause a person to become a practicer of what is degrading and vile.-Ro 1:24-32.


While malicious lying is definitely condemned in the Bible, this does not mean that a person is under obligation to divulge truthful information to people who are not entitled to it.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1976 July 15 pp.447-8 Questions from Readers

Questions from Readers

•If a Christian must testify in court, is it proper for him to place his hand on the Bible and swear to tell the whole truth?


When the courtroom procedure is that of raising a hand or of placing a hand on the Bible when swearing, a Christian may choose to comply, having in mind the Bible examples of accompanying an oath with a gesture. But more important than whether a person makes a certain gesture with his oath is the fact that he is swearing before God to tell the truth. Such an oath is serious. So if a Christian feels that he can and should answer a question put to him in such circumstances, then he is under oath to tell the truth.

[Emphasis Added]Aid to Bible Understanding (1971) pp.1060-1061

LIE. The opposite of truth. Lying generally involves saying something false to a person who is entitled to know the truth and doing so with the intent to deceive or to injure him or another person. A lie need not always be verbal. It can also be expressed in action, that is, a person may be living a lie.


While malicious lying is definitely condemned in the Bible, this does not mean that a person is under obligation to divulge truthful information to people who are not entitled to it. Jesus Christ counseled "Do not give what is holy to dogs, neither throw your pearls before swine, that they may never trample them under their feet and turn around and rip you open." (Matt. 7 :6) That is why Jesus on certain occasions refrained from giving full information or direct answers to certain questions when doing so could have brought unnecessary harm. (Matt. 15 :1- 6 ; 21 :23-27 ; John 7 :3-10) Evidently the course of Abraham, Isaac, Rahab and Elisha in misdirecting or withholding full facts from nonworshipers of Jehovah must be viewed in the same light. Gen. 12:10-19; chap. 20; 26:1-10; Josh. 2:1-6; Jas. 2:25; 2 Ki. 6:11-23.

Jehovah God allows an "operation of error" to go to persons who prefer falsehood "that they may get to believing the lie" rather than the good news about Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 2:9-12) This principle is illustrated by what happened centuries earlier in the case of Israelite King Ahab. Lying prophets assured Ahab of success in war against Ramoth-gilead, while Jehovah's prophet Micaiah foretold disaster. As revealed in vision to Micaiah, Jehovah allowed a spirit creature to become a "deceptive spirit" in the mouth of Ahab's prophets. That is to say, this spirit creature exercised his power upon them so that they spoke, not truth, but what they themselves wanted to say and what Ahab wanted to hear from them. Though forewarned, Ahab preferred to be fooled by their lies and paid for it with his life.—1 Ki. 22:1-38; 2 Chron. chap. 18.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1960 June 1 p.351 Questions from Readers

Questions from Readers

• From time to time letters are received asking whether a certain circumstance would justify making an exception to the Christian's obligation to tell the truth. In reply to these the following is given:

God's Word commands: "Speak truth each of you with his neighbor." (Eph. 4:25) This command, however, does not mean that we should tell everyone who asks us all he wants to know. We must tell the truth to one who is entitled to know, but if one is not so entitled we may be evasive […] As a soldier of Christ he is in theocratic warfare and he must exercise added caution when dealing with God's foes. Thus the Scriptures show that for the purpose of protecting the interests of God's cause, it is proper to hide the truth from God's enemies.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1957 May 1 pp.285-286 Use Theocratic War Strategy

Use Theocratic War Strategy

A WITNESS of Jehovah was going from house to house in Eastern Germany when she met a violent opposer. Knowing at once what to expect she changed her red blouse for a green one in the very next hallway. No sooner had she appeared on the street than a Communist officer asked her if she had seen a woman with a red blouse. No, she replied, and went on her way. Did she tell a lie? No, she did not. She was not a liar. Rather, she was using theocratic war strategy, hiding the truth by action and word for the sake of the ministry.

In this she had good Scriptural precedent. Did not Rahab hide the Israelite spies by both action and word? Did not Abraham, Isaac, David and others likewise hide the truth at times when faced with a hostile enemy? They certainly did, and never do we read a word of censure for their doing so. Rather, we read of their being termed exemplary servants of Jehovah. Their actions were in line with Jesus' wise counsel: "Look! I am sending you forth as sheep amidst wolves; therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves."-Matt. 10:16, NW.

Perhaps some will wonder as to where the line is to be drawn between use of theocratic war strategy in hiding the truth and the telling of lies. First of all, let it be noted that whenever one takes an oath to tell the truth he is obligated to do so. By dedicating himself to do God's will each Christian has taken a vow or made an oath to do God's will and to be faithful to him. To this oath he certainly must be true. Likewise, when a Christian is placed on a witness stand he is obligated to speak the truth if he speaks at all. At times he may prefer to refuse to speak and suffer the consequences rather than betray his brothers or the interests of God's work. And, of course, there is no occasion for use of war strategy when dealing with our Christian brothers. In dealing with them we tell the truth or tactfully remind them that what they seek to know does not concern them.

Lies are untruths told for selfish reasons and which work injury to others. Satan told a lie to Eve that worked great harm to her and all the human race. Ananias and Sapphira told lies for selfish reasons. But hiding the truth, which he is not entitled to know, from an enemy does not harm him, especially when he would use such information to harm others who are innocent.

A great work is being done by the witnesses even in lands where their activity is banned. The only way they can fulfill the command to preach the good news of God's kingdom is by use of theocratic war strategy. By underground methods the literature is brought into the country and distributed. Would it make sense to hide this literature by one's actions and then reveal its whereabouts by one's words when queried? Of course not! So in time of spiritual warfare it is proper to misdirect the enemy by hiding the truth. It is done unselfishly; it does not harm anyone; on the contrary, it does much good.

Today God's servants are engaged in a warfare, a spiritual, theocratic warfare, a warfare ordered by God against wicked spirit forces and against false teachings. God's servants are sent forth as sheep among wolves and therefore need to exercise the extreme caution of serpents so as to protect properly the interests of God's kingdom committed to them. At all times they must be very careful not to divulge any information to the enemy that he could use to hamper the preaching work.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1956 Feb 1 pp.88-89 Cautious as Serpents Among Wolves

45 We dare not lie against God's Word, adding to it or taking away from it, reading into it what it does not say and denying, passing over or explaining away what it does truthfully say. "Every word of God is tried: . . . Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." (Prov. 30:5, 6, AS) We may not tell untruths in his name, for that puts God in the light of a liar. "Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar." (Rom. 3:4, NW) In Jeremiah's day the false prophets prophesied lies in Jehovah's name and lied against his purpose, foretelling in his name what he had not foretold. Therefore Jehovah was against them. He executed judgment against them at Jerusalem's destruction in 607 B.C. (Jer. 23:25; 27:15) Religious liars like them today cannot escape a like judgment but will meet a like end at Armageddon.

46 Never swear falsely in Jehovah's name. Jehovah declares that at his temple he will be a "swift witness against . . . the false swearers." (Mal. 3:5, AS) Never take an oath in his name and then tell lies as a sworn witness. Rahab of Jericho was under no oath in Jehovah's name to tell the facts to the king's officers and hence was not a false swearer or a false witness. "A faithful witness will not lie; but a false witness uttereth lies." (Prov. 14:5, AS) A faithful witness does not love a false oath. So he tells the truth as he swore to do. What he does speak will be the truth. If he speaks at all he will tell the truth. To the extent that he chooses to talk he will state the truth. If for conscientious reasons he refuses to tell everything he will be willing to suffer the consequences if he be judged deserving of a penalty. He refuses to tell everything, not to escape punishment, but facing punishment for conscientious reasons. Even Jesus kept silent before Pilate, refusing to answer though knowing Pilate's power.-John 19:8-11.

[Emphasis Added]

Reference Bible Revelation 22:15

15 Outside are the dogs and those who practice spiritism and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone liking and carrying on a lie.

[Emphasis Added]

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