Is lying a sin?

Question: “Is lying a sin?  What about little white lies and exaggerations, are they lies?  What are the effects of lying? What about lying to save a person’s life?”


Bible Answers

There are 280 verses in the King James Bible about lying. The first example is found in Genesis 3:4 where we find Satan lying to Eve and later in the same chapter, God metering out punishment for the lie.

Lying is a sin

Lying is listed as a sin in the Ten Commandments: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16). A neighbor is anyone you come in contact with, and you are commanded not to lie to them or about them.

Lying is intended to deceive others of the truth.  Lying is Satan’s deception. Jesus referred to Satan as a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Lying is following and honoring Satan. By contrast, Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

God is truth and lying is opposed to the truth. Lying is a sin that separates us from God, but we are surrounded by lying in the world and can easily become part of it if we don’t remain diligent and maintain control over our tongue. We can follow King David’s lead and daily utter his prayer. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Ps. 139:23-24).

Aren't there exceptions

We try to justify ourselves by claiming that certain forms of lying is okay. We are quick to remember Rahab who told a lie to save two lives.  While she is later commended for saving their lives, it did not excuse the fact that she did lie. While a lie or exaggeration may result in good, the lie is still evil and will still separates us from God if we do not repent of our lie.

Why is lying so dangerous

Lying is a sin and separates us from God because God is sinless and does not lie (Titus 1:2). In His holiness, He is incapable of lying. As the apostle John said, God is light; in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). We lie because we are not trusting God to handle our lives.  If we fully trust God, then we find that we do not have a need to lie.

We lie because we do not trust God

What does God think of lying

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy (Proverbs 12:22). His joy is in people who can be trusted.

No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house [heaven]; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes (Psalm 101:7).

Unrepented lies (sin) will keep us out of heaven

What about keeping quiet

What of saying nothing when you know something is wrong? The Bible says, Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).  

Little white lies

Are little white lies acceptable? The Bible says, Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law (Psalm 119:29). God does not want us to be deceitful or to tell “little” lies. In God’s Book, a statement is either true or false and an action is either righteous or a sin. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:16). An example might be, “Dear, do I look fat in this dress”.  If she does, be creative, “Dear, you always are beautiful to me”. You always have a choice, you do not have to lie.

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish (Proverbs 19:9).

Is there a reward for being truthful

While God hates the sinful lies of the world, Jesus’ kingdom is built upon truth and love.

Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6). The reward of being truthful is being able to come to the Father through Christ.

A recent study at the University of Notre Dame found that those who significantly reduced the number of lies they told greatly improved their mental and physical health.

What does lying indicate

Lying shows hate toward others. A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin (Proverbs 26:28).

Lying is the work of the devil

Jesus said, You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).

While lying shows hatred, speaking the truth, even if it hurts, shows love. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25).

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19).

For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light (Luke 8:17).

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue

is but for a moment (Proverbs 12:19).


Lying is a sin and is repulsive to God, separating us from our heavenly savior.  As the Lord convicts you, immediately repent, asking God to forgive you, and ask for forgiveness from the person you lied too. It takes time to change old habits, but with the Lord’s help, you will become a righteous child of God.

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