God doesn’t lie.
Hopefully you know this. God hates lying (Proverbs 12:22), will pass judgment on liars (Revelation 21:8, 22:15), and commands us to tell the truth (Leviticus 19:11). It is a fundamental character trait of God that He is a truth-teller. In one sense it is right to say that God is truth (John 3:33, 7:28, 14:6; Romans 3:4). For by His own nature and character, God is the very standard of all truth. Because of this, He can always be trusted. Everyone of His statements and promises (for the present and the future) can be taken to the bank (2 Samuel 7:28, 22:31; Psalm 119:160; Proverbs 20:5).
God doesn’t lie. But have you ever wondered why? Yes, it is just who He is. And yet, there is another, more specific way to answer this. The reason why God doesn’t lie, is because He doesn’t need to. Perhaps exploring why humans lie will help us to see this more clearly.
- We lie in order to protect our image.
- We lie in order to avoid consequences.
- We lie in order to get what we want.
- We lie in order to hurt others.
Lying is a tool; a weapon. It is a form of power. But it is a cheap and dirty kind of power. Most of us were born to families and societies wherein we expect (and/or want to expect) that people are telling the truth. Cynicism and skepticism come with age, nay with experience. But it isn’t just the experience of being tricked, manipulated, and lied to that makes trusting others difficult, it’s also the experience of tricking, manipulating, and lying to others that makes us jaded. From very early ages kids learn to lie as a means of power (even if they aren’t very good at it (yet)).
“No, I didn’t have a cookie.” “Oh, really, then why is there chocolate all over your face?” “Um, ‘cuz, um, I don’t know.”
Often lying begins when the receiving of undesired consequences or the failure to obtain desired pleasures appears inevitable if we tell the truth or unless we lie. Our fears and desires outmatch our natural abilities to overcome the circumstances, and so we reach for a powerful weapon to protect ourselves and/or to gain what we want. It is a game of the survival of the fittest/cleverest. If we can beat our opponent (whoever it is that has the power to give us the undesired consequence or withhold the desired gain) with a lie better than with the truth, then we will often do so.
Think about it: We don’t lie to people who have no power over us. If we want to get or keep someone someone’s approval, they have to give it (or keep giving it). We cannot take it from them. It just doesn’t work that way. But if we can trick/manipulate them into giving it to us, it is as though we did take it. People will give you money, respect, power, privileges, and so much more if you deserve it or if you can simply make them think that you deserve it. All lying is a dastardly power play made by weak and wicked people.
But God is free from all of this. He is not only holy (and thus not wanting to lie), but He is also all-powerful (and thus not needing to lie). No one and nothing has power over God. Any power that another being has comes from and is sustained by God Himself. Just as God is truth, God is power! He doesn’t need to gain approval or keep people on His side or protect Himself from others who might hurt Him or hinder His plans, for no one could possibly ever do even one thing whatsoever outside of His sovereign plans.
God does not need to trick, manipulate, or lie to protect Himself or procure what He wants. He just tells the truth no matter what others might do in response. He isn’t afraid. We lie out of fear; fear that something bad might happen to us or that something good might not happen to us unless we deceive. But God cannot be afraid. His is such a sovereign and omnipotent power that fear doesn’t even make sense for Him. He has perfect wisdom, all knowledge, supreme authority, and absolute control over everything. He lacks nothing. He alone is self-sufficient. He alone is independent. He needs nothing and no one. The One who is sovereign and all powerful and is omniscient and all-wise has no need to lie.
And if we trust Him, because of the mediation of His Son (1 Timothy 2:5), we have this same God of all power on our side (Romans 8:28-39, esp. verse 31), and so we do not need to lie either.