What Does the Bible Say About White Lies?
Skip to content

Viral Believer is reader-supported. We may earn a small fee from products we recommend at no charge to you. Read Our Affiliate Disclosure

What Does the Bible Say About White Lies?

Telling the truth is vital for living a life that honors God. As followers of Christ, we are called to be people of integrity who speak truthfully and honestly with one another (Ephesians 4:25). However, there are times when we may be tempted to tell a “white lie” – a small, harmless untruth that seems insignificant. But what does God’s Word say about this? Should Christians ever tell white lies? In this post, we will examine what the Bible teaches about honesty, integrity, and telling the truth.


A “white lie” is often defined as a false statement that is not intended to harm anyone. Examples include telling someone you are busy when you simply don’t want to meet with them, saying you like a gift you don’t care for, or calling in sick to work when you are not ill. These lies are considered “harmless” by many because they seem minor and often told to spare someone’s feelings or avoid an awkward situation. However, lying is a serious issue in Scripture. The Bible emphasizes honesty, integrity, and speaking the truth – even when it is difficult. As followers of Christ, we are called to exhibit these same qualities. So what should be our stance on so-called “white lies?” Are there times when such deception is acceptable? Or does God require complete truthfulness in all situations? In this post, we will explore these questions by looking at several key biblical principles.

Key Takeaways:

  • God commands his people not to lie or deceive others. Complete honesty is the biblical standard.
  • White lies are dangerous because they start us down a slippery slope of complacency with deceit.
  • The Bible portrays Satan as the “father of lies,” in contrast to God’s character as the God of truth.
  • Scripture emphasizes being people of integrity and honesty, even when telling the truth is difficult.
  • Certain biblical figures occasionally lied to protect others, but these incidents are the exception, not the norm.
  • Jesus was radically truthful, though he did avoid answering hostile questions at times to prevent unnecessary harm.
  • God is gracious and forgiving. He is willing to pardon those who repent of lying or any other sin.
What does the bible say about white lies?

God Forbids Lying and Deception

One of the Ten Commandments states plainly, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16 NKJV). To “bear false witness” means to lie or spread falsehoods about other people. This command prohibited perjury, slander, and false accusations in court. However, its implications extend beyond the courtroom. The command implies we should not lie about or intentionally deceive others. Scripture affirms this principle from cover to cover. Lying is denounced repeatedly alongside commands to speak the truth:

“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25 NKJV)

“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds.” (Colossians 3:9 NKJV)

“Therefore, let us put off…falsehood, and ‘let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25 NKJV)

Lying and dishonesty are incompatible with living as God desires. He commands His people to be completely truthful and trustworthy in all we say.

The Slippery Slope of White Lies

Some argue that white lies are harmless fibs with good intentions. However, this view fails to recognize the slippery slope of complacency with deceit. Small lies tend to multiply. When we become comfortable misleading “a little,” it gets easier to lie more often for convenience or self-interest. White lies can quickly progress into darker, more harmful deception.

Additionally, white lies undermine our credibility. They display we are willing to distort the truth when we deem it acceptable. This makes it harder for others to trust us when it really matters. As followers of Christ, we are called to be people of the utmost integrity. Even small, “insignificant” lies chip away at that integrity.

For these reasons, Christians should avoid excusing so-called white lies. As John Piper explains, “Lies carry the seed of death. Even little lies, seeds of death.” The Bible calls us to a higher standard of complete truthfulness with one another.

God is Truth

Not only does Scripture condemn lying overtly, but it portrays God as the source of truth, in contrast to Satan who is “the father of lies” (John 8:44 NKJV). Jesus declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6 NKJV). Truth is an essential part of God’s nature. This emphasis on truth permeates the biblical worldview.

Followers of Christ serve the God of truth. Therefore, we are called to reflect his character of honesty and integrity. The Bible links deceitful speech with deeds of darkness, warning:

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good…that it may impart grace to the hearers… do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God… Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:29-32 NKJV)

As people indwelt by God’s Spirit, we are urged to speak truthfully and avoid lies of any kind.

Speaking Truth Even When Difficult

Scripture never condones deceit, yet there are instances where biblical figures lied seemingly for good reasons. For example, the Hebrew midwives in Exodus 1 lied to protect newborn infants. Rahab lied to the king of Jericho to hide the Israelite spies and aid their mission (Joshua 2; Hebrews 11:31). David pretended to be insane to avoid being killed by the Philistines (1 Samuel 21:13-15).

While we admire their courage and compassion in these accounts, we must not use them to justify lying on our own behalf. These unique, historical events do not override the Bible’s consistent command against all deception, oath-breaking, and falsehood. They represent the flawed actions of sinful humans, not a new standard for behavior. These figures faced extreme circumstances we are unlikely to encounter today. Thus, these incidents should be the exception, not the rule or rationale, for Christian conduct.

Jesus as Our Example

If anyone modeled flawless integrity, it was Jesus Christ. During his earthly ministry, Jesus epitomized truth. He boldly spoke against popular lies and hypocrisy among religious leaders, resulting in their hatred of him. When Jesus stood trial, the judge Pontius Pilate declared, “I find no fault in Him at all” (John 19:4 NKJV). Even his enemies could not prove any charge against him.

Strikingly, Jesus never lied or attempted to deceive others. However, he frequently avoided answering hostile questions, either responding with silence or profound truth his accusers failed to grasp (for example, Matthew 21:23-27). Jesus knew precisely when to speak and when to refrain from casting pearls before scoffers. He avoided enabling the lies of wicked people by redirecting the conversation or deflecting scrutiny. As his followers, we can emulate Jesus’ example of speaking truth with grace, wisdom, and discernment.

God Forgives and Renews

All Christ-followers struggle with sin of many kinds (Romans 3:23 NKJV). When we stumble into dishonesty or other transgressions by word or deed, God graciously forgives us. He cleanses all unrighteousness for those who repent and turn to him. We can live in freedom and hope, not fearing condemnation:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV)

By God’s power, we can turn from deceitful ways and embrace truth:

“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25 NKJV)

Through Christ, our hearts and lips can be purified to honor him.


In summary, the Bible resoundingly condemns dishonesty and lying of any kind. Followers of Jesus must reject excuses that try to justify “harmless” white lies. Scripture compels us to speak truthfully in all situations, even when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient. This standard flows from God’s character as the God of truth. Jesus perfectly modeled flawless integrity that avoided lies or deception of any kind. When we do stumble, God graciously forgives and purifies all who repent and turn to him. By following biblical principles of honesty, our lives and witness can bring glory to Christ.

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.