Is God Able to Lie?

It seems to me logical, sensible, and obvious, that an all-powerful God, who is creator and sustainer of the universe, can do whatever He pleases. Indeed, there is a scripture that says as much:

But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.
(Psalm 115:3 NKJV)

Yet I often hear Christians saying that God cannot lie, and there does appear to be scriptural justification for this:

Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
(Hebrews 6:17-18 NKJV)

I have quoted two scriptures from the Bible that could be seen to contradict one another, for surely either God isn’t able to lie, or He can do whatever He pleases, but both statements can’t be true. It’s an important problem to consider, and readers may see this problem differently according to the degree to which they affirm the Bible to be inerrant and/or infallible.

Is there a way that both of the above quotations can be true? Or would you agree with me that to say God cannot lie places restrictions on His being; and we cannot restrict an omnipotent God?

Perhaps you have encountered this problem before, or have some thoughts that will illuminate the discussion. If so, feel free to leave a comment below.


  1. Hi Steven. I have often thought the same thing regarding the very verses you bring up. I choose the real simple answer, and this could be where you lean as well. I would say that, of course God can lie if He so chooses, but His nature is so opposed to such an action that it would never, ever happen. I know, really simple-minded, and I know people have written books about this, but I’ll go with this unless someone has some short counter-reply they care to venture. Thanks!

    1. Hi David! So glad you commented with this, as it’s really helpful to add to the discussion and the same thought occurred to me. If you’re correct, we might summarise it as ‘Able – yes, willing, no’. Though I think we would have to admit such a view comes from our intuitions about the nature of God (and perhaps a sense we get from considering the totality of Scripture) rather than any specific scriptural evidence.

      I was hesitant to write this post, because I don’t want it to seem as though I’m putting God ‘in the dock’. It’s not my place to do so. However my concern is for truth, wisdom, and understanding, rather than wanting to judge God, I hope that’s clear to all readers!

      1. I like that: “Able – yes, willing, no.” I’m glad you posted this; it’s always good to get people thinking and to give them an opportunity to voice their opinion on such matters.

  2. Hi Steven,

    Great post – very thought provoking!

    I’m wondering if these two Scriptures can be reconciled with this line of thinking: God does as he pleases; it pleases God not to lie; therefore, God does as he pleases by not lying.

    In John 17:17 Jesus cries out to God for sanctification for his disciples in God’s truth and declares that God’s Word is truth. Describing God as truth or true is consistent with the biblical narrative. It seems that being true pleases God. Perhaps in this way God seems to limit himself in what he can do, although the limit is superficial because it is ultimately consistent with his revealed character.

    What do you think? Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

    – Chris

    1. Hi Chris!

      I love the way you reconciled the two scriptures, that’s certainly logical, and I think it agrees with what David was saying; God is able, but not willing, to lie.

      As for your second point, I have no problem accepting that God might choose to limit Himself in certain ways that He finds pleasing. And as it’s a choice, it doesn’t limit His omnipotence, as there’s always the possibility He could change His mind, if He so willed.

      I actually believe infinite possibilities are open to God in any given moment, but we can observe the way He unfolds events and see that consistency features prominently in creation (for example, time).

      Great comment, Chris, thanks so much! 😊

  3. Yes, again we have the idea of God as an omnipotent being. As such He has that ability to do whatever He wants, but as an omni-moral being, He has chosen to be self-limiting to the consistent unchanging (yesterday, today, and tomorrow) God of scripture. He in His self defined, self “limited” master of truth persona (term used advisedly), remains consistent with His own definition of Himself.

    It has been similarly questioned, can an “all mighty” God make a rock He, Himself cannot move? While arguments in this vein are intellectually interesting, they offer mere mind puzzles for us, as God in His consistent nature would have no reason to be self-contradictory. While an imperfect analogy (and therefore weaker argument) God who is the definer of the universe has not allowed for round squares, or five sided triangles. In the same way a immoral moral being is unnecessary.

    The weakness is in our capacity to understand the OMNI aspects of God’s nature with our own limited abilities.

  4. God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
    Numbers 23:19 NLT
    I would have to agree with the statements that God so chooses not to lie… And looking at the above scripture I would also assume that lying is a consequence of the fall, and sin… God is not a man… He is God…

  5. Steven,
    I believe that some people have problems reconciling contradictory statements in the Bible because they think that God was somehow involved in its production.
    I do not comprehend the statement “Biblical Inerrancy”.
    Firstly, which Bible are we talking about? By that, I do not mean “which modern translation?”
    I mean: “Which Canon?”. Are we talking about the Orthodox Church’s, Roman Catholic’s, Ethiopian, Syrian?, Protestant? etc. Which of the Church Fathers was correct? What about the Canons of the 4th century – such of as the Siniaticus?
    I also mean: “Which text?” Which of the many Septuagint texts (and the NT writers quoted from the range, plus books such as 1 Enoch)?, or do we mean the Masoretic? With the NT do we mean Textus Receptus, or Westcott and Hort? Or do we pick and choose as the NIV does, calling it an eclectic selection?
    Not one person knows exactly what was originally written.
    So what does “inerrancy” mean? How can it be proven?
    I am asking this in all sincerity. This is a serious matter.

    1. Hi Doug!

      Many thanks for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comment.

      I believe that some people have problems reconciling contradictory statements in the Bible because they think that God was somehow involved in its production.

      I’m actually amazed that you think God might not be involved in the production of the Bible. All I can think is that we must have very different views concerning the nature of God. I believe God is in control of existence and so everything that happens is His will. So He has used different authors and translators to produce different texts, manuscripts and versions of the Bible.

      I don’t know the intricacies of textual criticism but I know God is control. It seems to me that the gospel has been preserved, despite the differences in texts that you mention, so I can only assume that the differences are much less important than the message they carry. Also, it seems to me that in God’s grand game of existence, He likes to do things in complex ways so that each person and each generation has an important role to play and a purpose. So that’s how I would account for all the variations you’ve mentioned.

      God bless you Doug and I hope you are well!


      1. Steven,
        If you believe that a God is responsible for the Bible you read, then it is important for your wellbeing that you hold onto that belief.
        I want others to respect my views and I always extend that same level of full respect to everyone. We can disagree but we mist never be disagreeable.
        I wish you well.

  6. The question we are really asking ourselves, is can God sin? or do an evil act? I believe this is impossible for Him. He is all good, pure, and righteous…He cannot go against His nature, nor would He want to. Darkness can’t exist in His light. This question leads to many more, if you believe He can lie, then he must not be completely good, which means we can’t hope for righteousness because it doesn’t exist…it’s a doubt prompting question. God can do whatever He wants, but he would never want to be unrighteous. I don’t think this view limits God, if anything it is what makes Him all-knowing and powerful, in that He is ultimately righteous, without fault or sin.

    1. There are other verses that clear this: Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Titus 1:2. Not to mention all those that proclaim the goodness of God. Even Jesus, who said,”if you see me you have seen the father.” (John 14:9b) And Jesus was without sin.

  7. Good question!
    I think the question broadly translates to whether it is possible for God to commit an evil act? How we answer the question will depend on our conception of God.
    If God’s nature is perfect then it would be impossible for God to desire, will and commit an evil act. So I would say able – no, willing – no.
    Omnipotence I would define as the ability to bring about any logically possible state of affairs. God lying would then be a logically impossible state of affair and therefore would not limit His omnipotence.

  8. 1 John 3:09, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.”

    To lie is to sin. God is not part of sin. To ask if He could lie because of His ability to do whatever He pleases, I think is using human logic. God is truth and lying is not of the truth. So lying is not even part of Who God is.

    I’ve actually been planning on writing about how humans tend to humanize God because we try to use our understanding and logic to create theories about Him based on what we know, and how we interpret scripture. But the problem is, our logic is flawed. We don’t know everything, and to use logic on topics and beings of the supernatural, when truthfully it is only speculation, I think causes more division.

    We only know so much, and I feel these kind of questions water down God in a sense. Humans want to understand Him, but they want to understand Him on their level, and God isn’t on our level. He is so far above it, for good reason. That’s my take on this 🙂

    1. Hi T.R.! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. It seems that you used a logical argument, before saying we can’t use logic to understand God. It’s interesting to ask: Is there anything we can know about God? And there are different ways we can answer this – general revelation (i.e. nature, logic, reason) and special revelation (e.g. the Bible).

      The fact is we’re always trying to understand things about God. And I think we all have intuitions about God. But I think there’s something to be said for focusing on kindness and love rather than constantly getting involved in intellectual debates, which I usually try to avoid because I think it can become a bit of a ‘power game’ with people trying to score points off one another. Perhaps you agree?

      There are some things about Christian doctrine that I really struggle with, and part of the purpose of this blog is to discuss those things. I do like to hear what other people think, and to see whether my understanding of certain things makes sense to others.

      And yes, I agree that God isn’t on our level, and I would be the first to admit that His wisdom greatly exceeds ours!

      1. I agree with you 🙂 my answer isn’t coming from a debate or an argument standpoint. Though I can see how my answer can be looked upon as such, and I feel the topic matter will draw these kinds of answers from me. I use scripture, my relationship with Christ, what He has shown me, and looking at the big picture to answer and discuss where my reasoning comes from.

        With lack of tone, it can be a little uncertain to hear how people are responding. These kinds of topics, I feel, use human logic. We try to fit God into our world of what we know, but we are part of His world, and part of His plan.

        I do definitely think we can understand some parts of God. Primarily, His love for us. That was after all one of the main missions of Jesus. Trying to reinforce to believers and sinners how much God loves us. He made us. He created the world and placed us in this world. When mankind strayed from the truth, He still provided. He had compassion on His children.

        But I think mankind struggles with wanting knowledge of things that don’t make sense, especially when it comes to God. Yet, many also struggle with faith in a similar manner because we want to know how things will happen in a particular way, and God usually doesn’t tell us these things. Instead, He wants us to trust Him, even if we are limited in our understanding.

        Scripture says His understanding is far beyond what we understand. All these incredible parts of God are so beyond us, and that’s also why I answer the way I do 🙂

        I think this desire of wanting to understand can trip us up quite easily.

        Especially when it comes to topics or questions that, I feel, can only stumble believers up rather than help us because then people start to question the scriptures, which can then lead to questioning God, and we can easily lose focus. When you speak of scripture contradicting each other, without using the context, circumstance, and time period of why it was written, and meaning behind it, it concerns me.

        We go from discussion of things to a discussion of questions, which then lead believers into trying to answer their own questions with limited knowledge and understanding. That’s why I feel like these kind of questions water God down, and stumble us because we try to focus on topics that easily appear in front of us, and God wants us to see beyond these things. He wants us to trust Him, not question Him.

        I do apologize for the long response 🙂 I tried to be thorough, and not make it sound like a debate. I love discussion, and you’ve read my posts so I’m sure you know the in-depth discussion is something I too enjoy.

  9. I found it helpful to look up the defition of “lie” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) and found the information contained therein to be quite instructive:

    Lie – intransitive verb:
    1. to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive.
    2. to create a false or misleading impression.

    The foundation of a lie, therefore, is the intention to deceive. I believe that there are examples in the Bible – specifically in the Old Testament – where God allowed people who were ALREADY deceived/hard-hearted to continue in their waywardness. Think of Eve, Pharoah/Moses, Nebuchadnezzer, etc. – but it seems like even then, though, God limits how long this happens, and is orchestrating the events of history to draw us back to Himself.

    I personally believe that this all boils down to choice. If we insist on having our own way and making bad choices, then the Lord may allow us to continue to experience the consequences of our actions. However, I do not believe that the Lord lies – as the dictionary defines the term, and as the Bible attests – because His intention is never to deceive.

    Also, because the Bible says that it is impossible for God to lie, then I believe that this statement is true. Rather than focusing on the possible constraints of His sovereignty, I simply stand on what Bible says, and trust in the knowledge that God will never do anything to compromise His character.

    Also, I must believe and accept that there are aspects of His nature that I am unable to grasp fully with my finite human mind. I suspect that all will become clear when we get to heaven, though. 🙂

      1. Keep asking these good and thought-provoking questions! Whenever you do so, it always challenges me to reassess what I believe and what evidence I can find a support this perspective.

        Iron sharpening iron and all of that. 🙂

  10. Hi Steven!

    Much of what I thought has already been said more clearly and eloquently than I could have.

    There remains one issue that may not have been covered. The theory of mind explains how we know things about other people because of our ability to “put ourselves in other people’s shoes,” and that children do not generally acquire this capacity until the age of four. The link below explains more:

    I do not agree that truth and lies are the only options, nor that telling lies is always wrong. An obvious case is when someone has just had a new hairdo and asks for your opinion of it. You might think their hair looked better before the new look. How do you answer? You could tell them the truth but does your opinion really matter? You could say, “It looks lovely,” which would be a lie. There is another option which is to reply, “Are you happy with it – that’s what matters.”

    Doctors have to make the decision whether it’s in your best interest to know the truth about a terminal illness you may have. Some people can’t handle it! I wonder if there are instances like this that may apply to God. Did God guide the doctor if he decided not to reveal the whole truth?

    Peace and love to all,


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