Is God Able to Lie?

A Bible on a lectern in a church with a statue of Jesus in the background

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.

39 Comments on “Is God Able to Lie?

  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!

    Liked by 3 people

    • 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!

      Liked by 2 people

      • 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.

        Liked by 1 person

  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

    Liked by 3 people

    • 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! 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  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.

    Liked by 1 person

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