Is a Half-Truth a Lie?

I have written about this subject before from a different angle, but I think it is time to revisit. People often tell a “half-truth” for various reasons. They don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. They want to avoid conflict. The list goes on. What does God think about telling a “half-truth” or white lie? 

Acts 5 records the story of a husband and wife named Ananias and Sapphira. They sold land and gave only a portion to the Lord. Ananias brought a portion and thought he would get away with not giving the whole. He was confronted and died. Imagine someone dropping dead in a worship service for only bringing a portion of what is God’s back to Him. Then Sapphira is more directing in her lying, and she dies too. 

If there is supposedly such a thing is a half-truth, shouldn’t there be a half-lie? Both sound pretty absurd. Either you lie or you tell the truth. I’m trying to imagine God telling me, “Matthew, you lied for a really good reason so I’ll let you slide.”

I’m not saying that everyone who lies is going to drop dead immediately. When you read Acts 5, you see that they were guilty of lying to the Holy Spirit. When you and I lie, we violate God’s commands. We are sinning against God first then others. 

We must choose our words carefully. Read Matthew 12:36-37. Every word will say will stand in judgment before the Lord Jesus. Let that put us in perspective.


10 thoughts on “Is a Half-Truth a Lie?

  1. In Acts 5, Ananias and his wife lied to the Holy Spirit and died. Yes, to lie is to sin. But let’s check out the lies of Rahab when she saved the spies (Joshua 2:4). Would we now say that if she had told the truth the spies will still be alive?

    My (personal) opinion is that to lie is not good but there are certain situations that God has used to deliver His people that involved lies but that’s is not a reason to lie. So, God knows who to judge in every circumstance. In Rahab’s situation she lied to save the righteous and not to sin against God.

    Again, there are certain things that we see as lies but they are not, for example, my wife may not be in good shape and my daughter asks me, ‘dad, what about mum?’ I would simply tell her that her mum is OK because if I tell her she is not she might breakdown as well. Apart from that I am equally not speaking negative things about my wife. The words we speak they are life and spirit. In this situation I don’t think is a lie. We need to use wisdom when saying things.

    To be frank, this message is sensitive. God bless you.

  2. I believe many people “lie” or say “half truths” because they might feel they are hurting another’s feelings OR they are concerned about what other’s might think of them, etc.?
    I think we must also consider our intentions when we speak. If our intentions are good and not to hurt another, then that’s the first thing we should be considering. Ask yourself, are you hurting or helping? Sometimes it’s just best to stay quiet.
    This is an interesting point and something to think about. Thanks for sharing!

  3. So then, we see motive is possibly also a factor to determine if a statement is a lie. We could also say that about God, for he doesn’t always explain or complete his revelation, instead, holding his cards like playing a poker game. As humans we simply are not as precise as we would like to think we are. Much is the case, say with numbers when we round them off: that is not a lie, but it sin’t exact either. It’s a working solution is all. We see this also with limitations of language. Our words often are not precise enough to say it is the truth. Okay, now I think I made my point but too, I believe all of you also made fantastic observations. A difficult task to determine. Thank you for your posts and replies.

  4. the grey areas – the times when a lie is done to protect with godly intent I believe are covered by grace but the intent to advance oneself or do injury to another person isn’t grey, half truth or full lie it is a selfish act – my 2 cents but it is a Canadian 2 cents so it isn’t worth as much as an American 2 cents

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