Titus 1:2 tells us flatly that, “God cannot lie.” While Paul here states one of the greatest truths about God’s character, many seem to have a problem with it. After all, don’t we believe that God can do anything? Doesn’t the Bible teach that God is all-powerful?
Indeed it does. God is the Creator of all things (Gen. 1:1-27) and is the One who sustains the very laws of nature (Hebrews 1:1-3). God is the only self-sufficient Being in the universe. Everything and everyone else (plants, animals, humans, and angelic beings) depends on Him for existence and survival (Acts 17:24-28). God is indeed all-powerful.
Why, then, does an omnipotent God tell us through inspiration that He cannot lie? We must look to His character to find the answer. You see, everything God does and says is truth (John 8:32; John 17:17). In fact, He Himself IS truth (John 14:6). Therefore, to say that God cannot lie is to say that God cannot be something other than God! It is one thing to say that Bill cannot go to the store, while it is quite another thing to say that Bill cannot be Jim. Bill does not, nor will he ever be able to possess the character and personality of Jim. Likewise, God cannot lie because to do so would mean that He would cease to possess the character and personality that makes Him uniquely God. Let’s examine the implications of a God whose character is such that He cannot lie:
Morality is not subjective — These days it’s popular to believe that the “ends justify the means” where moral behavior is concerned. The Bible rejects this thinking (Jer. 10:23). God’s law did not come from an authority higher than Himself (1 Tim. 6:15), and neither is His law determined subjectively. God did not arbitrarily decide that behaviors like lying and adultery are wrong. The reason they are wrong is because they are in conflict with and an affront to His character! John says that, “he who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). If we expect our moral behavior to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31), then we must look at His character revealed in Scripture to determine what is right and wrong! Ethics is not situational. Right and wrong are determined by who God is, and lying is wrong because it is opposite of His very nature (Titus 1:2).
Promises can be believed — When God makes an unconditional promise, it is impossible for Him to break it. We Christians anchor our entire hope in God’s perfect character. Concerning our promises, the Hebrews writer says that, “because God could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself” (Heb. 6:13). God is going to keep His promises to Christians because it is His nature to do so. What a contrast to other world religions! An educated Muslim scholar once remarked, “I fear that even though I have shown faithfulness to Islam, at the end of my life, Allah may choose to condemn me anyway.” One important difference between Allah and the God of Christianity is that Allah is capable of lying, but Christians can, with utmost assurance, believe in God’s promises (Heb. 6:13-18).
Trials can be overcome — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). God will not allow us to reach our “breaking point” where trials are concerned (1 Cor. 10:13). We know this is true because God cannot lie. He has promised that He, “will never leave us nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). Because God cannot lie, no problem exists that He and I can’t handle together (Phil. 2:13). His strength works through me (2 Cor. 12:7-10), and I can overcome all things by His power (Rev. 12:11). Thanks be to God that HE is the standard of right and wrong, that HE can be believed, and that HE will help us through every storm of life!!! — JB