Making God a Liar

Once I had a discussion with a young man who said he didn’t believe in God. He even claimed God was a liar! This man tried proving his point by referring to Genesis 2:17, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Because Adam didn’t physically die the same day he partook of the forbidden fruit, this supposedly makes God a liar.

People who don’t want to believe the Bible often select verses taken out of context in attempts to prove there are contradictions. Jesus said in Matthew 18:17, “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” Before we address the accusation that God lied in Genesis 2:17, let’s look at these verses…

“God is not a man, that He should lie…” - Numbers 23:19

“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.” - 1 Samuel 15:29
He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true.” – John 3:33

“Let God be true but every man a liar” – Romans 3:4

“in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,” - Titus 1:2

“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 6:18

Men also accuse God of lying by their actions…

“If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” - 1 John 1:10

“He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.” – 1 John 5:10

So how should we respond to claims that God lied in Genesis 2:17?  Dr. Terry Mortenson points out in his web site www.answersingenesis.org the phrase “you shall surely die” can be literally translated from the Hebrew Biblical text as “dying you shall die.”  Dr. Mortenson further states, “The Hebrew wording of Genesis 2:17 allows for a time lapse between the instantaneous spiritual death on that sad day of disobedience and the later physical death (which certainly did happen, just as God said, but for Adam it was 930 years later). As Scripture consistently teaches, both kinds of death (spiritual and physical) are the consequence of Adam’s rebellion.”

Verbs in the Hebrew language can be used either in a causative or permissive sense. This would explain why it appears some Scriptures say God causes men to lie such as 1 Kings 22:23, “Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.”  

The bottom line is that God is not a liar and certainly doesn’t expect His people to do so.  But no matter how hard one may try to be truthful, men in their unregenerate state are liars especially those who do not acknowledge their need of the Savior. Jesus points out they are (by default) following the father of lies – the devil. (John 8:44)

“Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.” - 1 John 2:22

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