Is it acceptable to lie about being in a communist country to teach the gospel?


Hello!  I was just reading your message about lying.  I will start out by saying that I am a firm believer that lying is a sin!  And maybe this question will sound like I'm a bit of an oxymoron, but here goes.  If you were in a situation, like missions work in a place like China -- you know, it's illegal to preach the gospel outside the sanctioned churches there.  Anyway, you know what you're doing is illegal in a country.  Say that you're preaching the gospel, you are caught, and taken in for questioning. You are asked what you were doing, what your main purpose is for being in the country, and the like.  You were spreading God's Word and your main purpose for being there was to do so. Is it OK, in this case, to deceive or lie?

I'm not asking if I should come out and let them know that I'm a Christian, but do you think it's OK to not tell them what you're doing and, in turn, lying?  I hope I'm making sense!  I'm going to do a study on it myself, but seeing that you've obviously studied this out, I thought I would ask for your input.


"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

It is interesting that this passage starts out with condemnation against being cowardly and ends with condemnation against all liars. "All" does not leave very many out, does it? Probably the most common excuse people give for telling lies is that they were afraid. They were afraid of what might happen if they told the truth. Or, they were afraid of how another might react to the truth. The lies then are an act of cowardice.

I am aware of the work going on in China. I have a large number of friends and acquaintances who go there for opportunities to teach the gospel. And once in a while, they get tossed out because someone in authority there objected. But, the work continues and has been growing. It also happens in other countries where the penalties are more severe, such as death in Muslim run countries.

Those that I know don't tell lies, just as you have seen in the New Testament that those arrested for teaching the gospel are not afraid to state what they have been doing and why. They often considered these trials as further opportunities to teach. "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak" (Colossians 4:2-4).

Since it is hard to get into those countries, most of those I know find other reasons for going and then take advantage of teaching while they are there. They don't make a spectacle of their efforts in teaching, they take reasonable precautions not to be noticed by those in opposition, but they don't slow down either.

You see, the argument you are presenting is that sin is acceptable if we decide that "good" will come of it. It is a false premise. Sin never brings about true good. "And why not say, "Let us do evil that good may come"? --as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just" (Romans 3:8).

And what is the worse that can happen for doing what is right and admitting it? "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:10-16).

I can think of no better cause for which to suffer or die. "And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ" (Acts 5:40-42).


Thanks so much for your response!  I completely agree with everything you've said.  I appreciate the time you put into your response and for all the Scriptures.  After reading this I actually feel foolish for asking.  I've never questioned be dishonest about anything before. I know it's wrong,  but since I went on this past China missions trip, several of my friends have asked me what I would say if I was faced with opposition. My answer was, "I don't really know."  I have been questioned as to why I was in China and I would say 'tourism.' We actually make a point of doing some sightseeing while we are there.

I guess what brought on my question was that recently a friend of mine was arrested and interrogated in China.  That's a little scary, although I really don't fear them (believe it or not).  My main concern is that I don't want to get deported and lose time working in China. I know this sounds unreal, but nothing else really scares me.

Anyway, I'm rambling!  You definitely answered my question (very well!).  Thanks again for your time!

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