How Bad Was Rahab’s Lie?

In chapter two of the book of Joshua we meet a prostitute named Rahab, who lived in Jericho.  When Joshua sent spies into Jericho, Rahab hid them and lied about it.  Bible commentators have a lot of things to say about Rahab’s lie:  Perhaps a lie isn’t as bad a sin as letting the spies be caught.  Maybe it was ok because she did it for a good reason.  Or it was ok because it was somehow in faith.  These explanations should worry us, because if we accept any of them, we can be tempted to apply the same principles anywhere we see fit.  Should we rank sins, and allow ourselves to “only” do the lesser ones?  Or only do them when we think it is in the best interest of the church or our country?  Should murder or other crimes be allowed when we think it is for the greater good of mankind?

I think what really makes the story of Rahab tricky isn’t whether what she did was a sin, but that we know – in general – that God works through sinners, but we don’t like to think that through to the specifics.  We don’t want the sins of the sinner to happen quite so close to God’s action of working through sinners.  It makes us a little uncomfortable, but the truth is that God has only worked through one sinless person ever – Jesus.  Every other person He has used has sinned, and God’s will has always come out ahead.

The message of Rahab’s lie might not be that sin is sometimes ok.  It might be that no matter how bad our sin, Christ’s sacrifice is greater.  Without this being true, there is no gospel, but somehow it still makes us uncomfortable at times and we want an explanation for God using sinners that just isn’t there, except the explanation of the cross.

Sometimes God’s grace overwhelms our sin, and we succeed in spite of ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we did the right thing.  Thank God for His love and let His grace overwhelm you today!  Don’t look for explanations or excuses, but kneel before the cross where sins of all kinds and degrees were paid for.

One thought on “How Bad Was Rahab’s Lie?

  1. Good overall point (that Christs’ sacrifice is greater than all our sins). Not so great example in my opinion. Rehab’s lie was an extension of her hiding the spies (an act of trusting God that risked her life). She then becomes one of David’s ancestors and then one of Christ’s. The Hebrew midwives also lied about how they spared the baby boys, and then God blessed them and gave them families of their own. If I hid Jews in occupied Europe during the Holocaust am I not “lying” to those in authority? Could these examples be used to justify sinful lies? Of course, but that doesn’t mean we should find fault where God didn’t. The article was short but oversimplified.


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