Christians have been accused of twisting Scripture and tweaking the text in order defend God who tells his faithful to lie for him, and not only so, but sometimes this leads to the death of the one being deceived. In other words, Christians use deception, just as our God does. First, we use deception upon one another, presumably to keep the faithful devoted to God. Secondly, we practice deception against others through evangelism in order to attract unsuspecting people into the fold. Support for such an accusation comes from using certain Scriptures out of context in order to paint an evil and disturbing portrait of the Lord. For example, according to this argument, God is not above using lying spirits to deceive and kill unsuspecting folks (1Kings 22:22).
What can we say of these things? First of all, it cannot be wrong for the Creator and Judge of the world to judge evil. We certainly judge what we consider evil and often seek to hold our leaders responsible for breaking the law of the land. Therefore, we need to understand the context of the Scripture mentioned above. Simply saying that God had done wrong isn’t proof that he had actually done something immoral.
In 1Kings 22 we are told that King Ahab of Israel wanted to go to war with the king of Syria over Ramoth-Giliad (1Kings 22:3, 39). He was allied with King Jehoshaphat of Judah and wanted Judah to help him in his effort to regain Ramoth-Giliad, but when Jehoshaphat asked Ahab to inquire of a prophet of the Lord, the king of Israel said that he hated this prophet (Micaiah), because he always prophesied bad things against him (1Kings 22:8). This should alert us to the fact that the Lord was informing Ahab of evil things he had done, but Ahab sought to separate himself from bearing the responsibility of his evil deeds. What Ahab wanted were prophets who would agree with him and would foretell good things about his plans. Ahab was an evil king in rebellion against the Lord (1Kings 16:30). He considered the prophets of God his enemies and sold himself to do wicked things (1Kings 21:20).
What occurs in 1Kings 22 is God’s judgment against Ahab. Knowing that he spent his power and authority doing wicked things against the God of Israel, it is perfectly legitimate for God to judge Ahab for the evil he had done. How did God go about this? The prophets Ahab had chosen told him to go up against Syria for the Lord had given him into his hands. However, Micaiah, the prophet of the Lord, told Ahab that he would die in his effort to reclaim Ramoth-Giliad (1Kings 22:17). Moreover, he told Ahab that the Lord permitted a lying spirit to control the sayings of the prophets the king preferred (1Kings 22:20-23). Nevertheless, the king imprisoned the prophet of God who spoke the truth (1Kings 22:26-27)!
Can God be blamed for what was done here? God, the Creator and Judge of all, passed judgment upon Ahab, and he was to die in battle for the wicked things he had done during his reign. Nevertheless, God also provided a way of escape, if Ahab repented, for God told the king through the Lord’s own prophet that the king would die in battle, if he went to war. Ahab still had a choice—either believe the lying prophets, whom the Lord’s prophet claimed lied to him, or believe the Lord. Ahab imprisoned the one who told him the truth and went to his death at the word of the lying prophets who only told him what he wanted to hear. How was this unjust? How can God be blamed for judging righteously against the wicked things done by Ahab throughout his reign over Israel?
Yes, but God employed a lying spirit to do his work, showing God is not above using lies to accomplish his ends. How are we able to judge God for such a thing when we also use international spies to influence foreign governments to accomplish our ends? The Scriptures tell us that God works all things together for good. This would mean that he works with the evil that men do. It does not mean that God created the evil that men do, but that God overruled the power of evil to destroy and used it, rather, to bring about a desired end. Earlier, we see God using the obstinacy of Pharaoh to bring about his judgment against Egypt for the evil it had done. In the New Testament Paul shows us that the wrath of God is accomplished by God withdrawing from men and permitting them to do as they please (Romans 1:24, 26, 28). This has always been God’s method of punishing both Israel and the nations. He simply withdraws his guiding influence and gives them over to do what their own lusts compel them to do (Psalm 81:12; cf. 2Chronicles 30:7 and Acts 7:42). King Ahab simply did what he wanted to do. That was his punishment!