(Lev. 6:2-7; 19:11, 12) And a person presenting false testimony was to receive the punishment that he desired to inflict upon another by means of his lies. (Deut. 19:15-21) God’s view of malicious lying, as reflected in the Law, has not changed. Those desiring to gain his approval cannot engage in the practice of lying. (Ps. 5:6; Prov. 20:19; Col. 3:9, 10; 1 Tim. 3:11; Rev. 21:8, 27; 22:15) They cannot be living a lie, claiming to love God while hating their brother. (1 John 4:20, 21) For playing false to the holy spirit by lying, Ananias and his wife lost their lives.—Acts 5:1-11.
However, persons who are momentarily overreached in telling a lie do not automatically become guilty of an unforgivable sin. The case of Peter, in denying Jesus three times, illustrates that, if a person is truly repentant, God will forgive him.—Matt. 26:69-75.
While malicious lying is definitely condemned in the Bible, this does not mean that a person is under obligation to divulge truthful information to people who are not entitled to it. Jesus Christ counseled: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, neither throw your pearls before swine, that they may never trample them under their feet and turn around and rip you open.” (Matt. 7:6) That is why Jesus on certain occasions refrained from giving full information or direct answers to certain questions when doing so could have brought unnecessary harm. (Matt. 15:1-6; 21:23-27; John 7:3-10) Evidently the course of Abraham, Isaac, Rahab and Elisha in misdirecting or withholding full facts from nonworshipers of Jehovah must be viewed in the same light.—Gen. 12:10-19; chap. 20; 26:1-10; Josh. 2:1-6; Jas. 2:25; 2 Ki. 6:11-23.
Jehovah God allows an “operation of error” to go to persons who prefer falsehood “that they may get to believing the lie” rather than the good news about Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 2:9-12) This principle is illustrated by what happened centuries earlier in the case of Israelite King Ahab. Lying prophets assured Ahab of success in war against Ramoth-gilead, while Jehovah’s prophet Micaiah foretold disaster. As revealed in vision to Micaiah, Jehovah allowed a spirit creature to become a “deceptive spirit” in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets. That is to say, this spirit creature exercised his power upon them so that they spoke, not truth, but what they themselves wanted to say and what Ahab wanted to hear from them. Though forewarned, Ahab preferred to be fooled by their lies and paid for it with his life.—1 Ki. 22:1-38; 2 Chron. chap. 18.
The principle of life or living; life is defined as the animate existence, or term of animate existence, of an individual. As to earthly, physical life, things possessing life have three distinguishing manifestations: growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally. The Hebrew word used in the Scriptures is hhay·yahʹ and the Greek word is zo·eʹ. The Hebrew word neʹphesh and the Greek word psy·kheʹ, both meaning “soul,” are also employed to refer to life, not in the abstract sense, but to life as a person or animal. (Compare the words “soul” and “life,” as used at Job 10:1; Psalm 66:9; Proverbs 3:22.) Vegetation has life, the life principle operating in it, but not life as a soul.
JEHOVAH GOD THE SOURCE
Life has always existed, because Jehovah God is the living God, the Fountain of life, and he has no beginning or end of existence. (Jer. 10:10; Dan. 6:20, 26; John 6:57; 2 Cor. 3:3; 6:16; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 Tim. 1:17; Ps. 36:9; Jer. 17:13) The first of his creations was given life, namely, his only-begotten Son, the Word. (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15) Through this Son, other living angelic sons of God were created. (Job 38:4-7; Col. 1:16, 17) Later, the physical universe was brought into existence (Gen. 1:1, 2), and on the third of earth’s creative “days” the first forms of physical life: grass, vegetation and fruit trees. On the fifth day, living earthly souls, sea animals and winged flying creatures, were created, and on the sixth day, land animals and, finally, man.—Gen. 1:11-13, 20-23, 24-31; Acts 17:25; see CREATION; DAY.
Consequently, life on earth did not have to wait for some chance combination of chemicals to occur under certain exact conditions. Such a thing has never yet been observed, and, in fact, is impossible. Life on earth came to be as the result of a direct command of Jehovah God the Source of life and by the direct action of his Son in carrying out that command. Only life begets life. The Bible account tells us in each instance that the thing created brought forth offspring in its likeness, or, “according to its kind.” (Gen. 1:12, 21, 25; 5:3) Scientists have found that there is indeed discontinuity between the different ‘kinds,’ and, except for the question of origin, this has been the chief obstacle to their theory of evolution.—See KIND.
Life force and breath
In earthly creatures or “souls” there is both the active life force or “spirit” that animates them, and the breath that sustains that life force. Both spirit (life force) and breath are provisions from God, and he can destroy life by taking either away. (Ps. 104:29; Isa. 42:5) At the time of the Flood animals and humans were drowned; their breath was cut off and the force of life was extinguished. It died out. “Everything in which the breath of the force of life was active in its nostrils [literally, “in which the breath of the spirit (or, active force) of life was”] of all that were on the dry ground died.”—Gen. 7:22, NW, 1953 ed., ftn.; compare Young’s Translation; see SPIRIT.
All things having life, either spiritual or fleshly, have an organism or body. Life itself is impersonal, incorporeal, being merely the life principle. In discussing the kind of body with which resurrected persons will come back, the apostle Paul explains that those created for different environments have different bodies. As for those having life on earth, he says: “Not all flesh is the same flesh, but there is one of mankind, and there is another flesh of cattle, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.” He says also that “there are heavenly bodies, and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly bodies is one sort, and that of the earthly bodies is a different sort.”—1 Cor. 15:39, 40.
Regarding the difference in the flesh of various earthly bodies, the Encyclopædia Britannica says: “Another feature is the chemical individuality everywhere manifest, for each distinct type of organism seems to have some distinctive protein of its own, and some characteristic rate or rhythm of metabolism. Thus under the general quality of persistence amid unceasing metabolism, there is a triad of facts: (1) the building-up that compensates for the breaking-down of proteins, (2) the occurrence of these proteins in a colloidal state and (3) their specificity from type to type.” [Italics ours.]—1942 ed., Vol. 14, p. 42.
TRANSMISSION OF LIFE FORCE
The life force in creatures, being started into activity by Jehovah in the first of each kind (for example, in the first human pair), could then be passed on by the procreative process to offspring. Describing the process, the Encyclopædia Britannica reports: “The life cycle of individual multicellular organisms, . . . for example, a fly, a bird or a man, is typically divisible into five biologically differentiated, and usually distinct, phases [the first of which is] as follows: (a) The formation of the zygote, which is the individual, by the union of ovum and spermatozoön in