Not all Lying is Sin and it can be Good
I am not convinced every lie is evil or sinful while I do believe that in most cases, bearing false witness is a sin. Too often we take a statement and apply a wooden literalism to it. I think Jesus painfully showed that compassion and a common sense application of the law is always better than a wooden literalism. The question is why are you doing it?
If I were hiding Jews in my attic and I told the gestapo there were no Jews in my house, am I sinning or doing what is right? I mean that should end the discussion right there. Clearly a lie can be a morally good thing depending on the circumstances. But in most cases, using it to cheat a neighbor out of something, cheat on a spouse or as a witness to punish someone who doesn’t deserve it is bad.
I find the universe being created with the appearance of age unsatisfying but I don’t agree it makes God a liar. The truth is Genesis 1-3 is mythology. Trying to make a myth history forces people to make absurd apologetics harmonizations. We might as well say the earth was made two minutes ago. All this to pretty much justify the historicity of a fairy tale. There are three different creation accounts in the Old Testament that all borrow from surrounding mythology. Their truth is theological, not fact-literal scientific.
Jesus appears to have lied
Also, despite all the mental gymnastics and apologetic ingenuity, the Gospel of John does seem to present Jesus as lying. But since its virtually impossibly for most Christians to imagine this occurring, there will always be a slew of excuses or attempts to explain it away:
John 7:10 But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret.
Jesus could have just said I will go alone but he didn’t and ended up going and teaching anyway IIRC. I won’t say it doesn’t bug me but in the end I am not sure what to make of it. It is John’s reframing of Jesus so I guess that softens it a bit for me. But in the end what Jesus did may be understandable. He didn’t hurt anyone. He wasn’t doing it to make money or anything like that. He just needed to do his own thing for a bit.
The OT commonly depicts God using a spirit of falsehood
Sure there are places which say that God does not lie (Numbers 23:19, 1 Sam 15:29, Tit 1:2, Heb 6:18). Many Church fathers and contemporary Christians think it is utterly impossible for God to tell a falsehood. It seems to me this philosophical reasoning is clouding our interpretation of God as the Old Testament does seemingly portray God as lying and/or engaging in deception in multiple instances:
With Moses and the Pharaoh Exodus 3:16-22. In Deuteronomistic History (usually in battle): 2 Sam 17:14, 1 Kgs 22:19-23, 2 Kgs 6:15-20, 7:6-7. Purpose to offer sacrifice or anoint a new king? Is Saul the victim of divine deception? (1 Sam 16:1-5.)
John Anderson in Jacob and the Divine Tricker wrote the following (pg 20):
“Esther Hamori has recently argued for the presence of a much more robust tradition in the Hebrew Bible associated with the ‘spirit of falsehood’. She isolates a complex of eight texts–five of which directly refer to the tradition (1 kgs 22:19-23; 1 Sam 16:14-23; 18:10-12; 19:9-10; Judg 9:23-24; 2 kgs 19:7; Isa 19:13-14) and three of which evoke the tradition or display knowledge of its existence (Isa 29:9-10; Job 4:12-21; Hose 4:12-5:4)–that depict the ‘spirit of falsehood’ as coming from YHWH, often in the form of a deceiving messenger from the heavenly court. Out of this aggregate of texts, seven of the eight see the spirit of falsehood as originating from God. Hamori has deftly shown that the biblical tradition equating the deity with falsehood and deception is more widespread than many interpreters have recognized.”
I grabbed Harmoni’s article from the Catholic Biblical Quarterly (2010) and it states that all eight instances show God bringing “destructive justice through deception to those who are already in the wrong.”
Maybe that softens it a bit but apparently divine deception can have altruistic motives and may fit into Divine Justice. Much of the OT does not have a problem with God using deception to serve his purposes if he so desires.
I have no issue with God lying if He thinks it serves His will. If Jesus felt he needed to go somewhere in secret for a while and thought his brothers would have gave him away, that is his prerogative.