Is it a lie if he doesn't know I lied to him?

Question:

I have a problem this has been bothering me.

I am a Christian. I heard a brother in Christ mention something and I told him that he looked good when I thought that he did not. Should I tell him the truth, even if he did not know that I did not mean it?

Is what I told him a lie if I did not mean what I said in the first place?

Should I tell a brother that I lied to him if they do not know that I lied to him?

Should I tell him that I lied to him if the lie does not hurt him?

Please help me. I sure would appreciate it. I will be waiting for your answers. Thank you.


Answer:

Perhaps this would be easier if we compared it to a more tangible sin.

Stealing is wrong because you take an item belonging to another person without permission. It doesn't become wrong only when the person notices that he has a missing item. It doesn't become wrong only if you intended to steal.

Lying is telling someone something that you did not mean or do believe to be the truth. In a sense, it is stealing the knowledge of truth from another person. The victim's lack of knowledge that you lied to him doesn't change the sin. Your intentions do not change your sin.

Again, when you repent, you return what you stole, even if the person hasn't figured out that he missing something. You return what you stole, even if the amount you stole doesn't really affect the person.

In general, you should tell people the truth when you repent of your sin. Sometimes that is not possible because the sin happened so long ago that you don't know where the person is anymore or you might not even remember who it was that you lied to. It is for your sake, not the victim that you give the truth. And it is another lie to claim that any sin doesn't hurt the victim.

Truth should be told politely and with consideration of another person's feelings. If telling the truth would have hurt, then the simple answer is to remain quiet. Everything does not need to be said.