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Scripture says that the devil does not hold the truth, for there is no truth in him and that when he lies, he speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44):

Jhn 8:44 NLT - 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

But when he spoke to Jesus during the 40 days in the wilderness, he didn't speak a lie when he quoted scripture about that God will command His angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone (Math 4:5):

Mat 4:5-7 NLT - 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, 'He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone.'" 7 Jesus responded, "The Scriptures also say, 'You must not test the LORD your God.'"

How is one to reconcile this with him being called father of lies?

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The serpent in Eden is said to be more "subtle" or "clever" than the beasts of the field. We are warned elsewhere that he disguises himself as a "messenger of light":

2Co 11:13-15 NKJV - 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

"Prince" Charles Spurgeon comments on this passage and shows the almost imperceptible change that the devil makes to the scripture in order to entrap the Messiah:

Matthew 4:5-6 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written,—

Here he plays with the Word of God, for the devil can quote Scripture when it suits his purpose to do so: “It is written,” —

Matthew 4:6. He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

The devil did not quote correctly from Psalms 91:11-12; he left out the most important words: “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways,” but it was not Christ’s way to cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. Jesus therefore answered Satan’s misquotation with a true quotation.

Matthew 4:7. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

I know some people, who earn their living in employments which are very hazardous to their immortal souls. They are in the midst of evil, yet they tell me that God can keep them in safety there. I know that he can, but I also know that we have no right to go, voluntarily, where we are surrounded by temptation. If your calling is the wrong one, and you are continually tempted in it, you may not presume upon the goodness of God to keep you, for it is your business to get as far as you can from that which will lead you into sin. God does not put his servants on the pinnacle of the temple; it is the devil who puts them there; and if they ever are there, the best thing they can do is to get down as quickly and as safely as they can; but they must not cast themselves down, they must look to him who alone can bring them down safely. With some professors, presumption is a very common sin. They will go into worldly amusements and all sorts of frivolities, and say, “Oh, we can be Christians, and yet go there!” Can you? It may be that you can be hypocrites, and go there; that is far easier than going there as Christians.

So to answer the question, the devil did not, in fact, speak the truth to Jesus but rather attempted to sabotage the scriptures to deceive.

"Scripture twisting" is putting "spin" on them so that they do not faithfully represent what the author is saying and is the preoccupation of many:

Psa 56:5 NKJV - 5 All day they twist my words; All their thoughts are against me for evil.

2Pe 3:16 NKJV - 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

When legendary sinner W. C. Fields was asked why he, a drunk and a womanizer was reading the Bible he responded, "I'm looking for loopholes"! Well spoken!

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    Nice answer, Ruminator. Might also note that the serpent changed God's word into a lie in Gen. 3 4 by adding one little word - the word "not". Adding a word, leaving out a word, and the truth becomes twisted into a lie. – Gina Jan 31 at 13:39
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    The most amazing example is this: homoiousios vs homoousios - the removal of one letter!: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homoousion – Ruminator Jan 31 at 15:01
  • From what was ι (iota) "removed" from? – Sola Gratia Jan 31 at 18:42
  • From the intent of Hebrews 1:3: Heb 1:3 VUL - 3 qui cum sit splendor gloriae et figura substantiae eius portansque omnia verbo virtutis suae purgationem peccatorum faciens sedit ad dexteram Maiestatis in excelsis – Ruminator Jan 31 at 18:45
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    Thanks, Ruminator - good answer. When I read the question I was about to answer in an almost identical fashion - but got there first. So, +1. – Mac's Musings Jan 31 at 22:03
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Because The Devil told the very first lie in Eden contradicting what Jehovah said about eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad as God said they would die!:-

NWT Genesis 2:17 "But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you WILL certainly die.”

NWT Genesis 3:4 "At this the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will NOT die.

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In addition to Satan missing out one important line of text in his partial quote from Psalm 91:11-12, there is another point. I will not elaborate on that missing line as Ruminator has covered that, with help from Charles H. Spurgeon.

The other point that shows how Satan did not speak truth to Jesus in that instance is seen with the opening question with which he introduced that second temptation. It was a repeat of how he introduced the first temptation. Satan began:

"If you are the Son of God..." (verses 3 and 6).

Satan knew full well that before Jesus went into the wilderness, God the Father had spoken from heaven at the baptism of Jesus, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17) This was confirmation that, at the start of Jesus' public ministry, God had identified him as the Son of God, approved of God.

This means that when Satan did not quote those words but chose to cast doubt on whether God had actually spoken such approval, Satan was repeating the deception he uttered in the Garden of Eden - "Is it really so that God said...?" (Genesis 3:1)

Satan was trying to put doubt into Jesus' mind about him actually being God's approved Son. Satan followed that up with a partial quote from one of the Psalms designed to achieve success in tempting Christ to abuse God's word.

That further proves Satan was misquoting, and misapplying scripture, with deceptive tactics designed to stumble Jesus at the very start of his public ministry. Of course, he failed, for Christ knew scripture better than the devil did, being the very Word of God. That may be why William Perkins (Puritan, 1558-1602) said,

“Don’t believe the devil, even when he’s telling the truth.”

  • This is very insightful – WnGatRC456 Feb 4 at 16:21
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A lie often does involve the truth, in which anyone who takes the truth out of CONTEXT or twists it, is considered a liar. We see this every day in opinionated Media and social networks. They intentionally twist the truth or take things out of extreme context, to manipulate the people. Opinionated news media is also guilty of this. They tend not to tell the full truth, but literally distort it by only showing or telling fragments of the story and intentionally leave out other important parts to purposely mislead people. That is why the devil, who quoted scripture is considered a liar. He tried to do the same thing to Christ thinking he lacked insight... but Christ wasn't a sheep, he was a shepherd. There you have it

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