No Oaths Needed
Praise the Lord and greeting’s in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I trust that everyone had a great time yesterday on Christmas day as we celebrated the birth of Jesus. We had a wonderful service yesterday morning then a time of fellowship and refreshments, now as we begin a new week we will also begin a new study called No Oaths Needed.
No Oaths Needed
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Jesus calls us to be truthful in all of our communications.
Fact or Fiction
Games are designed to entertain, but how many games are built on our ability to deceive the competition? There are many varieties of a game where one participant tell things that are either true or false about himself or herself, and the others have to guess which is a lie. In another game participants write three statements about themselves. Two statements are true and another is false. The strategy is to phrase the lie in such a way that it could be true but to word a true statement in such a manner that it sounds as if it should be false. The person who correctly identifies the most lies wins.
While the games might be innocent in themselves, should we be concerned that we may be teaching deception skills and practicing methods to hide the truth?
A local news radio station features a weekly broadcast called Fact or Fiction. It involves presenting some lesser-known trivia about a person who has been in the news during the week. Co-hosts of the show must guess if the statements revealed about the subject are fact or fiction. Some sound incredulous but often are true. Other statements sound as if they should be true but are fiction.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture where it is becoming increasingly more difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. We find it harder to distinguish truth from lies. As Christians, let our words be true and let deception be put away from us.
- THE OLD COVENANT TRADITION
- IDENTIFYING THE HUMAN BONDAGE—UNTRUTHFULNESS
- Personal Problems Result
- Relational Problems Result
- Moral Problems Result
- Spiritual Problems Result
- Life Problems Result
- THE TRANSFORMING INITIATIVE—DISCIPLINE THE TONGUE
- Speak the Truth
- Tame the Tongue
Contemplating the Topic
In this influential body of Christ’s teaching, Jesus taught with amazing clarity and authority. The Sermon on the Mount was not intended to nullify or replace the commandments but to focus on them and use them as a foundation for the truths Jesus spoke. He had not come to destroy the law but to fulfill its purpose. He went on to say, “One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17–18).
Jesus addressed the principle of truthfulness in all areas of our lives. Prevailing thought in the time of Jesus considered oaths to God to be more important than vows to others. Lies might be excused in normal conversation and interaction with the community. However, Jesus declared that one’s word should always be trustworthy, and honesty should pervade all communication.
A trustworthy person speaks the truth. Honesty in conversation should always be an attribute of the Christian, and truthfulness should be most highly valued. No oath is needed if a person is always truthful.
Searching the Scriptures
- THE OLD COVENANT TRADITION
Beyond the law of Moses were long-standing oral teachings and traditions that developed over time and became synonymous with the commandments. Pharisees held these “traditions of the elders” as equal to the written commandments of the Torah as illustrated in a confrontation with Jesus over the disciples’ eating without washing their hands. In Matthew 15 (parallel passage in Mark 7) Jesus answered the accusations of the Pharisees with a question: “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3).
In His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus exposed some of the traditions that had been added to the commandments. He condemned those who were “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men” (Mark 7:7–8).
Some of these traditions were addressed in the Sermon on the Mount. In each one Jesus made a statement designating a commonly taught tradition by saying, “You have heard from old time,” or “It has been said.” It should be noted that Jesus was not negating the Law but rather reinforcing the commandments by refuting the traditions that had brought confusion to the commandments and returning the attention of the people to the spirit behind the Law.
The first was concerning the commandment against murder. Apparently the Pharisees permitted one to express anger as long as he did not take a life. Jesus countered this tradition by saying, “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22). He went beyond the sin of murder to teach respect for one another and encourage guarding one’s speech toward another. Jesus reminded His listeners that being angry with someone can lead to homicide or to a court of judgment for violence against another. Jesus reinforced the teaching of another commandment when He taught them to avoid anger, which may also prevent taking a life. “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him” (Leviticus 19:17).
Jesus addressed another tradition of old: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy” (Matthew 5:43). Jesus affirmed the commandments when He taught, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
In each setting, Jesus expanded His listeners’ understanding of the intent of the Law and exposed the corruption of teaching from the “traditions of the elders.” Another Jewish tradition was “Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths” (Matthew 5:33). What does it mean to “forswear” in this context? It is to swear falsely. A more modern synonym is perjury.
In an attempt to undo the deceptive practice of permissible perjury, Jesus commanded that the people refrain from oaths: “Swear not at all” (Matthew 5:34). He explained that all oaths, whether made by Heaven, or Earth, or Jerusalem, or even our own heads, ultimately refer back to God. Rather than swearing an oath, we should speak the truth and let our “communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay” (Matthew 5:37).
One of the Ten Commandments is a prohibition against bearing false witness (Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:20). Jesus repeated this commandment in each of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20). Among the various commandments of the Law, numerous restrictions were listed concerning vows and oaths. The spirit of these commandments is captured in the following passage: “This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded. If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth” (Numbers 30:1–2).
God takes it quite seriously when one makes a promise and fails to follow through. Making a vow or declaring an oath is referenced numerous times in Scripture. Most of these references are in the Old Testament and equated with the covenant of the Law. From the foundation of the Law, lying was condemned and the principle of truthfulness was defended.
This concludes part-1 of No Oaths Needed, on Thursday we will pick up part 2 of our study at Identifying The Human Bondage-Untruthfullness, until then have a Blessed week.