No Oaths Needed-part 2
Praise the Lord and greetings once again as we pick up our study on No Oaths Needed-part 2, as noted on Monday we stated that we’ll pick up our study at Identifying the Human Bondage-Untruthfulness, so without delay here is our study.
- IDENTIFYING THE HUMAN BONDAGE—UNTRUTH-FULLNESS
Why is it easier to lie than to tell the truth? When we know we have done wrong and are confronted with our sins, the first response is usually to deny guilt and seek to blame another. This was the condition in the Garden. The serpent tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden tree. “You will not certainly die,” Satan lied (Genesis 3:4, NIV). The benefits of direct disobedience to God was touted as a positive condition: “You will be wise like God.” However, along with their enlightenment came condemnation. They knew they had violated God’s trust and failed His command.
The consequence and curse of sin separated the first family from the Garden of God, but more importantly they were driven from the presence of God and barred from the paradise of plenty. The result of their sin was devastating, and the bondage of their disobedience was decisive. Sorrow in childbearing and oppression was pronounced upon the woman. The man was condemned to labor for sustenance and to battle nature’s elements for survival.
Seeking to cover deception and lying to mitigate liability will never bring peace and liberty. Bondage and judgment will always be the result of every false defense.
- Personal Problems Result
It may seem like the right solution at the moment. Deny plausibility. Seek to shift the blame. We may be tempted to clear our record by implicating someone else. We may attempt to make ourselves look good at the expense of another. While we may appear unscathed by our deception, in reality we have damaged our relationships with others. Those we have accused, blamed, slandered and hurt will long remember our actions; they know the truth even if no one else knows.
Deception breeds more lies. One false statement is never adequate; more lies will be told to make the deception believable. The more lies told, the more complex is the tangled web of deceit and the more difficult it becomes to come clean and right the wrongs we have created.
Exposed lies plant seeds of distrust in all relationships. A person’s reputation tainted by deception can seldom be completely restored. When one is identified as a “liar,” the result is often a lifelong brand. No one wants to wear that brand for life. The easiest way to avoid it is always to be truthful and trustworthy in every relationship.
- Relational Problems Result
Deception will result in ruined relationships. When individuals are not what they pretend to be, the realization develops that they cannot be trusted.
Deception will destroy confidence and ruin relationships.
Deceit will deliver disappointment. Deceit in any form is dishonest. Honesty may seem like the most difficult option, but it is always the right choice. Dishonesty is deception and eventually the truth will be known. Some may fear the disappointment that will come if they are honest, but it is always better to deal with the distress presently than to delay and intensify the disappointment through deception.
Whether we pretend to be something we are not or present ourselves differently for fraudulent purposes, we are being dishonest in our dealings. Such deception will always be revealed. Underhanded business practices, fraudulent activities, or deceptive appearances will come back to haunt the one who engages in such conduct.
- Moral Problems Result
Lies in a relationship breed discontent. The hurt of deception causes disillusionment in the relationship and dissatisfaction with one’s spouse. To compensate for the void of fulfillment, the wounded one may seek consolation from someone else. In that scenario moral failure is predictable and more lies and hurts are inevitable.
One never truly gets away with moral failure. The principle of Scripture remains true; that which is spoken in secret will be shouted from the housetops.
“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:2–3).
- Spiritual Problems Result
We are led to believe lying is acceptable in our culture. We tease by lying. We play tricks with deception. We excuse our deceitfulness with the explanation “It was just a joke.”
The problem with lying is that it becomes a part of our character and impugns our reputation. The more falsehoods are embraced, the easier it becomes to create a fabrication than to tell the truth. Lying grieves the Spirit and erects barriers in our relationship with God. A lying tongue and a false witness are two things God detests. “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16–19).
- Life Problems Result
A man’s word should be his bond. There was a day when a person could trust another’s word and depend on the truthfulness of a testimony. Now it seems that we believe the worst and assume everyone is lying or hiding something. Agreements require contracts and contracts require witnesses. Contracts grow longer and legal disclaimers become more detailed. Contracts are written with the assumption they will be tested in court and are designed to protect the investment.
It seems as if no one is trustworthy. Everyone is suspected of deception, and it is assumed that all are capable of fraud. Christians are called to challenge the prevailing culture and set a new standard of truthfulness, integrity, and honesty.
III. THE TRANSFORMING INITIATIVE—DISCIPLINE THE TONGUE
- Speak the Truth
There are references in the Law where an oath to God is expected. (See Exodus 22:11.) Vows were made to God in times of dedication or national conflict; for example, the Nazarite vow and Jephthah’s foolish vow. Even God swore an oath and consecrated the Abrahamic covenant. (See Genesis 22:16–17; Hebrews 6:13.) The reason to reference God in an oath is calling on God to witness the sincerity of the covenant. There is nothing else in creation that can serve as such a witness.
However, Jesus taught His followers that their words should always be truthful: “Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay” (Matthew 5:37). Our yes and our no should be sufficient. There is no need to swear our truthfulness.
James drew from the Sermon on the Mount and came to a similar conclusion: “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” (James 5:12). When we speak the truth, there is no need for an oath or a contract. We will keep our word.
- Tame the Tongue
The tongue can be a mighty force for truth and the proclamation of the gospel message. It can also be a divisive force and a consuming fire. Paul admonished the church to speak “the truth in love” so we “may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
James spoke of the power of the tongue. (See James 3:1–12.)
Honesty begins in the heart and is revealed in the tongue and in our behavior. The greatest evidence of the gospel’s working in our lives is a bridled tongue, controlled by the Spirit of God. Empty religion will be demonstrated by a loose tongue and a deceptive heart. James said, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26).
The psalmist prayed, “In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue” (Psalm 120:1–2). Victory over lies, deception, and false statements can come only as we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and make these petitions the subject of our prayers. Lord, help us tame the tongue and speak the truth!
Internalizing the Message
Practical lessons from the Sermon on the Mount provide natural teaching moments and important principles to assimilate into our lives. The purpose of discipleship is to become more like Jesus. The best way to accomplish this is to study His teaching and learn to walk in His way.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). His character, essence, and identity is truth. He calls His followers to speak truth but more importantly to demonstrate His love in truth.
Lying and deception have no place in the life of a Christian. Paul wrote, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour” (Ephesians 4:25). Let this be our identity and our conduct.
From the foundation of this lesson and the teaching of Jesus, believers should commit to the following:
Avoid unnecessary oaths and vows. Make truth-telling a practice so additional oaths, declarations, and vows are not required to convince others of the truth.
Repent of past deception. Ask and receive God’s forgiveness for lies we have told or fraud we have committed. Purpose to abandon any deceptive practices.
Resolve to be truthful. Make it a priority to have a sterling reputation for truthfulness and honesty. When we are truthful, others will respect us as principled people of integrity and ethics.
So that concludes our study on No Oaths Needed, we pray you’ve been blessed with these studies, and that they are a help in your spiritual growth, the next time we get together for a new study we will meet in a new year, so with that I will wish you a Happy New Year.