"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:
I. WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY ABOUT TAKING OATHS?
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
A. That is not a reference to using God as a swear word. It is swearing by the name of God and not keeping it.
1. It is when a person would say, "I swear to God that I will be there." And then he doesn't show up.
And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD.
3. In Numbers we read:
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.
4. We read further in Deuteronomy,
When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.
But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.
That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; [even] a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.
B. At the time of Christ there were two problems.
1. The use of holy names in common conversation.
a. Such as "Good lord honey." or "Oh my lord."
b. We often hear the name of Jesus used in common language.
2. Deceptive swearing. Sort of like lying when your fingers are crossed.
3. Jesus spoke of the hypocrisy of such swearing as He was denouncing the Pharisees.
Woe unto you, [ye] blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
[Ye] fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
[Ye] fools and blind: for whether [is] greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God,and by him that sitteth thereon.
C. The taking of vows or oaths were considered a very serious thing.
1. In Psalm 15
David asked, "LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" In his answer he said, "He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not."
I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows,
Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.
a. Note that David makes mention of making his vows when he was in trouble. That is when most people make vows, when they are in trouble.
Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God:
2. In Psalm 116
David said, "I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people."
3. In Psalm 119
he said, "I have sworn, and I will perform [it], that I will keep thy righteous judgments."
4. Solomon said concerning vows,
When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for [he hath] no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
Better [is it] that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it [was] an error: why should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?
II. SWEAR NOT AT ALL.
A. Jesus named some of the various things by which people swore. Heaven, earth, Jerusalem, their head.
1. In the taking of vows, they taught that as long as you did not mention the name of God that it was not binding.
2. So you could swear by heaven just be careful you did not say "The God of heaven." You could swear by the earth, as long as you did not say the Lord of the earth. or the city of Jerusalem as long as you did not say the city of God.
a. Jesus said, "Heaven is the throne of God."
b. The earth is the footstool of God.
c. Jerusalem is the city of God.
B. Does that mean that if you are called to be a witness in a court trial, that you are not to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
1. There are those who interpret it that way.
a. The Quakers will not bind themselves with an oath.
b. They will refuse to swear to tell the truth, they say that their word is as good as their oath.
2. I do not believe that is what Jesus is teaching here however.
a. Paul swore by God,
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.
Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
b. Even God took an oath.
And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son]:
That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
c. Commenting on that verse the writer to Hebrews said:
For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation [is] to them an end of all strife.
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed [it] by an oath:
That by two immutable things, in which [it was] impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
d. When Jesus was on trial before the high priest and all of false accusations were being made against Him but Jesus did not respond finally the High priest said,
And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what [is it which] these witness against thee?
But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. It was not until he adjured Jesus by the living God to tell him if He was the Messiah that Jesus responded.
C. It should be noted that vows are not necessary to persuade God to help you.
1. God will help you simply because He loves you as His child.
2. We often make conditional promises to God.
a. We see Jacob doing that in Genesis.
And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
And this stone, which I have set [for] a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
b. That is much like saying, "God if you will just help me to win the lottery, I will split the earnings with you."
III. "BUT I SAY UNTO YOU."
A. What does Jesus say to us about swearing to tell the truth?
1. Let your yes be yes, and your no, no.
2. That is, be a person of your word.
3. If you say yes, mean yes, if you say no, mean no.
4. Don't be so dishonest that people cannot trust what you say.
B. To have to strengthen your statement with anything more than a yes or no only indicates that there is something wrong.
C. James was no doubt thinking of these words of Jesus when he wrote:
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.
D. Be a man or woman of your word.