September 11 - LD 37, Day 2: Fidelity and Truth
by Pastor Steven Key

I Peter 2:13-14: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”

The occasion for the oath is found not in the church, but in the public realm, where the Christian lives in the midst of the world of unbelief and sin. We may swear an oath by the name of God "when the magistrates demand it" of us their citizens, or "when necessity requires us thereby to confirm fidelity and truth to the glory of God and the safety of our neighbor." Other circumstances can be eliminated. It is on very limited occasions, therefore, that the oath may be used.

The fundamental calling of the magistrate (I Pet 2:14 and Rom 13) is to punish the evildoers and praise those who do well. The magistrate, therefore, must make judgments of the actions of men in the public realm. Justice and just judgment can only be exercised on the basis of truth. But Scripture exposes the sinfulness of man, telling us in Jer 17:9: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

Because of man’s depravity the oath is necessary in the public realm. The magistrate cannot know men as anything but liars. Therefore, to uphold truth, the magistrate must call every one before God's face as occasion requires it. It is as God's servant that the government official may summon a man before the highest tribunal, and ask, "Do you promise before God to perform the discharge of your office faithfully?" It is as God's servant that the officer of the court must summon me before the face of God and ask me to declare God as my witness that I will speak the truth.

By swearing such an oath, we who are the children of God honor Him. We do so by honoring those whom God has appointed to govern, confirming before God’s face fidelity and truth. Fidelity is the promise faithfully to execute one's calling. Truth is confirmed by taking God as our witness in a court of law. These two — fidelity and truth — are the very pillars of society.