Matthew 5:34a: “But I say unto you, Swear not at all;”
Jesus does not contradict the biblical use of the oath. The Lord was confronting and exposing as grievous sin, the frequent use of oaths in everyday conversation. The Jews had become accustomed to making strong expressions, often without thought. It had become common to emphasize statements with expressions such as "I swear," or "As truly as the Lord lives," and such like statements. That, Jesus said, is the taking of God's name in vain. Still more, in the Church such oath-taking ought not to even have a place. For us who are in Christ Jesus, our statements must be true. Our yes must mean exactly that, and our no must mean just that. An oath is out-of-place among those who are brothers in Christ. That is the emphasis.
But that the Lord — and the same holds true with James — did not mean to totally forbid the oath is evident from the fact that the oath continued to be used with approval in the New Testament age. Even Christ Himself, when standing before the judgment seat of the Jews, did not refuse the oath, declaring that He was the Son of God. As we read in Heb 6:17, the great God, Who has no cause to add emphasis to His words, accommodated Himself to the weakness of men, and swore an oath by Himself. He Whose word is truth itself, confirmed by an oath the immutability of His counsel. When we, therefore, might be required to swear an oath, our thought and our prayer must immediately be, "Let me, O Lord, be an imitator of Thee, that my words, as words of truth, might be a reflection of my conscious standing before Thy face."
Even while living in a world which does not fear God, and which repeatedly takes His name in vain by ungodly violations of the oath, we are called to use the oath to confirm fidelity and truth to the glory of God. The oath must be taken seriously. The oath must be kept. Therefore the oath must be understood by us.
Steven R. Key (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: September 1986
Pastorates: Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI - 1986; Randolph, WI - 1991; Hull, IA - 2000; Loveland, CO - March 2010Website: https://sites.google.com/site/lovelandprctest1/home
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