“Again, you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not make false vows, but you shall fulfill your vows to the Lord [as a religious duty].’ But I say to you, do not make an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God; or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet; or by Jerusalem, for it is the Holy City of the Great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you are not able to make a single hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’ [a firm yes or no]; anything more than that comes from the evil one.
Matthew 5:33-37 AMP
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain [that is, irreverently, in false affirmations or in ways that impugn the character of God]; for the Lord will not hold guiltless nor leave unpunished the one who takes His name in vain [disregarding its reverence and its power].
Exodus 20:7 AMP
But above all, my fellow believers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be [a truthful] yes, and your no be [a truthful] no, so that you may not fall under judgment. James 5:12 AMP
When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God. Ecclesiastes 5:4-6
The commands Jesus gives In The Sermon on the Mount repeat and expand on the Ten Commandments given to Moses for the way God intended the newly freed Israelites to relate first to HIM and to each other in their daily living. While these words about oaths and vows may not seem as important as: Do not murder and do not commit adultery, it seems to me that the command regarding oaths and vows circles back to the way we relate to God first, which informs us how we are to relate to each other.
Some of the ways people can be irreverent in the way they use “oaths” are comments like: “I swear to God that I,” or “By heaven if you do”, or,”As God is my witness”, or using scripture in a demeaning way.
I knew someone who used Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”, swearing by the “clever” way they emphasized the words, after which they claimed innocence when they were called on it. God is not fooled.
As we continue to pray the Lord’s Prayer this week, let’s ask Jesus to help us honor Our Father in Heaven by our words.
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