Matthew 5 – Part 18 – SO WHAT YOU’RE SAYING IS THAT GOD CAN’T MAKE UP HIS MIND?
Occasionally I meet Christians who say “God is telling me to go and do this or that” and then the next minute God seems to have changed His mind. I remember one guy who made God look like He didn’t know how to make up His mind at all! One day it was “God wants me to do this.” and the next day it was something totally different. That’s not the unchangeable God I know and read about in the Bible.
So what I really want to talk about is OATHS AND SWEARING!
Jesus chooses to teach some radical principles to His disciples up on the mountain. Who can question that He knew what He was doing. And so far, I’ve got to admit, it is all applicable to me as a Christian leader. Jesus spoke about Oaths and Swearing. He says in Matthew 5:33-37 (NLT) “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is His footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”
He says don’t go making promises and assurances that you may not be able to keep or being profane in your language by bringing God’s name into it. Just let your yes be yes.
So let me get this straight – Don’t make promises but keep them anyway. Have the character to do the right thing anyway and speak in a way that is straightforward.
I guess Jesus is thinking of the 3rd commandment as He teaches this principle. Exodus 20:7 (NLT) says, “You must not misuse the Name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse His Name.” Leviticus 19:12 (NLT) makes this even clearer – “Do not bring shame on the Name of your God by using it to swear falsely. I am the Lord.”
Now these passages from the Old Testament don’t say “DON’T MAKE AN OATH” but they do encourage us not to make an oath and not keep it. Numbers 30:2 (NLT) says “A man who makes a vow to the Lord or makes a pledge under oath must never break it. He must do exactly what he said he would do.” but Jesus says “DON’T MAKE OATHS AT ALL!” What, doesn’t Jesus trust us? What happens if I go to court and have to swear on the Bible to tell the whole truth? Somehow I think Jesus knows that I am capable of stretching the truth, of exaggerating and just plain lying at times.
Annanias and Sapphira dropped dead after lying to God about giving all their land to the Church. In Acts 5:4 (NLT) Peter says to them “The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”
Jesus says vows and swearing aren’t necessary. He simplifies the law to the basics.
God is the only one who is really capable of keeping an oath. Hebrews 6:17 (NLT) says “God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind.”
Lord, thankyou that I can trust in You to come through with what You have promised. Help me to honour Your Name in the way I speak.
God bless you Church as you “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6 (NIV))