• Jack Selcher

Tell the Truth

Mother asked, “What did your father say when he fell off the ladder?”

Billy asked, “Should I leave out the naughty words?”

Mother said, “Of course.”

Billy replied, “Nothing.”

Such language is profanity, not swearing. What’s the difference? Profanity degrades God and men created in His image. Swearing solemnly appeals to God to guarantee one is being truthful or has good intentions. James 5:12 deals with swearing, not profanity.

There’s a difference between swearing an oath in Old Testament and New Testament times. An oath in the Old Testament called the LORD to witness between two parties. For example, between Laban and Jacob (Genesis 31:49–-50). It was doubly binding if a curse were called down on oneself if the oath were broken (1 Samuel 20:13).

The Old Testament knew nothing of the oaths witnesses take in modern law courts. In treaties and requests, an oath sealed a promise (Genesis 47:31). If there were no witnesses, the defendant took an oath asserting his innocence and calling down God’s curses on himself if he were lying (Numbers 5:11–28). God took oaths to guarantee His words are true, and He will fulfill His promises.

Swearing oaths wasn’t discouraged in the Old Testament. But not carrying out an oath or swearing an oath falsely was condemned—especially if God’s name were invoked as part of the oath.

James 5:12 reflects Jesus’ words, “But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all” (Matthew 5:34, NIV). The Jews of His day didn’t want to misuse God’s name, so they swore by heaven, by earth, etc. Supposedly, some of their oaths were binding and others weren’t. A vow made by Jerusalem wasn’t binding unless one faced Jerusalem while making it.

Jesus attacked such hair-splitting rules (Matthew 23:16–22). He said the one who swore by the altar, the temple, or heaven swore by God who gave these things their authority. Jesus prohibited swearing to counter sophisticated lying through oath-taking. His aim is truthfulness in human relationships. Oaths are unnecessary for those who consistently tell the truth.

Does Jesus forbid all oaths? Most Christians believe swearing an oath is permitted in formal setting such as law courts, but not in other settings. The sad truth is others expect you’ll lie if you have something to gain by it because they know they will. Such mistrust requires an oath and a penalty for perjury.

The cross is God’s truth about you. Behind it is the power to make you truthful. If you don’t consistently tell the truth, today would be a good day to start! #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources #freechristianleadershipresources

See the free spiritual resources at: https://www.christiangrowthresources.com

You may freely access my books, “Becoming an Enthusiastic Church” and “His Power for Your Weakness” at:

https://www.christiangrowthresources.com/becoming-an-enthusiastic-church and


Photo: Wise counsel | When in doubt, tell the truth. — Mark Twain T… | Flickr

You can find this blog at https://www.christiangrowthresources.com/post/tell-the-truth

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