“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, andnothing but the truth.”“I take thee to be my lawful wedded wife and Ipromise before God and these witnesses.”“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully excecute theoffice of the President of the United States.”Weddings – Inaugurations – Court rooms – OfficialdocumentsWhat does the Bible teach about taking oaths?
Oaths DefinedOath = promise, a promise or agreementbetween 2 peopleAppealing to God to avenge the failure to keepthis promise – Bride and Groom at their wedding – Testifying in court – Entering a contract – Signing official government documents – Taking government office
The 3rd CommandmentExodus 20:7 You shall not take the nameof the Lord your God in vain, for the Lordwill not hold him guiltless who takes Hisname in vain.Many assume this means dont curse – useprofanity“Name of the Lord” - not a literal name – butGod Himself
The 3rd Commandment“In Vain” - literally means “falsely”Do not swear (utter) the name of God to a lieDo not swear (utter) the name of God falselyDo not appeal to God to confirm a falsehoodIt also includes other irreverent uses of Godsname
In Defense of OathsDoes Scripture forbid ALL oaths?Matthew 5:33-35 33 "Again you have heardthat it was said to those of old, You shall notswear falsely, but shall perform your oaths tothe Lord. 34 But I say to you, do not swear atall: neither by heaven, for it is Gods throne;35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; norby Jerusalem, for it is the city of the greatKing.
In Defense of OathsDoes Scripture forbid ALL oaths?Matthew 5:36-37 36 Nor shall you swear byyour head, because you cannot make one hairwhite or black. 37 But let your Yes be Yes,and your No, No. For whatever is more thanthese is from the evil one.
In Defense of OathsDoes Scripture forbid ALL oaths?James 5:12 But above all, my brethren, do notswear, either by heaven or by earth or withany other oath. But let your "Yes," be "Yes,"and your "No," "No," lest you fall intojudgment.CAUTION: Not all oaths, but all unlawful(unbiblical) oaths are forbidden
The General ContextWe are commanded to swear by the name ofGodDeuteronomy 6:13 You shall fear the Lordyour God and serve Him, and shall take oathsin His name.Isaiah 65:16 So that he who blesses himself inthe earth Shall bless himself in the God oftruth; And he who swears in the earth Shallswear by the God of truth;
The General ContextSwearing is a part of worshipDeuteronomy 10:20-21 You shall fear theLord your God; you shall serve Him, and toHim you shall hold fast, and take oaths in Hisname21 He is your praise, and He is your God, whohas done for you these great and awesomethings which your eyes have seen.
The General ContextExamples of those who sworeGod Himself – Hebrews 6:13 For when Godmade a promise to Abraham, because He couldswear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,Hebrews 7:21 (for they have become priestswithout an oath, but He with an oath by Himwho said to Him: "The Lord has sworn And willnot relent, You are a priest foreverAccording to the order of Melchizedek "),
The General ContextExamples of those who sworeGod HimselfChrist – Matthew 26:63-64a 63 But Jesus keptsilent. And the high priest answered and said toHim, "I put You under oath by the living God:Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!" 64Jesus said to him, "It is as you said.”
The General ContextExamples of those who sworeApostle PaulRomans 1:9a For God is my witnessPhilippians 1:8a For God is my witness1 Thessalonians 5:27 I charge you by the Lordthat this epistle be read to all the holybrethren.2 Corinthians 1:23a Moreover I call God aswitness against my soul
The Particular ContextMatthew 5:33-37The Jews had created situationswhere lying was OKSpeaking beyond “Yes” and “No” is“from the evil one”
Biblical GuidelinesWe must distinguish the lawful from theunlawful oaths. The Bible does this for us.Should you take an oath?1) The object of the oath must be Biblical2) What you promise must be true, and kept.3)The oath must be necessary4) You must be ready to abide by the oath –No Matter What!
Content of the OathThe oath must appeal to God alone.The language of the oath must be clear,unequivocal, unambiguousIt is helpful to reduce the oath to writing
Breaking an OathViolates the 3rd CommandmentViolates the teaching of Jesus and JamesDont make excusesAs much as humanly possible – keep the oath
Invalid reasons for Breaking an OathChange in circumstancesOath which is impossible to perform Know it is impossible – dont make itViolation negates the oath Today – fail to pay loan, car is repossessed Car is sold and you still owe any balanceOath if required by law Government may require oath – court,documents, take office
Valid reasons for Breaking an Oath If the oath is sinful In Russia – Orthodox promise to light candles, say prayers, pay fees Herod – the promise to kill John was sinful Jephthah – sacrifice his daughter If the oath becomes impossible Promise to mow a lawn – suffer a stroke and are paralyzed Promise to attend a wedding – in ICU with heart attack
Conclusion “When an oath is falsely taken, it is a heaven daring attempt to enlist the Almighty in the sanction of the creatures lie and is thus, either the most outrageous levity, or the most outrageous impiety of which he can be guilty.” R. L. Dabney FINAL NOTE: Baptism is an oath (vow) to be faithful to Christ and His church.