To Tell the Truth

To Tell the Truth
 
We live in a world where truth is scarce.  Our society is built on mistruths and half-truths, which cause the concept of truth to decay.  Truth is essential to a healthy society.  Courts of law require people to swear on the Bible to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.  There is no justice without truth.  Jesus calls His followers to be people of truth just as He is truth.
 
Matthew 5:33–37 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”
 
Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, Jesus has used this phrase to correct the misunderstandings of the Jews.  His purpose is to expose the sham and falseness of the Pharisees and Scribes. 
 
You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.  This was a saying of the Pharisees and Scribes but these words aren’t found anywhere in the Old Testament scriptures.  It seems it came from their interpretation of not taking the Lord’s name in vain.  It is unthinkable to the Lord that those His followers would speak anything but truth.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  Those who are redeemed can’t swear falsely and are to be people of their word.  If you say you’re going to do something do it!  Perform your oaths as to the Lord.  He’s talking about people making deals with God and then not wanting to pay.  We aren’t to be looking for a way out of our commitments. 
 
Leviticus 19:12 “And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 
 
The Law prohibits lying and giving false witness because it is contrary to His nature and their identity as His children.  By the 1st century the Jews were taking oaths on the slightest pretext and not following through because they didn’t believe it binding.  The purpose of the Law was to end this indiscriminate glib oath-taking and show that taking an oath is a very solemn matter.  It is very common to hear people today say, “I swear.”  Why do you swear?  Is your word not your bond?  The 1st century Jews developed a whole system of oaths that permitted them to lie.  They were only concerned with not violating the “law” and committing perjury so they took all kinds of oaths, believing them not legally binding.  A man’s word was no longer his bond. 
 
But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, Jesus wasn’t speaking against oaths themselves as much as the system of non-binding oaths.  He’s telling His audience that truth must prevail for truth’s sake.  The idea of taking oaths in order to evade commitments and responsibility was unthinkable to Jesus.  The purpose of an oath was to enhance truth and they were taking away from it.  They had developed a system where some oaths were binding and others weren’t.  If you took an oath by the temple, that was not binding; but if you took an oath by the gold of the temple, that was binding.  If you took an oath by the altar you need not keep it; but if you took an oath by the gift that was on the altar then it was absolutely binding.  So, Jesus changed all of it and spoke with absolute authority to be finished with the games and simply be people of their word.  Jesus isn’t saying we shouldn’t swear in a court of the Law for there are many examples of oaths being taken in the scripture; however, an oath shouldn’t be necessary for us to show we are being true in our words.  It means no white lies to get out of trouble.  There is no trying to distinguish between big sins, little sins, lies, and things not exactly lies. 
 
either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Remember they were swearing by other things for the purpose of making their oath non-binding.  They were swearing without using the Lord’s name so they could release themselves from fulfilling the promise they had given.  It is utter hypocrisy to do so.  Everything we do and say is done in the presence of God.  One’s word is their bond.  Both Heaven and Earth are God’s creation; there is no place that isn’t sacred before God.
 
And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.God alone is the creator of all things and He is the witness of our oaths so all of it is sacred.  It is wicked to call upon any of God’s creation in an attempt to deceive the listener.  There is no such thing as sacred and secular as it is all sacred to God.  Every promise is made in the presence of God.  Truth has no degrees or shades.
 
Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no and nothing more or less.  You don’t need to call on God to witness what you say because God is watching you and is present as you speak.  There is no room for duplicity when the follower of Jesus speaks.  There is no room for embellishment.  Truth is sacred and our speech should honor it.  Does your yes carry definite commitment?  Or are you given to modifying the truth and disguising it?  Is your word reliable?  Do you do what you say you will do?  Can people trust your integrity?  It never occurs to a pure honest heart to back up what it says.
 
anything more than this comes from evil.  Anything that is not truth is a distortion of who God has made us to be.  The devil is the father of lies and deception.  Words depend on character; and oaths cannot compensate for a lack of character.
 
I’m asking our Abba to give you a great week.  Look for people to share love and life with.  There are divine appointments waiting for you!
 
You are loved!
 
Pastor Tim