Pastor Wade Burleson
Hearing His Voice Today
The Issue of Credibility
Audio version as heard on WSEW-WWPC
Matthew 5:33-37 (English-KJV)
- Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear
thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
- But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
- Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great
- Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
- But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these
cometh of evil.
A youth asked me whether it was wrong to take an oath "to tell the whole truth, and nothing but
the truth." When I said "no," he asked about this text. Many believe it is wrong to "solemnly
swear" in court, but I hope to show you this morning the issue Jesus addresses is one of
credibility. Do people know you tell the truth? Daniel Webster said it best, "There is nothing
as powerful as truth and often nothing as strange."
- The Lord Allows Oaths to be Made in His Name.
Definition of an oath --- "For men swear by one greater than themselves, and
with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute" (Hebrews 6:16).
- To swear by God's name is an allowance for sin
All men are born liars (Psalm 58:3; Psalm 62:4; Jeremiah 9:3-5). People are inclined to tell (or
believe) the truth only when it benefits them. Sometimes the real truth is needed.
- To swear by God's name is a solemn vow of truthfulness
- God Himself has done this . . . "By Myself I have sworn, declares the
Lord" "Since there is no one greater, He swore by Himself" (See Gen.22:16; Heb. 6:13)
- God's people have always done this . . .Abraham confirmed his oaths to
Abimelech with God's name (Geneses 21:23-24). Isaac, Jacob and Laban all confirmed oaths by
calling on God's name (Gen. 31) David in a covenant with Jonathan "swore to the Lord, and
vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob" (Psalm 132:2). (See also Josh. 9:15; Ruth 1:16; Judg.
- One may only swear by God's name . . . "You shall fear only the Lord
your God; and you shall worship Him, and swear by His name" (Deut. 6:13;
- One is to be punished severely for swearing falsely . . . Joshua emphasized
that it is vital to keep oaths "lest wrath be upon us for the oath which we swore" (Josh.
- The Rabbis in Jesus' Day had Distorted the Use of Oaths.
At first glance, it seems what the rabbi's taught was good: "keep your vows to the Lord."
However, the teachers of the law made two mistakes in instructing the people of Jesus day:
They only felt an obligation to keep the oaths or vows made by the Lord's name.
- They trivialized oaths . . . In Jesus day people had no qualms in promising or
declaring anything by an oath. Oaths were made on a daily, regular basis. Oath-making became a
pattern of living.
- They classified oaths . . . People would swear by heaven, by the earth, by the
Temple, by the hairs on their heads, and by any other thing they could think of to impress those
In this context, Jesus' condemnation of oath-making is seen (Matt. 23:16-22).
- For a Graced Person, Routine Conversation Should Be Credible. When Jesus
says "make no oath at all" He does not preclude an oath in court by God's name. William
Hendrickson says, "What we have here is the condemnation of the flippant, profane,
uncalled for, and often hypocritical oath, used in order to make an impression or to spice daily
conversation. In opposing it, Jesus commends simple truthfulness in thought, word, and
- Truth has no degrees or shades --- a half truth is a whole lie, and a white lie
is really black.
- Your daily words should be truthful --- your "yes" means "yes," your "no"
- A changed heart equals a changed tongue --- Psalm 15:1,4 tells us that a
person graced by God considers his word more important than his welfare. How about you?