Summary: James exhorts Christians to tell the truth and not be guilty of making up cleaverly worded oaths that they say, but feel no obligation to keep and Christians must always utilize the wonderful avenue of prayer.
1. Open your bibles to James 5:12-13a.
2. The last few lessons from the book of James have been on the subject of patience. We have discussed the example of farmers and their patience. We have discussed the examples of Jeremiah and Job and their patience. We have discussed the importance of patience in staying prepared for the second coming of Christ.
3. The things that James has for us in James 5:12&13 are just as important for Christians.
4. Let’s begin our discussion of these things.
I. FIRST, JAMES 5:12 TEACHES THE IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANS ALWAYS TELLING THE TRUTH.
1. Let’s read James 5:12, “12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.”
2. The first thing to do in being a person that will be recognized as one to speak the truth is to not become guilty of swearing and making oaths.
(1) We don’t need to develop a reputation of always “swearing this or swearing that” or “making oaths” to try and impress on others that what we are saying is the truth.
(2) We need to simply “mean yes when we say yes” and simply “mean no when we say no”.
3. Whether we consistently tell the truth or don’t tell the truth will have a tremendous amount to do in determining how people will judge our character.
4. Turn to Matt. 5:33-37. Here, Jesus warns against improper oaths and swearing. Let’s read and make a few explanatory comments. “33 Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’
(1) Let’s make a comment on this. The Jews were guilty of swearing, not for the purpose of really telling the truth, but rather so that they could break their word and think that in doing so they were still o.k. in the sight of God. Because Jews were doing this Jesus says in verse 34:
“34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”
(2) The Jews thought that if they did not swear and make their oath in the name of God, but instead swear by heaven, or swear by the earth or swear by the city of Jerusalem then they could swear and it would not be binding.
(3) Because of their deceit Jesus told them to not swear at all, but to rather use a yes or a no!
5. The teaching of James and Jesus cause many people to ask the question: “Is it wrong to lay your hand on a bible and to swear or take an oath in a court room to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God”?
(1) Neither James nor Jesus are teaching that such an oath would be sinful. James uses a Greek word for “other” which refers to other oaths of the same kind.
(2) Bro. Guy N. Woods, in his book titled Questions and Answers states: “had James intended to assert that any oath, all oaths, every oath, must be refrained from, he would have used for the word ‘other’ the Greek heteros, which means another of a different kind, instead of allos (which he did use), another of the same kind.”
(3) Brother Woods also states: “It is significant that an oath, in the name of God, is not mentioned [by James or Jesus]; it would seem that if it were the purpose of James or Jesus to forbid all oaths, including judicial ones, this would have been the first mentioned.
1) But as a matter of fact, an oath referring to God is o.k., in contrast with others. An oath to God was specifically commanded under the law of Moses: (Deut. 6:13, 10:20). ‘You shall fear the Lord your God and server Him, and shall take oaths in His name.’
2) That it was not the purpose of our Lord or of James to forbid all oaths seems to follow from examples left for Christians in the N. T. (1) In Matt. 26:63,64 Jesus, before Caiaphas, testified under oath. “….And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” 64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said…..”