Friday, November 18, 2005

Let Your "Yes" be Yes

"Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." - Matthew 5:37

How often have we said 'yes' to Jesus?
How often have we said 'no' to ourselves?
How often have we followed through with what we have said?

Jesus made it clear that our yes and our no is enough to satisfy the binding requirement. Many Christians avoid making solemn vows before the Lord for fear of not fulfilling them, and when we so frivolously fire of promises to God in this simplified manner of 'yes' and 'no', we actually presume that our words are not binding! This is contrary to Scripture. What we say is what we mean. Do we ever wonder why God does not fulfill His Word in us when we do not fulfill our word to Him? It is for this reason that the Bible teaches us to control our tongue (James 3:2-12) and that it is the wise who are slow to utter anything except that which they are resolved. (Proverbs 15:2)

"Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles." - Proverbs 21:23

By our words we have the power to tear down and to build up, to establish our way in either truth or falsehood, and by our words we will be judged. The Bible also teaches us that out of our mouths cannot proceed both good and evil, just as a good tree cannot produce bad fruit or a fresh stream cannot pour forth salt water. He who controls his tongue is a perfect man (James 3:2).

Our Lord Jesus is kind and compassionate, gracious to forgive, however, the Lord also is gracious in warning us of the danger of an unrestrained tongue. Such a highly exalted Savior is worthy of praise! For He not only forgives our sins, but is involved in the work of sanctifying and perfecting His redeemed.

Just as He warned us on the Mount about our 'yes' and our 'no', so He leaves us another confirming and serious exhortation by the pen of His servant James:

"Above all, my brothers, do not swear - not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your 'Yes' be yes, and your 'No', no, or you will be condemned." - James 5:12

Dear Heavenly Father,
I beseech You to take tight reign of my tongue;
Submitting myself to Your yoke while I'm young.
I ask for Your grace and Your patience towards me,
I ask for Your strength and Your power to free.
And if I do stumble and say what is wrong,
I'll rise once again to the fight and be strong.
I know by Your grace that this battle will be won,
By faith in Your Word, in Your Spirit, in Your Son.


Anonymous said...

I like the poem!

kristy said...

Thanx Eli - words are like fire, they can warm your heart, or burn your house down! God bless you as you preach today at the market!

Eli said...

Kristy Gallant signed my webpage!? That's fantastic!

The Philosopher said...

Eli I've heard your view on oaths before, but you must be extremely careful when espousing these views. The medical community takes oaths, the military takes oaths. I'm curious what your thoughts are on that. I'm also curious if your view on Matthew 5:33-37 applies to Paul and the Seventh Angel when they swore before God in Galatians 1:20 and Revelations 10:5-7?

I don't think I need to tell you why I disagree with you on this. But I do think you should be careful, taking a stand on an issue like this can be a barrier for non-believers. Before I was a Christian, I read and learned alot about theology, and seeing people take a stand on issues like dancing or smoking was a major delay in me accepting Christ. I have unsaved friends that feel the same way about oaths.

I have no problem if the barrier is warranted, but in the light of the scripture I quoted above I would suggest: proceed with extreme caution.

Eli said...

Hey Brandon,

Not exactly sure what you are saying. Are you then supporting oaths? Jesus clearly said we are not to swear by anything, either in heaven or on earth, or make an oath of any kind. He simplified this and told us that our "yes" is sufficient as it is telling of our character. James later confirms this.

In regard to Paul in Galatians, I wouldn't call that swearing. Throughout Paul's ministry many people questioned his apostolic authority and would not accept his simple testimony of God's calling on his life. People were contending with him whether he was what he said he was. So in this case, his 'yes' was not enough to these people (although it should have been, and was enough in the eyes of the Lord.) For their sake and to convince them he said, "Before God I tell you the truth..." The tradition of swearing in the day would have been something more like this: "I swear by the hairs on my head" or "As surely as God lives...". There's no need for that.

In regard to Revelation... and all of Scripture, there is many times when the Lord swears by Himself (Genesis 22:16, Exodus 17:16, 2 Samuel 3:9, Psalm 110:4, Amos 8:7, Acts 7:17, Hebrews 4:3). These are but a few examples. It is no suprise God does this in Revelation. What the Lord does don't have any ground to question it. He is the Lord, and He can swear unto Himself for He Himself is.

Numbers 30:2 - "If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth." Jesus was doing away with this, for the Lord does recquire that ALL we say is truthful and no just our oaths. Jesus said, "Anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

God bless.

The Philosopher said...

I have no problem saying, "I swear before God" as Paul did, or raising my right hand (as the seventh angel did in Revelations). I think you could take away that Christ advocated slavery because He uses the word slaves. I think the reason He spoke against oaths of that day is because the oaths of that time were closer to taking the Lord's name in vain. I think you would have to go outside the bible in order to condemn swearing before God as Paul does, and the seventh Angel. It makes a lot more sense to me to believe that Christ was not speaking against swearing before God (otherwise, well-accepted or not, Paul would not have done that).

It also doesn't make sense to me that God would condemn all medical practitioners, and military soldiers who also take an "oath."

Eli said...

Hi Brandon,

How then do you explain "anything beyond this comes from the evil one"?

Of course those people (medical practitioners/military...) are not condemned by this, for they do not know the command of God as Christians do, however they will be judged according to their consciences in regard to honesty and truth (Romans 2:14-15). It is Christians who have the Bible and believe the words of Christ who will be accountable.

God bless, brother, as we explore this further.