Have you ever heard the idiom, “cross my heart and hope to die”?
MATTHEW 5:33-37 – “I VOW”
v33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ 34 But I say to you, take no oath at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, nor by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. 36 Nor shall you take an oath by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37 But make sure your statement is, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil origin.”
WHAT DOES IT SAY
The Torah taught that if you made any vow or promise or told others you would do something, it was the same as telling God you would do it. In contemporary terms, “your word became your bond”.
Jews were notoriously guilty of common swearing especially when making vow, for which our Lord particularly reprehends them, and warns his disciples against. They swore by heaven, by earth, by Jerusalem, by their head, their own writings, adding a false sense of importance or weight to their vow and avoiding using the name of God in the vow in order to avoid profaning the Name of the Lord.
Jews would also swear by the prophets, the books of Scripture, the Temple, the altar, the lamb, the Temple’s chambers, the Temple’s dishes, the sacrifices on fire, the moon, stars, the sun, their hair, their beard, and on and on.
The use of all these names gave the Jew an excuse to avoid filling their vow. And, with so much swearing it was impossible not to profane God.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN
The word “Vow” here, literally translates to perjure oneself or to swear an oath falsely which is closely related to the 9th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” which means to “give false testimony” against a neighbor; It is also tantamount to taking the Name of God in vain. Either way, it was a very serious matter.
What is crystal clear, however, is that whether you are lying or taking the Name of God in vain, you are sinning and the consequences of being separated from God, as we have already discussed, can be dire. – Isaiah 59:2. “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU
There is a distinction you must make between sinning, (in this case by making “false vows”) versus your sins being covered (forgiven) by the “sacrificial Blood of Jesus” – that is, being saved by God’s Grace through faith in Jesus.
You can be certain that surrendering your life to Jesus, repenting of your sins and by confessing Jesus as Lord, that you will be saved and are forgiven, and you are “washed clean”.
The Bible teaches, however, that there is a difference between repenting of those sins and continuing to practice those sins (without restraint or remorse).
Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior, idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.“
You can read https://whitestone2020.com/2020/07/17/sin-no-more/ for more on this, but for now, just know that God is not mocked. He understands your heart, which is “more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick; who can understand it? The Lord searches our heart and tests our mind and will deal with each person according to his or her own intentions, your ways and the results of your deeds.” (Paraphrase of Jeremiah 17:9-10)
Jesus finishes His teaching with the admonition with, Just make sure your statement is, Yes or No’ because anything beyond that is has questionable and evil intentions.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
This important teaching of vows, honesty and honoring God, is just one more reminder that “unless your righteousness far surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
You and I can find real peace, security, genuine power and can live forever in the Presence of God, if we will
“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the Law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may achieve success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will ]achieve success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9
We tend to remember:
- 10% of what they read.
- 20% of what they only hear.
- 30% of what they only see.
- 50% of what they see and hear.
- 70% of what they say and write down.
- 90% of what they DO
You have seen it, you have read it, you have heard it, NOW, LET’S GO DO IT!
Your Brother and Friend,