I swear to God!
Occasionally I get questions posed to me by different people from time to time to ask what the bible says about certain aspects of modern day life, this blog article is designed to give a longer answer to the question I was asked. I was asked by a lady who attends my Sunday evening bible study called “Agape” (I will not name her here but she will be aware of this articles presence) the following question…
What does the bible say about the use of “I swear to God”? (To give you a background the lady was uneasy as people she loved used the term and not her)
Are you taking the LORD’s name in vain?
Well there were two places in the New Testament part of the bible that I felt dealt with this rather well, but let us first look at a deeper issue. The deeper issue here from a doctrinal standpoint is, are they using the name of God in a flippant or vain way? Are they respecting the name of the living God? If they are using God’s name to justify a flimsy position that would seem shaky in an argument without it then I would suggest that they are. Or secondly, if they seem to be telling something that does not appear to be accurate and they move their argument towards truthfulness by using God’s name as a standard (because even if you do not believe in God, God’s name is associated with truth) but not meaning the reverence in their hearts to the very holy name of God then that is also problematic.
Where do I find biblical evidence for this problem?
In the Ten Commandments we are warned against this very thing. Let’s look at Exodus chapter 20…
Exodus 20:7 (ESV) “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Heavy stuff huh? In the third commandment you will be held guiltless by the one true God and only just judge of the world! The name of God is holy, and in some Jewish and Hebrew circles they do not spell the name of God in case they misspell it (replacing it with G_d in many cases) such is the reverence for God’s name.
So I think we have established that it is a no-no from the 10 Commandments!
Is there anything in the New Testament? I want to follow that too!
Remember I said there were two places in the New Testament that dealt with this rather well, let’s look at these. As this blog is called “Taking the Epistle” let us first look at the Epistle of James chapter 5…
James 5:12 (ESV) But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
James commends us not to invoke the name of God in our arguments, he commends us to be men and women of our word, he said “let your yes be yes and your no be no!” let us not use words flippantly like “I believe that may be true” (when we know it is not) and we justify in our minds that we are not “technically” lying. He does not want us to be losing an argument or having a discussion and attach God’s name to something it has no business being in.
And lastly Jesus Christ himself said not too
Jesus said in the Gospel of St. Matthew chapter 5…
Matthew 5:33 (ESV) “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.
And he goes a little further than James said and said “anything added unto this comes from evil” and do you believe that God wants his name attached to something that is attributed to evil? God is a righteous and just God. He does not lie; he is truth, light and the epicenter of all that is good. His name is worthy of praise and honor, not derision and defaming. This is the beginning of a slippery slope that will end in blasphemy and that is a road you do not wish to travel dear Christian.
There are many things in the bible that are unclear or could be left up for interpretation, but in my view and my belief in the holy scriptures is that if we are warned against doing something three times and told that it is a no-no in a clear fashion, (not something that can be twisted or really debated without perverting the meaning behind the scriptures) then perhaps God is telling you, this is important to me, please do not do it.
I hope that I stated the case well of why it is problematic from a biblical point of view to “swear to God” and if this is an issue in your life then please seek clarification from the scriptures and pray about it, always check out what the teacher is saying and I look forward to you sharing, liking and commenting on this article here or elsewhere on social media as the LORD leads you to. I pray this was a blessing!