“But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:” (Dan. 5:20)
Matthew chapter five verses 33 through 37 instruct us concerning the assurance of our words,
“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 King.”
“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.” (Matt. 5:33-37)
The apparent interpretation of these Scriptures is that God is dealing with swearing and oaths, but the deeper interpretation is that God is dealing with the attitude of pride.
When someone swears an oath such as “I swear on my mother’s grave”, or “I swear to God”, or any other such proclamation, they are really swearing that something “shall be” or “is so” regardless of the circumstances.
By doing such a thing, they are expressing their total dependence upon themselves to make it happen.
This is pride.
We should be saying, “If it is the Lord’s will.”
“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (James 4:15)
The Lord says not to swear by anything, but let your words be simply “yes” or “no”.
In other words, there should be no need to convince anyone by swearing that what we are saying is the truth. As a Christian, our character alone should be all that is necessary for someone to know that what we have said is “yea” or “nay”.
James chapter five and verse 12 tells us,
“But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (James 5:12)
In this verse of Scripture the Apostle James says, “above all things.” This is a tremendous significance to put upon the words that come out of our mouths, especially concerning whether we are “swearing by” something or not.
Why would the Scriptures put such significance on this?
“For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matt. 12:37)
The condemnation that is being spoken of here is the condemnation of the devil. We read in First Timothy chapter three and verse six,
“Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1Tim. 3:6)
The Bible says that God resists the proud.
Pride brings condemnation upon us before the throne of God.
Boastful words come forth from a prideful heart. A non-repentant prideful heart is not walking after the Spirit. We only escape condemnation when we walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1)
Revelation chapter 12 and verse ten says,
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” (Rev. 12:10)
The devil wants to accuse you. The devil wants to condemn you. The devil wants to hinder your prayers.
When we swear or do anything else to reinforce what we have declared, it is an outward manifestation of the pride of self-determination that is in our hearts.
James chapter four verses 13 through 17 declares,
“Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:”
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
“But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.”
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:13-17)
God is beholding and listening to our conversation, for the Bible says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matt. 12:34).
The words we speak are an indicator to us and others of what is really in our hearts.
Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter five verses 38 and 39,
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Mat 5:38-39)
In these verses of Scripture, Jesus is not contradicting the law of the land.
The Law of Moses had said “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
People who committed injury or crimes against another were to be brought before the proper authorities and punishment was to be issued by the appropriate judges in their judicial system.
However, during the times of Jesus many people had taken it upon themselves to avenge their wrongs and they were using the Word of God to justify it.
This is what the Lord is talking about in these verses.
Jesus here is talking to individuals who would later become Christians. They were going to know God as their Heavenly Father.
He tells them to resist not evil. He says that if someone slaps you on one side of your face, then offer them the other also. In other words, humble yourself, forgive them, and give them another chance.
Jesus goes on to say in Matthew chapter five verses 40 through 42,
“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Matt. 5:40-42)
Jesus is teaching us that instead of avenging ourselves, we should go out of our way to demonstrate to those who would misuse us that, by the Grace of God, we have been changed from someone who would be prideful and angry enough to resist or retaliate.
We have been given a new heart and a new spirit made in the image of His heart and His Spirit. As God’s children, we should act as our Heavenly Father would act.
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4)
In Matthew chapter five verses 43 through 48 Jesus says,
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.” (Matt. 5:43)
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matt. 5:44)
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:45)
“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (Matt. 5:46)
“And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?” (Matt. 5:47)
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)
Verse 43 is one example of what Jesus called the “vain traditions” of the Pharisees.
They had taken two unrelated Scriptures out of the Old Testament and had put them together to form a tradition.
Leviticus chapter 19 and verse18 says,
“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:18)
The unrelated verse which they combined to the verse in Leviticus and formed the proverb “Love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy” is found in Deuteronomy chapter 23 and verse six.
“Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days forever.” (Deut. 23:6)
The Pharisees’ great desire was to appear righteous before men but they had no concern as to how they appeared before God, so they would take Scriptures out of context to vindicate their positions.
Over time these prideful “vindications” became traditions which they lived and taught by. Jesus said that in doing so they made the Word of God of “none effect”.
“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” (Mark 7:13)
Another example of this can be found in Matthew chapter 15 verses four through six.
“For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” (Matt. 15:4-6)
The Pharisees had created a tradition that promoted retaliation or hate against their enemies. Retaliation is nothing but fear. It is the attitude of “I have to stop them before they hurt me.” It is an attitude of fear and pride.
However, Jesus said to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”
He went on to say, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”