Saturday, November 19, 2005

What is Jesus really saying about oath swearing?

For Jesus to say that swearing an oath is wrong would go against the teaching of scripture. Swearing an oath in and of itself was not considered to be a bad thing under Old Testament teaching, and Paul himself swore an oath in the book of Romans.

Then why would Jesus be saying that we should not swear at all?

Is it possible that Jesus is talking about a certain kind of swearing? Or is it possible that there are some heart issues that Jesus is dealing with here? Or could Jesus be condemning religious game playing that involved adding to and subtracting from the Law while trampling on the original intent of the Law?

Actually, Jesus is talking about everything mentioned in the paragraph above.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Swearing an Oath

I grew up in a denomination where swearing an oath of any kind for any reason was considered to be wrong. I would say that if someone looks at Matthew 5:33-37, at first glance my denomination looks like they just might have been right. That someone might ask, "What part of 'Swear not at all" do you not understand?"

Once again, it is important to look at the context of what Jesus is saying here. This is true with Matthew 5:21-26, Matthew 5:27-30, and Matthew 5:31-32, and it is true with Matthew 5:33-37 as well.

It is also important to remember in all of these passages, as well as Matthew 5:38-42 and Matthew 5:43-48, that Jesus is not changing the Law of the Old Covenant. Not only is he not changing the Law of the Old Covenant, but he is in every instance giving the original intent of the Law of the Old Covenant.

Religious leaders had added to, subtracted from, and given improper emphasis to certain areas of the Law of God. This Law that is still applicable today according to Jesus himself (Matthew 5:17-19) was being subtly twisted into something that it was never intended to be. Jesus loved the Law, and he desired to teach about what the Law was originally intended to teach.

Religious leaders had twisted biblical teaching concerning the swearing of oaths into an ugly mess that somehow may have sounded right, but in reality was very far from what God had originally intended. In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus is going to give the original intent of the Law concerning oath swearing. At first glance, Jesus seems to be saying that it is wrong for anyone to swear an oath of any kind for any reason. But is Jesus really saying that it is wrong for anyone to swear an oath of any kind for any reason?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Nine Commandments?

Religious leaders in Israel, before and during the time of Jesus, had a tendency to add and/or subtract from the Law of God. I believe that we have a tendency to do the same thing as well. An example of this is the Sabbath. God gave us ten commandments. All of these ommandments involved loving God and loving our neighbor. For example, when we look at the Sabbath, the people of Israel not only showed their love for God by keeping the Sabbath holy, but also showed love for their neighbor by giving their neighbor the day off. Even animals were given the day off!

Today, we somehow do not need to show our love for our neighbors by giving them the day off. If we own a business, we stay open on the Sabbath. If we want to eat on the Sabbath, we eat out and encourage the business to stay open and continue to have their workers work on the Sabbath. And if the workers refuse to work on the Sabbath, they might just lose their jobs.

So by not keeping the Sabbath, we put others to work, encourage businesses to stay open on the Sabbath, encourage businesses to have their workers work on the Sabbath, and help people lose their jobs. Does this sound like loving our neighbor? No, it sounds a lot more like hating our neighbor.

1. "That was the Old Covenant."

2. "The Sabbath is not for today."

3. "Keeping the Sabbath is legalistic."

These are some of the responses that Christians who try to love God and love their neighbor by keeping the Sabbath can hear today.

1. "That was the Old Covenant."

Yes, and what of it? The New Covenant is an expansion and improvement upon the Old Covenant. God showed his love for Israel by giving them the day off. They in turn were to show their love for their neighbor and their God by keeping the Sabbath holy and by giving their neigbors the day off. Even a donkey got the day off.

How would doing away with the Sabbath in the New Covenant improve upon the Old Covenant?
If the New Covenant does away with the Sabbath, it would mean that God's people of Israel would be expected to show more love for a donkey than what we would be expected to show today to our neigbor. Some improvement! Love your neigbor in the Old Covenant. Give him the day off. Hate your neighbor in the New Covenant. Encourage him to work. Make him work. And maybe even help your neighbor to be fired from his job for not working on the Sabbath. Donkeys in the Old Covenant have it much better and are shown a lot more love than people are in the New Covenant under the Nine Commandment theory.

2. "The Sabbath is not for today."

Read Matthew 5:17-21. Heaven and earth have not passed. Jesus did not do away with the Sabbath, but it is OK for us to do away with it? Please read verse 5:19 twice.

Teachers during the time of Jesus added to and subtracted from the law of God. This is seen later on in Matthew 5. Today people add to and subtract from the law of God. Man has taken the Ten Commandments and given us the Nine Commandments.

3. "Keeping the Sabbath is legalistic."

If I break the Sabbath, I am being godly, and if I try to keep it, I am being ungodly? If I am tempted to commit adultery or rob a bank, I should go ahead and do it, since trying to keep the law of God is legalistic?

"But I am free from the law." This is another of the great ignore the context examples. Christians are free from the ultimate curse of the law. As far as keeping the law in order to earn salvation is concerned, all Christians are free from that. But all Christians are to be law keepers and covenant keepers, not law breakers and covenant breakers. Keeping the law never has and never will earn salvation. But the one who ignores the law and breaks the law may just be showing that he or she was never saved to begin with. If Jesus did not do away with any of the Ten Commandments, then why do you have the right to do away with the Sabbath or any other commandment?

In Matthew chapter five, Jesus makes it very clear the the law of God still stands and will stand until heaven and earth pass. Jesus goes on to show how religious teachings of his time did not measure up to the original intent of the law. People in the church take these sayings of Jesus and twist and turn them out of their contexts, and make it look like Jesus was changing the law of God. No, time and time again, Jesus gives the original intent of the law.

Tomorrow at Covenant Family Fellowship, we are scheduled to look at Matthew 5:33-37. Is Jesus telling us that we should never swear an oath?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Old and New Testaments

This Sabbath we are scheduled to study the subject of telling the truth. Once again, Jesus comes up against people who are portraying themselves as experts on the law. And once again, Jesus will not contradict Old Testament law, but instead give the original intent of the law.

Let me warn you about teachers who are constantly making a huge distinction between the two testaments. This is one of the biggest problems in our churches today. One of the ways that this problem shows up has to do with the ten commandments that Moses gave. Depending on whom you talk to, we are told for all practical purposes that there are only nine commandments.