12 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.
IS THE TAKING OF AN OATH LAWFUL?
Christ distinctly prohibits swearing, (Matt. v, 34-37), and James repeats the injunction in an emphatic form.-(Jas. 5, 12.)
In both cases there is a reason given. Christ says "For whatsoever is more than these (yea and nay) cometh of evil;" James, "Lest ye fall into condemnation." From this, it is obvious that our duty in the matter has a deeper origin than the command.
Christ's words appeal to fact; a man who is prone to adjurations and imprecations is almost to a certainty a liar. Truth comes out in plain words. A man may speak the truth the other way, but he is liable to be beguiled into falsehood. The mere indulgence in a wrong form of speech, borrowed from an evil origin, has a tendency to breed the evil to which it owes its birth For this reason, Christ commands abstention from them.
Simplicity in speech will help the growth of candour. Nothing is more wholesome or dignified than the open "yes" or "no" of truth-speaking; the very practice will bring straightforwardness.
Oaths or diplomatic polish are equally fatal to honesty. Truth walks best on her own legs. But how about law courts? Here the case stands very differently The law, which takes nothing on credit, adjures the witness to speak the truth; the witness is passive and merely responds to the adjuration by token. Here it is not a question of individual practice, but of submission to the judicial ordinances of man. This we are commanded to yield.-(1 Pet. ii, 13.) Of course, it is possible human law may sometimes ask us to do what the divine law prohibits. In that case, there is but one alternative, viz., the one followed by Peter and the rest of the Apostles. (Acts iv, 19.); but in the matter in question, there is no conflict, as the witness does not swear, but merely submits to an adjuration.
The Scotch form of oath is more open to objection. In this, the witness raises his right hand and repeats a form of words, beginning "I swear by Almighty God." This is so expressly against Christ's commandment that one doubts if any legal obligation can justify it. Doubtless it is a legal form: but one trembles under any circumstances to do so, exactly what Christ commanded not to be done. It is better to be on the safe side
The Ambassador May 1866. p127
Christ forbids oaths or swearing of any kind. James is equally emphatic and unqualified. ...This is to sweep away all the complicated and meaningless fabric that man has erected in a vain fig-leaf effort to deal with his own natural deceptiveness and untruthfulness.
All the oaths and adjurations that are meant to bolster truth only cheapen and weaken it. Disease cannot be destroyed by merely building a fence around it-it must be stamped out at the root. Jesus goes to the heart of the evil, and lays the simple, all-sufficient basis of rigid truth in every word that is uttered-no falsehood, no foolishness (Rev. 22:15; 1 Jn. 2:21; Eph. 5:4). "God hath no pleasure in fools."
Bro Growcott - The Fleeting Cross and the Eternal Crown
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Among the works of sin, are the numerous diseases which transgression has brought upon the world. The Hebrews, the idiom of whose language is derived from the Mosaic narrative of the origin of things, referred disease to sin under the names of the devil and Satan. Hence, they inquired, "who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? "A woman" bowed together with a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years," is said to have been "bound of Satan" or the adversary, for that time; and her restoration to health is termed "loosing her from the bond" (Luke 13:10-17).
Paul also writes in the same idiom to the disciples at Corinth, commanding them to deliver the incestuous brother "unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh;" that is, inflict disease upon him, that he may be brought to repentance, "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5).
Thus he was "judged and chastened of the Lord, that he might not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). This had the desired effect; for he was overwhelmed with sorrow.
Wherefore, He exhorts the spiritually gifted men of the body (James 5:14), to forgive and comfort, or restore him to health, "lest Satan should get an advantage over them" by the offender being reduced to despair: "for", says the apostle, "we are not ignorant of his devices," or those of sin in the flesh (2 Cor. 2:6-11), which is very deceitful.
Others of the Corinthians were offenders in another way. They were very disorderly in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, eating and drinking condemnation to themselves. "For this cause," says he; that is, because they sinned thus, "many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep," or are dead.
Many other cases might be adduced from Scripture to show the connexion between sin and disease; but these are sufficient. If there were no moral evil in the world, there would be no physical evils. Sin and punishment are as cause and effect in the divine economy.
God does not willingly afflict, but is long suffering and kind. If men, however, will work sin, they must lay their account with "the wages of sin;" which is disease, famine, pestilence, the sword, misery and death. But, let the righteous rejoice, that the enemy will not always triumph in the earth. The Son of God was manifested to destroy him, and all his works; which, by the power and blessing of the Father, He will assuredly do.
Elpis Israel 1.3.
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Much estrangement, much bitterness, much coldness between brethren, is due to a failure to realise that others are fighting the same hard battle against the same diabolos as we are-struggling hard though they often appear to fail.
They know they fail and recognise and deplore their failure, and are striving to overcome. But these things are all too often locked up in our hearts. We are too isolated and reserved. We just cannot bring ourselves to the point of laying them out in the open. There is a barrier pride can't surmount.
And so we lose one of the greatest beauties of true fellowship. We judge and are judged according to the public outward manifestations of our mutual enemy the diabolos, rather than by the sincere and agonising secret inward efforts to overcome it.
How often we regret a word or action, and would so much like to blot it out and start over! But unless we SAY so, others will judge us by the fleshly action, and not by the spiritual regret, and so estrangement and misunderstanding grow.
We are engaged in a deadly war against the same great Enemy. In this struggle, let us keep our lines of communication open so we can support one another. Let us frankly admit we are having a hard time with our diabolos; perhaps we can help each other on to victory together-where alone we each would fail.
Bro Growcott - To Be Fleshly Minded is Death
Prayer has two main purposes: all else is secondary.
(1) Thanksgiving -- perpetual moment-to-moment thankfulness for everything: for to the eye of faith and love all is glorious, all is joyful.
(2) Seeking help to know right and think right and do right -- in every circumstance, every condition. Get these on track as a fixed way of life, and all else will flow in a mighty, irresistible stream of goodness.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
Why are we gathered here? Is it for enjoyment? No. The purpose of our life is not enjoyment, but accomplishment, development, growth, preparation. In the mercy of God, enjoyment is the result of godly activity, but it is not the purpose.
To be real and worthwhile, life must have a far deeper motive than enjoyment, or the satisfying of any desire. The motivating force in our lives must be the love of God, for its own sake alone.
Only this could make both Moses and Paul·-two men so different and yet so much alike-sincerely and unaffectedly willing to be blotted out of God's purpose if it would help their
True love is entirely selfless. It is far too large and irradiating to be conformed to self-interest. We are here to help and be helped. These addresses themselves are but a small part of the purpose of our gathering together. The real part is contact, fellowship, encouragement, mutual interest-better understanding, sympathy, drawing closer together.
God in His mercy has given us fellow-workers on the road to life. They are not perfect, as we ourselves are not perfect, but we are united in a striving for perfection, and earnest realization of the great beauty and desirability of perfection. That is the glorious bond that unites us here in one heart and spirit.
We are not here to congratulate one another because we fast twice in the week, and give tithes of all we possess, and are so much better than other men. This can creep into our attitude if we are not careful.
We are separated from other groups, not because we think we are better, but because we realize more clearly the dangers and weaknesses inherent in the flesh-our own flesh included-and are more concerned about them in the light of God's Word. We are not here to criticize and condemn others. We are here in recognition of our own weakness and need.
We are united in a glorious endeavor-the only worthwhile and satisfying endeavor in the whole earth-but the magnitude of its scope and gloriousness makes us keenly conscious of our utter natural unworthiness.
It is God's will that it should create this feeling within us. God is infinite and omnipotent. We are perishing creatures of such limited understanding and ability. This overwhelming sense of unworthiness should teach us kindness and compassion and mercy-a great hesitancy to
judge, knowing that with what measure we judge we shall be judged, and we all need such mercy ourselves.
Bro Growcott - Our call to holiness