Brad Libolt speaking on James 5:12. He spoke about the importance of being people who are trustworthy and truthful. People whose word holds weight. Encouraging us to live lives that reflect Christ.
- Growing up, my brother and I always joked with each other and we didn’t really trust one another. But, if we told each other “I promise” we knew that what the other person said was true. We would always have to preface it with an “I promise” to know that they were being honest. But what does this mean about when we didn’t say “I promise?” It meant that when we didn’t say “I promise” what we were saying wasn’t necessarily true. We shouldn’t have to make oaths or swear to make others believe what we are saying is true. Our yes should simply be yes and our no should simply be no.
12 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.
- This is a simple truth, but one that is very important. He is saying that we shouldn’t swear by heaven or by earth, or by any other oath. This is what my brother and I would do. But doing this told my brother that when I didn’t preface my statements with “I promise” or “I swear” I wasn’t telling the truth.
- Instead of swearing and saying “I promise” or making oaths to prove our truthfulness, our yes should simply be yes, and our no should simply be no. As people who follow Jesus we should be known as trustworthy and truthful. We shouldn’t need to prove to people that what we are saying is true, it should just be true.
- Which to do that, it means we have to actually be truthful. That’s the heart of it. Naturally, in our fallen condition, we are untruthful. Our sinful tendency is to not tell the truth. We lie and tell partial truths, we deceive. It gives people no reason to trust our integrity, and it all comes back to this heart issue that deep down we are sinful and are prone to lying. If you think about the last time you were not honest with someone, you probably don’t have to go back very far.
- This verse is saying that this isn’t right. We must be truthful people. It is important that we are honest, and completely truthful with each other because lying is the exact opposite of the character of God. God is truth. The very character of God is truth and honesty. God is faithful to keep his promise.
- What is our motivation to be truthful and honest? It is so we don’t fall under condemnation. Remember last week when we talked about final judgement? This is in the same line of thought. Genesis 3 introduces the serpent, which enters evil. Adam and Eve believe the lie that the serpent told, and because of that they are then cursed. Because of one sin, a lie. The world is in rebellion against God. After the serpent deceived Eve, God made a promise that Eve’s offspring would crush the head of the serpent (3:15). Then in the new testament Jesus comes into the picture. He was going to do away with evil, with lying, with destruction, and sin. Jesus went to the cross where he was crucified and put to death.
- Remember, at the end, when Jesus comes back, there will be final judgment. Those who believe in Jesus will enter into eternity with their creator, and those who don’t will be condemned for eternity. James is saying that our truthfulness has eternal consequences. Whether or not we are condemned could depend on how truthful we are in this life.
- As much as we promise and try to talk our way out, we can’t. Jesus is our only way out. The only way we will not experience condemnation is by choosing Christ. Jesus was condemned so you and I don’t have to be. This doesn’t mean we get to go around and keep on sinning and lying. But because Jesus saved us, we want to become more like Jesus, so we strive to tell the truth an die honest.
- Now, what I am not saying is that if we are truthful and don’t lie we get into heaven. What I am saying, is that if we truly believe in Jesus and trust in him as our Lord and Savior, then we are going to be truthful people. We should follow the example of Jesus, who never told a lie, never stretched the truth, never had to swear or make an oath or say I promise. He was completely trustworthy and truthful at all times, and that is the example we should follow.
- Even though he was completely trustworthy and truthful, something you and I can never do or be, he was still put to death on a cross for the sins of the world. Jesus took our lies and sin on himself and was condemned in our place. Romans 8:1 says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We lie more than we should, we aren’t as trustworthy as we should be, we don’t trust other’s words either. But, despite all of that, despite our sin, all we have to do is believe that Jesus really was who he said he was. That he did die on the cross taking away the penalty for our sin. He really did raise from the dead, conquering the enemy once and for all. He really did ascend into heaven to be at the right hand of the Father so that he could intercede on our behalf. If we believe that Jesus was God, and that his death and resurrection seals our eternity, then there is no condemnation. It doesn’t matter how many times we lie or don’t trust others, we are secure. And because we have been saved, we must strive to be like Christ. Strive to be trustworthy, to tell the truth, and to be honest.