The book of Hebrews at its inception was written to Jews who had received Christ as Lord and Savior. The Jews were big on oaths and vows in their culture. Hebrews 6:16 in its context leads into describing God’s oath to Abraham that He, God, would make Abraham the father of a nation, a people that is so vast we cannot count them all. However, the verse gives us valuable information af what God defines as an oath, or a vow. Heb 6:16 ” When we make a vow, we use the name of someone greater than ourselves, and the vow settles all arguments. ” So, for, example, if you swear to do something “by God,” then you are giving God specific authority to hold you to it.
In the Gospel of Matthew, we see what Christ says about making vows in the first place. He is speaking to his disciples about divorce, which is breaking a promise, and goes on to say this: Matt 5:33 “You have also heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not break your promise, but do what you have vowed to the Lord to do.’ But now I tell you: do not use any vow when you make a promise. Do not swear by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by earth, for it is the resting place for his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. Just say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’—anything else you say comes from the Evil One.” (from the Good News Bible)
Let’s repeat one phrase and look at it more carefully. “Do not use any vow when you make a promise.” or, in old King James English – don’t forswear yourself.
Is it right, then, to make any kind of oath or vow? I don’t think we need to! God has promised everything to us and for us. It is by faith that we walk through this world, and everything we have and can do is by God’s grace. We can cheerfully say, if it is the Lord’s will, then we will do such-and-such. If we already know it is the Lord’s will, then we can joyfully simply say yes to Him and begin to do it by His grace working through us. Take a step of faith and go ahead and do what you know to do from the Lord.
God’s Word makes it clear there are no “greater” or “lesser” people in the Kingdom of God. If you need to verify this, read the book of James, which has salient remarks about prejudice. We do have a chain of authority, and persons to obey who represent God’s authority. If you allow someone to have authority over you unrighteously, however, it is absolutely certain that person will take advantage of the position and extract all kinds of additional (and wrong) behavior from you. How do you know when this is happening? Well, because it does happen, and too often, I would like to give you an examination to see if it is happening to you.
1. Have you promised someone to do something a.) in the heat or weakness of some emotion, like anger or or fear? b.) when you are tired or hungry? c.) during some great trial where that person offers great help in exchange for a “little” promise? d.) when you are lonely? e.) to get something you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. These are a few examples of times when we can be easily deceived, and it is too easy to slip another person wrong authority over us.
2. Have you seen that your vow causes trial or hurt to others? Is something missing or unavailable to them because of what you have done? Is their full potential hindered because your vow is a hindrance to what you know that you know is God’s best for them?
3. Have you seen that by keeping your vow, you are unfairly aligned, directly or indirectly with the person responsible for keeping you to it? Does what falls on your authority person fall on you? Psalms has a LOT to say about that, by the way.
4. Are you unable to move ahead in your walk with God? Are most of your prayers and even your acts of faith fruitless?
5. Is your vow of any use to the Kingdom of God? Did it have eternal value, or was is temporal, for this world only?
If any of these things apply to you, please examine your promises. When you made a promise, did you make it to be kept by God’s grace, or did you make it to some other person; “Well, I swear I’ll show you . . .” or, ” I swear will do what you said,” or even, “I swear that isn’t true.” Here is one more possibility to examine – did you vow something TO YOURSELF?
Are you freaking out right now because you are just realizing how you have given someone power you never intended? Even your natural self over your godly, spiritual, saved self?
THERE IS HOPE. What does Philippians chapter 4 say: Don’t be anxious! Take it to the Lord!
The word you need to remember right now is “repent.” If you have realized you made a bad vow or promise, you have already repented. To repent is to turn away from something, and the root word for our Engilsh is to “change you mind”. You have already changed your mind. You agree with God that you made a mistake.
The next step is to confess what you have done to God. Ask His forgiveness, and receive it. Tell Him you respect His authority, and you will do whatever He says to get you out of this mess. He wil give you a godly solution. Always. He will help you, and it will be like a stone thrown into a pool. Your right response to God will ripple out to make things right for every person who has been unjustly affected. You are setting the wheels in motion for much good change. If some other person used you to gain authority, that one will be affected for righteousness. To repent and mover forward in righteousness yourself is to make the opportunity for another sinner to come to repentance. Trust God to enable and protect you. He has promised this, and God’s promises are always right. God’s promises never fail. In I John 1:9, He says when we sin, and we come to hHim about it, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I don’t know where you stand, but this writer would rather deal with just and holy God any day instead of being falsely acocuntable to some other person, place or thing.
Lord, I pray for every person who reads this blog post to think of all the things they have said to people or to themselves to get something. Help them make a list and pray to you about each and every item on the list. I ask You to show them right from wrong and lead them to repentance and cleansing for every wrong promise. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Thank You, Lord.