God, through the apostle James, clearly states that Christians must not swear by an oath: “But above all things, my brethren, swear not…but let your yes be your yes; and your no, no; lest you fall into condemnation” (Jms. 5:12).
Christ also said, in Matthew 5:34-37, “I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool: nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Revised Authorized Version).
But God knows that we often lack the power to act on even our strongest desires and intentions. If a person were to swear an oath in God’s name and fail in it, he would be breaking the Third Commandment—taking God’s name in vain. If we do something that God commands us not to do, it is sin (I John 3:4).
We cannot bring God into a matter. He can bring Himself into a matter.
But what if one is called to testify in a courtroom? United States and Canadian law both provide for one to affirm the truth with a “yes” or “no”—the simple answers Christ and James admonish us to give. One is not required to raise his hand and swear.
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