What Sorrow Awaits You…Swearers | Matthew 23:13-22

Mat 23:16"Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear 'by God's Temple,' but that it is binding to swear 'by the gold in the Temple.'Mat 23:17Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred?Mat 23:18And you say that to swear 'by the altar' is not binding, but to swear 'by the gifts on the altar' is binding.Mat 23:19How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred?Mat 23:20When you swear 'by the altar,' you are swearing by it and by everything on it.Mat 23:21And when you swear 'by the Temple,' you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it.Mat 23:22And when you swear 'by heaven,' you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne.

Quote from IVP Bible Background Commentary:

Jews were no longer allowed to pronounce the sacred name of God during this time period. By swearing lesser oaths, some people hoped to avoid the consequences of swearing by God's name if they could not keep their vow or if their oath turned out to be mistaken. As people swore or vowed by things related to God instead of by God Himself, more and more things became substitutes for the divine name and thus became roundabout ways of seeming to swear by God while hoping to buffer the consequences.

Jesus had touched on this subject previously in Matthew 5:33-37 and he concluded that the resolution is to simply make your "Yes" a yes and your "No" a no. In other words, you are of God and a vow you make should be kept in light of God's ways and wishes. Do not attempt to add to your vow by using His Name and do not attempt to weaken a vow by not using His name.

In the study on Matthew 5:33 I had applied this principle to modern day wedding vows and the idea of divorce being so 'easy' today. Now let's look at another problem we seem to have in our culture today, financial integrity.

Is it wrong for a Christian to go into bankruptcy or foreclosure?

The problem really starts with the agreements we make in the first place. Who were you following when you agreed to take that big screen tv on credit you didn't have? Was it God who was leading you to that purchase? Who were you following when you bought that car you couldn't afford or that house that was too big for your budget; self or God?

You see the problem lies at the beginning, not at the end. We need to have an abiding loving relationship with Jesus so that He is controlling our hearts and minds. Then we will be making decisions based on His thoughts and His approval. We will enter into contracts with a clear yes because we know that we have the support of God or we will say no to those impulsive buys because He knows what's best for us. Listen to this...

Psa 37:3-8Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust Him, and He will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for Him to act. Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm.

Psa_40:8I take joy in doing Your will, my God, for Your instructions are written on my heart."

Psa_119:34Give me understanding and I will obey Your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart.

What does it mean when I am a Christian and I still run into problems?

Sometimes we run into problems beyond the decisions we make. Life sometimes makes the decisions for us, but God has not left our side. He wants to be there with us, helping us especially when the times are tough and He doesn't always immediately take us "out of the fire". If we are forced to more and more cling to Him in tough times, do we not gain the eternal blessing of learning to rely on Him?

How we handle adversity can show even more the loving and trusting relationship we have with Jesus. Adversity can bring a greater love for your Savior and therefore it can be seen as a blessing. Did you ever consider that? Adversity can be a blessing...

There are many people today, even Christians, who think that they are owed something. They take-take-take, and expect that it should be given. There is a part of them that feels owed because of their mere existence. They do not consider others first nor do they hold their vows to be made to God, but to be only binding as long as it is convenient to them.

Consider for a moment where we might be if God held His promises to us in the same esteem as we hold our promises to Him and to His creation...not a pleasant thought.

So, my friends, let your Yes be Yes and your No be No. Consider any promise to hold the weight of eternity in it. Walk with God through adversity and know that He will honor your sacrifice. Fall on your knees at the foot of the cross when you make a mistake and allow your loving Savior to lift you up. Do good. Love your neighbor. Keep your promises and let the one who kept the ultimate promise live in you.


Lord, I thank you so much for what you accomplished through Jesus. I praise Your Name today knowing that You have promised to save me if I believe in what You have done for me. Lord, I confess my unbelief and ask You to fill me with Your righteousness. I consider myself dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ.

Help me now with my studies. I ask for the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Christ.  Forgive my children and cover them with Your robe of righteousness. Amen.