The Importance Of Keeping The Word

Photo by Karen Laårk Boshoff:

Please turn with me in your Bibles to James 5:12.

I was watching a video from Prager University the other day called The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions. The phrase is often attributed to a French Christian named Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). Dennis Prager noted that in the 20th Century about 100 million people were murdered by despotic regimes. Most of those murdered were Communist countries, regimes supported by “nice people” who had or believed they had good intentions. It was American and British citizens who, with good intentions, delivered to the Soviet Mass Murderer Joseph Stalin the secrets to making an atom bomb. Many of the teachers who bring up topics robbing young children of their sexual innocence are motivated by good intentions. Those who vote for politicians who want to defund the police – a sure way of increasing murder, rape, and other crimes in our country – have good intentions. Those who seek to criminalize hate speech have good intentions, though what they seek is a serious threat to our First Amendment rights.

Prager went on to say that the only way we can have a better world is by seeking wisdom. Knowledge without wisdom is useless. You can learn knowledge in a laboratory – but WISDOM COMES FROM GOD. James has told us this four times. In

James 1:5 we read, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (ESV).

Wisdom is the proper application of what God has said is wise. King Solomon, a man who got wisdom from God, said wisdom is BETTER THAN JEWELS, and ALL THAT YOU MAY DESIRE CANNOT COMPARE with {wisdom}. ‘I, Wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion’” (ESV). You can find knowledge without wisdom, but the Bible calls you a fool. But if you find knowledge THROUGH WISDOM, through God and His Word, then you are wise. James told us in chapter three:

James 3:13-18 (ESV) Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

To quote Dennis Prager,

Wisdom is asking WHAT DOES GOOD,

Wisdom comes from the “Word of Christ” (Colossians 3:16). It is a gift of God (Ephesians 1:17). “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding” (Proverbs 3:13).

Wisdom Is Found Only By Clinging To The Word Of God

James 5:12 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.

I found little that made any sense to me in the commentaries on this verse. One commentary suggested that “swear” meant to “say a dirty word, to curse”. The Greek ὀμνύω omnýō, {pronounced om-noo’-o} is never (that I could find) used in the sense of “making a curse or foul word”. The word occurs 27 times in 21 verses in the Greek New Testament. The word is several times used of God Himself, for instance,

Luke 1:73 The oath that {God} swore {omnýō} to our father Abraham.

Hebrews 3:11 {God said} I swore {omnýō} in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest.

Hebrews 6:13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear {omnýō} by no greater, He swore {omnýō} by Himself

There is a word that refers to using foul language, and it is the word ἀναθεματίζω anathematizō. When Peter denied knowing Jesus just prior to our Lord’s crucifixion, the Bible says:

Mark 14:71 But {Peter} began to CURSE {ἀναθεματίζω anathematizō} AND to SWEAR {omnýō}, saying, I know not this Man of whom you speak.

James is not talking about cursing or using foul language. He is talking about taking an oath. If you read the text carefully you can see this in the context:

James 5:12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath

Now what is James talking about? When I was saved in the Church of God of Prophecy I was told that “You are never to “swear” anything in court – but you can “affirm” it”. So when I raised my right hand to bind myself to the United States Air Force the oath I took was:

I [state your full name], Do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

{So help me God (optional)}.”

So I “affirmed” my oath. Is this what James was telling us to do? No! You need to understand the background of this text to understand the text. There is nothing wrong with swearing (see Acts 2:30; Hebrews 6:13-18). In fact, the Law of God says:

Deuteronomy 10:20 Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.

When our Lord Jesus stood before the High Priest in judgment, the Priest said to Jesus: I place You under oath by the living God, to tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.. Jesus replied, You have said it yourself (NASB). It is not wrong to swear in God’s name. However,

The Jews (in particular the Pharisees) had a practice of making oaths and then breaking them.

Jesus addressed this in His Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:33-37 (ESV) Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

The Pharisee would swear by heaven or by the earth or by Jerusalem, or even by your head. Then when they defaulted on what they said they were going to do, they would say, “Well, this doesn’t count, because I didn’t swear by the NAME OF GOD”.

This is like saying, “My promise don’t count because
I had my fingers crossed”.

Beloved, to say you will do something, then not do it, IS TO LIE. This is something that only the devil should do. When religious people twist the Word of God, or default on their own words, they are imitating Satan. Jesus chastised the Pharisees:

John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

The devil is the father of lying. It was the devil who – in the guise of a serpent (Genesis 3:4; Revelation 12:9; 20:2) told Eve when tempting her to eat the forbidden fruit:

Genesis 3:4-5 (ESV) … “You will not surely die {if you eat this fruit}. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

God told Adam that “the day you eat of it, you will SURELY DIE”. The devil said, “You will NOT SURELY DIE”. God is a liar. What God told you is untruthful – or at least, what you heard is untruthful. The devil twists the truth, and denies the Word of God.

The devil has been doing this from the beginning of human history. He does it today. This is why James uses this phrase:

James 5:12 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.

ABOVE ALL THINGS keep your word. Don’t do as the Pharisees did, who made oaths with intentional loopholes. The Christian is commanded of God to be:

Ephesians 4:15 … speaking the truth in love ..

The Apostle Peter uses the same phrase “above all things” in:

1 Peter 4:8 … above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

We as believers are top speak the truth in love. Our words are to be truthful and honest. If we say something, it should reflect the truth, and be upheld by the Scripture. We are to cling to God’s Word, remembering that Jesus prayed for His Church, saying:

John 17:14-17 (ESV) I have given them Your Word {Father}, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.

God’s Word – this Bible – is TRUTH. It is WRITTEN TRUTH. It is Wisdom from above. We are to cling to this Word, and trust this Word. We are not to REDEFINE TRUTH, which is what the world has done. Those things which the Bible forbids – lying, adultery, sexual immorality, perversity – the world has redefined as “protecting your boundaries, making love, finding a soul mate, falling in love”. The world says that this is the way to go. The Bible, however, warns us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The Scripture tells us that:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) … do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

It is certain that the flagrant sinner will not get into God’s Kingdom and, by extension, nor into God’s Heaven. Yet the person who comes to the Lord Jesus Christ for cleansing can be washed, can be cleansed of sin, and can be given an “adopted state” with God our Father. Those who twist God’s Word or maul the truth are destined – not to go to Heaven – but to find themselves in that other place we call “the second death”. The Scripture says:

Revelation 21:7-8 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whore mongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Liars and those who do not speak the truth in love will find themselves in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, a place of eternal separation and torment. Our tongues are to speak the truth with love if our hearts belong to Jesus.

God Always Keeps His Word. Aren’t You Glad?

James 5:13-15 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 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.

James now asks is three questions and gives us answers that make absolutely no sense if God does not keep His Word.

Word Study: The first question is Is any among you afflicted?. The word rendered afflicted is the Greek κακοπαθέω kakopathéō, {pronounced kak-op-ath-eh’-o} which means “to undergo hardship”. The soldier who faithfully serves his nation often finds himself in hard places. The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:3 … endure hardness {kakopathéō}, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ

We are in a war with the darkness, with the forces of Satan. Jesus said, “If the world hate you, know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18). The Apostle wrote, “Marvel not, my brothers and sisters, if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13). The darkness will always hate the light. Listen Beloved,

If you speak the BIBLICAL truth in love, the world will hate you. Satan does not despise the compromiser – but he does despise the faithful warrior of Christ.

You will be afflicted {kakopathéō}. If you are – and you will be – then let him pray. God is faithful. His Word is faithful. If God’s Word is not faithful, then why pray? But He is faithful, and has promised I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5). God is near. You are near, O LORD” (Psalm 119:150-151). If God was not reliable, then why pray? But God is reliable. He is true to His Word. Though a thousand fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, it will not come near you” (Psalm 91:7). Why is that? Because if I make the Most High my dwelling place, my Refuge, then NO HARM will befall me; no disaster will come near my home” (Psalm 91:9-10).

The second question is,

James 5:13 Is any merry? let him sing psalms

What if you are on a mountaintop? Remember that God is near. We as humans often compartmentalize God. God is like the Faithful Butler Who, when we sense we need Him, we cry out, He appears in our life, fixes what’s wrong, then like a genie in a bottle goes home until we call Him again. This is a foolish and unbiblical concept of God. The Bible says, dear Christian,

1 Corinthians 6:20 (ESV) … you were BOUGHT WITH A PRICE (see also 1 Corinthians 7:23)

God “purchased you with His own Blood” (Acts 20:28). God the Son became a curse for you, that you not be cursed (Galatians 3:13). You were redeemed from damnation and from the darkness of this present world (1 Peter 1:18-19).

We who are Christian belong to God ALL THE TIME. We are in His Presence NOT just in the valley, but also on the mountaintop.

If God is there, we should sing praises to Him while on the mountaintop, and pray to Him, calling on His name whether in the valley or not. When we are told let him sing psalms I see also in this the word Psalms. James was telling the ancient Jew – as well as us today – to turn to the Hebrew Hymnbook. In this wonderful Book – in the center of our Bibles – we see how those in affliction and on the mountaintop magnified God. I have often “prayed the Psalms”, letting the words of the Psalmist run through my eyes, into my spirit, and out of my mouth. That is such a blessing!

The third question asked and answered is:

James 5:14 … Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church

Who are the elders? These are mature believers who teach the Word of God and model Christ to the other believers. The Chief Apostle wrote:

1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

The “elders” are those who both cherish and study the Word of God. If you are not reading and applying the Word of God in your life, you will NEVER become an “elder”. The Bible says in:

Hebrews 5:12-14 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the Word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

The Elders are those believers who are skillful in the Word of Righteousness. They walk with God daily, and have built up a Biblical worldview that dominates their lives. When the suffering Christian calls for the elders of the Church, these believers both heed and do what God has commanded. These two or three obey the Scripture:

James 5:14-15 let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 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.

Why do we anoint … with oil in the name of the Lord”? Because the oil symbolizes both love as well as God the Holy Spirit. When David was anointed King of Israel by Samuel the Bible says the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David” (1 Sam 16:13). Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 10:38; Isaiah 61:1). As Christians, we are anointed by the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20, 27). The oil has no medicinal property, but is symbolic, but something we as believers do because God said to do it. It is a slippery slope when we begin to ignore portions of God’s Word because we do not understand it. As believers we are called to share our brokenness with our fellow believers. We are told:

James 5:16 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.

God Only Hears The Prayers Of The Righteous
(Unless You Are Seeking Salvation)

God loves and cares for all. But to those who are bound in chains of sin, who refuse to repent and cast themselves on the mercy of Jesus, God will not hear these people. Hear the Scripture:

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

You find this throughout the Scripture. For instance, Psalm 34:16 states the face of the LORD is against them that do evil. And in Psalm 138:6 we read, Though the LORD be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly; BUT the PROUD HE KNOWS afar off. Jesus Christ came to save whosoever will. Jesus came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). He told the self righteous Pharisees:

Matthew 9:13 … I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (also Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32).

Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary to make payment for and to cover our sins. But to be saved, we must repent and turn to Him. WE MUST REPENT! To repent is to turn away from sin, and to turn to Jesus and Jesus alone. To repent is to cease following the darkness, and to run to the Master for healing. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

Our God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance(2 Peter 3:9). It is God’s desire that as many as will come to Christ be saved. God will sometimes bring affliction on a nation to draw it into repentance. Here James gives us the illustration of Elijah:

James 5:17-18 {Elijah} was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Elijah was a person with his faults and problems, just like we have. Yet Elijah clung to the Word of God. God used Elijah to bring Israel and her corrupt King Ahab to his knees. Because Elijah trusted and called on God, the Lord used him to bring a large section of Israel back into a right relationship with Him. Something also noteworthy is – though there was a drought in the land, God insured that Elijah had plenty to eat and drink throughout it. God will take care of you!

Let us finish our text:

James 5:19-20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

We are, as believers, NEVER to justify sin. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death. When someone walks in opposition to the will and Word of God, they are courting death – not to mention a multitude of sins. Love demands that we as believers cling to God’s Word, and share faith in Christ as the only solution for sin. May we as God’s Church stay true to His Word. In God’s name, and for His glory we pray. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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