VII. Instruction on integrity. James 5:12
A. Integrity is required of believers. Refer to Matthew 5:33-37.
We are following Paul’s outline as given to Timothy in to examine the instruction of the Lord as recorded by Matthew
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
1. The reproof. Matthew 5:33
a. The tradition practiced.
1). Do not perjure yourself (swear falsely)
2). Do that which you have sworn unto the Lord to do.
b. The truth – swearing was legitimate only as proscribed by God.
Leviticus 19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
Deuteronomy 6:13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
The Pharisees and Scribes had turned the practice of swearing into that which would be to their advantage. If they swore to anything other than by the Lord, they were not constrained to keep the promise. The Lord exposed this practice to all in the presence of the Pharisees and then continued with –
2. The rebuke. Matthew 5:34-36 Refrain from this practice of swearing.
The practice of swearing in daily life led to the practice of swearing in anger – note the response of the High Priest as he interrogate the Lord Jesus –
Matthew 26:63-65 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.
Both of these emotional outburst were forbidden by the Law of God but common practice led to contempt for the principles of God!
3. The exhortation Matthew 5:37 – be honest and dependable.
Swearing is not necessary at all. The believer’s word should be enough!
B. Integrity is required of believers at all times in every circumstance. James 5:12
The reinforcement of the truth taught by the Lord.
We should remember that from the beginning of this letter, James had had one purpose –
To instill in the believer this goal. –
Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
This man is identified by his faith, he is identified by his conduct, he is identified by his humility, he is identified by his patient service unto the Lord. To all of this is added –
He is identified by his integrity – “… : but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay;…”.
Is it possible that James was listening as Jesus gave these same instructions in Matthew 5:33-37.
I believe that it is also possible that the Lord brought the words of Hosea to James’ mind to help him understand this admonition to his readers –
Their words –
Hosea 6:3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
And then their actions as noted by the Lord –
Hosea 6:4 O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.
As we noted last week, they were instructed to serve the Lord in patience, knowing the early rains and waiting for the latter rains.
We note from Hosea 6:3 that the spirit was willing, but from Hosea 6:4 the flesh was weak!
James is instructing them to not rely on vows and promises to be trusted of others. He is instructing them to be people of integrity and they would be trusted of others!
The message is to believers – the children of God and speaks of God’s desire that we reflect Him in our lives through integrity – in every circumstance! We, as Christians individually and as Ipoh Bible Baptist Church corporately need to have the testimony of truth and faithfulness. Is that our testimony today? James has again given us a measure of our lives – how to we measure up to God’s expectations. Are we growing unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ?
The message for unbelievers is that you have an opportunity to come to the Lord for salvation today? Will you give your life to Him?