Question:

I made a vow to the Lord that I should die a painful death any day I do a certain thing. I have the urge to break the vow.

  1. What are the consequences of breaking such a vow?
  2. Will I be forgiven for breaking the vow?
  3. After seeking for forgiveness if the vow is broken, will I go unpunished for it?
Thanks.

Answer:

"But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment" (James 5:12).

Breaking a vow is the same as any other sin. In essence, breaking a vow is a form of lying. You claimed something and did not keep the claim. Like any other sin, lying leads a person to hell unless it is repented of and forgiven. "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

Christians have no use for vows because they are commanded to always be honest. "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another" (Ephesians 4:25). Far too often people use vows to give credibility to their words. It becomes worse when people try to use God as a surety for what they are promising because they are drawing God into a lie if they don't keep their word. "There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers" (Proverbs 6:16-19).

But like all sins, breaking a vow can be forgiven when the sinner changes his mind about the acceptability of sinning, changes his behavior, and asks God for forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn't make the dishonesty acceptable. What was done was still wrong but it won't be held against the person at Judgment. But what results in this world because you did not keep your word will still be there. For example, if you broke the promise of your loan agreement with the bank, you will still face the consequences spelled out in your agreement.

But in this case, you foolishly tried to tell God what to do with your vow. You don't have control over the length of your life or how you might die. That is for God to decide. Just because a person says something, it does not mean God has to do as directed. Thus, the very vow you made was a sin. You didn't heed Jesus' teaching not to make vows and in your vow, you tried to put yourself over God and tell Him what to do. So change and apologize to God for making such a dumb promise.

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