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SF916 - SPEAKING THE TRUTH (Matthew 5 33-37)

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Matthew 5:33-37

Introduction

It is important to remember that in this section of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus expounds on the meaning of his command, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In this text, “Jesus used the phrase ‘You have heard that the ancients were told,’ or a similar one, to introduce each of the six corrective illustrations He gives in this part of His sermon (see vv. 21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43).  The phrase has reference to rabbinical, traditional teaching, and in each illustration, Jesus contrasts that human teaching with the divine Word of God.  [John MacArthur, MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7 (Copyright © 1985 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc), Chapter 26]

Daniel Webster wrote, “There is nothing as powerful as truth and often nothing as strange.”

The Jews of Jesus’ day revered the idea of truth in principle, but in practice it was buried under their system of tradition, which over the centuries had continually cut God’s law down to fit their own sinful perspectives and purposes.  In Matthew 5:33-37 the Lord proceeds to expose their convenient distortion and contradiction of the divine revelation they claimed to love and teach.

We will look at this text under two headings, a practice examined and a principle emphasized.

1A.      A Practice Examined (5:33)

1B.      The law of Moses

Those exact words are not found in the OT but are derived from three verses.

Leviticus 19:12 “You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.”

Numbers 30:2 "If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

Deuteronomy 23:21 "When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you.”

The purpose of these commands…

Ø      Was to bridle man’s sinful tendency to lie.

Ø      Was to restrict oath-taking to serious matters.

God provided for proper oath-giving in His name as an accommodation to sinful human nature.

Hebrews 6:16 “For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.”

These facts are proof that Jesus was not dealing with the Mosaic Law but with the Pharisaical perversion of it.

2B.      The legalism of the Pharisees

The tradition Jesus mentions in verse 33 seemed to be biblical, but it had several flaws that made it fall short of what the Old Testament actually taught.  

The Pharisees were more concerned about the letter of the law than the spirit of the law.

Ø      This practice led to frivolous, meaningless oath-making.

“You shall not make false vows;” epiorkeoô, which means to perjure oneself, to swear falsely, to make false vows

The Pharisees limited the honest oaths to vows to the Lord

“You shall fulfill your vows;” horkos, noun which literally means to enclose, as with a fence, or to bind together

Ø      The keeping of those oaths made to the Lord was mandatory, whereas the keeping of others was optional.

Ø      The command “You shall not swear falsely by My name” (Lev. 19:12) was conveniently interpreted to mean that swearing falsely by any other name was allowed.

The Pharisees distinguished between various oaths saying some were more binding than others.  (Matthew 23:16-22)

2A.      A Principle Emphasized (5:34-37)

1B.      Be careful about making oaths.  (5:34-36)

“What we have here in Matthew 5:33-37 (cf. James 5:12) is the condemnation of the flippant, profane, uncalled for, and often hypocritical oath, used in order to make an impression or to spice daily conversation.  Over against that evil Jesus commends simple truthfulness in thought, word and deed” (Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1973], p. 309).

James 5:12 “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.”

We are not to swear…

Ø      By heaven

Ø      By earth

Ø      By Jerusalem

Ø      By your head

Ø      Because to do so is to swear by God who is sovereign over them all.

Ø      So, in accordance with the Old Testament standard, we are to swear by no other name but God’s

2B.      Say what you mean and mean what you say.  (5:37)

God’s absolute, unchanging standard is truth and sincerity in everything.

Psalm 51:6 “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being...”

Proverbs 6:16-19 “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 12:22 “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal faithfully are His delight.”

Psalm 58:3-4 “The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth.  They have venom like the venom of a serpent; Like a deaf cobra that stops up its ear,”

Jeremiah 9:3 “‘They bend their tongue like their bow; Lies and not truth prevail in the land; For they proceed from evil to evil, And they do not know Me,’ declares the LORD.”

Colossians 3:9 “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,”

Revelation 21:8 “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.”

We know for certain…

Ø      It is never right to lie.

Ø      It is permissible to take an oath if the circumstances warrant it.

Application

Are you guilty of telling half-truths?

Are you guilty of finding ways around God’s standard of absolute honesty?

If so that is evidence of the sinfulness of your own heart.

God says…

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


Matthew 5:33-37

Introduction

It is important to remember that in this section of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus expounds on the meaning of his command, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In this text, “Jesus used the phrase ‘You have heard that the ancients were told,’ or a similar one, to introduce each of the six corrective illustrations He gives in this part of His sermon (see vv. 21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43).  The phrase has reference to rabbinical, traditional teaching, and in each illustration, Jesus contrasts that human teaching with the divine Word of God. [John MacArthur]

Daniel Webster wrote, “There is nothing as powerful as truth and often nothing as strange.”

The Jews of Jesus’ day revered the idea of truth in principle, but in practice it was buried under their system of tradition, which over the centuries had continually cut God’s law down to fit their own sinful perspectives and purposes.  In Matthew 5:33-37 the Lord proceeds to expose their convenient distortion and contradiction of the divine revelation they claimed to love and teach.

We will look at this text under two headings, a practice examined and a principle emphasized.


1A.      A Practice Examined (5:33)

1B.      The law of Moses

Those exact words are not found in the OT but are derived from three verses.

Leviticus 19:12 “You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.”

Numbers 30:2 "If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

Deuteronomy 23:21 "When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you.”

The purpose of these commands…

Ø      Was to bridle man’s sinful tendency to lie.

Ø      Was to restrict oath-taking to serious matters.

God provided for proper oath-giving in His name as an accommodation to sinful human nature.

Hebrews 6:16 “For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.”

These facts are proof that Jesus was not dealing with the Mosaic Law but with the Pharisaical perversion of it.


2B.      The legalism of the Pharisees

The tradition Jesus mentions in verse 33 seemed to be biblical, but it had several flaws that made it fall short of what the Old Testament actually taught.  

The Pharisees were more concerned about the letter of the law than the spirit of the law.

Ø      This practice led to frivolous, meaningless oath-making.

The Pharisees limited the binding oaths to vows to the Lord

Ø      The keeping of those oaths made to the Lord was mandatory, whereas the keeping of others was optional.

Ø      The command “You shall not swear falsely by My name” (Lev. 19:12) was conveniently interpreted to mean that swearing falsely by any other name was allowed.

The Pharisees distinguished between various oaths saying some were more binding than others.  (Matthew 23:16-22)


2A.      A Principle Emphasized (5:34-37)

1B.      Be careful about making oaths.  (5:34-36)

James 5:12 “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.”

We are not to swear…

Ø      By heaven

Ø      By earth

Ø      By Jerusalem

Ø      By your head

Because to do so is to swear by God who is sovereign over them all.

So, in accordance with the Old Testament standard, we are to swear by no other name but God’s.

2B.      Say what you mean and mean what you say.  (5:37)

God’s absolute, unchanging standard is truth and sincerity in everything.

Psalm 51:6

Proverbs 6:16-19; 12:22

Psalm 58:3-4

Jeremiah 9:3

Colossians 3:9; Revelation 21:8

We know for certain…

Ø      It is never right to lie.

Ø      It is permissible to take an oath if the circumstances warrant it.


Application

Are you guilty of telling half-truths?

Are you guilty of finding ways around God’s standard of absolute honesty?

If so that is evidence of the sinfulness of your own heart.

God says…

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


SPEAKING THE TRUTH
Matthew 5:33-37

1A.      A Practice Examined (5:33)

1B.      The ___________________________ of Moses

Those exact words are not found in the OT but are derived from three verses.

Leviticus 19:12

Numbers 30:2

Deuteronomy 23:21

God provided for proper oath-giving in His name as an accommodation to sinful human nature.  (Hebrews 6:16 )

2B.      The legalism of the Pharisees

The Pharisees were more concerned about the ___________ of the law than the spirit of the law.

The Pharisees limited the binding oaths to vows to the Lord

The Pharisees distinguished between various oaths saying some were more binding than others.  (Matthew 23:16-22)


2A.      A Principle Emphasized (5:34-37)

1B.      Be _________ about making oaths.  (5:34-36)

James 5:12

We are not to swear…

Ø      By heaven

Ø      By earth

Ø      By Jerusalem

Ø      By your head

2B.      Say what you _____________ and mean what you say.  (5:37)

God’s absolute, unchanging standard is truth and sincerity in everything.

Psalm 51:6

Proverbs 6:16-19

Proverbs 12:22

Psalm 58:3-4

Jeremiah 9:3

Colossians 3:9

Revelation 21:8

We know for certain…

Ø      It is never right to lie.

Ø      It is permissible to take an oath if the circumstances warrant it.

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