- Sermon Notes
Walking with Integrity
Intro: I said that?
As we continue through Jesus’ first recorded sermon, we come to a section where He begins applying a deeper level of righteousness to various parts of the law that all were familiar with. He started by addressing the act of murder and its birth in the heart long before the act. He then pointed to adultery, lust, and an easy divorce culture; highlighting the importance of taking every thought captive and the pursuit of the pure heart, long before the act of adultery.
There were cultural norms and prominent interpretations of the Old Testament that were falling short of the way in which God’s people were to live.We continue today as Jesus focuses on the importance of walking with integrity in promises and the importance of yes, and no.
Read: Matthew 5:33-37
In this example, Jesus did not refer to a specific commandment. Rather, He summed up the Old Testament teachings on the important subject of keeping one’s word, and the higher standard for His followers when it comes to this subject.
I. Follow His Formula
Matthew 5:33-34, Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all…
- In that day, much of what people understood was based upon oral tradition. Signatures on written transactions were not widely used until the 16th and 17th century.
- The culture that Jesus was in, was a culture largely dependent upon words. There was not much written evidence for transactions, no audio or video recordings, just the word one would give…It was their bond.
- While He is speaking to a culture that primarily would rely a person’s word, even for us today where nothing is official until a dotted line is signed; your word should be your bond.
- In verse 33, Jesus quotes what was commonly taught by the rabbi’s, scribes, and Pharisees. The teaching, was based on a summary of different scriptures in the Old Testament.
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.
- As He had throughout this section, Jesus uses a common rabbinic form, “You have heard it said” … “But I tell you.”
- He was presenting a traditional standard they had heard, upon which to base a higher one. He wasn’t letting people off the hook, He was setting the hook in deeper.
- The religious leaders had developed an elaborate system indicating how binding an oath was depending on how the oath had been made.
- What exactly was said??
Illus. Word play for profit.
- The formula created by the religious leaders, was providing an avenue for deception.
- They taught that any oath can be broken or voided, as long as God was not who the oath was to.
- As long as a person did not swear by the Lord, the promise made could be voided without penalty…And it was happening quite frequently.
- Jesus said, I know what is popular, but the formula being taught is not the formula for my disciples. I have a new formula…
A.Be a promise keeper
Matthew 5:34-35, But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
- An oath, vow, or promise is strengthened by that which is added to it.
- By swearing on something, the person is making a declaration that their word isn’t enough. They feel a need to add something to their word.
Hebrews 6:16, For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.
- Jesus was not condemning the use of all vows to God, or oaths in a court of law. Oaths, vows and promises are permitted under certain circumstances,
as long as they are not abused and used as a cover for deception.
Examples: God swore an oath to Abraham (Heb. 6:13), Jesus spoke under oath in a court (Matthew 26:63-64), Paul made a vow to God and fulfilled it (Acts 18:18).
- Additions to a statement such as “I promise,” “I swear,” or …. To back up your words should not be necessary…
Proverbs 10:19, When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, be he who restrains his lips is wise.
- Jesus said, make no oath at all. Pointing to the wisdom of fewer words.
Quote: Nothing to prove, nothing to lose, nothing to hide. Secure in Christ, surrendered to Him, walking in integrity.
- In order to find a way out of a promise, people would declare anything and promise anything with an oath to seal it.
- In verse 33, Jesus says “you have heard it said you shall not swear falsely,” Those who were swearing falsely never intended to keep the vow at all.
Proverbs 10:9, He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.
- Followers of Jesus are His representatives on this earth. This should guide our steps, what we do/don’t do, what we say/don’t say.
Illus. Take your badge off!
- Jesus wanted His disciples to walk in integrity. Not to pick and choose when to tell the truth or find deceptive ways to get ahead or put one over on another.
- People would swear by heaven, by the earth, by the Temple, by the hairs on their heads and by any other thing they thought might impress the person they were wanting to take advantage of.
- And that was their heart from the start, to take advantage of and find a way to make a vow they will not ultimately be accountable for.
- Jesus explained a promise is binding before heaven, no matter what words are used.
Matthew 23:16-22, Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the temple swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.
- What they swore by determined the obligation. Rules, upon rules, upon rules.
- Jesus says, it all belongs to God. Don’t look for opt outs.
- Be a promise keeper, even when you don’t use the word “promise.”
- “But you promised! Said the student at camp…Well, I didn’t actually used that term per se.”
Matthew 5:33-37, Let what you say be simply “Yes” or “No”; anything more that this comes from evil. (ESV)
A.Make your word enough
Illus. I wonder if he will forget?
- In each area of your life, make your word enough.
- Jesus is saying is that as His followers, our “yes’s” and “no’s” should mean something.
- He is pointing His followers toward their kingdom representation even in their yes’s and no’s.
- If His followers are to be a reflection of Him, there is a different standard, a different way, despite what the easy way out might be.
Illus. If I make the promise, I want to keep the promise.
- Jesus spoke about oaths in order to point out that they weren’t the main problem – integrity was.
- Oaths aren’t a substitute for personal integrity. A liar’s vow expresses a worthless promise.
- When a person of integrity simply says “yes” or “no,” that person’s simple word can be trusted.
James 5:12, But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
- A person with a reputation for exaggeration or lying can’t get anyone to believe what they are saying on their word alone.
- Always be honest, so that others will believe your simple yes, or no.
Quote: A half-truth is a whole lie.
- It was important to Jesus that His followers spoke in such a way that there was no need to add promises or vows.
- Simply, His followers should tell the truth. Simply, let your yes be yes, your no be no, and recognize that you determine the meaning and value of those words in your life.
- Your yes’s and no’s should mean something.
- Those of us in Christ are accountable to God for the very words we speak.
- In your life, make your word enough by walking with integrity in all you say, and do.
Colossians 3:17, Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.