- Sermon Notes
1.Promises. People make promises and also break promises.
ILLUS – 1 Million Dollars or a Rich Man’s Daughter?
2.Our words reveal much about our character and faith. As Christians, we’re called to a higher standard because we represent Jesus Christ to the world.
3.In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus explained what God expects from us when it comes to keeping our promises.
2.That standard is perfection. He said in Matthew 5:20, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
3.That was a radical statement. In that day, the scribes and Pharisees were hailed as the standard of righteousness.
4.But Jesus exploded their world view and said their standard was not good enough because they only stressed an external obedience to the Law. God has a higher standard; one that looks at the heart!
5.God desires true righteousness where obedience flows from a heart that is filled with faith because it has been transformed by His love and grace through Jesus.
6.In verses 33-37, Jesus explored what’s in a person’s heart by examining their words, again raising the standard. What did His teaching reveal?
I. What You Say Matters (33-36)
Words can give hope and words can bring despair.
Words can create vision and also bring confusion.
Proverbs 18:21, Death and life are in the power of the tongue
A. Your words reveal what’s in your heart
Luke 6:45, The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
1.If we have godly character, then godly words will come from our lips.
2.If character is lacking, then we all know what can come out of a person’s mouth.
APPL – And we must not think that things will get better as we wait for the return of Jesus because the Apostle Paul declared that the opposite will be true…
2 Timothy 3:1-5, But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
ILLUS – In their book “The Day America Told the Truth,” authors James Patterson and Peter Kim revealed that 91 percent of Americans lie on a daily basis.
APPL – In light of this, we must not let the world be our guide or standard when it comes to our character, words, or actions. Our Father in heaven knows what is best for us and His standard brings life to our lives.
Transition – What does God desire for us?
B.God desires truth in your heart
1.In verse 33, Jesus said, “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall notmake false vows, but shall fulfill yourvows to the Lord.’
2.Jesus was not quoting from one specific Old Testament passage but was summarizing different sections from the Law of Moses regarding the making and keeping of oaths.
Leviticus 19:12, You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.
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.
3.The Law clearly taught that if a person makes an oath, they must keep their word lest they be judged for their unfaithfulness.
4.But, Jesus declared, “But I say to you, make no oath at all…” Why did Jesus say this? (34)
5.Jesus was calling out the scribes and Pharisees for their false teaching.
a.They taught that it was okay to break an oath as long as a person used the proper “oath-breaking” formula.
b.If a person invoked the name of the Lord in their oath, then they must keep their oath.
c.But if they swore by heaven, or the earth, or Jerusalem, or even your own head then they were permitted to break their oath because they did not invoke the name of the Lord!
d.So, it appears that the person who made an oath using their formula never intended to keep their promise. They were lying.
e.Like they did with adultery and divorce, the scribes and Pharisees wanted to narrow the definition of sin and broaden the definition of purity so that they might be justified in their own eyes!
6.Jesus revealed the flaw in their logic and the sin in their hearts when He declared that everything belongs to the Lord. So, if you swear by heaven, earth, Jerusalem, the hair on your head, or your mother’s grave, you must keep your promise because God is already in the equation!
Matthew 23:21-22, And 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.
APPL – Jesus was driving at a deeper point. Those who enter His kingdom must have His truth in their hearts and that truth will be revealed in what they say and do.
- God is true and always speaks the truth.
1 John 1:5, God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
Hebrews 6:18, It is impossible for God to lie.
- God always keeps His promises
Hebrews 10:23, Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful…
- God hates lies but loves those who are trustworthy
Proverbs 12:22, The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
- Truth strengthens relationships while lies destroy relationships.
ILLUS – A store manager confronts an errant clerk…
You can’t trust someone who lies. It is for this reason that Satan, the father of lies, lied about God’s character in Genesis 3 so that Adam and Eve’s trust in God would be broken.
- Truth brings freedom and life, lies always lead to more lies…
ILLUS – A 2016 study discovered that our brains change when we lie…
John 8:32, You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
II. Your Words are Binding (37)
A.Mean what you say and say what you mean
1.Jesus said in verse 37, “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.”
2.Why do people think oaths or promises are necessary? Because of man’s sinfulness.
a.When we want people to trust us, we make a promise to show that we are “really serious” this time about keeping our word.
b.When people doubt us, they demand a promise hoping that it will be different this time and that we will actually keep our word!
John Stott said, “Oath taking is really a pathetic confession of our own dishonesty.”
Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Words depend on character, and oaths cannot compensate for a poor character.”
3.Jesus declared that we should live our lives in such a way that oaths or promises are not necessary. All that is required is a simple “yes” or “no” because you have a track record of keeping your word!
APPL – So, before you say “Yes” or “No”, make sure you say what you mean and mean what you say… because we will be held accountable for our words…
Matthew 12:36, But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.
APPL – If you struggle with telling the truth and keeping your word, there is a solution. Fill your heart with God’s truth.
ILLUS – A research study on the impact of the Bible on lying
Psalm 119:11, Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.
Matthew 5:33-37 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
33 “Again, you have heard that [a]the ancients were told, ‘[b]You shall not [c]make false vows, but shall fulfill your [d]vows to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or [e]by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is [f]of evil.