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Gospel of Matthew – Oaths, Vows and Integrity

Today we look at the fourth example of Jesus’ contrasting of the Pharisees’ version of righteousness with the truth in Matthew 5:33-37. Jesus wipes away devious uses of oaths and vows and gets to the heart of the matter, which is integrity and truth-telling. There is no room for willful deception among God’s people. Our task is to be people of forthright speech, letting our yes and no be truthful. Further, we will look at a common idea among some Christian traditions by asking: Is this text one that forbids any vows or oaths? Can we draw that kind of hard rule from the Bible? We’ll answer that tomorrow. Our outline is simple:

  1. The Pharisee’s Oaths
  2. But I say…
  3. Finding Accuracy and Clarity – what is allowed, what isn’t?
  4. Applications
    1. Historical example of a ‘white lie’
    2. Integrity in the world
    3. Integrity in the marriage
    4. Integrity with children
    5. Integrity in the church
    6. Integrity with God

Public reading:Zechariah 8:14-17; Benediction:Jude 1:24-25

In the sermon is a historical example of a “white lie.” The story of the S.S. Atlantic can be seen here. You can find in this tale a “white lie” intended for good, but ended in doom.

Matthew 5:33-37

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. (ESV)

Zechariah 8:14-17

14 For thus says the Lord of hosts: “As I purposed to bring disaster to you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts, 15 so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not. 16 These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; 17 do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.” (ESV)

Jude 1:24-25

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (ESV)