CAN YOU BE TRUSTED
Can you be trusted?
How important is that question to you?
It is our responsibility to present the truth of the Christian faith with boldness, clarity and courage. But also to defend and stand firm in the Biblical Doctrine taught in Scripture without reservation or compromise. “For we have the Words of Life” Truth is absolutely vital considering our present climate, and I’m not talking about the heat or the rain. According to the Scriptures everything that a Christian does is most important because of what he or she is, and because the effects we have on others. Truth is the only thing that separates us from the rest of this fallen world.
The truth that says…..
1. God is a God of truth. “The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.” Deut 32:4. David knew this, because why would he write, “My times are in Your Hands..” Psalm 31:15
See it’s the truth that says…..
2. Christ is truth. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1-3. That is affirmed when John who would later write what Jesus said. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
See, it’s the truth that says…..
3. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17. Not only is Spirit truth; the Spirit will also guide you in all truth. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-14
See it’s the truth that says…..
4. The Word Of God is. “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:15-19
See it’s the truth that says…..
5. The Believer should Worship God in truth. “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
See truth is vital because “truths” foundation comes from the Triune Godhead. Which then pours down into the hearts of God’s adopted children though the means of active worship and His holy Words.
Truth for the believer is the way we serve God. Joshua 24:14
Truth for the believer is the way we walk before God. 1 Kings 2:4
Truth for the believer is the way we speak to one another. Eph 4:25
Truth for the believer is the way our souls meditate on His Word. Phil 4:8
Truth for the believer is what’s written on the tablet of our hearts. Prov 3:3
How does my righteousness exceed that of the Pharisee’s considering that they abused everything that God commanded them to do?
It’s being truth tellers, because everything else is evil according to Jesus. (v37). Think about that in light of our present state in North America, Canada. “Truth is forever on the scaffold” to use the phrase by the poet James Russell Lowell. What does James Russell mean by this? He laments the fact that Truth is “forever on the scaffold,” and Wrong is “forever on the throne.” Think about this in light of Jesus’ audience and the religious leaders listening to Jesus’ sermon. But also think about that in light our Governments and World Leaders. We see smiling dignitaries and Public Officials, Presidents, Prime Ministers smiling and shaking hands, and talking of peace. They even sign ‘treatises’ and ‘truths’; but in reality, not one of them, will ever keep or hold up their end of the bargain. We live in a society that because they signed it, they will honor it. And that is true for a season, until it no longer serves their purposes.
Nothing has changed since the fall of Adam and Eve when God said, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Gen 2:15-17
Adam broke that command….his oath, when his heart desired to be like God. See! We are all oath breakers, and like this fallen world people will continue to be oath breakers, when it no longer serves their purpose. This is very concerning and we should be very concerned as well; as God’s adopted children. As one preacher prayed “Omniscient Father help us to know who is telling the truth. One side tells us one thing and the other just the opposite.” What Jesus says here in His sermon is not a direct quotation from the Old Testament, but an illusion to these passages.
Exodus 20:7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
Lev 19:12 “You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.”
Numbers 30:2 “If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”
What Jesus says here is designed to be speaking truthfulness. “Do not swear” In other words, “Be speaking truthfulness” Understand! He is not forbidding swearing or oaths, because the whole of Christian faith is rooted and grounded in biblical principle of covenant. And a covenant could not take place without the essential element of a sworn oath. “You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve Him and hold fast to Him, and by His name you shall swear.” Deut 10:20
We read about the oath promised, that David hoped for back in Psalm 16:10 by the author Luke in Acts 2:27-31. “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.' "Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.” Acts 2:27-31
Even the Apostle Paul knew the importance of oath making. “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I mention you.” Rom 1:9
In Jeremiah we read that having to swear in God’s name, will be a sign of grace. “And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of My people, to swear by My Name, 'As the LORD lives,' even as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of My people. But if any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it, declares the LORD." Jer 12:16-17
Unfortunately for Jesus, the Jews had already built up an entire legalistic system around the Old Testament teachings called the “Mishnah”
“Mishnah” is a document that describes a life of sanctification, in which the rituals of the Temple are adapted for communal participation and it has six orders divided into “tractates” (meaning treatise). One tractate in the Mishnah is the question of “oaths” including detailed consideration of when they’re binding and when they’re not. In D A Carson’s commentary he explained it this way. “For example one rabbi says that if you swear by Jerusalem you are not bound by your vow; but if you swear towards Jerusalem, then you are bound by your vow. The swearing of oaths thus degenerates into terrible rules which let you know when you can get away with lying and deception, and when you can’t. These oaths no longer foster truthfulness, but weaken the cause of truth and promote deceit. Swearing evasively becomes justification for lying. Jesus will not allow such excuse amoung His followers. If men play such games with oaths, Jesus will simply abolish oaths. He is interested in truthfulness, its constancy and absoluteness.”
What Jesus says here is that He relates every oath to God. To swear by Heaven and Earth is to swear to God. (v35-v36) All oaths are solemn pledges to speak truth at all times. Jesus enlarges this point later in Matthew’s gospel. “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.' You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.” Matt 23:16-22
See the summary of this portion of Jesus message is “truthfulness”, speaking truthfully instead of falsely. The simple answer Jesus gives is this “Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil.” (v37)
“Evil” is what proceeds from some evil disposition or purpose. And from this we may learn that profane swearing is always the evidence of a depraved heart. To trifle with the name of God, or with any of His works, is itself most decided proof of depravity. We are to be truthful in our speech, thought and actions, because anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Remember he is the father of lies. “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 We are to do as James affirms what Jesus says here. “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.” James 5:12. What Jesus wants from His children is that in our conversations….”truth must be our watchword (means slogan or motto).”
Why would Jesus say this?
Because we are prone to break the phrase “Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.”
Jesus says this for us to examine our hearts in light of His Word.
Why? Because were all prone….
To shade the truth
To make excuses
To make promises we have no intention of keeping.
To betray confidences of one another
This is what we are faced with on a normal day; this is why truth is so important and necessary. Because the natural man or woman is at battle of the flesh every second of every day. We by nature are inclined to tell truth only when it benefits our own interests. The great Roman Cicero said, “Truth is the highest thing a man experiences.” But sadly with many people, even in Christian circles, it’s an infrequent experience.
The two vows mentioned here are from two different, but related, Greek words. The first one is from the verb “Epiorkeo” having the meaning “perjuring oneself or to speak falsely.” The second one is from the noun “Horkos” this has the meaning “to enclose, as with a fence or to bind together.” Understand! The truth of an oath or vow is enclosed, its bound, and therefore strengthened by that which is involved on its behalf.
We are to take our oaths seriously,
especially in light of what Jesus said previously. (v31-32)
A clear description and the importance of oaths are found in Hebrew 6:16-18. “For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”
The perversions of the rabbinical traditions were nothing more than frivolous, meaningless oaths that completely diminished the purpose of oaths. In their eyes… people would, and could, declare anything or promise anything; while having no problem breaking them. Why? Because they were man-centered and self-seeking. Undiscerning and insincere vows became so commonplace that no one took them seriously. We would call this “half truths” some truth and a lot of error to fit there need. Big things like the “Evangelical Revisionists” who promote an understanding of divine love that is never coerced and would never prohibit any thought to send unrepentant sinners to eternal punishment. They even go as far to say “God perfectly knows all that He can perfectly know, but He cannot possibly know a future based on free human decisions.” It’s taking some Biblical truth and bending it to fit your liking, or narrative.
What this does it diminishes the
transcendent character of God
God’s love is redefined so that it’s no longer holy. God’s sovereignty is redefined so that human wills can be undisturbed. So! What prevents doctrinal distortions, false truths,
and swearing or oaths? Speaking truth at all times, no matter if the results don’t end in our favor. William Barclay said these words I think we need to pay attention too. “Here is the great eternal truth. Life cannot be divided into compartments in some of which God involved and in others of which He is not involved; there cannot be one kind of language in the Church and another kind of language in the shipyard or the factory or the office; there cannot be one kind of conduct in the Church and another kind of conduct in the business world. The fact is that God does not need to be invited into certain departments of life, and kept out of others. He is everywhere, all through life and in every activity of life. He hears not only the words which are spoken in His name; He hears all words; and there cannot be any such thing as a form of words which evades bringing God into any transaction. We will regard all promises as sacred if we remember that all promises are made in the presence of God.”
John MacArthur said, “Truth has no degrees or shades. A half-truth is whole lie..”
What are we to learn from this
portion of Jesus sermon?
That God desires truth in the innermost parts. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” Psalm 51:5-6. Every statement we make is to be truthful, every normal word “logos” every daily speech should be a truthful statement.
“Telling the truth and being honest with our words
is something we should all care about.”
Today we live in a world of “alternative facts” the idea that man’s word is his bond is old-fashioned, but it is not realistic. Like the teachers before, and during, Jesus’ time; assisting the people around them in their unfaithfulness and dodging of the truth. They taught that you must be honest and keep your word to the Lord. But this same commitment does not necessarily apply to human relationship.
What Jesus is saying to us is this…. We are to be characterized by honesty and integrity, making an oath does not determine our level of character or truth telling. An oath is not needed because I will speak the truth always.
Why? Because Jesus says….. Don’t swear by heaven as if it counts less, since God is seated on the Throne. (v34) Don’t swear by earth as if that gives you an out, since it is His creation and where He rests His feet. (v35) Don’t swear by Jerusalem, since it is the city of the Great King, the Godman. (v35) Don’t say, “May my head be cut off if I lie.” Since you have no authority over your life. (v36)
See! Everything we say, do, and think takes place before the watchful eye of a transcendent holy, righteous, just, loving, merciful, and sovereign God. An All-powerful God who takes every single word that comes out of our mouths seriously.
So in all circumstances and situations, be a person who speaks the truth.
Be a person who is known for
his or hers honesty.
As Paul said “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, (the whole of your conversation be a pattern of every good work) and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech (healthful words) that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:7-8
Words cannot be shown to be weak, or unsound; such that no one could find fault with it Why is this important? Because it will reflect the character of a holy God to a broken world that needs the truth, more than ever. God is holy, His kingdom is holy, and His people of His Kingdom are to be holy. His righteousness and sanctified truth is to be our righteous character.
Because anything less than that is evil.
His truth is our truth!
As Jesus said a number of times, “Truly, truly I say to you”
To where we say “Amen, Amen.”