Citizens of the Kingdom

Matthew 5:33-37 | ROb LOURCEY

March 10th, 2019

Summary: Our speech reveals the kingdom we are citizens of and the king we are serving.

“But what exactly is an ‘oath’? In an oath a person calls upon a thing, a power or other person greater than himself, usually God, to bear witness to the truth of what he says and to punish him if he breaks his word or if what he says proves to be false.” ~ Sam Storms

I. Old Testament Backdrop

Leviticus 19:12

“You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.”

“To take His name in vain means to invoke His name emptily, lightly, or profanely – to use it without humbly acknowledging the holy character of the One whose name you are invoking. To invoke the name of God in an oath or vow when your statement is false or when you do not intend to honor your words is a direct violation of the third commandment. And to invoke the name of God over a trivial or inconsequential matter is also a violation of the third commandment, because taking the name of the Lord in vain includes taking it lightly – treating it as common or trivial.” ~ N.T. Wright

Matthew 12:34b, 36-37

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks… I tell you on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”

II. Immediate Context

Matthew 23:16-22

“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.”

III. Implications for Today

“[The Jewish Leaders] had trouble telling the truth consistently, just like you and I do, so in order to guard themselves against being found guilty of swearing falsely by the name of God, it seems that they had firmly established the habit of swearing by everything EXCEPT God. They wanted to add some kind of force to their promises to make their words more credible, but they didn’t want to incur the judgment of God by swearing something in His name when they didn’t fully intend to make it good or when it was not entirely true. They wanted to have their moldy cake and eat it, too. So they created what was in effect a lesser class of oaths – oaths that were bound to various parts of God’s creation rather than to God Himself.” ~ N.T. Wright

“A man who cannot be believed upon his word certainly cannot be believed upon his oath.” ~ Charles Spurgeon