Good morning. My name is David Sorn. I am the Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
You ever notice how much lying there is in the world?
News channel: politicians
Network Channel: TV’s funniest comedy
Weightloss commercial: Lose 40 lbs in 3 weeks
Football: This guy really weighs
H.S. Sports. Kid’s really 6’4” not 6’8”
Pastor friend…how many did you have…200
Thanksgiving…asked somebody, “How you doing?” “All right”
Or maybe that was you
We live in a world where people lie constantly
This week, Jesus gives some wisdom in his sermon on the mount about telling the truth
You’ll notice if you’re following along that we actually skipped six verses.
Verses about adultery and divorce
I’m not one to skip verses.
However, almost 100 people meeting in House Groups, for a lot of people that’s a touchy subject to dive into on week 3 or 4 of getting to know people…and for that reason…we’re going to come back to it
Let’s look at today’s passage
(Matthew 5:33-37) - NIV
33"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Jesus is once again contrasting between his opinion of what the Old Testament really says and what the overly-religious people of his day (Pharisees, etc.) think it says
And he points out (you have heard that it was said) that we’re not supposed to break oaths (a vow, an official promise)
True, the Old Testament, the Bible they had at the time, discusses oaths a couple of times
(Numbers 30:2) - NIV
2 When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said
(Deuteronomy 23:21) - NIV
21 If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin.
So yeah, there were instances of oaths in the OT, and when people made them, you weren’t supposed to break them.
And in oath in itself isn’t evil. It’s not necessarily even a bad thing. We know that because it’s in the Bible
And Jesus is not saying that in this passage
For instance, if you were to say to God, “I will give you 30% of my money till the day I die,” and you uphold it, that’s not necessarily a terrible thing
This is why it’s not inherently evil to say “I swear to God,” (some treat it like a cuss word)
OATHS GONE CRAZY!
But, here’s what happened in Jesus’ day, and why he says, “Ahh, you’re better off just not making oaths/swearing to this and that”
People started using it as more than just a personal thing between them and God
People started saying all the time, “I swear to God that I’ll pay you that money.” “I swear to God that I didn’t steal your stuff.” Etc.
Let me tell you a story about “swearing to God”
Tell story about how my best friend and I always said, “I swear to God” and 100% trusted each other when we said it…until the day he lied when he said it…And then we had to say “I swear” instead…
And ironically, the same thing that happened to my friend and I back when we were teenagers, happens in our religious history!
See, because like I said, it wasn’t technically terrible to make an oath, people started to make oaths with God’s name in it
“I swear to God I will give you 15% of my crops.” “I swear BY God’s name my donkey is worth that price”
And what happened is…people would sometimes lie…And then they got nervous about swearing w/ God’s name in it and lying..
So, they came up with an idea to swear by “heaven!” And then when they lied about that one, then gold in temple, then just temple
And they essentially created (no joke) this massive hierarchal system of oaths
Jesus confronts this dumb idea of theirs in Matthew 23
(Matthew 23:16-19) - NIV
16"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' 17You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.' 19You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
And here was the worst part of the fallout of their hierarchal oath system: Once you create a massive hierachal system, some oaths aren’t as strong, right?
Meaning, if you gave an oath by invoking a lesser religious item, and didn’t come through…it wasn’t that big of a deal…cuz you didn’t technically break a rule by swearing to God and not coming through
And what happened, was they now had a loophole for lying
They could swear by the altar, and if they lied, well, no big deal, because they didn’t technically do anything bad because they used the “altar oath.”
And yet, we sort of do the same
As I mentioned at the beginning, our culture (like theirs) is addicted to lying
And it’s usually not always bold-faced lying, it’s just a little bit.
I always hate weeks like this when I’m working on my message all week when it’s a topic like this because God’s always convicting me of the topic I’m speaking about
Listen, I’m not perfect, no where close. Maybe you are, but that’s not my life. Just in the last couple of days, I caught myself in two stupid lies
Lie #1: “Do you know so-and-so?” “Yep” (I didn’t)
Lie #2: “How many people were at HGs?” “31” (it was 30)
And, I mean, would it hurt me if I told the truth? No. Would it be terrible if I said I didn’t know the person, or that there were 30 ppl. NO! But yet, we lie. And we lie a lot!
We really do. It’s hard to admit it though. A lot of you maybe have been sitting here thinking about what a children’s topic this is.
Yet, I would say it’s probably one of the most rampant sins in our culture
You probably can’t go a day w/o lying (if you really think about it), and if I were a betting man (which I’m not), I would put a lot of money down that there’s no way you could make it a week
Give it a try this week. It’s a good way to really learn some things about yourself. Most of the time we’re not even thinking about it
And for the most part we don’t notice it because it’s not THAT bad, right?
I mean, is it that bad that I said 31 instead of 30?
And we make excuses…
Well, it doesn’t really matter that I lied to my friend because I made him feel better when I told him I liked his new mullet haircut
And it doesn’t really matter that I lied because if I told her how I really felt about it, she’d hate me
And it doesn’t really matter that I lied because I think that’s what they needed to hear
But here’s the problem…and here’s where the Bible once again proves its brilliance
If we live life that way…justifying our white lies, exaggerations, and other lies…we are living just like the Pharisees.
We’ve developed, just like they did, a classification system for lying
Well, it’s not as serious of a lie if you just change a number here and there. It’s not like lying in court or something.
And there you have it, w/o knowing it, we’ve created a system where’s it’s kind of ok to lie sometimes
But a lie is a lie
Quick Sidenote: Jesus isn’t a legalist (and either is the Bible legalistic), so there are even times when you would lie
If somebody puts a gun to my head and says, “Is your wife home because I want to murder her,” I’m going to lie straight to his face
But the reality is, 99.9999% of time, lying isn’t God honoring
And as soon as we start to classify lying (it’s not as big of deal if I just tell a little lie), we start to lie more
And when we start to lie more, sometimes people catch us in our lies…
And when they catch us in our lies, we’re then forced to say, “No, seriously” “No, I swear.” “NO, I swear to God.”
YES MEANS YES
And this is why Jesus says this is verse 37:
(Matthew 5:37) - NIV
37Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
We should be such honest people that when we say, “Yes” people just believe us. And that’s that.
And if we say, “NO,” nobody doubts our word.
We shouldn’t never have to say, “I swear,” “I really mean it” “Seriously” “I give you my word”
You know those sort of people (and they tend to be the people that don’t talk a lot), that when they speak, people just listen?
That’s what we should strive for. A place where no one is questioning our words.
So Jesus is right, we shouldn’t have to swear or make oaths because His followers should be so truthful that there should be no need for people to want them to make an oath in the first place
And it can be evil if we are swearing by something, because we are often doing so in order to deceive someone, and are often forced to swear by something as a tool to make up for our usual lack of honesty
If you keep reading Jesus’ teaching, we see that it’s almost always about the heart. It’s about the source of the issue. We’ve seen this a couple of times already in the SM
And it’s no different w/ this topic
What you speak, the words that come out of your mouth, (whether truth or lies) are just a reflection of what’s in here (your heart)
Jesus says later in the Gospels, a good tree bears good fruit, and bad tree bears bad fruit. And that’s true right??
So the question this morning is: What kind of a heart produces lies?
Why are you lying?
Why do we lie so much? Whether it’s lots of little lies or a couple of big ones. Why do we use lies to hide from other people what we’re really like?
We don’t want to show people what’s really in our hearts, so we lie…
Cuz maybe we have an idea what’s in our hearts. We know what we think about. Sometimes terrible thoughts. About us. About other people. We know what we’ve done.
We’ve caught a glimpse of our heart, and to be honest, it’s not pretty
So we lie. We paint a different picture of ourselves than what we know it really looks like
As we paint our self-portrait of ourselves for the world to see, with our words being the paintbrush, we tend to paint a different image than we know exists deep in our hearts
Let me give you an example: I want you to watch this video: It starts w/ an ordinary girl who is portrayed to be someone she’s not.
And like this video, we use our words to paint us, to graphically alter us, into someone we are not. Because we do NOT want them to see the real us.
And I what I find quite fascinating about Jesus Christ is that He sees our hearts even more clearly than we do
And honestly, it’s probably worse than we think
He doesn’t see an airbrushed portrait like everyone else sees of you. He sees the real thing
And YET, after looking at that, He said, “I want to trade places with you and give my life for you because I love you so much”
WHY BE TRUTHFUL?
So why do I need to let my yes be yes and no be no? Why do I need to be truthful?
It’s because Jesus is the Truth. He is truthful. And although sometimes the truth hurts (when I realize how imperfect I am), it is beautiful.
The fact that I am broken and messed up, and yet He still loves me so much that he gave his life for mine. That is the most beautiful, and compelling, and magnetic truth in the universe. It’s that truth that draws me to Him
And likewise, so will your truthfulness be a reflection of him, and thus draw others to him
We don’t always think so though
Actually, we often feel that we need to paint a more improved picture of our life (thus lie) in order to draw others to Him
And thus, as we constantly “image-control” our lives. In fact, a lot of the lies that Christians get stuck in revolve around lying about how they’re really living their life
They lie, because if people really knew, they wouldn’t be interested in Christ or wouldn’t really love them
There is so substitution or imitation for truth.
Every year around Christmas, there is some dad who buys and imitation toy for his 9-year old and it never works
Same thing w/ a mom who every Christmas makes a certain food that you love. But one year buys the imitation food
And it’s the same w/ our lives. We too often think it’s better to give people a substitution for the truth, an imitation, a small bending of the truth, an improvement of the truth.
And just like the parent who thinks, “This’ll work just fine…or even better,” so do we! We think lying is better. Why else do we do it?? We think (at the time) that it’s the way to go
But there is simply no substitution for the truth. Nothing as magnetic as the truth. Nothing will draw the people around you to God like the truth, nothing is as freeing as the truth.
And that’s why we tell the truth. Because it is good. And it is right.
And by the way, it works!
I learned this from watching TV growing up
Go home and watch 10 Chick Flicks and I guarantee you that you will lie less
What’s the basic plot of a chick flick?
They fall in love, but the guy or the girl is hiding some sort of secret (past life, their job, about a bet they made, etc.), and the tension keeps building, and they keep lying, lying, lying until the climax and the truth comes out! Then they cry, scream, fight, and eventually get back together while some song from a trendy singer/songwriter plays in the background
Lies DO NOT work. They don’t. Even the screenwriters in Hollywood know it.
Jesus is right. It’s about the truth.
For some of you, this is probably a clouded issue. Maybe tough to see where you are lying in your life.
The thing about deceit, is it’s deceitful. We often don’t even know we’re doing it
So my encouragement to you is to spend some time with the man who called himself “THE TRUTH.” Jesus Christ.
Spend some time this afternoon, or in the evenings this week, and ask Him this question: Jesus, show me where I’m not being honest.
Ask Him to help you be truthful
And while you’re talking to Him, thank Him for loving you, despite seeing the truth of you. He’s pretty amazing, isn’t He?
If you look under your chair right now, you are going to see multiple things today!! First of all, a connection card and a pen. Go ahead and pick those up.
One of the things we do every week at Renovation Church, is fill out these connection cards.
It’s a way for you to connect with us and for us to connect with you.
ALSO, you are going to see 5 invitation cards for our Renovation Church Christmas series (which starts next week)
Those are for you. So put them in your wallet, your purse, your pocket before you forget
The Christmas season is one of the main times people come back to church or check it out for the first time, and we definitely want you to invite ppl to come hear about God
However, it’s sometimes nice to have something to give someone
Pray about 5 people you can give one too (start this week)…
We are going to take an offering now as well
A way for us to give back to a God that has been so good to us.
If you’re a visitor, feel free to let the offering just pass you by
As the offering goes by, you can stick your connection card in there as well
Let me just pray for the offering quick
This morning, we are also going to take communion as a body of believers.
It’s a way for us to remember that Jesus did see the truth of us, and loved us anyway, and died for us.
And something we need to constantly remember.
In the NT, Paul writes this about the reason for communion:
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) – NIV - DON’T PUT ON SCREEN
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
And that is what we will do. But Paul also writes in this passage that we ought to examine ourselves before taking communion.
To 1) not do it in vain. 2) To examine ourselves and ask the question, if He really gave everything…if his body was broken for me, am I give everything back? Where can I change? Where am I being untruthful?
In the back, 2 tables….with pieces of bread and a bowl of juice. When you’re ready, you can get up take an individual piece of bread and dip it in the juice.
However, take some time to examine yourself before you go back.
Make this more than just ritual. Experience Jesus Christ.
And when you get there. Take some time. Take communion, and stay back there and pray if you want. You can go as a family. Serve your family. Pray together as a family.
This church is all about providing you space here to encounter God and that is what we want… so seek Him out…
Let’s worship Him.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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