Lesson 85—October 11, 2015
I Trust Jesus, But Can He Trust Me?
Audio commentary by Life Focus teacher, David Daniel
Scripture: Matthew 5:33-37
Lesson Goal: To learn that as followers of Jesus Christ, we should speak and live the truth.
Introduction: Please take a moment to read Jesus’ words, in Matthew 5:3-16, concerning the true character of His followers. Today’s lesson will help us to see that Jesus is simply using an example to reinforce the fact that his followers should be people of integrity and honesty. A truth we should always remember—God blesses honesty, and our honesty blesses God.
(V33) Jesus once again begins with the words: “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’” The Life Application Bible Commentary tells us: “In Jesus’ day, people commonly made oaths or vows. Although God’s law took these vows very seriously, many of the religious leaders had invented legal maneuvers to get around keeping their oaths.”
Jesus is not abolishing what has been stated in the law, but He is raising the standard. There should be no need or reason for His followers to swear or make oaths in their everyday lives. Their word alone should be good enough. The purity of their hearts should be manifested into honesty and integrity. True honesty and integrity goes far beyond just our spoken words.
• Are you known as a person of your word?
• What is your personal definition of the word “cheat”?
Merriam-Webster defines “cheat” as “to break a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something, to deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud.”
To help us understand verses 33-37, it is necessary to understand what was happening in Jesus’ day. Once again, it is important for us to remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:20. Many of the religious leaders (scribes and Pharisees) were abusing God’s intent of the law concerning the truth of taking oaths.
• What is an oath?
Please read Hebrews 6:16.
The name of something or someone greater than the person making the oath is invoked to give greater credibility to what is said. Any oath calling on God invites Him to witness the truthfulness of what is said or to avenge if it is a lie. An oath was therefore generally taken to be the absolute truth which made ‘an end of every dispute,’ because it invited judgement on the one who violated the word (MacArthur).
Proper oaths were allowed in Scripture (see Leviticus 19:12; Genesis 14:22-24; Genesis 24:1-4, 10; Genesis 26:31; 1 Samuel 20:16; Joshua 9:15; Genesis 22:16-17; Hebrews 6:13-14; Matthew 26:63-64).
God established the seriousness of truthfulness and taking an oath.
[In Jesus’ day, people would state] anything and promise anything with an oath, while having no qualms about providing means by which lying or breaking their word could still be done. Indiscriminate and insincere vows became so commonplace that no one took them seriously. Instead of being a mark of integrity, they became a mark of deceit. People would swear by heaven, by earth, by the Temple, by even the hairs on their head, and by any other thing they thought would impress those they wanted to take advantage of (MacArthur).
This type of routine and everyday oath-taking became meaningless. The religious leaders saw no problem with lying or cheating, as long as the oath was not taken “to the Lord,” meaning in the name of the Lord.
Read Leviticus 19:12.
The command of the law was: “You shall not swear falsely by My name.” As religious leaders did so often, they interpreted the law in a way to benefit themselves, remaining true to the literal meaning of the law, but entirely missing the spirit of the law. Thus, their interpretation became: It is therefore acceptable to swear falsely by another name. The Pharisees and scribes gave the outward appearance of following the literal law, while completely violating God’s intended purpose and spirit of the law.
God’s standard of truthfulness, honesty and integrity was contradicted and lowered to a self-serving standard, which allowed and accommodated their selfish and sinful purposes. Once again they reduced God’s standard to fit their own sinful purposes. Jesus speaks with this foremost is His mind when He instructs His followers to live life with such a purity of heart that your “yes be yes” and your “no be no.”
• Why is honesty so important for the follower of Jesus Christ?
• Is your honesty a godly witness for Jesus?
• What are some areas of life where the forces of evil would say to us: “It’s no big deal. Everybody does it. It’s not going to keep you out of heaven”?
• What does cheating on a test say to God Himself about your witness and love for Jesus?
• Are we being godly examples of Jesus Christ when we, Christian hunters who love Jesus, think it is okay to shoot more than the legal limit of doves, or shoot that big buck after legal shooting hours, or hunt out of season?
If God can’t trust you in the so-called “little things,” don’t expect Him to trust you with the big things.
We prove our trustworthiness to God in the little seemingly insignificant things. We show forth our purity of heart by the manner in which we live, by being honest in the little things of daily life.
• Can Jesus trust you? Can He trust you to do the right thing when no one is watching?
• Can Jesus trust you when the forces of evil present you with their option to compromise the truth?
• Is it your testimony that you trust Jesus? The real question for the follower of Jesus Christ is: “Can Jesus trust you?”
• How does Jesus know He can trust you?
• What is the evidence in your life that Jesus can trust you?