Summary: By sacrificing our integrity, we dishonor God.
A Messiah Who Teaches Part 4: Living With Integrity
Text: Matt. 5:33-37
1. Illustration: The name of Admiral Dewey was being acclaimed throughout the country after his victory at Manila Bay in the war between the United States and Spain in the early 20th century. A newspaper offered Dewey’s son two hundred dollars just to sign his name to a daily article which an experienced newsman would write. The editor wanted to use the famous name for advertising purposes. Young Dewey was then earning only twenty dollars a month at his first job. The chance to make ten times as much was an alluring offer, but he refused to be a party to such deceit and dishonesty. He decided he would rather keep on doing hard work at a small wage than be false to his father’s name and lose his self-respect.
2. There was time when our number one value was integrity, but things have changed.
a. We live in a society that teaches only the value of getting ahead.
b. We watch TV shows like Survivor and the Amazing Race that teach us the it is okay to lie, cheat, and steal as long as we win the game
c. People learn that you don’t have to work hard in life as long as you know how to play the system.
3. In Jesus teaching on integrity we learn:
a. The problem
b. The danger
c. The solution
4. Read Matt. 5:33-37
Proposition: By sacrificing our integrity, we dishonor God.
Transition: We must first look at...
I. The Problem: Finding Loopholes (33)
A. Carry Out Your Vows
1. In Jesus day, there was a major problem when it came to integrity. Instead of being honorable, people looked for a way to get out of doing the right thing.
2. In v. 33 Jesus says, “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’"
a. The traditional teaching that Jesus quotes here was a composite of ideas based on three separate Old Testament Scriptures.
b. Leviticus 19:12 (NLT)
“Do not bring shame on the name of your God by using it to swear falsely. I am the Lord.
c. Numbers 30:2 (NLT)
A man who makes a vow to the Lord or makes a pledge under oath must never break it. He must do exactly what he said he would do.
d. Deuteronomy 23:21-23 (NLT)
“When you make a vow to the Lord your God, be prompt in fulfilling whatever you promised him. For the Lord your God demands that you promptly fulfill all your vows, or you will be guilty of sin. However, it is not a sin to refrain from making a vow. But once you have voluntarily made a vow, be careful to fulfill your promise to the Lord your God.
3. It was perfectly acceptable in Jesus day to make a vow, and as a means of guaranteeing that you would keep your word, invoking the name of God.
a. Once Yahweh’s name was invoked, the vow to which it was attached became a debt that had to be paid to the Lord (Carson, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM).
b. However, what people would do is make vow and not use the Lord’s name to verify it.
c. The idea being that as long as you didn’t make your vow in the Lord’s name you weren’t required to keep it.
4. People would declare anything and promise anything with an oath, while having no qualms about providing means by which lying or breaking their word could still he done.
a. Indiscriminate and insincere vows became so commonplace that no one took them seriously.
b. Instead of being a mark of integrity, they became a mark of deceit.
c. Instead of prompting confidence they prompted skepticism (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 1-7).
B. Taking the Easy Way Out
1. Illustration: Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter to Congress on December 1, 1862 that read: "In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity."
2. Instead of striving to be people of integrity, we are looking for a loophole.
a. We are looking for a way around it.
b. We are looking for a way out of it.
c. We are looking for an easy way out.
3. Instead of being people of integrity, we are looking to see what we can get away with.
a. Like little children, we are trying to see how far we can push.
b. We say things like "it’s not illegal if you don’t get caught."
c. We take what doesn’t belong to us, and rationalize it away by saying "they can afford it."