Summary: Part 3 of a series regarding Jesus’ final words to the Pharisees

Jesus Hates Hypocrisy

Even More Than You Do!

Part 3 –Swearing (But Not Cussing!)

Matthew 23:16-22

January 11, 2009



One of the most powerful phrases in the English language is “I swear.”

When people say that, they’re saying, “I mean it.”

Some people say things like, “I swear on my mama’s grave,” or “I’ll swear on a stack of Bibles,” or “I swear to God.”

I used to say stuff like that, especially growing up.

Most of you have either used words like that or heard others use them, right?

But what’s at the bottom of words like that? Why do people think that saying things like that make them more believable?

Have you noticed that sometimes the people who say this stuff the loudest are those who have the most to hide or are lying through their teeth?

The perception is that if you say this, then people will believe you, even if you have a history of lying.

Swearing is something that’s gone on for thousands of years.

And depending on the person taking that oath, it can underscore the truthfulness of the person making that oath, or it can serve as a cloak to hide a person’s deception.

Jesus has a few things to say about swearing, and my hope is that as we go through our time today, you’ll learn about a character quality that everyone can develop to become a person who avoids the hypocritical kind of swearing Jesus talks about.

God: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I began this series we’re in right now, which comes as we continue to walk through the gospel according to Matthew.

Then Thanksgiving and Christmas came, and I put it aside until we could get back into in right now.

In the beginning, I toyed with the idea of just calling it, “Jesus Hates Hypocrisy.” But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered conversations I had had with people who would complain about Christianity, and the Church by saying it was just a bunch of hypocrites.

My response to these folks is that, yes – there are lots of hypocrites in the church, and truth be told, I’ve been one from time to time, though I’m not proud of that fact.

And I say, “You hate hypocrisy? You should see what Jesus says about it. He hates it even more than you do!”

And if they let me, I show them the portion of Scripture that contains what we’re looking at today, explaining that Jesus saves His harshest words for the hypocrites.

In part one of these series we looked at how hypocrites love to do everything for show – especially their religious activity.

They go to church, memorize Scriptures, pray lengthy and flowery prayers, not because they want to know God better or become more like Jesus, but because they want people to look at them and go, “Wow! Aren’t they something? They’re ‘spiritual!”

And Jesus say, “Get real. God isn’t fooled. God honors humility.”

In part 2 we looked at the verses just before this where Jesus discusses how hypocrisy is a hindrance to heaven because it gives people a bad taste of what Christianity is supposed to be about, and it causes them to reject Jesus Himself.

Hypocrisy is an ugly thing, folks, and Jesus doesn’t look kindly on it. He hates it.

Today we continue to look at the issue of hypocrisy in how people play games by swearing oaths that don’t mean anything.

That’s why I thought I’d best mention that the issue isn’t “cussing.” We can talk about that another time, okay?

Matthew 23:16-22 (p. 700) –

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.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You 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.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

This is the second time Jesus references swearing oaths. He also did it back in chapter 5 in the Sermon on the Mount.

In fact, I’d like us to take a look at that passage in a few minutes, because I think that they serve to complement each other.

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