Summary: Jesus is the truth, so too should His people be people of the truth.
The term “ethic” refers to moral principles which govern the behavior of a person or a group.
The root word is “ethos” which is the Greek word for “character”.
A person or group is characterized by the principles which govern their behavior.
Most of us have become very familiar with the term “Judeo-Christian Ethic” as it has become increasingly popular in the media.
When someone uses this term, it is typically an attempt to describe people who use the Bible as the normative guide for their morals.
Ethics are a valuable part of what make any belief system, and they are foundational within the Christian faith.
The Christian life is a life of principles.
It is a life which is supposed to be marked by certain behaviors which separate it from the world.
This is not to say that Christianity is merely a list of “dos and don’ts” - it is much more than that.
But there are principles which underlie the idea of what it means to be “Christian”.
In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that Christianity was so associated with certain types of virtuous behavior, that it was used as a synonym.
People would say, “That’s very ‘Christian’ of you” if someone did something positive or noble.
Likewise, people would say, “That’s not very ‘Christian’” if a person was doing something negative or sinful.
Unfortunately, like most things, these terms began to be misused.
People began labeling things they did not approve of as “unchristian” and soon everything under the sun fell into that category.
Everything from dancing to going to the movies was deemed “unchristian” by some, and eventually the term lost its meaning.
But beloved, there s a very real and true Christian ethic - there are things which should characterize Christians, and things which should not.
Whether we call these things “Christian or Unchristian” or simply “right or wrong”, they are standards which we are called to live under as followers of Christ.
In our modern world, these standards are often mocked or outrightly rejected.
And this is not only by the world, but also by the church.
There are movements of “christianity” which have abandoned the biblical ethic and replaced it with a moral relativism.
This culture is called antinomianism, which means that they refuse to be bound by the ethical principles of Scripture.
They say rightly that “nobody is perfect” and use this as an excuse to live in any way they please.
In short, they choose to “continue in sin” in hopes that “grace will abound”.
Beloved, such an attitude is both dangerous and unbiblical... and might I add “not very christian”.
Once we have given up our pursuit of Christian character, our ethical principles, we have given up our pursuit of godliness.
As believers, this is not an option.
In the Sermon on the Mount, which we have been studying for the past few months, Jesus is providing for us an exposition of Christian Ethics.
He is exposing the false understandings of the Jewish teachers of His day, and providing a proper view of them.
And in doing so, He is establishing the “Ethics of the Kingdom” for all of His followers.
This is what Christianity looks like:
Its not enough just to not murder, we must also avoid unrighteous anger and words which tear down and destroy.
Its not enough to not commit adultery, we must avoid looking at a woman with lustful intent.
Marriage is to be held in high esteem, and divorce is a corruption of God’s original intent for marriage.
These are all part of the Christian Ethic that we have seen so far.
Jesus is not here expounding every single law, but is providing us with examples of how God’s laws are more than mere “rules to live by” but they are principles upon which to base our lives.
Today, we are going to see how Jesus continues to expand His teaching in regard to Christian Ethics, as He moves into the subject of truthfulness.
READ: Matthew 5:33-37
Years ago, a film was produced entitled “Liar, Liar”.
The story of the film was based on a boy named Max whose dad was a talented, but very deceptive lawyer. On his birthday, Max made a wish that his dad would be forced to tell the truth for an entire day. And, by the power of hollywood magic, the wish came true. The whole day, the father is unable to tell a lie and it results in him alienating co-workers, insulting his neighbors, and frustrating his family.
The movie was attempting to be humorous, but it did shed a light on a very serious issue in our world... the issue of our willingness to lie.
In fact, the film’s protagonist says at one point, “Sometimes adults HAVE to lie.”