Summary: One of the ways we can be a bad Christian is by not keeping our word.
• SLIDE #1
• There are so many traps out there for us to fall into aren’t there.
• We have been spending the past 4 weeks looking at 8 ways we can be a bad Christian.
• I believe that the value of this series is that we can look at some of the mistakes of the past and learn from them so we do not repeat them.
• Today we will look at trap number five.
• Have you ever been around a person who always had a reason they did not do something they promised? You know what I am talking about, that person who makes big promises yet delivers very little.
• There is always some elaborate explanation as to why you were let down.
• This problem is nothing new.
• Today we are going to look back at a problem that the religious leaders of Jesus day were really struggling with. As we look at their struggle, we will see what the Lord had to say about it and we will then make an application for today.
• One of the things we need to do is to make sure that we are living well within the will of the God we serve.
• It is so easy for us to rationalize our deviations from God’s path.
• Let’s begin by looking at Matthew 23:16-22
• SLIDE #2
• Matthew 23:16-22 (ESV) 16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
• We will begin by looking at the way the religious leaders lived life in Jesus day.
• SLIDE #3
I. LIVING BY LOOPHOLES.
• Jesus was once again scolding the leaders for their lack of integrity in the area of keeping their word.
• Jesus calls them blind guides in verse 16, blind fools in verse 16, and blind men in verse 19.
• The ritualism of the leaders was blinding them to God’s ways. Their practices were both irritating and morally bankrupt.
• Apparently, the Pharisees “ruled” that an oath could only be made with something you could use as collateral. That way, if someone lied, there could be financial repercussions. Therefore, oaths made by the temple or its altar were not valid, but oaths made by the gold of the temple or the offering on the altar were valid.
• But their motive behind this hair-splitting was deception. Their application of principles to moral questions allowed them to rob people “religiously.”
• As you look at the text, it seems pretty ridiculous doesn’t it.
• In the Near East, people often would “swear by” something or make oaths. However, they would avoid making oaths using God’s name or a sacred object (such as the temple or the altar) because they believed that then the oath was binding. Moses’ law kept them from swearing by God’s name, so an elaborate system was created to make vows less binding.
• The closer the basis of the vow was to God’s name, the more binding it was. The Jew then would swear an oath by peripheral objects, like the temple or the altar in the temple, so he could break his oath if needed.
• The idea was that a person would be bound if he swore by something greater than himself; so there was an ascending scale of values and of binding power.
• If you swear by the Temple, it means nothing, but if you swear by the gold in the temple, then you have to keep your oath?
• If you would swear by the alter it meant nothing but if you swore by the gift on the alter, then it meant something?
• It kind of seems to me that these folks were always looking for an angle to get out of keeping their word.
• This says a lot about their character, these were people who claimed to be leading people in their relationship with God, they claimed to be the bastions of the truth about God, yet they could themselves be trusted.