Summary: Jesus' Sermon on the Mount speaks about the extended requirements of the law upon Kingdom Kids, those who have been given new hearts that are opposite of the World's value system.
The Christian Righteousness: Promises and Payback
So far in Matthew we have seen that Jesus reveals the inadequacy of human behavior and religion to qualify to be a citizen of God’s Kingdom: EVERYONE is humanly inadequate to be part of the Kingdom or to serve the King. God’s Kingdom standards are infinitely higher than the law: If you think that you obey everything in the law OUTWARDLY, you have established a form of self-righteousness. Basically the Pharisees had created laws on top of the laws and so they said, "If you keep that or do this a certain way, you're alright." In doing so, they had rejected God’s Grace and God’s ATONEMENT for sin, and set their own standards. They missed the significance of the BLOOD SACRIFICE. They no longer saw themselves as people with sinful hearts, sinful intents, and thoughts.
Jesus said in Matt. 5:20: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” God is concerned with your hearts, not your external “system”. You are sinners; your hearts are angry and hateful toward God.
Jesus says: “You think it's enough not to KILL, God says don't even get angry. (Don’t even THINK angry.) You think it's enough not to commit ADULTERY, God says you shouldn't even think it in your heart. You think it's enough to do the paperwork when you get a DIVORCE, God says you shouldn't even get a divorce, except for fornication. Your standards are far below God’s.”
PROMISES and Oaths
Today we look at Matthew 5:33 (This is the NAS): "Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.' 34 "But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. 36 "Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.”
Back in Deut. 23:21, God said: "When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you. 22 "However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23 "You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God, what you have promised.”
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jonathan and David in the Old Testament were just some of those who made oaths, but they made their promises IN THE COMPANY of GOD, and they were saying that because God was their witness, “Lord God, if I break this promise, YOU deal with me!” All promises or oaths are not bad, but God IS OUR witness, whether we recognize that or not, so BE CAREFUL: When you make any promise, you should know that GOD IS your WITNESS.
Because every Promise or oath IS made in the presence of God, they are meant to be kept! We live IN A WORLD in which EVERYONE is BORN with the sin nature of Adam. Satan is the Father of all lies and LIARS (John 8:44) and so sin and lying, false testimony and taking God’s name in vain have been passed “naturally” to everyone that comes into this world.
It was not any different in Jesus’ day: The scribes and Pharisees knew that all men are liars. In Leviticus 19:12, where it says, "You shall not swear by My name falsely," the Pharisees interpreted it this way: “IT’s ok if you lie as long as you don’t do it by God’s name. If you take an oath, it’s ok if you break it, as long as you did not take it in God’s name.” This is what they did with dozens of laws. You can see why Jesus’ teachings shocked and disheveled the Pharisees. Jesus uncovered the lies of man’s heart. God looks BEHIND the masks.
In Psalm 64:2, God says, "The wicked delight in lies." Jeremiah 9 says the world lies; in Jeremiah 23, it says that false prophets lie. In Isaiah 57, hypocrites lie. In I Timothy 4, apostates lie. What is the end of all liars? All liars shall find their part in the lake of fire, which burns forever (Revelation 21-22).
Matthew 15:18 says: "Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man." The things that you speak are the thermometer of the heart: the things you speak show whether you have GOD’s TRUTH in you or not. God never makes a promise higher than Himself because He IS TRUTH. Jesus ends this section with verse 37: "But let your statement (LOGOS, Word, speech, communication) be, 'Yes, yes ' (The words Jesus used often: Truly, truly) or 'No, no '; anything beyond these is of evil.”