Sermon: To Tell the Truth
Scripture: Matthew 5:33-37
In this week’s lessons, we see the importance of telling the truth, and of the need to cultivate a godly heart and mind.
Theme: The Need for the Truth
I doubt very much if there has ever been a period of history in which the best men of the time have not recognized the need for telling the truth. The great Roman orator Cicero once said, “Nothing is sweeter than the light of truth.” And Chaucer, the English poet, wrote, “Truth is the highest thing that man may keep.” At the same time, wise men have also recognized that the truth is not always so attainable. Thus, the English literary critic John C. Collins wrote with some wit, “Truth is the object of philosophy, but not always of philosophers.” Also, Daniel Webster once mused, “There is nothing so powerful as truth—and often nothing so strange.”
I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ captured both the need for the truth and the difficulty of attaining it in the fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel when He instructed His disciples: “Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old, Thou shalt not perjure thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea, Nay, nay; for whatever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matt. 5:33-37).
This is the fourth of Christ’s six great illustrations of true morality in the Sermon on the Mount: victory over anger, purity in sexual matters, faithfulness in marriage, truth, selflessness, and love. It teaches the paramount importance of speaking truthfully.
Now I believe that if we are to receive the full import of Christ’s teaching we must realize that He was not speaking about the taking of oaths primarily. This is the sense in which certain religious bodies in our time have taken Christ’s teaching, and they will not swear to the truth of their statements even in a court of law. Actually, Jesus was speaking not against oaths themselves but against the abuses of oaths and the corresponding abuse of the truth that went with them.
What are the six components of true morality in the Sermon on the Mount? Review what you have learned from the first three.
What, specifically, was Jesus teaching against?
Reflection: Have you observed people expecting the truth from others, while they themselves are not always truthful? What are some causes for this inconsistent standard?
For Further Study: Download and listen for free to Albert Mohler’s message, “What Is Truth?” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)