Matt 5:33-37 Sermon on the Mount Con’t
“The very existence of oaths is a proof that there are such things as lies. If lying were unknown, there would be no need for oaths.”
That’s simple enough.
There are truths and there are lies.
Historically oaths were taken to help prove the truthfulness of a statement. So why shouldn’t the disciples use an oath to help testify to the world that God is real?
“Since they [Christians] always speak the whole truth and nothing but the truth, there is no need for an oath, which would only throw doubt on the veracity of all their other statements. That is why the oath is “of the evil one.” But a disciple must be a light even in his words.”
What Bonhoeffer is saying is that Followers of Christ should ALWAYS speak the truth. To use oaths only casts doubts on words NOT spoken with oaths. This would confuse the world and bring division where there should be unity.
To break this down farther: Followers know they are accountable for everything said, because nothing is outside God’s hearing. Therefore there’s no need for oaths. Everything coming out the mouth of a Christian should be truth. (Now we take a break from oaths and focus on speaking truth)
So why don’t we always speak the truth?
Because of shame?
Because we fear retribution from men?
Because we have doubts?
Because we don’t want our own sins thrown back in our faces?
“Only those who follow Jesus and cleave to him are living in complete truthfulness. Such men have nothing to hide from their Lord.”
Since God knows all and we can’t hide anything from Him, we can walk boldly in truth before Him. Knowing HE is the one before whom we stand or fall. HE is our judge, not the world.
So why do we hide truths from the world?
I postulate it’s for the reasons I gave above: Shame, Fear, Doubts, Hypocritical
Here’s what Bonhoeffer has to say about truthfulness: “Only those who are in a state of truthfulness through the confession of their sin to Jesus are not ashamed to tell the truth wherever it must be told. The truthfulness which Jesus demands from his followers is the self-abnegation which does not hide sin.”
God brings freedom from the guilt and bondage of sin, making it easier for us to expose our sins to others. Our judgment and mercy come from God alone. When the world sees our imperfections and our joy in serving Christ, they will want to follow Christ too. They will desire such liberty and joy- knowing they don’t have to be perfect to be loved by God.
But if we are not willing to show our sins, our weaknesses…if we hide our faults behind lies instead of letting the grace of the cross shine, we are disobedient to our call to be lights.
Lights reveal hidden things. Lights bring freedom from fear. Lights bring hope.
God wants us to share these truths with the world that is dying for lack of knowledge of how to be set free.
Our lives, all our faults and failures are testaments of HIS goodness and love.
Perhaps we don’t let others see our sins because we haven’t found the release of sin given to us in the cross.
“But sinful men do not like this sort of truthfulness, and they resist it with all their might. That is why they persecute it and crucify it. It is only because we follow Jesus that we can be genuinely truthful... The cross is God’s truth about us…when we know the cross we are no longer afraid of the truth.”
1 John 1:9 gives us liberty. It brings us into right relationship with God. We shouldn’t be ashamed to let our sins be seen, because it will also shine light on the blood that was shed for our transgressions.
The world needs truth but so does the Body of Christ.
“Untruthfulness destroys fellowship, but truths cuts false fellowship to pieces and establishes genuine brotherhood. We cannot follow Christ unless we live in revealed truth before God and man.”
To sum it all up:
“The commandment of complete truthfulness is really only another name for the totality of discipleship.”
1. Why is it so hard to admit our sins when we know we are forgiven (especially inside the church)?
2. Is it lack of understanding grace that causes us to hide our faults or fear from stones being thrown?
3. Do you think the Church breeds an atmosphere of hiding our sins or shining light on the grace found in the cross?