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RED: A Kingdom of Integrity Danny W Davis September 1, 2013 We will be looking at Matthew 5:33-37 this morning The Scriptures

are printed on the back of your bulletin insert (ME) ILLUSTRATION: A wealthy businessman was very sick almost to the point of death. As he lay in his hospital bed a preacher walked in to pray for him. The sick man told the preacher, If God raises me up from this thing I will give the church 1 million dollars. Well, God did raise him up and in just a few days he was better and out of the hospital. A few weeks passed by and the preacher bumped into the businessman at a neighborhood restaurant. The preacher said, Hey, do you remember that you told me you would give 1 million dollars to the church if God healed you? Well, God did but we have not received the money yet. The businessman replied, Did I really say that? Wow! That just goes to show you how sick I really was! (TRANSITION) We have all heard stories like this where a person promises God something IF He will do something for them. God answers their prayers BUT they forget their end of the deal. (WE) A few years ago a book was published entitled The Day America Told the Truth. In the book were the findings of surveys done with thousands of people about how honest they are and how much value they place on integrity. Here were the results.. 91% stated they lie on a regular basis 86% said they lie to their parents regularly 69% stated they lie to their spouse consistently 75% said they lie to their friends 50% said they regularly called into work sick but were not sick Now I am not taking a survey this morning but unfortunately many people who profess faith in Christ fall into these statistics as well. In another study between Christian and non-Christian adults it was discovered that Almost the same number of Christians stole from their workplace as non-Christians they found that Christians are just as likely to falsify our income taxes, and commit plagiarism, and give bribes to obtain a building permit, and ignore construction specs,

and illegally copy computer programs, and steal time from work, and exaggerate our products, and selectively obey the law. (TRANSITION) Hopefully, you are not counted among these statistics this morning. But what does Jesus teach us about having integrity - about keeping our promises? Lets look at Matthew 5:33-37 together this morning. READ Matthew 5:33-37 (GOD) There are three very explicit OT passage of Scripture that teach us about lying. Leviticus 19:12 Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord. Numbers 30:2 When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said. Deuteronomy 23:21 If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. As we read these passages we can see that God is placing great emphasis on being truthful and about having integrity. If we make a promise - if we make a vow - then we should keep that vow. God is telling us not to quickly enter into making a promise or swearing an oath without first considering the consequences of not being able to fulfill our promises. The writer of Ecclesiastes says, 5:5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. ILLUSTRATION: Think of this in the context of a marriage. When I perform a wedding I usually say something to the effect that this man and woman should not enter into this marriage covenant LIGHTLY. Why do I say these words - because when we make a vow we should do it having considered the cost. I find it interesting that Jesus teaching about keeping our commitments comes immediately after having taught about adultery and divorce. I am pretty sure Jesus planned it that way! The Scriptures also tell us to keep the integrity of our heart. READ Psalm 15

Time after time in the OT we hear the prophets crying out to God for someone - anyone who would live with integrity and do the will and work of God. They begged God to send them to people who did not lack truth in their heart. The Law was clear about its teaching concerning lying and stealing and making oaths (vows). It was pretty simple - DO NOT STEAL - DO NOT MAKE FALSE OATHS - simple RIGHT - NO. As usual the religious folks got a hold on the Law and started saying, Just how much can we get away with before we commit sin or break the Law? What is the limit? So the Pharisees and Scribes began teaching the people something like this - You can MAKE AND BREAK all the promises you want with you neighbors, friends, and family - and not commit sin. BUT if you make a vow (swear an oath) TO THE LORD - then you cannot break it or you commit sin. (see Matthew 23:16-19). So, what people were doing was making promises to others and then swearing to keep that promise by saying, I swear it by the temple. Or, I swear by the throne of God. Or, I swear...by the earth...by Jerusalem...by the altar..by my head..." Basically their oaths were meaningless and they had no intention of ever keeping their promise. Today we might hear someone say, I swear on my mothers grave. Or, I swear on my life. Its not you life to give as a pledge - its Gods And I dont even know where the whole my mothers grave thing came from. Jesus says, This is what you have heard being taught and being said BUT I tell you not to swear at all Jesus is not telling us to NEVER make promises. What He is telling those listening to Him then and now is that no matter what you swear by (earth, temple, head, life, grave) IT ALL BELONGS TO GOD AND THEREFORE ALL PROMISES ARE MADE BEFORE GOD AND HUMAN BEINGS. No promise is meaningless - somebody is counting on you. BE careful about making the promise before making it. Sometimes we just say things off the cuff to get people out of our hair. Think about that with you children. If you make a promise and do not keep it what does that say to your children - it says you cannot be trusted. So, before you promise them something with no intention of doing it STOP and think about (that includes disciplinary actions - do not promise what you are unwilling to

deliver on) Jesus simply tells us ...let your Yes be Yes and your No, No. Then Jesus tells us, Anything beyond this comes from the evil one. WOW! What does He mean by that Basically I think Jesus is telling us that when we make the choice lie, steal, break our vows and make promises we never intend on keeping - we are doing the work of the Devil. As believers in Christ we do not want to be a part of the Devils work - so we just give people an honest answer - Yes or No. (YOU) What about you this morning? Can those around us trust what we say? Can the people we work with take our word to the bank? ILLUSTRATION: I am not that old but I can remember my dad walking into the local bank and asking Jim Crane for a construction loan. He would agree and they would shake hands and he would get the money. I am sure that somewhere along the line some paperwork had to be completed but once that handshake took place it was a done deal. The idea of integrity and not swearing oaths also points to how we handle our finances. Are we taking loans and swearing to lay them back - without ever intending to do so? I recognize that we can have full intention and something go wrong - that is not what I am talking about. ILLUSTRATION: The first house we ever owned was purchased out of a repossession. It was only 3 years old when we bought it. According to the realtor the previous owners borrowed the money, had the house built and never made the first payment. In the end, they had no intention of repaying the loan. They were trying to do some scam thing and it backfired on them. If, as Jesus tells us, that our righteousness is to exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees then we should be people who can be trusted to keep our promises and live with integrity of heart. Is this where you are today? (US) The same is true of the church. ILLUSTRATION: The first church I pastored had a very bad reputation in town for buying stuff on credit and not paying. Somehow they got the mentality that everyone owed the church a donation. One of the first things I did was go around to those stores and make sure we were all up to date and then speak to the owners and ask for their forgiveness. Did I make the problem -

no. But I had to be the one who would restore the integrity of the church. As a church we must live up to our promises. And I am happy to report that this is not a problem. But we also must make sure that whatever we say we are going to do - we do. Because we want this community to trust us and to trust our word - because we want them to trust our God! CONCLUSION Are you letting the Holy Spirit guide you in your decisions and promises? Are you quick to dismiss a promise or to make one without ever intending to keep it? If you are a believer in Christ you may need to repent and make some things right. You need to ask the Holy Spirit to put a watch before your mouth and help you consider things before making a promise. If you are here this morning and you are not a believer I hope that you will trust my words today. I want to help you know that the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of integrity and honesty. I will promise you this, if you will give your life to Christ today you will be saved. There will be ups and downs and disappointments with other Christians BUT JESUS WILL ALWAYS DO WHAT IS RIGHT. PRAY