As you read Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount for today, what comes to your mind as to the theme or message Jesus is wanting to convey?
Mt 5:33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Maybe the first thing that jumped out to you was “oath taking” and perhaps the second was “not taking oaths”. Maybe read the passage again and you might see Jesus is talking about the way you use your mouth. In other words, He is speaking about communication. As mentioned before, communication is one of the most difficult things to do. Even though saved by grace and enjoying a renewed mind … because of our sinful disposition there could be a tendency of using our mouths incorrectly and sinfully. Before we dig into the passage, let’s listen to what Paul writes to the Colossians:
Col 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
1) Put to death. The list in verse is not comprehensive. The key here is “whatever belongs” and examples are what follows. Christians need to dress themselves with Gospel Integrity. Refusal is idolatry because the earthly nature always seeks to defy God and His morality. Put to death literally means “kill off” that old nature and its sinful ways!
2) He moves from “put to death” to “but now”. You used to behave in the ungodly way and because of those ways wrath is coming … “but now” … “rid yourselves”. Of what must the believer rid him or herself? Once again the list is not comprehensive anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips … and verse 9 adds … “lie”. Why? Because you are a new creation. Repentance includes ridding yourself of all the old practices. You are positionally imaging God in likeness and practically you are to be growing in this likeness. Consider these things to put off … anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips and lies. All these affect communication. Where do these things come from? Jesus said:
Mat 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
Take evil thoughts, false testimony and slander … these influence our communication … but where do they come from? They come from out of the heart. How did they get into the heart? This might sound terrible … you put these things into your heart! Whatever you feed the heart dwells in the heart!
(1) You have an eye gate. What you see filters through to the heart. This is why you ought to be careful what you permit to enter the eye gate. I have said it before … Jenny and I refuse to watch movies that are rated over 13 … and even then sex, language, nudity and violence slips through. These four, especially the language and violence, affects communication.
(2) You have an ear gate. Language finds its way into the ear. You might hear swearing, vulgarity, anger and blasphemy. Add to this arguments and cursing. These are also conveyed to the heart.
(3) You have a nose gate. Many don’t realize how the sense of smell might influence a person both negatively and positively … and this includes sinfully. You see, a bad odor might cause you to respond in anger or unhappiness.
(4) You have a touch gate. Someone might bump into you and you might respond sinfully. All these things are stored up in your heart for later use.
(5) Because of the sinful nature, when we are confronted in some manner that hurts our ego, person, character or integrity, the stored information from the ear, eye, nose and touch gates comes out of the heart, exiting through the mouth gate! This is the reason we need to rid ourselves of the things that negatively influence the heart!
3) So how ought we to use our senses so that God is glorified? Once again Paul speaks up as he is inspired by the Spirit
Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
On a human level, our souls are inspired to healthy spirituality and godly morality when we practice excluding sin in all forms from our lives. Then we will enjoy God’s presence and His peace will indwell us to the point where our communication is honoring to God. Then, on a spiritual level our focus needs to be on heavenly things.
Col 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Christians belong to Jesus. He purchased our souls at Calvary. We are His and He requires we live under His rule and reign and the only way we can do this is through being heavenly minded. That is after all our eternal home and He is our Lord and King … so being heavenly minded is setting our hearts on the Occupant upon the Throne of Glory as well as setting our minds, thoughts and desires on the things of heaven. This is the way to fill our hearts with holiness that will be expressed with the radiance of His glory and likeness as we speak. The instrument that guides and directs us is the Word of God. As we use the Word of God, the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts which in turns influences all our senses and in this case, our communication.
Our Glorious Father, You who are holy, righteous and blameless, create in us pure hearts that glorify You as we interact with people. May they see in us examples of Gospel Christianity and desire what we have through Jesus Christ our Lord and King. Amen.