[SW337] 7/28/2018 message notes by
Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018
Truth in the Inward Parts
Text: Matthew 5:33-37
What does the Lord seek, from those who believe into Him? Truth in the inward parts, in the innermost being. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clarifies the meaning of the Law of Moses. His purpose is to reveal our hearts to us, so we cry out for Him to change them by filling us with the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13)!
In the past, I had only a partial understanding of this portion of the Sermon on the Mount. I thought, What is this about oaths? And what is the deeper point of it? So I prayed and asked Him to reveal it to me. Later that day, as I stood beside my kitchen stove, He said to my heart, “Truth in the inward parts.” You will see it in Psalm 51, which was David’s psalm of repentance after he sinned with Bathsheba and arranged for her husband to be killed in battle —
Psalms 51:1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly (as a launderer washes clothing) from my iniquity
And cleanse me (purify me inwardly) from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
4 Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.
Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me (as a son of Adam).
6 Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being (truth in the inward parts),
And in the hidden part (of me) You will make me know wisdom.
7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean (pure);
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
David was a man after God’s own heart, as Samuel tells King Saul —
1Samuel 13:14a “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart.”
Nathan the prophet called him out on his sin, and He repented from the heart. David knew what he needed. He saw the condition of his heart, and cried out for the Lord to change it. The Holy Spirit abided with David, but did not dwell within David, for Christ had not yet come to die, rise, ascend and be glorified (John 7:39).
But now Christ has come! You are forgiven of your past sins and reconciled to God by believing into Him. And if you obey His command to stay (Luke 24:49) and wait (Acts 1:4-5, 9), He will cleanse your heart inwardly and fill your heart with His truth, just as David prayed in Psalm 51! Then you will have what the Lord commands — truth in the inward parts!
Now, back to today’s passage. Jesus rebukes God’s people then and now for the outward oaths they take. The scribes (experts in the Law of Moses) and Pharisees, outwardly made promises, but inwardly their hearts were hardened, and they used the Law of Moses cleverly, twisting it for their own purposes, rather than opening their hearts to it.
Verse 33 —
Jesus begins a strong rebuke of God’s people, for the Law of Moses has been twisted by them. Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, You shall not make false vows (perjure, swear falsely), but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord (literally, “you shall deliver on your oaths to the Lord”).
Jesus is referring to the third and ninth of the of the Ten Commandments —
Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”
Exodus 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
And also —
Leviticus 19:12 “‘You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane (wound, drive a wedge into, bore into) the name of your God; I am the LORD.’”
To swear falsely is to lie. My brothers and sisters, when you lie, you take the Lord’s name in vain, and thereby profane His name (His reputation and character). This is His character —
Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
You may say, Whew! I am glad I always tell the truth! But don’t get too comfortable. Jesus is speaking of far more than outward truthfulness. Do you have truth in your inward parts?
Here is the first test the Lord asked me to give you, O believer — Do you say, “I love you, Lord,” and yet disobey Him? Then you do not love Him, and have not told the truth (see John 14:23-24). Heed His words, see the poverty of your heart, and cry out for Him to change it, just like I did! Blessed are you, if you do it!
And here is the second test — Have you committed adultery? Or have you divorced your wife to marry another woman who caught your eye? Then you have not told the truth. You have broken your promise. You have sinned against God, profaning His name.
That is why the third and ninth commandments, like the others, are deadly serious. I will tell you that He is most often wounded in the house of His friends (Zechariah 13:6).
Jesus continues to press in. He will continue to press into you, too, until you cry out for Him to change your heart. Then, the sin nature in you is crucified and you are filled with the Spirit of truth (John 14:17)! Heed His words, see the poverty-stricken condition of your heart, and cry out for Him to change it!
Verses 34-36 —
Of the commandments to keep vows, Jesus says this — But I say, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by (toward) Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. Nor shall you make and oath by your head (swearing by yourself), for you cannot make one hair white or black.
So, if you have no power to change the color of your hair, you certainly have no power to change the condition of your heart so you have truth in the inward parts! Exactly the point Jesus is making! You can’t do it, but He will, if you cry out to Him!
Jesus specifies these particular forms of oaths because they are the oaths the scribes and Pharisees use. I had to do some research in the commentaries. It is because the rabbis and scribes and Pharisees had developed an impossibly intricate, absurd set of rules about oaths.
For instance, swearing by heaven was not binding (you could not be held to such an oath), nor was swearing by Jerusalem, but swearing toward Jerusalem was binding. As usual, they wrote such rules for their own benefit, so they could be seen as wise and would be sought after for their counsel, but also, so they could cunningly crafted so they themselves could twist them for their own purposes and benefit.
Jesus rebukes them again, later in Matthew —
Matthew 23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ 17 “You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18 “And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’
Matthew 23:19 “You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20 “Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it.
Matthew 23:21 “And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 22 “And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.”
The truth God wants is truth in your inward parts. The Pharisees strain out a gnat and swallow a camel (Matthew 23:24) with their oath-taking methods — their oaths are outward works that disguise the poverty of a human heart!
But when you ask Him to purify your heart and fill it with His truth, you will fulfill Jesus’ command to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). I do not mean that the Lord will fill you with “facts,” but He will make you the very embodiment of truth because the Spirit of truth will be in you, large and in charge. It is the only way to have truth in your inward parts!
Filled with His truth, there is no question as to whether you will be a true witness of the God of heaven, the God who created the earth, the God who established Jerusalem, the God who sent His Son, who is the Great King! Never again will you profane His name because of an impure heart! You will be His witness here —
Acts 1:4, 5, 8 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
I tell you the truth, beloved. That is the only way that you will have His truth in your inward parts. Until then, every vow you make is outward. And you will break outward vows, just as I did until the Lord filled me with His truth!
Verse 37 —
Jesus concludes with this — But let your statement (word) be “Yes, yes,” or “No, no.” Anything beyond these is evil.
Jesus repeats “yes” and “no” for emphasis. But there is no “let” in the original Greek. You cannot change your heart so your yes is yes and your no is no. It is something you must ask Him to do, in you!
That is why Jesus adds that anything beyond your yes or no is evil (of the evil one, Satan). Why? Satan is happy when you profane the Lord’s name. He is happy to have you retain your sin nature, for it gives him an opening to devour you —
1Peter 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Again, what does God seek?
Psalm 15:1 O LORD, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
2 He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being (the inward parts),
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
Take no oaths at all! Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit! He will purify your heart! He will cleanse you inwardly! Then your yes will be yes, and your no will be no because you will have truth literally within you — truth in your inward parts!
Jesus Christ puts His finger on your heart today. He whose name is Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11) will answer you, if you heed His words, see your heart’s poverty, and cry out for Him to change it. Then, you surely will be supremely blessed beyond anything you can think or imagine!
Amen, Lord Jesus. He or she who has ears to hear, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to every believer!