(This message may be used as an individual sermon or as part of the series.)

Matthew 5:33-42 – UNDER CONTROL


Under Control – As Christians we realize that only God can empower us through the Holy Spirit so that we are truly under God’s control. 

Galatians 5:16 – This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 

Jesus’ topic in Matthew 5:33-42 is control.  When we follow Jesus’ teaching and allow the Holy Spirit to control us, we find that the following things will be under control:   


I think that the Psalmist had us all pegged when he confessed his need for help with his tongue: 

Psalm 141:3 – Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. 

In verses 33-37 Jesus deals with one of the key problems with our lips. It is the problem of telling the truth, and not lying.   

Vs. 33 – In this passage Jesus is not talking about swearing as we think of it today. He is not referring to taking the name of the Lord in vain, although this is a sin. Filthy language is definitely wrong. Exodus 20:7, Ephesians 4:29 

What is at stake here with this passage is the truthfulness, the honesty, the integrity of our lips. 

Vows or oaths are not uncommon in the Old and New Testaments.  These were to be done seriously and when absolute truthfulness was involved. Numbers 30:2, Genesis 14:22-23, 2 Corinthians 1:23 

Matthew 26:63-64 – Jesus is at his trial.  He is asked to swear by the living God and He does give an answer. 

So, why then, did Jesus say not to swear?

There are two reasons. 

First, swearing or using of oaths, was a far too common thing in the days of Jesus. People would use an oath for things that didn’t matter. They would think nothing of using an oath for anything. 

Would you take much stock in a person who used an oath to verify that:

Ø     He was going to wear a red shirt today

Ø     Right after the “Price Is Right” she was going to mop the floor?

Ø     That he or she was going to do their homework? 

Vows and oaths are and were not necessary for such things. 

According to James Montgomery Boice, “The second reason perversion of the proper use of oaths by the people of Christ’s time was worse. It was evasive swearing.

People who were afraid to swear by the name of the Lord because they were not telling the full truth began to swear by things, and because mere things were not thought to be as significant as the name of God this second class of oaths was not considered to be binding.” James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount ( Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p. 152 

In our text Jesus gives some examples of the ways people swore or gave oaths. 

Vs. 34 – By Heaven – That’s the throne of God

Vs. 35 – By Earth – That’s God’s footstool

Vs. 35 – Jerusalem – That’s the city of the great King – the Lord Jesus Christ

Vs. 36 – By the head – The head can’t change natural things like hair color.                                    

Vs. 37 – Instead of using an oath to convince people of our honesty, Jesus just wants us to be honest with our words.

Let your yes mean yes and your “no” mean no! 

If you are placed under oath as Jesus was at his trial, just do what Jesus did.  Answer the questions honestly. 

If you have made an oath or even a promise, and have not kept it, confess that sin to God.  Then if you can, try and keep it. Just remember that there is nothing more valuable than a man that keeps his word.  

OUR LENIENCY – Vss. 38-39 

Vs. 38 – The quote that our Lord was using came from a few passages in the Old Testament. The principle of an “eye for an eye” and a “tooth for a tooth” referred to the civil government.  When there were violations against people, the government was to exact punishment and to do it fairly.  The government has authority in such matters. Leviticus 24:19-20, Romans 13:4 

Vs. 39 – According to the Lord Jesus the rule of vengeance, “an eye of an eye” or a “tooth for a tooth”, was for the government and not individuals. 

If I say something is “a slap in the face”, what am I saying?

I am saying that I have been insulted.

If someone literally slaps me in the face, my first inclination is to want to slap back.

If someone insults me, cuts me, hurts me, demeans me, what is the first thing I want to do?

I want to insult, cut, hurt, and demean back.    

Jesus is saying, “Don’t retaliate”.

Be lenient towards the person who has just insulted you or hurt you. Romans 12:17 


Vs. 40 – The picture is of a lawsuit in court.

Someone wants your coat, your suit or shirt as satisfaction for a debt.

In Jewish law he could take the shirt, but he could not take the cloak which was the equivalent of an overcoat. 

The cloak was needed to keep warm at night.

Jesus says, “Let him have the coat too!” 

Why would Jesus say that?

The Lord Jesus does not want us to hold on to our possessions selfishly.  If our possessions need to go, we are to let them go. 

We must realize that even if something precious is taken away from us, people can not take away what is really important, our relationship to God. 

And remember, God is responsible to take care of our needs. Matthew 6:28-30 


Vs. 41 – Israel was under Roman rule at the time.

One problem was a Roman soldier could force a citizen of Israel, a non-Roman, to carry his baggage the distance of a mile.

Jesus said take the man’s baggage two miles. 

Jesus is simply saying, do more than what is expected of you.  And I believe the implication is that we should do it cheerfully. 

We are to go the extra mile.

Many times we do not like the inconvenience doing something for someone else.

The easiest thing in the world is to say “no”.

It will take consecration to the Lord to go the “extra mile for others.”   


Vs. 42 – An easy way to go bankrupt would be to answer every appeal you receive for money. 

I believe that Jesus is talking about legitimate need here.

When someone comes to you and asks for help, and it is a legitimate request, we should strive to help. 1 John 3:17-18 

Why is it that we are sometimes hesitant to give to legitimate needs?

Are we selfish?

Are we greedy?

Do we want to hold on to what we deem as ours?    

Sometimes we can’t give all that a person might request.

However, we can give what we are able to give.