Sept 5, 2010

Sermon on the Mount


Matthew 6:19-24

In vv. 19-24, the Lord warns his people not to allow earthly goods to sidetrack them from their Christian responsibilities.

We must not ignore this sermon, nor under rate it. It is our Lord's sermon for his people, and applies to all of his people for as long as his kingdom exists on this earth. In preaching this sermon, he laid the foundation for his kingdom. This is a sum total of his kingdom laws.

This sermon recorded in Matthew 5, 6 & 7 is not just another sermon. It is one sermon from God himself, and we must hear and understand it as such.

Our Lord here explains the responsibility of his people to expand his kingdom on this earth by acting on the laws he gives.

Romans 12 tells us that we are accountable to God as to how we use our God given abilities and opportunities for the advantage of the Kingdom of God.

This one sermon has been divided into three sections, but it was not preached that way. The Lord did not give three breaks as it is recorded in our Scripture.

In fact, the first English Bible to use both chapters and verses was the Geneva Bible published in 1560. These verse divisions soon gained acceptance as a standard way to negotiate through the Scripture. The Geneva method has been used in nearly all English Bibles since.

Obviously, we are following the 500 year old divisions.

The rest of this second section, chapter 6, flows easily together. The whole sermon, as well as the whole of God's message to man, revolves around v. 33, seek ye first the kingdom of God. The Lord's sermon tells us how to seek his kingdom above all things.

Christ, as the only true representative on earth of the Heavenly Father, has drawn a sharp, clear, distinct line between the genuine Christian and the hypocrite, vv. 16-18. Now He will draw a sharp, clear, distinct line between earthly and heavenly treasure, vv. 19-24.

We will try to cover vv. 19-24.

1) alms/righteous works;
2) prayer/humility,
3) forgiveness/purity of heart,
4) fasting/self-denial, and now,
5) treasures/proper use of our earthly treasures.

God uses people to do his work here on earth. His kingdom requires personal time and finances to advance. Though time and finances are needed, the advancement must come through the working of the Spirit of God.

Here is a quick introduction to the rest of this chapter:

First, the Lord's sermon is a public sermon, which contain and explain the laws of his kingdom. The laws are binding particularly upon his people of all time, but include all people everywhere.

Second, Christ's hearers looked for a Messiah who would lead them in a great world-wide conquest, and who would right all the wrongs done to them by the Gentile nations. They expected the Messiah's kingdom to have great earthly glory and splendor, with the Jewish religious leaders at the very center of this glorious kingdom.

But the Kingdom of God reigns in the heart of his people, not from a literal throne in Jerusalem. His army does not destroy men's bodies, but works to preserve men's souls.

Christ did not establish new laws, but enables his people to fulfill the already established law as given through Moses.

Third, his whole sermon is dealing with the vital importance of pure motives which must be revealed with our every godly action.

In the previous section, the Lord three times said the hypocrites have their reward. Now He is outlining the reward laid up for the righteous as they seek first his kingdom.

Fourth, the Lord is primarily talking about worldly wealth: money, v. 24. The Geneva Bible uses the word riches instead of mammon with the comment, "This word is a Syrian word, and signifies all things that belong to money."


Note what the Lord told the rich man:

Mat 19:23-26 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard [it], they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

A) The rich depend on their riches rather than on their relationship to the Lord to take care of them even in that final day before the Lord.

B) Only the Spirit of God can show the rich man the fallacy of trusting in his riches.

Thus, this section is a sermon by Christ against covetousness; it exposes the god of this world, money, for what it is before him.

V. 19.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth... The Jews of Christ's day expected great, earthly wealth to flow into the Messiah's kingdom and under their control.

This was not what they wanted to hear about the Messiah's kingdom then, nor does the natural man want to hear it today. What the Lord says in this section is as contrary to human nature as anything can possibly be. Those who have accumulated large amounts of physical wealth are greatly exalted by the word to places of high importance.

The remainder of Matthew 6, vv. 19-34, is a clear warning that society's ills, as well as our personal ills, cannot be solved with earthly means: education, laws, political action, money.

A) money is the primary motivator of all that takes place in this world, and is the root of all evil as people seek money to finance their lust for power. The money issue cannot be avoided, and must be openly confronted head on. He spoke so clearly that the people were astonished at his doctrine, 7:28.

B) the dangers of riches (we should say, "the love of money") are presented many times throughout Scripture. At least 12 different warnings in Scripture. There Lord sums up the warnings here with 15% of his message, as he deals with worldly wealth or proper attitude toward and proper use of money. The love of wealth is one of the greatest dangers his people face.

C) Christians are NOT to be controlled by the concerns of this world as are the Gentiles. Rather, they are to be controlled by concerns about the things of God, and God will supply all their needs.

D) the Lord did not ignore the personal side of Christianity, but He sure did not deal with it according to modern theology. Christ preached personal responsibility, not personal peace and prosperity.

People want to know what Christianity will do for them, not what Christianity demands of them. Christ's sermon emphasizes the demands that Christianity places upon the people of God.

Christ clearly was not a self-esteem preacher. I believe he would treat the self-esteem preachers of our day as he did the money-changers of his day.

Vv. 19-21.

A) The Lord is not prohibiting hard work at one's profession whereby a man provides the needful things for those under his responsibility.

I find it strange how folks can get the idea that a Christian should not be involved in "earthly matters" out of this Sermon, yet still ignore the total teaching of the Message, i.e. God's glory and His kingdom advanced on earth by literal hard work.

B) The Lord is not prohibiting enjoying the fruit of our labours in the possession of goods and riches, provided, of course, they are gained honestly and used properly. In fact, the Lord may indeed see fit to give to His servants earthly wealth, yet one must remember the basic purpose of wealth—to finance the advancement of His kingdom on earth. What our Lord is saying in the rest of this chapter is in line with what He spoke to His people through His servant Moses in Deut 8.

C) The Lord is not prohibiting the accumulation of worldly wealth, and the laying up in store for our own future use or for our family. In Proverbs 6:6-8, we are told to consider the ant.

Godly wealth carries with it the responsibility to use it properly in the work of Christ on earth, and the danger of forgetting where it came from.

D) The Lord is prohibiting covetousness:

Covetousness can be defined as compromise of our responsibilities as defined by Scripture to and in the Kingdom of God in order to gain worldly goods.

The goal of God's people is always to be God's Glory and the advancement of His kingdom, but this chapter makes it very clear that the kingdom of our present concern is located on earth, vv. 10, 33. Certainly, the Lord promises an everlasting heavenly reward, but that reward is earned by very earthly and practical action.

V. 19, treasure

In Matthew 13:44, the treasure is Christ:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

A treasure is something of value that is laid up in Christ by righteous actions.

"But I don't have money to invest in the Kingdom Work." Value is also represented by time invested in the Kingdom, for time is money, and can be more valuable than money. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

We lay up treasure as we faithfully use the gifts, talents, abilities, opportunities and money provided to us by the Lord. 1 Tim 6:18 That they do good, and be rich in good works, and ready to distribute, and communicate, 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may obtain eternal life.

Obviously, treasure does not forbid wise savings plans, but it does forbid making our savings our goal and god.

The word of God continually defines the true gain in this life:

1 Ti 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

As we have pointed out, the Lord is drawing clear, distinct lines. First, He drew a sharp, clear, distinct line between the genuine Christian and the hypocrite. Then, vv. 19-21, He drew the line between earthly and heavenly treasure. Next, vv. 22, 23, He will draw the line between earthly and heavenly wisdom (single or evil eye).

Vv. 22-24, the Single eye, vs the evil eye

The Lord's words are for all people of all time.

Light refers to the illumination of His followers, who are members of His kingdom on earth, and the genuine, inner joy they will have as they follow the illuminating instructions of the word of God and the indwelling Spirit of God.

Single...urges us to have a single goal in life–to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and strength. Don't bet sidetracked. Avoid double-mindedness: James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

The single eye light of the body... The Lord is dealing with the false teaching of His day that the Kingdom of God included great earthly splendor and wealth; we could call this similar to the prosperity gospel.

The Lord is countering the temptation toward covetousness.
The Lord is telling His followers that joy and happiness will not come from serving the gods of this world. As the saying goes, "Money will not buy happiness."

The Lord again exposes the motives of the heart, and He will go on to develop the thought: Where does the desire of the heart lie? Where is our love?

What makes our heart rejoice? our family, money, person, place, thing, or the knowledge we are doing what God has given us to d?.

The single eye means that the single object of our life is his glory. Others can see where our treasure is laid up by our actions.

The single eye is content with the things God has provided. It does not look and lust for the things around it.

The single eye can see the things that are far off, and it makes present decisions accordingly. Hebrews 11:13.

The single eye is enlightened by God, and is identified with seeing our responsibility to God and to our fellow man and doing it. As we fulfill that responsibility, the Lord says that we are filled with light.

The evil eye

The evil eye seeks after and rejoices in worldly treasure or possession, and such things become the motive of life.
It seeks more earthly treasure, and is willing to compromise Christian responsibility to gain those treasures.
It is content with its unscriptural relationship with the Lord.
It equates happiness with the accumulation of outward things and earthly treasure.
It invests in the broken cisterns of this world. A broken cistern promises water when it cannot provide water. Jeremiah 2:13.

The evil eye honestly believes that it can serve two masters, the God of heaven and earth and the god of this world, mammon, v. 24. It sees no conflict between the Lord God and mammon; it is able to justify compromise.

I have no doubt that the all the wealth producing jobs in America were removed by God because of the evil eye of this present generation of Christians. God destroyed the god of mammon.

The evil eye is incapable of seeing the true results of choosing money over God. Deuteronomy 28:19.

There is nothing wrong with worldly possessions, as long as those possessions do not hinder our responsibility to God.

The evil eye is quite content with an unscriptural relationship with God. Deuteronomy 28:20.
The evil eye believes it will be the exception, that it can sow to the flesh, yet avoid the promised fruit of corruption. Galatians 6:7, 8.

Basically, the evil eye is blinded to the true riches in Christ and his service. Proverbs 28:22.

V. 23, the Lord concludes His comparison of the single and evil eye with a statement about darkness, how great is that darkness...

The Lord says here that the one who rejoices in his heart over "earthly treasures" is filled with darkness.

But our heart should rejoice because we are assured we are doing the Father's will and we are advancing the cause of Christ on this earth. Our heart should rejoice over what the Father rejoices over, faithfulness and the repentance of sinners. Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Our attitude toward earthly goods reveals our attitude toward our heavenly treasure.

V. 24.

I believe we are seeing this section fulfilled right before our very eyes. Western Christianity, particularly in Christian leadership, has laid aside serving God with a true heart for serving the god of this world, money.

Scripture commonly exposes the thoughts and intents of the heart. As we compare outward actions with the Word of God, we are able to see the intent of the heart. And in 7:1, we are warned about improper judgement, which we will see when we get there.

In v. 24, the Lord Jesus places His finger squarely on the sin of covetousness, warning against the sin and encouraging His people to turn from it.

Here are some points to ponder from v. 24:

1) The word master here denotes the one who has the power to tell us what to do. In other words, who has the final authority over us? the state? our own desires? our jobs? money? The Lord through his Word?

Someone or something will be our master, but there cannot be two masters. John 14:23 tells us that those who hate Christ will not keep his word.

I worked for a land developer on the north side of Indianapolis on 116th St. That is presently the extremely high rent district on the East side of Carmal. I operated a dozer. The owner himself of the development and the equipment stayed on the job, but he had a superintendent who knew what he was doing. The owner did not know a thing about dirt work. The owner would come tell us one thing and then the superintendent would show up and demand to know why we were doing it.

Obviously, there was a conflict between those in authority. One would tell us to do one thing and the other would tell us something else. Both were claiming to have the authority to control our actions, and it made for a very confusing situation.

Our Lord tells us that this is similar to what happens when a person tries to serve both God and mammon. James says it this way: A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. 1 Timothy 6:1-11.

Paul told Timothy that society's ills could not be traced to what authority ruled over the nation: the legions of Rome were not the problem. Rather, the root of society's ills was that money ruled over the individual. For the love of money is the root of all evil.

It is the love of money that causes people to compromise the word of God.

I spoke to a very well known pastor at a reconstruction conference in Chicago several years ago where we had a book table. We discussed the church incorporation issue for a few minutes, and he said the I was Scripturally right in the matter. But, he said, he could not take the proper stand because he was fearful of losing the millions of dollars worth of buildings.

It is the love of money that causes people to try to serve two masters.

2) the Lord sums up His whole teaching about money with this statement in v. 24. It is impossible to pursue the kingdom of God and worldly wealth at the same time. Both causes demand the heart of the individual.

This passage clearly tells us that our master will control our thoughts and actions. Where is most of our effort placed?

3) The word of God is clear concerning money matters. So we try to water it down. Christ clearly says that a person's attitude toward the things of this world, especially money, will show their attitude toward the Lord and the cause of Christ.

Observe these points:

We will serve what we love, Romans 6:16, James 4:4.

Ro 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Jas 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

1 Jo 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Our faithfulness in money matters will reveal our faithfulness in spiritual matters, Luke 16:11.

Lu 16:11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true [riches]?

The attempt to serve two masters has led to God's judgment many times throughout history. Zephaniah 1:5.

Zep 1:5 And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship [and] that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;

We error from the faith when we spend more time in the pursue earthly gain of any kind than we do pursuing heavenly wealth. 1 Timothy 6:10.

1 Ti 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

We either serve God as we should, or we are serving the gods of this world.

I don't know how many people and families I have seen destroyed because they desired earthly wealth and treasure, not just money. They were not content with what they had.

In v. 24, the Lord clearly exposes many modern day heresies, particularly the prosperity gospel that is so common from religious leaders who desire more worldly wealth. Though the messages are flatulent, they are well received by the simple.

Where is our heart?

Regardless of what we say, our actions speak far louder than our words. The location of our heart is for all to see in our actions.