From the book: Sermon on the Mount. Vol. 5

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Sermon on the Mount, #53
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No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon, MAT 6:24.

A summary of our text is that we cannot serve God acceptably with a divided heart. The Sermon on the Mount flows with such perfect harmony pointing to a heart religion as the only one which pleases God. This harmony flows through every verse from the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 to the end in Chapter 7.

Our text is saying we cannot serve God with a divided heart. A divided heart is equal to the serpent speaking with a forked tongue. Have you ever been close enough to a snake to see its tongue poking out and wiggling at you? If you are close enough to look a snake, a rattlesnake for instance, right in the eye, its mouth is open, and you can see its forked tongue. The tongue goes two directions. That is the tongue of the serpent. The expression, he speaks with a forked tongue means that what he is saying is not what he means, and what he means is not what he is saying. Man, by nature, has the serpent's characteristics. The heart desires heaven to escape hell, but lacks a desire for God. That is the world religion today.

Name any religion today; most of them have one thing in common; they teach people how to go to heaven and escape hell. How many are truly seeking God? How many churches teach the fear of God and a desire to do His will? How many teach a heart religion?

We could sit under the most pure preaching of the gospel still have a divided heart and a heart's desire other than for God. Let's look at the word mammon in our text; it is important, and many people misunderstand it. It means "to gain." It doesn't matter what we are trying to gain; many people confine it to money, but that is not the only goal people strive to obtain. Mammon is anything for gain. We cannot be serving for gain.

If we have a heart that is right before God, it is a heart of self-sacrifice, of giving of ourselves to serve God for His glory. The Sermon on the Mount teaches the need of a Christlike spirit, i.e., a heart of self-sacrifice which is required to serve God acceptably. Jesus said in JOH 12:27, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."

If we are serving for gain, we are serving mammon. If our objective in serving God is gaining heaven, we are still serving mammon; that is very important to understand. We are to serve to do the will of God out of love, for His glory, because it is His right. This was His purpose in the creation of man in His image. We do not serve Him to gain something; that is serving mammon. We must examine our heart. Whom do we serve?

Serving two masters is contrary to the single eye concept Jesus taught in the preceding verses. "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light," MAT 6:22. We must have a single object on which our eye is fixed. If you are a ballplayer, you keep your eye on the ball. The ballplayer who is looking all over doesn't win the game. If you are a believer, your eye is fixed on Christ, and you follow in His footsteps. Every decision of our life should be patterned after Christ. Every question should be answered with, "What would Christ do in such a case?"

I spoke of the singleness of eye in the last sermon. MAT 6:23 says, "But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" This is the same concept as we see in our text on serving either God or mammon. The singleness of our eye should be to serve God for His glory, not that we might gain anything. Our objective must be to serve God and do His will for His glory.

The single eye is looking to the Master's hand as in PSA 123:1-2, "Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us." We must understand that the sole objective of our heart is to be reconciled to God and His will. It is our desire that God's will become our will; we will want to serve God with our will totally dissolved in His will. Our eye will be looking to what is pleasing to the Lord, our Master, as the objective of our life.

Jesus is teaching in our text how Satan is cheating our souls, how he is stealing the true treasure in exchange for temporal things. We think we can divide our treasures, having our treasure here upon earth and in heaven, too. However, Scripture says, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," MAT 6:19-21. If we think we can have something we may gain for ourselves, we won't sacrifice everything of self. Our hearts cannot be set upon treasure on earth and in heaven, too.

Stop and think of the sacrifice Abraham made when he put his Isaac on the altar. That was not only his "only son," GEN 22:12, his well-beloved son, but Abraham's salvation was also in Isaac, "for in Isaac shall thy seed be called," GEN 21:12b. It was from Isaac that the Messiah was to come. When Abraham was able to put Isaac on the altar as a sacrifice to the Lord, he was putting his salvation on the altar. In other words it meant that Abraham would do the will of God if it meant going to hell to do it. Heaven or hell was not his primary concern; it was to do God's will first and foremost. That is serving God. That is serving the Lord with the Spirit of Christ saying, "Thy will be done," not serving for gain.

When our treasures are split, seeking a treasure for here and for hereafter, Satan is working a cheat upon our heart. The Lord tells us our heart will be where our treasure is; so if we are building treasures for here and hereafter, then we have a divided heart as we learn in MAT 6:19-21. The Lord is very jealous of our hearts and where we place our trust. He wants a heart religion where He is the objective of our heart. He wants to know wherein is our trust and confidence. What is it upon which we rest? Where our heart is our treasure will be, or where our treasure is our heart will be.

In MAR 10:23-24 we read, "And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! [He is speaking of the rich, young ruler] And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!" This verse does not mean we cannot have or enjoy riches. But where is our heart? Are we trusting upon those riches? The Lord is jealous of where we place our trust and of the basis for our trust.

Some people lay up much treasure so they can retire, have a future, or take their ease. The Lord wants our confidence and our heart's trust to be in Him. Jesus said, " hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom [the service] of God!" The young ruler was trusting in his riches.

Scriptures do not forbid lawfully labouring for the things of this world. As I pointed out before, our earthly possessions rightly used, lay up treasures in heaven. The key is "rightly used." 1TI 6:17-19 says, "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy [The Lord gives us the comforts of this life, a nice home, groceries, and other necessities of life. These things are not wrong in themselves, but we are not to become highminded over them, nor place our trust in them for they are uncertain.]; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."

See the ways we are to use the earthly riches to lay up treasures in heaven. We are allowed to build up a good foundation, or retirement, for times to come; the Lord gives us things to enjoy, but not to set our heart on them.

I preached on this before, and I do not want to repeat the whole sermon. Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ gave us an illustration of what will be in the last days. MAT 25:34-36 says, "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me."

Do you see how the blessed were laying up treasures in heaven? In the day of judgment it was the basis on which they were placed on the right hand. To those on the left hand He said that you did not feed me when I was hungry; you didn't give me a drink when I was thirsty. You did not distribute unto the poor; therefore, you will have everlasting punishment.

The Lord makes us stewards of the wealth and riches which He puts in our hands. The proper uses of riches are acts of righteousness, such as distributing that which God gives us to the poor. That is one of the ways in which we lay up treasures in heaven.

This is what Jesus told the rich young ruler in MAR 10:21-22, "Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven...and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions." Jesus was telling him not to be so hungry for riches that he invested it all in himself. Jesus said to take all of it and distribute it to the poor; then he could follow Him without those things which cause division, and he would have treasure in heaven.

Sometimes we don't take the Word of God literally. It means what it says, "and thou shalt have treasure in heaven." Distributing to the poor is so pleasing to the Lord because it shows we are proper stewards of the things He has given to our charge. Proper use of our worldly goods will lay up treasures in heaven because we are not serving for gain, to build ourselves a great empire. Worldly goods are to be used for the fulfilling, growing, and exalting of His kingdom.

Jesus continued, saying, "and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions." The rich young ruler didn't want to part with his wealth by distributing it to the poor; his heart was not tender toward his fellow man. He was serving mammon, and Jesus says he is going to be on His left hand in the day of judgment.

The sin of the rich young ruler was not that he had great possessions, but that he trusted in them, building himself a big empire in them as we see in the following verses. "Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!" MAR 10:24. The young ruler was building riches for his own gain; that is serving mammon.

Jesus warns against the leaven of the Pharisees who want to serve God with a legal religion while their heart is seeking the honour of men. That is serving mammon. The whole Sermon on the Mount is in harmony; the context of the whole is applicable to every verse. The Pharisees did things publicly to gain the honor of men. Jesus warned us against this in MAT 6:1-2, "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." That is the same point being made in V:24; it is serving for mammon--gain for self.

Such a divided heart makes a divided life. When the world comes into our religion, or when religion comes into the world; they are both spoiled. I remember an illustration given one time of two men who were going to spend the weekend on a yacht. One planned to spend the time at a prayer meeting, the other one would spend his weekend partying. Somehow, they both got on the wrong boat; they both had a miserable weekend. The one that went for the prayer meeting didn't enjoy the party; the one that went for the party didn't enjoy the prayer meeting. They were both spoiled.

When you get religion into the world, it is obnoxious to the world. When you put the world into your religion, it is as obnoxious to the Lord. You have spoiled both of them. This is what Jesus is telling us in our text. We cannot serve God and mammon.

1KI 3:26 speaks of a pretending mother who was for dividing the child, but our text says this will not do. She would rather that neither have the child, so she said to divide the child, but the true mother cried not to divide the child. She would rather give her child to the unloving person than to have her child slain. The one had a divided heart, the other had a single eye.

The misconception that gain is Godliness is not limited to financial gain; it may be anything to exult that ugly monster, "I"! To so many people anything that seems to be gain is Godliness. Remember that Godliness is to love God with all of one's heart, mind, and soul, to love Him above all else. In 1TI 6:5-10 we read, "Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 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."

Take notice that "...godliness with contentment is great gain." You see, if gain is not our objective, if gain comes with self-sacrifice, if we come with a holy desire to do what is pleasing to the Lord, if we come with Godliness (serving God with all of our being), that is great gain. Why? The Lord loves it. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom..." Why? They had distributed their worldly goods to the poor; they were not in this life for gain. They were self-sacrificers who trusted the Lord for their needs, and they were satisfied with their earthly condition. "Godliness with contentment is great gain."

The word mammon does not come from the Greek, Hebrew or English. It is a Syrac word that signifies gain; it is not limited to financial gain. So, whatever we count as gain in this life is mammon.

Let's study this subject with the Apostle Paul. Read PHI 3:3-8 to see what items Paul cautions are not counted as gain. "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more [Anything in which we can place our trust]: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." Such a spirit of self-sacrifice is serving God.

Whatsoever is of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is mammon. It is not only the love of money; it is anything upon which we claim gain. If we are going to be a Pharisee, a church-going person, claiming that by this, and this, and this which we have done in our life, by the works of the law, we can claim justification, it's mammon. We cannot serve God for gain; we must serve Him out of love for His glory.

The Apostle Paul says, "No, we cannot serve God for gain." He is saying he was a Pharisee and all of these things he had done for gain, they were done to merit, to gain something for himself, but after he came to the light he said, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." After we have received a knowledge of Christ, we do nothing to gain by our own merit, but we do everything out of love. We do alms as a way of serving the Lord, not for gain.

Some people let their belly be their mammon. It is interesting to see all the things in our way of life that Scripture points out as mammon. In PHI 3:18-19 we read, "(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)" In other words, they serve the things of the flesh, mammon.

To others their idleness, plenty, and abundance, with no eye to pity the poor, is their mammon as it was with Sodom. The sin of Sodom was not sodomy. Read this in EZE 16:49, "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." She did not distribute to the poor; she had abundance, and she used it for the lust of the flesh. She used her abundance for entertainment, idleness, and other lusts of the flesh. Sodomy was the judgment God sent on Sodom for her sin, but her sin was wasting the abundance God had given her in her own pride and wanton pleasure of the flesh instead of distributing to the poor.

There is another example of the sins of Sodom and the sins of America today in ROM 1:25, "Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen." That was their sin. In V:18 we read, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." Wherein did God reveal His wrath from heaven? He did this by sending a judgment for the sin of worshipping the creature more than the Creator.

Now watch what ROM 1:26-27 says, "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections [That judgment is the wrath of God revealed from heaven upon the sin of humanism, or self-complacency!]: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly [the sin of sodomy], and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet."

That was the wrath of God, His judgment, revealed from heaven upon the sin of humanism which is worshipping the creature more than the Creator. The mammon they were serving in Sodom was "...pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness...neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." They had no eye to pity their neighbour, so God sent His wrath upon them from heaven to do that which is unseemly. ROM 1:28 says, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient."

To others their ease, sleep, sports, or pleasurable pastimes is their mammon. They build upon these things for their gain. In PRO 6:6-11 we read, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man."

To others worldly riches are their mammon. JAM 4:13-15 says, "Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that."

Jesus did not say we must not, nor does He say we should not, but He does tell us we cannot serve God and mammon; we cannot love both. Where our heart is, there is our treasure. When building for gain becomes your treasure, you are no longer serving the Lord. It is impossible to serve God if your heart is set on something else.

1JO 2:15-17 says, "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. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." If you love the world and worldly things, the love of the Father is not in you.

The love of the world is a revelation of our enmity against God! JAM 4:4 says, "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." God says in PRO 23:26, "My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways," but mammon says, "No! Give it to me!"

God says in HEB 13:5, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," but what does mammon say? We see that revealed in PRO 30:13-14, "There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up. There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men." The Lord is saying that if we love Him, we will distribute to the poor. Mammon says we should devour the poor for our gain. We can't serve both; they are dynamically opposed. The Lord wants our heart.

God says in MAR 10:19, "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother." What does mammon say? Of the mammon, God says in PRO 28:8, "He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor." The Lord says not to defraud others, even though mammon says to use any means to increase your substance. The Lord says those who do so "he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor." The Lord looks upon those things that are pleasing unto Him; He is so pleased when our heart's desire is to help our fellow man.

God says in PHI 4:5-6, "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Martha had complained to Jesus that her sister had left her to serve alone, "But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me," LUK 10:40. Martha was so concerned about serving that she missed the one thing needful. Sometimes we can have so many concerns that we focus our attention on them, and we are careful about them. Then we don't trust the Lord; then it is unbelief. We are troubled because our heart is not in the right posture.

See how Jesus reproved Martha for the mammon in her heart in LUK 10:41-42, "And

Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: [PHI 4:5 says, `Be careful for nothing,' but Martha was `careful and troubled about many things. Jesus says,] But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." What had Mary chosen? She was sitting at the feet of her Saviour, washing His feet with her tears, and wiping them with her hair; she was mourning over her sin. She wasn't so busy with serving in the temporal things, her heart was mourning over sin.

If our heart is truly broken before the Lord, as with Mary, we would be mourning over our sin. If we would wash His feet more with our tears and wipe them with the hairs of our head, then we would not be careful and troubled with so many things in this life.

God tells us in ISA 58:13-14 how He wants us to serve Him, "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."

What do those people who serve mammon say? They can't spare the day; they could make money on the Sabbath, or have a ball game, or any pleasure of their own. They want to go for a walk, go hunting, or some other entertainment saying it is alright because it is not work. "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day...Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD."

The mammon of this world knows no rest from their pleasure, nor do they call the Sabbath a delight. They don't know what it is to rest in the Lord from the things of this life. The commands of God and mammon are so contrary to each other that we cannot serve both. How can the Lord be pleased if we take His day and use it for earthly, worldly entertainment? The world today sets aside the Sabbath day as a day of entertainment; that is serving mammon. God's commandments are so inconsistent with mammon that we cannot serve God if we are caught up in the things of this world.

The principle taught in our text is what Elijah taught on Mount Carmel. Israel had forsaken the Lord; Israel was serving Baal, i.e., the god of this world. Now God had forsaken Israel; He withheld the rain for three years and six months. The Lord had sent His chastening hand. 1KI 18:21 says, "And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? [That is the question you and I must answer if we have any desire after the mammon] if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him."

Stop riding the fence; all too often we find ourselves trying to balance ourselves in the middle without a commitment to either side. We want some of each. We are trying to serve the Lord, but we have this little gain we want to pick up here or there. Elijah asks us how long we are going to be at a standstill between two opinions. That is what Jesus is teaching us in our text. Don't put on a pretense of following God if Baal is your real god.

God's justice claims our service as His just due; gratitude demands our service to the God who redeemed us. See what we read in 1JO 4:10-11, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." Propitiation means the appeasing of His wrath. God sent His own Son to appease His wrath upon our sin. He loved us first. Beloved, if God so loved us, shouldn't we love one another? This doesn't mean that we should only love one another among us, but we and God should love one another.

Shouldn't we love God for the love wherewith He loved us? Shouldn't our gratitude demand our service? "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words..." JOH 14:23a. The love of God leads us to repentance; consider what He did for us, the price He paid. Gratitude demands our service to God because He redeemed us.

Keeping the Lord's commandments doesn't mean we are obeying the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ for gain, i.e., for mammon, but it is the response of a willing heart. It is the love of Christ that constrains us to obey.

In conclusion, let me say with the Apostle Paul in ROM 12:1-2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Amen.

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