God or Mammon

The following text is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which is on the subject of wealth and worldly-mindedness; and it is meant mainly for Christians, but also for non-Christians. 

Matthew 6:19-24

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

We will look at this teaching in three parts: 1) general observations, negative and positive, from verses 19 and 20; 2) spiritual dangers, from verses 21-23; and 3) On God and mammon, from verse 24.

General Observations (vv. 19 and 20)

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal (v. 19).

Here are three general or common-sense observations of this verse:

  • Worldly treasures do not last. They are impure and corruptible like moth and rust. They are like beautiful flowers that will soon wilt and die.
  • Earthly treasures never fully satisfy. They always lack something and we are soon tired of them.
  • Earthly treasures are never safe from robbers.  

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal (v. 20).

Here are four general or common-sense observations of this verse:

  • Treasures in heaven will not be corrupted. They are incorruptible or imperishable.
  • Treasures in heaven cannot be stolen. They are in a place that is impregnable and will be kept for us for eternity.
  • The love of God is our greatest treasure and nothing can separate us from that (Rom. 8:38-39).
  • Heaven is the realm of life and light and purity, and nothing tainted or polluted can enter there.

Spiritual Dangers (vv. 21-23)

21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

     Let’s look at verse 21 first: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This tells us that our treasures tend to put a power-grip on our heart—and the heart involves the mind; so, we will also have a power-grip on our mind. This power-grip is very subtle, and to those who are not truly spiritual (who have not given themselves fully to Christ), a subtle change will happen to them (to their mind and heart). They will soon become influenced by a worldly-minded outlook on life, which will eventually master them and make them slaves to the world.

In verses 22 and 23 Jesus begins talking about the eye. He says,

“The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Normally or naturally the eye is clear (or single). This describes the spiritual vision of a spiritual person. But, in keeping with the context, if a person allows himself to be worldly-minded and in love with his treasures, he will develop an evil eye, or one who has double vision or blurred vision, vision colored by prejudices, or lusts, etc.; hence our earthly treasures affect us morally.

The last part of verse 23 is interesting. I think it means that a man who is so attached to his earthly treasures may actually not see anything wrong in it; so that the light that he thinks he sees in himself (and in his treasures) is actually darkness—a darkness that comes out of his hypocrisy and delusion. This is a person who has lost his mind and no longer knows right from wrong, good from evil.

God and Mammon

In verse 24 Jesus comes to the climax of the matter.

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

So it all comes down to this: which do we love, God or mammon (our wealth)? God wants all our love; He wants our total attention. But so does the world; and the world comes after our attention through all the things of the would—earthly treasures. And we have to choose between the two. Jesus said no man can have two masters.

Now it seems to me that we can evaluate where we are by our attitude toward our things. If we are holding on to our things tightly so that we can’t imagine parting with them we have a problem. Since if we love our things, that means that we hate God (that is what verse 24 says). So, if you want to maintain a relationship with God and love Him, you must let go of your things. You must trust God to give you all you need, and all the things you have, recognize that they come from Him. Make God your only master. Love Him alone.

5 Reasons Why Every Christian Is Called To Reign With Christ in the Heavenly Places

Prayer A to Z

In previous posts I have written about the Christian’s authority in Christ and about the heavenly places, which is the spirit realm, the place where we reign with Christ. In this post I want to give some reasons why God has called us to our high position.

1. To battle and be victorious.God has created us for battle and to be victorious over sin and Satan (Jud. 3:2).  Every person who is a believer is naturally an enemy of the devil (1 Peter 5:8) and desires in his spirit to take authority over him.

2. To rule with Christ over the nations. In the future all Christians will sit with Christ (bodily) on His throne and will rule with Him over the nations (Rev. 2:26, 3:21). In the light of this great future we must now be trained in conflict and in how to prevail over the enemy…

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The Source of Every Christian’s Authority

Prayer A to Z

 

What is the source of every Christian’s authority? Well, first of all, let’s examine this authority.

Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary describes authority as “The power or right to do something, particularly to give orders and see that they are followed.  The word authority as used in the Bible usually means a person’s right to do certain things because of the position or office he holds.”

In view of this definition we can see that in a general sense everyone from a king to a small child has some degree or level of authority.  While a king has authority over many people, a child also has authority, even if it is only over a small puppy.    But there is one who has absolute authority over all things.  His name is Jesus.  He has authority over all people.  He has authority over all the creatures on the earth and in the…

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Two Uses of Our Authority in Prayer

Prayer A to Z

This is an excerpt from my book Principles of Prayer.

1. Authority to pray for the lost. Since God desires all people to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4) He must also want us to pray for their salvation. Here are three things that God desires us to pray for the lost: (1) that their hostility or indifference for the gospel would be broken down and that God would grant them repentance (2 Tim. 2:25); (2) that the soil of their hearts would be prepared for the seed of the Word of God so that His Word would not return void, but would accomplish what He desires (Is. 55:11); and (3) that they may be liberated from the power of Satan—delivered out of darkness and into God’s marvelous light (2 Tim 2:26).

These are just a few things we could pray for the lost. I would encourage you to claim in…

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Authority in Prayer: Three Ways to Execute Our Authority over Our Enemy

Prayer A to Z

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Our power and authority is in Jesus Christ. If we position ourselves so that we are always abiding in Him we will have His authority. And it will come to us (as we are abiding) with the help of the Holy Spirit. When we ask Him to fill us and empower us He does it—and He gives us the holy life of Christ and exerts Christ’s authority in us and through us with power.

We do it in connection with prayer. Prayer is the normal means that God has bestowed on us to communicate with Him and to ask for His help in all things pertaining to our authority over our enemy. Here are three ways, in connection with prayer, in which we must execute our authority with power:

1. By prayer in the Holy Spirit.Prayer must always be in the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:18). He helps us to…

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How to Pray Unceasingly — Four Points

Prayer A to Z

Unceasing prayer is so important and also very possible. The following discussion, centered on the Old Testament Tabernacle and the burning of incense, will help explain how we can pray unceasingly.

As we approach the important topic of burning the incense, which is symbolic of praying, let us consider how to answer the following four questions:

What makes the incense burn? As we have discussed in a previous post, the incense upon the golden altar was symbolic of Christ and His prayers. And the aroma of those prayers rose up to God only by the burning coals of the brazen altar, which prefigured His death for our sins on the cross.

But the question before us now is: what started (or ignited) the incense (which for us is the prayers) on the golden altar?   And what kept the prayers going?  Well, I believe it was, and is, the Holy Spirit. …

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Tap into the Power of Prayer by Loving Christ and His Cross

Prayer A to Z

In order to get the full benefit of Christ’s work for us on earth and in heaven—which would include receiving forgiveness of sins and answers to prayer—we must come to faith in His blood, rather we must trust Him and believe in the value of His shed blood for us.

I like what Charles Fuller has said:

You can never benefit from Christ’s work, typified by the Golden Altar, until you accept what He has done for you at the Brazen Altar. You can never have the confidence that Christ intercedes on your behalf, until you have accepted his atoning death for your sins.  Remember, to get to the Golden Altar you must first pass by the Brazen Altar where the sacrificial lamb was slain and offered up.  So likewise, to know Christ’s constant watch-care over your life, you must first humbly kneel at the foot of the Cross, confess…

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Christ Makes Our Prayers as Sweet as Incense – Psalm 141:2

Prayer A to Z

In Psalm141:2, David prayed, “Let my prayers be set before You as incense…” What a prayer! David really had a heart for God, and he wanted to please Him with his prayers—he wanted his prayers to be as the sweet smell of incense that rose up to God continually in the tabernacle.

It is my prayer that we would desire that our prayers—and really, our whole life—would be as incense to God.

Consider what the writer to the Hebrews said in Hebrews 9:24: “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” M. R. DeHann comments on this verse:

The writer of Hebrews, therefore, leaves no doubt whatsoever about the typical significance of the tabernacle…the Holy Place (the tabernacle) was a ‘figure of the true’…

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How the Brazen Altar and the Altar of Incense Are Linked Together To Make Our Prayers Effective

Prayer A to Z

In order to get a clear picture of what was happening in the tabernacle and to know how the incense was made to have true value, we must go back and a look at the brazen altar. For there the work of Christ began, where He suffered and shed His blood and died, purging our sins.  Thus the brazen altar is a type of the cross, which was Christ’s first work in God’s whole plan for our redemption.

The brazen altar, the place where animals were sacrificed, was made of brass and had no crown; thus it speaks to us of the suffering and humiliation of our Lord on earth. But the golden altar, with a crown of gold, speaks to us of the reigning of Christ in heaven.

The blood from the sacrifices of the first altar was symbolic of the blood of Christ; the incense of the second…

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Faith of Abiding

Prayer A to Z

Faith is that element in abiding that I think is most dominant. Also, it is that element that ties all the other parts of abiding together, for we cannot meditate on the Word, bear fruit, obey God’s commandments, or please Him without faith.

Here are eight things that the abiding Christian does to build his faith in order to keep him abiding:

 1. He makes it his habit to meditate on the Word every day. This daily meditation time helps him to see things from God’s perspective, gives him a desire for God, and helps him to adjust his desires to God’s desires.

 2. He obeys God and keeps himself busy with His work. The abiding believer knows that faith isn’t really faith without obedience and work. In fact, he is convinced that his faith is perfected by obedience (Ja. 2:22).  Therefore, he is always diligent to listen to…

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