THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, PART 2
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
I Seeking the Applause of Men -- a Sign of Hypocrisy
1. Sounding of a trumpet before giving alms, [Matthew:6:1-4]; [Colossians:3:22-24].
2. Praying in public places for show, [Matthew:6:5-6]; [Luke:18:10-14].
3. Fasting with sad countenance and disfigured faces, [Matthew:6:16-18]; [Isaiah:58:3-7]; [Zechariah:7:5].
II The Lord's Prayer
1. Reverence to God's name, [Matthew:6:9]; [Psalms:29:2].
2. Thy kingdom come -- the desire of all creation, [Matthew:6:10]; [Romans:8:22-23].
3. Submission to God's will, [Matthew:6:10]; Matthew:26:42]; [Ephesians:6:6].
4. Our daily sustenance from God, [Matthew:6:11]; [Philippians:4:19].
5. Our forgiveness in accordance with our ability to forgive, [Matthew:6:12], [Matthew:6:14-15]; [Matthew:18:21-35].
6. Our need of God in time of temptation, [Matthew:6:13]; [2 Peter:2:9].
III Treasures in Heaven Surpassing Treasures on Earth
1. An exhortation to lay up treasures in Heaven, [Matthew:6:19-21]; [Colossians:3:2].
2. An illustration of spiritual light and spiritual darkness, [Matthew:6:22-23]; [John:3:20-21].
3. The impossibility of serving God and the world, [Matthew:6:24]; [Matthew:4:10].
4. Seeking the Kingdom first, and casting all care upon the Lord, [Matthew:6:25-34]; [1 Peter:5:7].
Jesus, in His conversation with the woman at the well, said, “The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. . . . God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John:4:21 24).
In this lesson He struck deeply at hypocrisy and show, which marked the religion of the Pharisees. God hates this manner of worship. Yet the world is filled with this kind of religion today.
The remembering of the needy is a part of the Gospel. James tells us: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction . . ." (James:1:27). What we do for others is rewarded as though we do it for the Lord, if it is done from a true spirit of love (Matthew:25:35 40). If our alms are done to be seen of men our only reward will be the praise of men.
Prayer is a Christian's life line, and if that line is severed he will soon die. Prayer is our means of communion with God, therefore we "ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke:18:1). We must also be sincere, for God knows the heart; but sincerity alone is not enough -- we must also have faith. We are not sincere if our attention is not centred upon the Lord; and the devil will do all in his power to cause our minds to wander while we pray. To help us combat this, Jesus suggested that we go into our closets where every worldly influence would be shut out during our period of communion with God. The hypocrites of those days prayed out on the streets and in public places to be seen of men, but we know that their prayers were never heard in Heaven. The heathen mechanically repeat their prayers until not only the meaning is lost but every bit of sincerity and spirit as well.
The Pharisee, in his prayer, said, "I fast twice in the week." Fasting originally was instituted as a method by which men drew very near to God, but it became a form with the Pharisees, and was done by them as an outward show of piety. It has no value when done in that spirit, or when done to afflict one's body, hoping to attract the favour of God by that means.
Many men of God have fasted, when burdened with a specific problem, showing by their fasting that their communion with God at that time was more important to them than anything else. Some problems we have in life require fasting and prayer: "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matthew:17:21); and Jesus said that His disciples would fast after He went away ([Matthew:9:14-15]). But in this, as in other parts of worship, we must watch that the enemy of our souls does not cause us to lose the true spirit of fasting that Jesus taught us, and reduce it to nothing but a form to be seen of men or as a kind of penance, the doing of which is thought to bring a special Savour with God. God does not want us to endanger our health by refusing our necessary food, which He provides for us from day to day. We must not become fanatical along this or any other one and feel that God is calling us to a long period of fasting that would cause us to be ill, because that is not God's will for us.
The Lord's Prayer, though short, is packed with meaning and is an example of what the true believer should include in his petition to God. God should be approached with great reverence. Joshua and Moses were told to take off the shoes from their feet when they approached God. We know that God's House (the church -- the place of public prayer) should be held in deep respect, because Jesus drove out the money- changers with the words, "My house shall be called the house of prayer" (Matthew:21:13).
"Thy kingdom come" is that for which the whole creation groaneth. The curse will some day be lifted and we shall reign with Him on the earth. The heart's cry of every Christian is, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Jesus' supreme desire while on earth was that He might do the will of the Father. In the agony of the garden He prayed, "Not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke:22:42).
As Israel had to gather fresh manna every morning, so should our reliance on God be from day to day. May we never become as the rich fool who said to his soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry" (Luke:12:19).
Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven ([Matthew:18:21-22]). He then illustrated this point in the parable of the unmerciful servant ([Matthew:18:23-35]). God forgives us according to the measure of our forgiveness of our brother.
"Ye cannot serve God and mammon [worldly gain]" is a strong statement, but those are the words of Christ. Jesus elaborated on the subject in great detail to show us that food and raiment are not the things around which our lives should be centred. If these things are subordinate to our service to God, He will take care of us just as He does the lily of the field and the fowls of the air. If Solomon with all his wealth could not array himself as well as the lily of the field which God clothes, why should we not be willing to trust God Who promises to supply all our needs? (See [Philippians:4:19].)
1. Find a present day example of giving alms to be seen of men.
2. How can we give without being seen of men?
3. See if you can find out something about the vain repetitions of the heathen in their praying.
4. Why is the closet a better place to pray than the street corner?
5. Upon what condition will God forgive us our debts?
6. Give some reasons why treasures in Heaven are better than treasures on earth.
7. Give three Bible references of examples of fasting.
8. In what way was the lily clothed better than Solomon?
9. What is more important that food and raiment?
10. With what verse in this chapter would you associate these words, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations"?