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Two Ways of Life

By David A. DePra

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. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 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! 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 6:19-24)

You cannot serve God and mammon. Everyone knows this verse. But once you read this passage, it becomes clear that Jesus is talking about two entirely opposed ways of life. These ways of life are not merely things we do. They speak to who we are to God, and who God is to us. Indeed, they speak to what governs us.

Actually, it is impossible to enter into the Truth Jesus gives in this passage and live the same as before – for the Truth He gives IS a different life. He is talking about a basis for living that absolutely contrary to the way human beings THINK, LIVE, and are motivated. And yet, perhaps because His words are so basic, so simple, so familiar, and so taken for granted, most of us never even question whether we are living in accordance with them.


Everything Jesus is talking about in the Sermon on the Mount, including our present passage, cannot be understood, much less experienced, apart from one thing: Relationship with God. Down through the centuries there have been those who have taken the Sermon on the Mount and turned it into a list of principles to follow. Some have divorced the spiritual Truth and principles found in scripture from the Person – from our relationship with that Person – and tried to turn those principles into a religion to follow. The result is always dead religion.

Anytime you take the Spirit out of the Word you end up with the dead letter. Of course, the key here is NOT to discard the letter. It is to bring the letter once again into oneness with the Person. In one sense of the Word, there may be nothing more vital for Christians to see in this day and age.

Why do I say that? Well, because so much of the Body of Christ is divided into two extremes. On the one hand, you have Christians who live almost entirely in the letter of the Word. They keep laws, rules, and principles, and think that doing so is the Christian life. For some, Christianity is a theology lesson – a big Bible study. They talk about the Bible, debate meanings, demand a statement of faith, even talk about Christ, and yet, never seem to understand that Christianity is CHRIST IN US. They live in dead religion – even if their doctrines are right.

But then there are those who think we can discard the letter of the Word, and discard doctrine, because, "today we are led by the Spirit." They emphasize POWER and GLORY and MIRACLES – it is questionable as to just how much of these there really is – but leave aside much of what the Bible says about the need for Truth. A lot of this goes on in charismatic circles today – even though they would probably deny it.

The fact is, we are NEVER at liberty to discard doctrine. Why? Because whether formal or informal, every time I open my mouth to share Christ, or share the Christian life, or teach, or preach, I am doing so through the use of doctrine. My doctrine or theology is what I am saying about God Himself, His plan, and my accountability. Thus, if we discard doctrine, we are nowhere. Indeed, if we discard doctrine, we are deceived, because at that point our discarding of doctrine IS our doctrine, and that is ERROR.

The Bible teaching is clear. It is entirely possible to have all the true doctrines of the Bible, but to NOT HAVE LIFE IN CHRIST. But if I have LIFE IN CHRIST, the result is always going to be sound doctrine. I cannot avoid it. For doctrine and teaching will always result from LIFE IN CHRIST. In fact, and doctrine and teaching that emerges from life in Christ will be the SAME doctrine and teaching that is inspired in scripture – for LIFE IN CHRIST is always the same Truth. Indeed, if the doctrine that I say has resulted from life in Christ is NOT the same as is in the Bible, I am in great error. I either don’t have life in Christ, or I have somewhere missed the Truth of that life.

Now, my whole point is this: Jesus teaches us many principles and Truths about God and about Himself, and shows us how this is to result is a LIFE LIVED TO GOD’S GLORY. He describes the impact of our relationship with Himself in our lives. Indeed, He describes the impact of HIS LIFE IN US upon all of us, and tells us how this will translate in faith, hope, love, and CONDUCT. But the key here is remember that ALL that Jesus describes goes back to HIS LIFE IN US. None of this works, or can be possible unless we are rightly related to God. You cannot take TRUE WORDS and divorce them from the LIFE that brings them ALIVE. If you do you will have DEAD WORDS, and dead teaching.

So when we read these passages from the Sermon on the Mount, we are not reading a list of do’s and don’ts. Rather, we are reading the faith, hope, love, and conduct that will result IN US from being rightly related to God by faith. We are really reading a description of what will be if a person has CHRIST IN THEM, and that person is growing in His grace and knowledge.

One example before we move on: Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." That’s an absolutely true statement. But what are we to do? – just decide that we are going to be MEEK, so that we can inherit the earth? How do you propose to become meek? Of course, many Christians try to ACT meek, and, "DO meek things." But that ends up being rather pretentious, and frankly, nauseous, doesn’t it? The point is, you cannot become meek – as a thing to do unto itself. You cannot, "develop the character quality of meekness," through any human effort, no matter how religious or sincere. Nope. The only way to become meek is to SEE JESUS, and then be one with Him in a relationship.

Meekness means to put God first – ahead of YOU. In other words, you have to lose your SELF into the hands of God, and if you do, then you will find true life in Christ. In short, if you want to be meek, yes, you must repent, but you must see the greatness of Jesus Christ. THAT will make YOU meek! I’m not talking here about salvation, but of the ongoing journey we have in Christ. Thus, meekness – which is a FRUIT of the Spirit – is the product, or outcome, of being IN THE VINE. It is the product of being rightly related to Christ. Fruit is always the end product of growth. It is never anything else – we must be rightly related to Christ to be meek; or to experience and produce anything of the Holy Spirit.

So again – when we read these words from the gospel of Matthew, put away the idea that we are reading another set of commandments. No. We are reading instructions, commands, and descriptions of God’s will – but in the context of needing to be rightly related to God by faith. Christian people today continue to create RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS out of the words of scripture, but divorce them from the Person of Jesus Christ – and try to make them work as THINGS. They even call such systems, "God’s way." Well, JESUS is The Way. Nothing in scripture genders true life unless it is the outcome of Christ in us, living through us. THEN we can begin to experience what Jesus is talking about.

God OR Mammon

You will notice that from Matthew 6:19, where our present passage begins, to the end of Matthew 6, that there is a contrast between two ways of life. These two ways are summed up with the statement: "You cannot SERVE GOD and MAMMON." (Matt. 6:24) Most everything that Jesus talks about for the rest of Matthew 6 is a contrast between those two ways. "To serve God rather than mammon," is clearly the theme here that governs all else.

It is vital to catch the significance of that. I submit that if Jesus is contrasting SERVING GOD over and against SERVING MAMMON, and that if He is telling us that we cannot do BOTH, indeed, if He is telling us that the two are ultimately AGAINST each other – I would submit that this is serious business. In fact, as mentioned earlier, Jesus is describing two different ways of life. He is describing how we will live, how we will think, and what will govern our lives – if we SERVE GOD. And He is describing the same if we are serving MAMMON. We have, on the one hand, a description of our lives if we are rightly related to God by faith. But on the other hand, we have a description of our lives if we are NOT.

If you read down through Matthew 6 – especially from verse 19 onward – you cannot escape the fact that, for Jesus, this is all or nothing. Jesus doesn’t say, "Please don’t try to serve God and mammon at the same time. It won’t work." No. Neither does He says, "If you try to serve God and mammon at the same time, God will get angry at you, and punish you." Nope. Jesus simply says, "You CANNOT serve God and mammon. These are opposed to one another. Whether you think so or not, you are, right now, serving the one or the other." Read between the lines and it becomes clear – if I am not serving God, the way God defines that, I AM serving mammon. In the end, I am. And it is deception to think otherwise.

But what exactly IS, "mammon?" And what does it mean to SERVE MAMMON? Well, most of us have been taught that, "mammon," is money. Well, it can include money, but MAMMON is more than just money. The Greek root of the word means, "that which is trusted." "Mammon,’ therefore, is anything in which we might trust OTHER THAN God. More specifically, to SERVE MAMMON is to possess our lives in this world for ourselves. It is to continually try to have our lives our way – even if we are doing this religiously, in a Christian context.

Mammon represents our temporal life in this world. And IN ADAM, we all seek to own, possess, and have our temporal life in this world. Some people do this quite rebelliously. Some do it in total ignorance – through fear, or simply by following the patterns of the flesh. Others do it religiously, as Christians. Indeed, today many preachers, like Joel Osteen, are really teaching people that God Himself wants us to have, "our best life now." They are teaching people that it is God’s will to serve mammon, although they don’t say those words. They call it, "being blessed of God." They are blind to the magnitude of what Jesus is teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.

To, "serve mammon," is ultimately to live for this life. But don’t think of this as an immoral, illegal, kind of thing. No. You can be happy, content, moral, honest, and even a professing Christian – but nevertheless be living for this life. You can also serve mammon in many ways other than financial ways – you can serve mammon by serving your pride. You can do all of that thinking that God is blessing you, and that God wants you to live the way you are living. But the question comes back to what I said is the root: Am I rightly related to God by faith?

Of course, there are some people who serve mammon in a rather ironic way. Instead of serving mammon by trying to accumulate wealth, goods, points of pride, and position, they serve mammon by denying themselves all of those things – thinking that this will make them righteous. They are actually feeding their pride, and serving mammon, by the very self-denial that they think will free them from mammon. The problem for these is the same: They are not rightly related to God by faith. As I stated, if you are not rightly related to God, nothing else will be right. Nothing. And it won’t matter what you do. You WILL end up serving mammon BY what you do.

Living For God

Live for God, or live for this life. THAT is the contrast Jesus is making – THAT is the difference between serving God and serving mammon. The issue here is our relationship with God, and the motivation that springs from it.

The Truth on this matter is not confined to the Sermon on the Mount. For a moment, let’s read a few other scriptures which essentially teach the same Truth, that you cannot serve God and mammon:

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 passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

John says that, "if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Notice that he is NOT saying that if any man love the world, that the Father will get mad and not love him. No. John is essentially saying the same thing Jesus said – he is saying that if you have the love of God in you, it will become more and more impossible for you to love the world. This is so certain, that John is able to say that if you DO love the world, it is proof that you don’t have the love of God in you. You cannot have it. For the love of God will drive out – set us free from – the love of the world.

Again we see that relationship with God has results – FRUIT. My relationship with God is going to redefine, indeed, completely direct, my relationship with ALL ELSE. You cannot love the world if you have the love of God in you. You will – at least – be absolutely heading in the right direction of being set free from the love of the world. The love of God will drive out the love of the world.

For the last two thousand years, Christians have been trying to enter into the reality of Christianity – but apart from a relationship with Christ Himself. We have, in effect, tried to become Christians without understanding that Christianity is CHRIST IN US. We have tried to find LIFE IN CHRIST without losing our lives. We have tried to serve God AND mammon. Some Christians have gotten into license, others into legalism. Some think that we must have a second experience in addition to Christ to have the REAL thing, and others think that Christianity isn’t an experience at all. But in the end, if Christ is not in me, and if I am not rightly related to Him by faith, Christianity as a life or experience is impossible. God says so. And why would we think otherwise?

Christianity is CHRIST IN US. And unless we come to terms with that, passages like the Sermon on the Mount will remain nothing more to us than verses to cross-stitch and hang on our walls for decoration.

Our Treasure

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.

Jesus begins our present passage of Matt. 6:19-24 by talking about OUR TREASURE. As noted beforehand, He will begin a contrast here with that which is the result of being rightly related to God by faith, to that which is the result of NOT being rightly related to God by faith. He will be describing a life that is SERVING GOD to a life that is SERVING MAMMON.

What is MY TREASURE? Jesus is not here talking merely about bank accounts, although He is using that kind of thing as an example. Well, MY TREASURE is what I VALUE. Isn’t that right? My treasure is whatever I personally VALUE. This is why one person’s treasure is not necessarily a treasure to another.

Now, look at what KIND of treasures – and there are TWO – that Jesus is describing. He is saying that there is an EARTHY treasure, and there is a HEAVENLY one. Don’t think of a, "treasure on earth," as merely one that is LOCATED on earth – although this might be included in the meaning. And don’t think of a, "treasure in heaven," as one LOCATED in heaven. Rather, Jesus is talking about the KIND of treasure, rather than location. He is contrasting, as He does throughout the entire passage, the EARTHLY with the HEAVENLY.

Again -- Jesus is talking about that which is of MAMMON, and contrasting it over and against that which is of GOD. He is contrasting the fruit of being rightly related to God through faith in Christ, over and against the fruit of living for this life. This is about fruit of relationship.

So, "to lay up treasures for myself on earth," really means to accrue to myself what I value – it is to accrue to myself an earthly treasure. This is really a picture of a person who has accumulated what he values in life. He lives to accumulate this TREASURE for himself, and if he thinks he succeeds, he may be quite content and fulfilled. Sure. He has what he values. He has laid up for himself what he considers a treasure.

Can we see that it really doesn’t matter WHAT this person values? Nope. What does matter are really three things: First, the fact that this is an earthly treasure. Secondly, that he is living for this treasure – i.e., laying it up. And thirdly, that his faith is in this treasure, that is, he is serving it. It is his particular way of serving mammon.

What we VALUE – our treasure – can take many forms. For some it is money. For others, it may be pride. But ironically, Christians can be guilty of storing up earthly treasures – all the time thinking that it is FOR GOD. Christians can value, and lay up, good works for God. Some think that to build a big ministry for God is a treasure. For others, it is spiritual pride that is being stored away. Others think that godliness is a means of financial gain. But in the end, if what we are laying up is not of the measure of Christ, or is not of eternal and spiritual value, it is earthly. And Jesus tells us that it will eventually be an enemy the true worship of God.

Once we realize that my treasure is what I personally value, and plug that meaning into the teaching of Christ, His words come alive. Jesus is saying, "Do not value that which is earthly. Value that which is heavenly. Do not live your life accumulating to yourself that which is going to perish. Live your life to the glory of God, and the result will be the riches of Jesus Christ."

We cannot obey the words of Christ on this matter unless we surrender ourselves to Him. We have to LOSE OUR LIVES – lose our treasure, if you will – in order to find real life IN HIM.

The Heart

Jesus makes the profound statement, "Where your treasure is, there will be your heart." Why is this so? Well, it gets back to what you value. Whatever it is that you VALUE, this will be what GOVERNS your heart – you will embrace with your heart what you value. In short, you are going to SERVE with your heart what you value.

It is not necessarily wrong to serve what you value. No. In fact, we are to value God and serve Him. We are to lay up heavenly and spiritual TREASURES. But the whole point Jesus is making is that we value the wrong thing, and consequently, our heart is upon the wrong goals in life. We focus on the earthly, instead of the heavenly.

Does anyone see the very root of WORSHIP here? Sure. We WORSHIP that which we place great WORTH, or value, upon. It may not seem like, "worship," because we don’t realize the true nature of worship. To WORSHIP means to belong to, live for, and to serve with our whole being. We, "worship," whatever we deem, "worthy." You worship God by giving your whole self to Him. But you cannot do this unless you VALUE God. It gets back to that. If you see Jesus, you will value Him; revere Him. You will worship Him. And this will result in YOU being brought into a right relationship WITH HIM.

Contrast this over and against trying to serve God because you are afraid of Him. You cannot really serve God on that basis, because it isn’t the Truth. You are not placing value upon God in that case – you are really more motivated by the value of saving your own skin. It is only if we come back to being rightly related to God by faith – which requires a certain amount of Truth about God – that we can value Him, and therefore serve Him with our lives, which equal worship.

Therefore, the key here is to VALUE the right thing. Jesus is saying that. He is saying, "Get rightly related to God by surrender. Then because you value God, you will store up the value of God – you will store up heavenly treasure."

So how does one come to value God, rather than the earthly? Well, this gets back to conversion, and then the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to convict us, and bring us to repentance. You really cannot get rightly related to God by faith until you realize that you have been wrong related to Him – and in Adam we all ARE wrong towards God. God must bring light – and we must turn to God. And then we must be born again to even begin the process. You must be born again to see the kingdom of God – to see the Truth about God. You will never value Him any other way.

No man can turn His heart towards God unless God first comes and brings light. A darkened heart cannot take a hold of itself and bring light. No. God must being light into that heart. But once God does, we CAN turn. This does not mean we must be saved before we can believe, as Calvinism wrongly asserts. No. We can believe before we are saved because God brings the light TO believe.

But once we are saved, we must continue to receive light. But light is not a THING. Light is a Person, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as we walk in His light, we have the capacity to lay up for ourselves heavenly treasure, and reject the earthly. This is going to happen if we remain rightly related to God by faith.

A Single Eye

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 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!

A single eye is a life that has the same goal as God. It is an eye that is open, unfolded, and receptive. The idea of a SINGLE eye says it all – you cannot serve TWO masters. You cannot serve God and mammon.

A person with a singles eye is unconditionally committed to God’s will and God’s glory. This is so because he has come to VALUE God’s will and glory. His pure heart – which is another way of expressing a single eye – is focused upon the value of the right treasure. Laying up heavenly treasure, having an eye that is single to God, and having a heart that is pure unto God – all of these pictures equal serving and worshipping God, rather than mammon.

Jesus says that if your eye is single to God’s will, then you are going to SEE – indeed your whole body, or LIFE, will be filled with light. Note that the single eye – the commitment to God’s will – comes BEFORE your whole body is filled with light. Jesus is not saying you must see FIRST – no, He is saying that if you commit to God FIRST, then you will see.

"By faith we understand…" (Heb. 11:3) It is evermore so. It is only if we first submit ourselves to God Himself, that WE SEE GOD, and FAITH COMES. "Faith comes by submitting, and submitting by the Word of God." You and I will never see Jesus, or know God, until we FIRST, as much as we know, make a moral surrender to God. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The purity of heart – single eye and commitment to God – comes FIRST. And then we see.

Here is the real key to what we term, "divine guidance." If you read the NT, you will not find many examples of divine guidance, or direct teachings about it – there are some to be sure. But you don’t find divine guidance dominating the epistles. Rather, what you find is the continual exhortation, and continual teaching about KNOWING THE LORD. Why? Because divine guidance is supposed to be the outcome, or by product, of knowing the Lord.

Christians want to BE LED OF GOD. And often, God does lead. God is quite capable of telling us what to do. But God doesn’t want to simply tell us what to do. He wants to reveal Himself to us. In short, rather than just see the will of God, we need to see Jesus. Rather than have God simply speak His mind to us, God wants us to have the mind of Christ. What an empty Christian life it would be for God to dictate to us information as to what to do, but never give us a revelation of Himself.

We need to see the difference between INFORMATION and REVELATION. If we did see the difference, it would explain to us why God is sometimes silent to us when we ask Him what to do. We want information, and God wants revelation. It isn’t that God cannot, or always will not, give us the information or leading, that we desire. But if God gave us that upfront, we would often stop. We would not even know there was a revelation of Himself to be had.

Actually, information without revelation can be a bad thing. You and I will ultimately misinterpret God and mess up the information He gives unless we KNOW HIM. This won’t necessarily be because of our lack of brains. Or even because of rebellion. It will be because of our lack of knowing the Truth, and even might be because we aren’t rightly related to God in ways we are unaware of.

God’s will is not a THING, but a Person – and a relationship with that Person. And if we are to receive the will of God in our lives, in the form of a lot in life, we have to receive it in the context of knowing that Person, and being rightly related to Him. Indeed, we need to get out of our heads that the will of God is a certain lot in life, or adventure. It is not – this is not the priority. The will of God IS our relationship to Christ – that we be rightly related to Him. If God would give us many THINGS apart from that, those things might hurt us. We would at least neglect the relationship to Christ.

Jesus is telling us that if we want to know God, and want to know His will for our lives in any matter, that this begins with a single eye. If we are unconditionally committed – not to what we want – but to God’s will for His glory – then we will come to KNOW God’s will, because we will know God Himself. And we will actually come to receive the will of God in life because our relationship with Christ will be such that the will of God can find a home.

But, Jesus says, if our eye is evil – that is, we are in this thing at least partly for earthly gain, then we CANNOT SEE. Our life will be filled with darkness. Thus, we have a perfect recipe for disaster given in this passage – just get into the things of God for your own gain and purposes – and you will eventually be deceived. You will not be able to SEE.

This fact accounts for much heresy, deception, and false teaching today. The problem is NOT theology – it is merely reflected there. The problem is that people are not rightly related to God by faith. Their eye is not single. Their treasure is earthly. They are using the things of God to serve mammon. And they don’t even know the difference.

Ultimately, divine guidance is NOT the result of hearing voices, or of some inner impulse – although I would never say these could not be involved. But at the root, divine guidance is the result of being morally committed to God Himself for His will to His glory. You cannot see God otherwise, let alone see His will for you.

One Master

Jesus gathers up all of His teaching and summarizes by saying that no one can serve two masters. Storing earthly treasure IS serving mammon. Having an evil eye IS serving mammon. But storing heavenly treasure IS serving God, as is having an eye that is single to God’s will and glory. You cannot do both at the same time. The Greek reads, "You will eventually hold to the one AGAINST the other." Sure. At some point, we do have to make our choice, don’t we?

If we were to continue on in the passage, we would immediately read, "Therefore, I say unto you, take no anxious thought for your life…" In other words, if you serve God, you will come to where you won’t be taking anxious thought for your life. But if you serve mammon, anxious thought comes with the package – for you must protect the earthly treasure that governs you. You are not rightly related to God by faith.

The life that Jesus describes from this point forward in chapter 6 is one that is the outcome of being rightly related to God. Jesus is immensely practical about life. But He says that the burden of life will not be ours to bear. We can be focused upon the spiritual, and God will take care of us.

"Seek you first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." This is a picture of what happens when you serve God rather than mammon. All of a sudden mammon has no power over you. Indeed, everything you hoped to store up to yourself that was earthly is now freely given to you of God. Sure. I can be freely given that which is earthly, because it will no longer govern me – I am storing up the heavenly.

This is nothing more than losing our lives – losing the earthly, if you will – for the sake of Jesus. It results in finding true life in Christ. Whenever we lose that which is earthly for the sake of Christ, God is free to give us that which is earthly, because we are no longer serving it – we are serving God and governed by the heavenly.

The word SERVE says it all. Serving mammon means to be governed by mammon. To SERVE God means to be governed by God. If you serve mammon you can never have God. But if you serve God, God will make mammon serve you – to His glory.

Who do we serve? That is the big question? In this passage, Jesus speaks of only TWO options. God or mammon. And each carries eternal ramifications.

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