THE KINGDOM’S RELIGION
Matthew 6:1 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. 2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
The King of kings has already ascended his throne, having accomplished his work of a full and complete redemption. John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. All authority and power are now his as presently reigning Lord. Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
And even in our subject passage, prior to these accomplishments, he begins to relate to all the platform of his administration. It is a spiritual kingdom, occupied only by those of a second, spiritual birth from above. John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. For it is that supernatural birth that presently enters one into the kingdom of God, and not some event of a future “rapture.”
The king has already revealed the character of the “blessed” ones who occupy his kingdom as his devoted subjects in Matthew 5:1-12. Then he gives his view of their spiritual identity in Matthew 5:13-16. (This was also opened by him when he gave his law to Moses. See Exodus 19:3-6). Next he came to declare the mind-frame of the true, spiritual righteousness in Matthew 5:17-20. In this he clearly sets forth that his kingdom righteousness would be different from, and far exceed, the highest legal and religious righteousness ever achieved by mankind. It would, in fact, be the very righteousness of God imputed to those alone whose sins were imputed to the Son at Calvary! For the “righteousness” of the religious order was but a form of morality, which does not include God’s righteousness. God’s imputed righteousness always includes a spiritual morality. But man’s morality does not contain God’s righteousness!
One must have an interest in the atonement, and not just a determination to live a clean or structured life in order to have entered into the very righteousness of God! 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Then the King of kings sets forth the recovery of the spirit of the King’s law in Matthew 5:21-48. For it had been distorted by the interpretation given it by the Jews. The Lord never speaks a word against Moses! But he states some six times in this passage, “Ye have heard,” revealing the common interpretation of those who had made a false religion of legalism out of His law. But then he always followed that phrase with the words, “But I say unto you!” And in these verses he restores the spirituality of the law, which he has come to fulfill, and not destroy.
It would also do us well to take notice of two words that occur again and again in this chapter. This will allow us to see the issue that the Holy Spirit has stamped upon this passage regarding the spiritual Kingdom’s Religion. First, the word “men” is listed in verses 1, 2, 5, 7, 14, 15, 16 and 18. Then the word “Father” is found in verses 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 14, 15, 18, 26, and 32. And what we learn from this is that there are but two religions on earth. For all religions are either man centered, or God centered.
Matthew 15:6b Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
And then in the last portion of Matthew 5:21-48, he sets forth the very heart of God’s intent regarding the law. And that intention being that the law is only to be fulfilled by love! This he sets forth very clearly also in Matthew 22:36-40. Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. The Apostle Paul expounds on this in his Roman letter. Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
And every believer, without exception, receives the love of God in his heart. For God IS love! Therefore he does not need to attend twelve Thursday night classes in the basement of the church building in the “New Convert’s Class,” in order to know God! John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 1 John 2:20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Every single soul who has received sovereign regeneration has the law written in their hearts! Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. The Apostle Paul also states that the law of the Spirit of life, which provides the soul with the spiritual life in Christ, supersedes the law written in stone, which has never justified a single soul! Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
In that passage of Matthew 22:36-40, listed above, we readily see that there are three to whom love is to be directed in order to fulfill the law. They are, the Lord thy God, thy neighbor, and thyself. And these are the very three to whom the Lord directs our attention in our chapter six of Matthew.
First there is instruction in the giving of Alms in Matthew 6:1-4. This is directing us in the relation to others, or our neighbor. Then there is the instruction regarding Prayer in Matthew 6:5-15. This is directing us in relating to the Lord thy God. And finally, there is the instruction regarding Fasting in Matthew 6:16-18. This is directing us in relating to ourselves!
Alms – Verses 1-4. Relating to others. In the giving of alms, (an old word which is never used today, in even our religious conversation), we must first find out the meaning of this word. The Greek word translated, alms here is from the Greek word translated, have mercy in Matthew 9:13 and 12:7. Therefore we see that we are to relate to others, spoken of as thy neighbor, in the spirit of mercy! For this is how the Lord God has dealt with us.
Most religionists have no awareness that in ‘repeating’ what they call “the Lord’s Prayer,” they ask God not to forgive their sins and trespasses, but only as they deal with others who have trespassed against them! Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. So to ignore this, is to bring damage from the Lord down upon our souls! And this can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit within us, as the kind of compassion for others, which is acceptable to God, does not come from Adam through our natural man. For this kind of spiritual mercy is that which calls for the perfections of God, by his Spirit!
Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Secondly, we must not only learn the definition of the word, but also learn just what constitutes true riches as laid out in Matthew 6:19-21.
Prayer – Verses 5-15. Relating to God. Again, let us remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit has made the issue in this passage as either to be man centered, or God centered. And prayer is no exception! We are clearly instructed that prayer is either loudly and openly done in order to be seen of men, or it is done in secret to the Father!
And here we must be directed by the matter contained in verses 22-24 of Matthew chapter six. For there we come to understand that speaking to God, who is spirit, must be done with our inner light shining forth by the Holy Spirit within us! In that verse of John 4:24, printed above, we should take notice of that word, must! We must leave the heathen concept of being heard for our much speaking, and come to the realization of addressing the Father of lights with our new light of life! (Matt. 5:16).
In John 11, outside the tomb of Lazarus, the Lord Jesus said to the Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. But we have no record of any previous praying from him upon this occasion! No, there was no folding of the hands, nor closing of the eyes seen here. But there must have been that secret closet communion from the inner spirit of the Lord to his Father. For then the Lord follows up that statement with the words, And I knew that thou hearest me always. Prayer is not about chanting, nor repeating! It is about communing with the Lord God within the spirit! For how else could we pray without ceasing? (1 Thess. 5:17).
Fasting – Verses 16-18. Relating to ourselves. If we do not properly relate to God in the spiritual worship of prayer, we shall never be able to relate to ourselves properly in fasting! For since there is not allowed a disfigured face in order to make sure we appear unto men to fast, then we are to bear our spirituality only to God himself. In prayer we can raise our voices, as some do in restaurants in order to make sure everyone knows just how spiritual they are in the blessing of the food. But without a disfigured face, we are left solely with God as our only witness in fasting.
And that is exactly how faith is designed to work! Romans 14:22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And with no other confirmation than the indwelling of the Spirit of God, we are strengthened in our inner man in the realization that this deed was wrought in God! (John 3:21).
And unless we have true faith, (which sustains the believer, and not with the believer always striving to sustain it), recognized by God, there are those spiritual battles we shall never win. Listen to this account of such: Matthew 17:19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
With no private and personal relating to God in prayer by the new inner light shining forth into his glorious Light of life, there is no source of power to overcome the forces of darkness. Thus also is the character of true, spiritual fasting. For both have it commanded of them not to be seen of men! (Matt. 6:5, 16). And both have it commanded of them that they are to be seen in secret by the Father. (Matt. 6:6,18).
Too often hell is not moved by religion commanding it, as there is no recognition first, by heaven! Acts 19:13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Dear Reader, the whole of true, spiritual Christianity is knowing God! The Lord Jesus said, “Come unto ME!” – not come unto religious tradition and practice! And “God is spirit!” Therefore none can come other than in spirit and truth!
Pastor Gene Breed, April 2, 2014