Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. 3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. 8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. 10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
It is essential to understand to whom the Lord was speaking if we shall properly understand the two parables of this chapter. You will notice in verse one that it is stated, he said also unto his disciples. That in itself is no mystery. But unless our minds think it means that he was just speaking unto the “apostles,” we must consider the first verse of the previous chapter. Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. With this we now understand he addresses this first parable to “the new converts class.” For he is telling these converted publicans and sinners just what their mindset must be in their new kingdom life.
Then we see in verse fourteen of Luke sixteen that it states, And the Pharisees also. For we also see they were there in the multitude with those from whose number Christ had made those “disciples.” Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. Therefore we understand that he is addressing each of these classes of souls separately with these two parables. He sets forth our parable (usually entitled, “The Unjust Steward”), to the recently converted. And he then sets forth the parable of the rich man in hell to the Pharisees.
This similar circumstance occurred in the ministry of John the Baptist. For John is shown as addressing three classes of souls in one multitude in Luke chapter three. Consider these verses: Luke 3:10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? 12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? 14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. He separately addresses the people, publicans, and then, the soldiers in the same crowd.
In our parable, we are first introduced to the understanding that we are all “stewards” to the Lord. All men are God’s servants, but all are not his sons! John 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. All flesh is under his power and authority, but all are not given eternal life. 1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Much has been made of this parable that goes beyond, and distracts from the main purpose of it’s meaning. Remember he is speaking to souls who have just been infused with grace. Therefore he is instructing them to be as wise as they were before, in their striving and pressing for a good earthly retirement, but now for their eternal end. For before they received regeneration, they, like the unjust steward, did whatever it took to provide themselves with stability of provision towards the ending of their natural lives. And he is now instructing them to do the same regarding spiritual wealth and eternal security. There is much in our scriptures to support this for our own spiritual perseverance. Consider but these few verses:
Proverbs 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
Daniel 4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. 14:14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
Therefore the Lord is instructing them to even imitate the serpent in his wisdom, but, of course, not in his nature. In their nature they are to be as harmless doves. Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
The Lord clearly brings out the moral of his parable as recorded in verses ten through thirteen, listed above. Within the character of the steward we understand that all riches and wealth belong only to God! And therefore it is only his to distribute as he see fit. Psalm 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. 11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. 12 If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.
1 Samuel 2:7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
And we have also just listed for you those verses in Proverbs, Daniel and Luke which plainly reveal that our stewardship regarding earthly wealth has a definite effect upon our spiritual well being. 1 Timothy 6:17 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; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
The second parable is to the Pharisees, who were self-justifying, prideful and had nothing for the poor sinner. Our space doesn’t allow the inclusion of those verses, but the parable is found in Luke 16:19-31. Yet we would like to address for you those instructions of verses thirteen through eighteen which precede the parable.
First he tells them their hearts as God sees them. He instructs them that their self justification only deals with outward appearances, leaving the heart completely without spiritual content. And he instructs them that seeking religious acceptance from men, with no spiritual provision for the heart, is highly abhorred by God! Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
Next he lets them know that the law was not exclusively theirs! Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. For they, like Nicodemus, did not understand the relationship of the law to the kingdom. There must be a new birth – a birth from above – in order for man to see and enter the kingdom (John 3:3,5), after which, the law would be kept in them by the Holy Spirit! (See Romans 8:4 listed below.) And this new birth would result in all kinds of men pressing into the kingdom, after spiritually hearing it’s gospel.
Next he informs them that the kingdom would handle the law perfectly and completely! For they also sinfully thought themselves to be preservers of the law (that is, the entire legal system) as well as keepers of the law, (that is, perfectly preforming it personally). Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. For the King and his kingdom did not come to do away with the law, but to fulfill it! Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
The only reason that there is now no condemnation upon us, who cannot keep the law, is that Christ did keep it for us, and now in us! Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Next in verse eighteen he gives then, just one law that they had perverted and therefore, not kept. Luke 16:18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. And having broken this one law, they were guilty of breaking them all! James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
They had sought out and found, what they considered a “loop hole” in the law, in order to maintain their legal righteousness. For they had latched on to the phrase, a bill of divorcement, in order to dismiss their wives for any reason! Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
But listen at God’s inditement against them. Malachi 2:14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. 15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. Knowing their hearts, God is telling them, even back in these Old Testament passages, that it was because of their treacherousness against their wives that they sought to get out of their marriages. And in order to prevent polygamy, Moses allowed divorce.
Here is a passage from Matthew’s writings which gives a fuller view of this matter. Matthew 19:7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Those words, from the beginning, are a commentary on Malachi’s words, And did not he make one? He is referring to man and his wife become one flesh, in order to reflect Christ and His church becoming one spirit! 1 Corinthians 6:16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
The Apostle Paul clearly wrote of this, as well. Ephesians 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
God is spirit! (John 4:24). His words are spirit! (John 6:63). The law, being a revelation of His character is holy, just and good! (Romans 7:14). God’s words are those of eternal life! (John 6:68). The Holy Ghost is the teacher of the scriptures, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:13). Yet self justifying religionists will never cease to seek it by mental reason and logic! – As if man’s puny brain could comprehend God!
And we have the blessedness of the Person of the Word instructing us as to this situation. For in Matthew five we read over and over again his recovery of the spirit of the law by comparison of that which religion has taught us, with how he really meant it to be understood when he gave it! He alone, as the Person of the Word can give us understanding of that spiritual word! 1John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
Do yourself and your soul a favor by taking time to read all his, “It hath been said,” with all his, But I say unto you,” remarks! See Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-34. If you choose to do so you will actually have the Lord Jesus Christ recovering the spirituality of the law for you. John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Pastor Gene Breed October 4, 2014