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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, January 10, 2010

“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” (Matthew 6:24).

I do not know why the King James translators, who are so reliable and trustworthy, did not translate the word “mammon.” Instead they left it untranslated. Perhaps they were afraid to anger the King of England, who was so powerful in their day. I don’t know why they left this one word untranslated but, instead, gave us a transliteration, bringing the Syrian word over into English as “mammon.” The Geneva Bible was translated from the same Greek text 12 years before the KJV. The Geneva Bible brought out the meaning of “mammon” with full force,

“Ye cannot serve God and riches” (Matthew 6:24,
       The Geneva Bible, 1599).

Writing in the 18th century, Dr. John Gill, the great Baptist commentator on the Bible, said,

The word mammon is a Syriac word [coming over into Aramaic], and signifies money… Jerome says, that riches, in the Syriac language, are called mammon…and signifies riches; which are opposed to God, being by some men loved, admired, trusted and worshipped, as if they were God; and which is incompatible with service of the true God…they cannot truly and heartily serve the Lord. Mammon is the god they serve (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, vol. I, pp. 63-64; note on Matthew 6:24).

Dr. John F. Walvoord’s commentary says, “Money is the translation of the Aramaic word for ‘wealth or property’” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Victor Books, 1983, p. 33; note on Matthew 6:24).

Make no mistake here. Christ was not speaking to a multitude of people, but only to His Disciples (Matthew 5:1). Judas was clearly there (Luke 6:16) when Jesus said these words in Luke 16:13. Judas Iscariot knew perfectly well what Jesus meant when He said,

“You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13).

But Judas didn’t believe what Jesus plainly said that day. His heart was divided and,

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”
       (James 1:8).

Judas Iscariot is remembered among the greatest villains in human history – the man who betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins, whose ignominious life ended in suicide, and eternal “perdition” in the fire of Hell (John 17:12; II Peter 3:7; Revelation 17:8, 12).

Yet Judas Iscariot did not begin as a traitor. Jesus called him with the other 11 Disciples. He is listed with them when Jesus,

“…ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils” (Mark 3:14-15).

Judas preached. Judas was given power to heal sickness and cast out demons. Judas heard Jesus say,

“You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13).

But there was a flaw in the character of Judas. Jesus and the Disciples came to have dinner at the house of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. After supper Mary took a pound of very expensive ointment and anointed the feet of Jesus (John 12:3). Judas protested,

“Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” (John 12:5).

It is then that the Scriptures give us the flaw in Judas’ character, the besetting sin of his heart,

“This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein”
       (John 12:6).

Judas had been appointed the treasurer of the Disciples. He carried the purse and kept account of whatever money the Disciples had with them. His rebuke of Mary for spending so much money (about a year’s wages) to anoint Jesus, shows that he had a sharp sense of financial values, but no understanding of spiritual values. Pouring expensive ointment on Jesus seemed to him a waste of money. He wished that the ointment had been sold, and put into the purse he carried, supposedly to give to the poor. But he did not care for the poor. He was the one who kept the money for the Disciples. And he was a thief, stealing money, little by little, from the purse. Here we are given the main sin of his heart. He was covetous. He was a money-lover. He lusted after money (cf. I Timothy 6:9-10). He doubtlessly followed Jesus because he thought there would be money in it for him. Like others, he thought Jesus would establish His Kingdom right away – and that there would be money in it for him!

Now that things were going badly and “Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews” (John 11:54), Judas was becoming agitated. The situation did not look good. It did not seem that things were going well. Where was the power and money he thought he would get when Christ was crowned the Messiah and King of Israel? It didn’t look like he was going to get much MONEY for being a Disciple! And now, he thought, this foolish woman Mary has thrown away a year’s wages on ointment to rub on Jesus’ feet! Judas’ outburst shows he was disappointed by not getting this MONEY! It shows that MONEY was his real master and his god! He did not remember, or chose to forget, that Jesus said,

“You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13).

Judas was upset that Mary’s money was used to anoint Jesus – instead of being put into his purse! Immediately after the dinner at Mary’s house,

“Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him” (Matthew 26:14-16).

Thirty pieces of silver was not much money. Thirty silver coins was only the price of a dead slave according to Exodus 21:32. Thirty pieces of silver is what the law required as the price for a slave killed by his neighbor’s ox. To the chief priests, Jesus was only worth the price of a dead slave! Yet Judas had such a lust for MONEY that he agreed to it, and looked for an opportunity to betray Christ. Jesus said,

“You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13).

Judas had made his decision. He would serve money instead of God!

I have seen that happen often. I have been in the ministry 51 years, and I have seen many young people act like Judas. They make various excuses, but underneath they are more like Judas than they would like to admit.

Some of them are “church kids.” They come to church as long as they are paid to come. But as soon as they have a good job, and are financially able, they leave the church. Pollster George Barna says that 88% of them leave their church – never to return! Why did they leave when they were financially able? It’s very simple – these “church kids” only came to church because they were paid to come! When they weren’t paid to come by their parents, they stopped coming! They were only coming to church for MONEY! I call those church kids – JUDAS! JUDAS! JUDAS!

“You cannot serve God and money.”

Others refuse to become Christians because they are afraid of losing MONEY! They say, “I have an intellectual problem. That’s why I don’t become a Christian.” Nonsense! You have a MONEY problem! You’re afraid to become a Christian because you think you won’t have enough time to study for your college courses – afraid you might make one or two Bs instead of straight As – afraid it might keep you out of the best graduate program – afraid it might cost you some MONEY!

You say you can’t “see” Jesus! Do you suppose any of us can? Jesus said,

“Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”
       (John 20:29).

No, your problem isn’t that you haven’t “seen” Jesus! Your problem is that you’re afraid that you’ll lose MONEY if you come to church! Face it! Face it!

“You cannot serve God and money.”

It’s MONEY, MONEY, MONEY – that turns you into JUDAS! JUDAS! JUDAS! The Apostle Paul said,

“They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (I Timothy 6:9).

To avoid falling into that snare, John Wesley, in his sermon “The Use of Money,” wisely said to earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can (The Works of John Wesley, Baker Book House, 1979 edition, volume VI, pp. 124-136).

Then Jesus and His Disciples ate the Passover meal together. At the end of the meal Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, Jesus washed the Disciples’ feet, and then,

“…the devil…put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him” (John 13:2).

You see, it would not be easy to betray Him. The chief priests were afraid of the people because they admired Jesus as a great prophet. So they couldn’t arrest Jesus in the day time. There were thousands of people in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. They would see Jesus arrested. They would be angry. And they couldn’t find Jesus at night. All of the men had on robes. All of them had beards. All of them looked the same in the darkness. No, they needed to have someone lead them to Jesus. At the end of the Lord’s Supper, the Devil told Judas what to do. The Devil told Judas to lead His enemies to the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas knew that was where Jesus would go to pray – it was the place where Jesus went to pray at night (Luke 22:39). As Judas sat at the table with Jesus and the Disciples,

“Satan entered into him” (John 13:27),

and Judas

“went immediately out: and it was night” (John 13:30).

I have seen that happen in my years of ministry. The Devil has been tempting someone. The Devil has been telling him, “You’ll lose something. It will cost you some money. Stop going to that church.” The Devil wheedles and twists that thought into his head again and again. Then, of a sudden, the Devil enters into him – and out he goes – out of the church, into the night – and we never see him again. Oh yes, when people get caught up with material things, the Devil does exactly to them what he did to Judas because,

“You cannot serve God and money.”

Down through the darkness come the soldiers, pushing their way through the branches of the olive trees in the darkness of Gethsemane. Judas is leading them. He comes behind the kneeling, praying figure of Jesus. He kisses Jesus on the cheek. The soldiers cry out, “There He is! That’s the one.” They grab Jesus and haul Him away to be beaten, scourged and crucified on the Cross.

What happens to Judas? He runs through the night with the bag of silver coins in his hand. The MONEY, the MONEY! He can’t get the MONEY out of his mind! He rushes in to the chief priests, throws the MONEY at them on the Temple floor,

“and departed, and went and hanged himself”
       (Matthew 27:5).

Why didn’t he repent? It was too late! He crossed the deadline! God had given up on him! He was given “over to a reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28). When God gives up on you, you cannot be saved! Too late! Too late forever! Too late for all eternity!


You cannot! You cannot! You cannot!

Before it is too late for you – before the Spirit of God leaves you forever – I plead with you to let go of your worldly lust for money and security and an easy life. Leave such worries behind! Turn away from them! Come to Jesus, who was crucified to pay your debt of sin, and rose from the grave to give you life! Leave the world and its tinsel and toys! Come to Jesus – whatever it costs! Remember what missionary Jim Elliot said before the Indians killed him at the age of 28, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Come to Jesus! Come to Jesus! Come to Jesus while there is still time!

Acres of diamonds, mountains of gold,
   Rivers of silver, jewels untold;
All these together, wouldn’t buy you or me
   Peace when we’re sleeping or a conscience that's free.
A heart that's contented, a satisfied mind,
   These are the treasures money can’t buy;
If you have Jesus, there's more wealth in your soul,
   Than acres of diamonds, and mountains of gold.
(“Acres of Diamonds” by Arthur Smith, 1959).

Please stand and sing number 4 on your song sheet!

My life, my love I give to Thee,
   Thou Lamb of God who died for me;
Oh, may I ever faithful be,
   My Saviour and my God!
I’ll live for Him who died for me,
   How [satisfied] my life shall be!
I’ll live for Him who died for me,
   My Saviour and my God!
(“I’ll Live For Him” by Ralph E. Hudson, 1843-1901).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 16:10-13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Acres of Diamonds” (by Arthur Smith, 1959).