Robert Morris — Breaking the Spirit of Mammon
We are in a series called "The Blessed Life". And I want you to turn to Luke 16. That's the only passage I'm going to ask you to turn. And we're going to talk this weekend about breaking the spirit of Mammon. Breaking the spirit of Mammon. M-a-m-m-o-n. It's a word that's in the Bible only four times. Jesus, as we know, only used it three times. One of the times it's in the Bible, it's a repeat. It's in Mathew and Luke, but it's the same sermon.
So, we're going to look at it in Luke so that we'll see all the times that we know of that Jesus used this word, alright? Luke 16:9. This is Jesus speaking. "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon". That's the first time we see the word. "that when you fail, they," I just want you to remember the word they, not it, they, because talking about the friends, "May receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful to what is least is faithful also in much. And he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon," that's the second time we've seen it, "who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's who will give you what is your own"?
And then verse 13 is a repeat of the verse in Matthew 6. "No servant," no servant, not one, no person, this is very important to understand this, Matthew said it this way, "no one," no one, "can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will be loyal to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon". And that's the third time we see it. And again, that's a repeat from a verse in Matthew 6, it's from the same sermon. "You cannot serve God and mammon". Okay, this is the only phrase like this in the Bible that where Jesus contrasts serving God with something as clearly as He does. You cannot serve, you cannot do it. No one can do this. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Since he said that, we need to know what mammon is. So, I have three points for you today. Here's point number one. They're actually all three questions. What is mammon? What is mammon? Most people would mean I say money. But the answer's so much deeper than that. Mammon is an Aramaic word which means riches. But it comes from the Syrian god of riches. I don't believe Jesus was simply referring to riches. I think he was referring to a false god that they knew. The Syrians had a god called Mammon. And he was the god of Riches.
Now let me tell you where it came from. It actually came from Babylon. A lot of people don't know where Babylon came from. If you just look at the very first part of it, Babble. Babylon came from the Tower of Babble. But babble means actually means confusion, you know, someone just talk and you don't ever, you can't follow them. You don't know what they're talking about. Babble, the word babble means confusion, which add the suffix "on" on it, it means sown, or planted. So, the word Babylon means sown in confusion. It started in confusion. The Tower of Babylon, The Tower of Babble was a system that they believe that they didn't need God. They could get to Heaven on their own, their own energy. Their own work could get them high enough to get to Heaven.
That is what the spirit of mammon is. That we don't need God if we have riches and money. It is a spirit that contrasts itself with the spirit of God. It is an arrogant, prideful spirit that tries to replace God. When you think about this, it's, Jesus said you can't serve God and mammon. In other words, mammon is looking for servants. Mammon wants to rule in your life. Mammon wants you to look to it instead of God. And here's the problem. Many of us actually grew up looking to mammon, and we didn't even know it. And Jesus makes this statement: you can't serve both. And he says, you will be loyal to one and despise the other.
Now I want you thinking about this. There's a message today that's we call the prosperity message. It's basically give and you'll get, give and you'll get, and you know, God wants to bless everyone with lots of money, and a Mercedes, and a Rolex. And the problem with that message is, that it actually works selfishness and greed into your life instead of out of your life. And the problem with that is, it's a mammon message. And here's the problem. You become loyal to that. Now here's what happens. When people buy into the prosperity message, what happens then is that when something breaks or something goes wrong in their life financially, they despise God. They get mad at God. And here's the reason they get mad at God or despise God. Because they're loyal to mammon.
See, it's a contrast. All through our lives mammon is trying to get you to bow to mammon, serve mammon, worship mammon. And Jesus is saying no. God is the only one that can provide everything you need. God is the only one that can provide identity and security, and peace, and happiness, and joy, and love. Only God can. But mammon says he can. Mammon will say, "You know, if you had more money, people would listen to you". Significance. If you had more money, if you had the right credit cards, if you had the right clothes, if you had the right car, if you had the right house. If you had more money, you'd be happier. If you had more money, you'd have a better marriage. If you had more money. Here's the big lie, if you had more money, you could help more people. Listen to me very carefully. Money doesn't help people. God helps people. But notice the contrast. See the contrast? Money, okay.
Here, Jesus never told anyone that he needed more money. Never did a leper, never did a lame man, never did a blind man say "Have mercy on me, Son of David," and Jesus turn around and say, "Oh, you just need more money". Not once. And I'll tell you again how it contrasts. Just to show you how we've all been influenced by this spirit of mammon. We've all had this thinking at some point and another. I either need God to come through, or I need someone to give me some money. And if someone would give me some money, I'm okay, God. My problem's been solved. I don't need you. Because I got money. Are you following me?
I can remember one time my, I borrowed my dad's boat. We're on vacation. Something started beeping. The beeping bothered me, so I got up under the dash and pulled the wire out. This is something you do when you're young and stupid. It was trying to tell me something. It was trying to tell me that it was low on oil. But I kept driving. And we burned the motor up. Brand new motor, $4.000. I said to my dad, "Dad, I'm, this is my responsibility, and I'm going to take care of this. I'm going to figure out a way to take care of this". And I said, "This is my problem, I'll take care of it. You know what my dad said to me? "Son, you've never had a problem".
I will never forget this conversation as long as I live. I said, "What do you mean"? He said, "Son, if money can fix it, it's not a problem. And if money can't fix it, God can". He was telling me right then, money's not the answer to your problems. Son, God is always the answer to your problems. So that's mammon. Mammon is this spirit that tries to influence us. Here's question number two. Is money evil? Is money evil? Because Jesus said, "Unrighteous mammon". Well, what he's talking about is a spirit. It's a spirit. Let me just tell you again, mammon is a spirit. If mammon's not a spirit, how come it can talk? Because you try, you start to give an offering, and I bet you'll hear voices. Mammon is a spirit that rests on money.
I don't know if you've ever thought about it. Can I tell you this? All money has a spirit on it. It either has the spirit of God on it, or it has the spirit of mammon on it. All the money in your account right now either has God's spirit on it, or the spirit of mammon. And the way you get God's spirit on it, according to scripture, is you give the first ten percent to the house of God, and God redeems the rest out from under the spirit of this world. Which is the spirit of mammon. Why would you want the spirit of mammon on your money? So, money's not evil. Money is neutral. You can do good with money, you can do bad with money.
People say, "Well, but the Bible says that money is the root of all evil". That's not what it says. Here's what it says, 1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money," the love of money, "is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after," in other words, they got under this spirit of mammon, "they've erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows". Here's what I think he's saying. Loving and serving mammon is the root of all evil. Jesus said you can't serve God and mammon. Loving and serving mammon is the root of all evil.
Now, look at this verse, because it's strange the way it reads, and a lot of us don't understand it. Verse 9 he says, "And I say to you," this is Jesus talking, "Make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon. That when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home". Okay, I have to admit to you, when I first read that as a new believer, I totally misunderstood it. It's, you know, I'm thinking of unrighteous mammon is just money, not a God or a spirit of greed. And so, it says, "make friends with money". That's what I thought it meant. So, I thought it meant, you know, do favors for other people, and then when you're in trouble, they'll do something for you. You know, that's what it thought.
That's not at all what he's saying. He's saying take this unrighteous mammon and redeem it by giving the firs to the house of God, and use this, use the money that Satan uses for evil, and you use if for good. And you use it to build the kingdom of God, and people will get saved. They will become your friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. And it says when you fail, this word fail means die. It means when you die. When you expire physically. Listen, "And when you die, they," these people who've come to Christ because you gave to the kingdom, listen, "Will welcome you into your eternal home". That's what he's saying. In other words, they're going to be people in Heaven that welcome me that say, "I'm here because you gave".
I know that a missionary came and brought the gospel to us, but I found out because when heaven sees, we're going to know things, I found out there were 47 people that supported that missionary, and you're one of the 47, and if you hadn't supported that missionary, I wouldn't be in the kingdom today. That's what he's talking about. See, God is the only one who can take unrighteous mammon and turn it into souls. True riches. That's what true riches are.
When I first got saved, if you remember, Debbie and I were married before I got saved, and when I got saved, I wanted a witness, but I just couldn't quite do it. And was shy, if you can believe that. And so, I got over it. But I was shy. So, I remember when I found tracks. Now, I don't know how many of you remember tracks. How many of you remember tracks? Tracks were like little books that shared the gospel story. And I thought, see I came out of drugs, so I thought this is cool, because tracks used to be when the policeman said, "Okay, roll your sleeve up, and..". And I thought, "Wow, I don't know who came up with the name for tracks. Must have been an ex addict, but it's great. That's great. Go share the gospel through tracks," you know.
So, anyway, so I would get these tracks, and I would leave them on tables when we would eat, you know. I'd leave the tip inside. But nobody ever said anything. And so, I remember thinking to myself, "I'm just not leaving a big enough tip". And so, I talked to Debbie about it, we prayed about it. We saved up. We did not have enough to do this. We left a $50 bill in a track one time. Our meal might have been $10, you know. And a $50 tip with the track. We go back to that restaurant a few weeks later, and this lady that waited on us came back.
She said, "I've been waiting to talk to you. I read that little book, and I gave my life to Jesus Christ. And she said that, and I called my husband and read it to him over the phone. And he gave his life to Jesus Christ". And I got so excited. But I remember her wording struck me kind of oddly. I said, "What do you mean you called your husband? I mean, was he at work, was he at home"? And she put her head down, and she said, "He's in prison".
Can I tell you something? I'm going to meet that guy one day. And he's going to say, "Thank you for the $50 tip. Because I got saved because of that". By the way, a few years later, he got out of prison, and Debbie and I had the honor of meet, of seeing him and his wife get baptized. Simply because of that. See what I'm trying to tell you is that God can actually take our money and turn it into souls. It is amazing. You can give to the church and God can turn it into souls, it's phenomenal.
So, money is not evil. Here's the third thing. Question, what should I do with my money? What should I do with money? What should I do with money? Well, let me just give you answer, is be a good steward with what you have. Just be a good steward with what you have. Now, here's what some of you might be thinking. "Pastor, I have two little of this unrighteous mammon to be concerned with this message. If I had more, then I would probably be taking notes and listening very intently. But, this just isn't really helping me".
Okay, listen to me lovingly. If that's your way of thinking, that I have too little to be concerned with this that Jesus taught. Listen, if that's your way of thinking, you never will have anymore. Verse 10 says, "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much. And he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much". Please hear me. If you have a little, and you don't tithe, you'll never have much. What God does is, we all start out with a little. And He sees if He can trust us. And if He can trust us, He gives us more, and He gives us more, and He gives us more, until we get to the level where we can be a blessing to our family and be a blessing to others. Whatever that amount would be. But if you're not faithful with a little, you're never going to have much.
Verse 12 says, "And if you've not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own"? Now, there're a lot of applications for this, but I just want to give you one application, possible application. Remember, we've talked for a couple of weeks now about the tithe. And I know God owns it all, but according to scripture, he's reserved the tithe. He said, "It is mine. It belongs to me. I've set it apart. Don't touch it. If you take it, it's stolen. It's concentrated. It's holy. It's set apart to the Lord". Okay. If you've not been faithful in what's another man's, who will give you what is your own? Is it possible that one application of this verse could be, if you're not faithful with the 10%, who will give you the 90? If you're not faithful with the tithe, which belongs to the Lord, who's going to give you more?
And then look at verse 11, this is the last scripture we're going to look at. It says, "Therefore, if you've not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches"? Okay, well what are true riches? Well I can tell you, it's real simple. True riches are people. Heaven is being populated and hell is being plundered by our offerings. That's why it's so important for me to give, and why I see it as a spiritual act, because when I give, people are getting saved. God is taking what was unrighteous mammon. I've redeemed it by giving the first to him, and then as I give offerings, He's turning it into true riches. True riches are people.
When Ethan, my son in law, and Elaine, my daughter, started dating, Ethan came to me, and talked to me first. And I set up guidelines, you know, for them. And because I wanted to see if he'd honor me. Here's the reason. If he wouldn't honor me, he wouldn't honor her. That's for some of the young men here. And so I, we talked, I brought him in, we talked. I also showed him my gun collection, by the way. But, I gave him some rules to follow, and some things, you know. And then after a few months, and he did it, he did everything right. He did everything right. He did everything I told him to do.
So after a few months, I gave him the okay to start dating. And so one night, they're at seven, our young adult group. And they're standing around talking with our group of young adults afterwards, and they were talking about what it would be like to date the pastor's daughter, you know. And it's Ethan, and Elaine, and seven or eight other young adults, you know. And it was funny, because one of them said to Elaine, "You know, your dad is so strict on tithing, I'll be he checks the tithing records on the guys that want to date you". And Elaine said, "He does". And when she said that, Ethan went, "Uh oh". And Elaine said, "What are you saying? You told me you tithed. You told me you tithed. What are you saying uh oh for"?
And Ethan said, "Well, there was one time I was one day late". And he explained to her, you know, she said, "What do you mean"? He said, "Well, I would always do my tithe, I get paid on Friday. So at work, I would go online and do my tithe. I didn't have Internet at home because it costs so much". He's a real good steward. And so, said, "I didn't have Internet at home, so I would always do it at work on Friday when I got paid. But one Friday I didn't go to work, I didn't have to work that Friday, I had to work Saturday. So, I did it on Saturday, but I've always regretted that my tithe wasn't, you know, every Friday, that I was one day late".
And they got to laughing. And they said, "Oh," they said to Elaine, "Your dad's not going to notice that". Elaine said, "Yes he will". So they said, "Why don't you ask him? Why don't you ask him"? So she came home that night. She said, "Hey dad, did you check Ethan's tithing record"? I said, "Yeah I sure did". She said, "Well, was everything okay"? I said, "There was one time he was one day late. And the next time we meet, I'm going to ask him about it".
Okay, but why wouldn't I check the tithing record of a young man that wants to date my daughter? Let me say it another way. Why would I give my daughter to a thief? Why would I give true riches to someone that can't handle unrighteous mammon? Can't even handle money? Well let me say it another way. Why would the heavenly father who has all power to bless you, why would he bless you when you don't steward what you already have?
The best way to break the spirit of mammon off of our lives is to give. To be generous, to tithe to our local church, and to give as the holy spirit leads us. I am so proud of you, because you watch this program, because you love the Lord, and because you want to be generous to God's kingdom. I love you so much, thanks for watching. I'll see you next time.