II. BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON.

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1 Sunday, January 27, 2019 Lesson: Matthew 6:1-13; Time of Action: 28 A.D.; Place of Action: a mountain near Capernaum in Galilee Golden Text: But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him (Matthew 6:7-8). I. INTRODUCTION. When you do good deeds do you do them to be seen by men or do you do them in the name of Jesus to glorify God? This is a question that we all need to consider. In this week s lesson, Jesus teaches that just doing the right thing is not enough. Not only must we do what is right, we must do it for the right reasons. The Lord also gives us a pattern that we can follow for our prayers. II. BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON. This portion of Matthew is part of the Sermon on the Mount which includes chapters 5-7. The spiritual climate of Jesus day was full of legalism. The scribes and Pharisees imposed strict rules on

2 others (see Mark 7:1-5) while ignoring the underlying call for their own personal holiness and righteousness (see Matthew 15:3-6). But Jesus knew their hearts and focused on their spiritual weaknesses (see Matthew 15:7-9). As part of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus set forth a pattern of prayer to serve as a guide for His followers, in contrast to the false humility of the Pharisees (see Luke 18:9-14). By following His pattern for prayer, Jesus followers would protect themselves from religious hypocrisy. Our lesson begins with Matthew chapter 6 following Jesus message concerning showing love for our enemies (see Matthew 5:43-47), and a call for His disciples to be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (see Matthew 5:48). III. JESUS TEACHING ON GIVING (Matthew 6:1-4) A. Control your motive for giving (Matthew 6:1-2). 1. (vs. 1). Our first verse says 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. The words Take heed mean to make sure or be careful. The word alms refers to good deeds or righteous acts. Jesus was telling His listeners to make sure that you don t perform any righteous acts or good deeds simply to be noticed by men. According to Judaism, the pious or religious person was devoted to three things: giving alms or charitable gifts to others, to prayer, and to

3 fasting. Sadly, many people did these good deeds in order to win the applause and praise of others. Jesus went on to say that if a person does good in order to receive praise or recognition from others, he or she will receive no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore, this kind of service is spiritually worthless. 2. (vs. 2). This verse says 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. Here Jesus continued to tell His listeners how not to give alms or perform good deeds. In essence, Jesus said When you give a gift to a beggar, don t shout about it as the hypocrites do blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you in all earnestness, they have received all the reward they will ever get. The word hypocrites in Greek referred to actors who wore masks to play a certain role. Here the word is used to describe people who perform good deeds for appearances only and not out of compassion or other good motives. They were like skilled actors who were only playing a role. The hypocrite s motive for doing good deeds was so that they may have glory of men. Their actions or deeds may be good, but their motives are hollow. So Jesus declared that They have their reward. In other words, the praise they receive from men is the only reward they will receive. They will not receive any reward from God. Their improper motives for giving to the poor and any other good deeds will result in the forfeiture of any divine blessing.

4 B. Control your actions when you give (Matthew 6:3-4). 1. (vs. 3). This verse says But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth Having declared to His audience the wrong motive for giving alms, here Jesus prescribed the proper way to give to others. He said But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth The phrase let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth means to do our good deeds in secret. Instead of making sure that others observe generous acts, the godly person should do their best to be anonymous. Giving should not lead to self-promotion, or selfcongratulation. Giving should be focused on the recipient not the giver. This type of giving may never grab the headlines or lead to applause or acclaim by others. 2. (vs. 4). This verse continues to say That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. When we do good deeds and not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, we are giving our alms in secret. When the godly person gives in secret Jesus promised that thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. Go, the Father who sees every good thing we do in secret will reward openly the one who gives with righteous and pure motives. This means that even though no one may see our good works or deeds, they will see the reward we receive from God. Giving to others privately requires humility and confidence in God. It requires trust

5 that God sees all that we do and that He will reward righteous deeds in His own time and way. True righteousness seeks to please God and is willing to wait for His promised blessing. Praise from others appeals to our pride. To forgo that praise requires an humble spirit that puts others before ourselves (see Philippians 2:3-5). IV. JESUS TEACHES ON HOW NOT TO PRAY(Matthew 6:5-8) A. Control your heart when you pray (Matthew 6:5-6). It was important for Jesus to set His own teachings in clear contrast to the common misunderstanding and misuse of prayer during His time. Therefore He began by giving the how not to pray examples of prayer. 1. (vs. 5). In this verse, Jesus said And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. Prayer was a major part of Jewish faith so there was no question that Jesus listeners prayed. But when they prayed, Jesus said, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are. As noted earlier, a hypocrite is someone who pretends to be what he or she is not. In this case, hypocrites prayed not because they were godly or pious, but because they wanted people to think they were. Jesus said that they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the

6 streets, that they may be seen of men. For the Jew there were set times for prayer, and devout Jews were expected to pray wherever they were at prayer time. The hypocrites made sure that they were in a public place at the time of prayer, even on a busy street corner. There was nothing wrong with standing or praying in public, but what made these practices wrong was the motive of the hypocrites: that they may be seen of men. All they wanted was to show people how holy they were. The Pharisee who prayed in the temple is an excellent example of this type of hypocrisy (see Luke 18:11-12). Jesus then concluded, Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. In other words, the hypocrites receive exactly what they prayed for: the praise of men. But there will be no further reward from God, no merit earned and no prayer answered. God is deaf to their self-serving prayers. 2. (vs. 6). In contrast to the hypocrite, Jesus said to His disciples, But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Jesus wasn t condemning all public prayer, but we must admit that public prayer presents a greater temptation for pretending or showing off. The word closet can refer to any private room. Jesus point was that we should seek a private place to pray. Closing the door gives more privacy. When in the private place we pray to the Father which is in secret. God s presence is everywhere, even in secret places. He is never absent. As we pray secretly to the Father, Jesus said, thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee

7 openly. The Father seeing and hearing our sincere prayer in secret or privately will reward us. We are not told what the reward is, but no doubt it includes an answer to our prayers that will be best for us and will also glorify God. B. Control your words when you pray (Matthew 6:7-8). 1. (vs. 7). Here Jesus warned His listeners against another hidden danger in prayer saying, But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. When believers pray, we are to do it as God intended and not like the hypocrites. Jesus said that when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do. The verb for vain repetitions means to ramble on and on or to repeat empty phrases over and over. Every religion has those who think using many words will make prayer more effective. The scribes of Jesus day did this to make up for their sins (see Mark 12:38-40). Unfortunately, like the heathen or pagans, even some Christians think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 2. (vs. 8). Still referring to the heathens or pagans who babbled on and on when they prayed, Jesus urged His followers to Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. Jesus disciples were not to ramble on and on when praying because their heavenly Father knew what they needed even before they asked Him. God has perfect knowledge of our needs (better than

8 we have) and He has the power to meet those needs. That being said, one might ask why we should bother to pray if God already knows what we need. Well, the answer is simple: we should pray not to give God information but to worship Him. Our worship includes our total dependence on and trust in our heavenly Father. Note: Jesus was not condemning long and persistent prayers (see Luke 18:1). Neither was He discouraging all repetition, for in Gethsemane Jesus Himself was repetitious (see Matthew 26:39-44). Jesus was simply warning His followers against the fantasy that God has to be informed or pacified through endless babblings. V. JESUS TEACHING ON HOW TO PRAY (Matthew 6:9-13) A. Reverence for God (Matthew 6: (vs. 9). After telling His followers how not to pray, Jesus gave them a pattern, or model to guide them in how to pray. Jesus said, After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. The phrase After this manner does not mean that we are to repeat Jesus words verbatim or word for word, but instead Jesus is saying this is the way we ought to pray. The model that Jesus was about to give contains all the elements that God honors in prayer. The words Our Father should remind us that this prayer is to be prayed only by those who are spiritually God s children; those who

9 have trusted in Jesus as their Saviour (see John 1:12; 8:41-44). Which art in heaven speaks of God s abode and separates Him from His creation. The word Hallowed is the verb form of holy. When we pray Hallowed be thy name we are asking that God s name be treated as holy. Name refers to more than God s title; it includes His very character as revealed in His works. 2. (vs. 10). This verse says, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. This is a request that God s kingdom be established and His will be done on the earth. In a sense, the kingdom was already present in the Person of Jesus (see Matthew 4:17). However, the kingdom of heaven in all its fullness still awaits the return of the victorious King, Jesus Christ (see Revelation 11:15). At that time He will subdue all enemies, including death itself (see II Corinthians 15:24-26), and will right all the wrongs that now plague humanity. Jesus followers are to pray for the full manifestation of God s kingdom. Only when Christ returns will God s will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Of course God s will is done in heaven as all celestial beings give Him full and willing obedience (see Revelation 4:2-11). But to have this same obedience on earth will take the cleansing of the present world order and the righteous reign of a perfect Ruler, and only Jesus can do this (see Daniel 2:44-45; Isaiah 11:1-9). However, even though we know this, we should still pray that God s will be done on earth just like it is in heaven. B. Request for physical needs (Matthew 6:11).

10 Jesus now turned to one s daily needs. He told His followers that they should pray, Give us this day our daily bread. Even though God is high and holy, He is still concerned about the daily needs of His children. Bread represents all the necessities of physical life, and God expects us to depend on Him to supply those needs. However, we can t expect Him to drop our necessities from heaven like manna (see Exodus 16:4; John 6:31). Instead, He gives us the strength and abilities to earn them. We can expect God to supply our needs, but not our luxuries (see Philippians 4:19). The phrase our daily bread refers to what we need for that day only. During Jesus time, workers were often paid one day at a time and therefore they thought in terms of each day s needs being supplied. C. Request forgiveness for sin (Matthew 6:12). The disciple who prays is aware of God s holiness and his own sinfulness. Therefore, Jesus model prayer included a plea for forgiveness. Jesus said to pray, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. The words forgive us our debts refer to a person s sins (see Luke 11:4). Since we owe God full obedience, we become His debtors when we fail to give it to Him. It s necessary to pray for forgiveness because we still sin as believers and therefore we need to confess our sins for cleansing and to be restored to fellowship (see I John 1:8-10). Note: When we are saved, any sins that we commit break our fellowship with the Lord, but it does not break our relationship with Him. Once we are in Christ we cannot be out of Christ. In other words, once we are saved, we are always saved and nothing can break that relationship

11 we have with Jesus (see John 10:27-30; Romans 8:35-39; I Peter 1:5; Jude 1: I John 1:3-7). Jesus said that the forgiveness we receive from God will be the same as we forgive our debtors. God cannot and will not forgive us for our sins if we are praying and not forgiving others. D. Request for moral needs (Matthew 6:13). The final request in Jesus model prayer is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. God does not tempt anyone to sin (see James 1:13), so the word temptation can also be translated testing. It is Satan who takes a test and turns it into a temptation as he did with Eve (see Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-6) and Jesus (see Matthew 4:1-11). All Christians struggle with temptation. Sometimes it is so subtle that we don t even realize what is happening to us (see Genesis 3:1-5). But God promises that He will never put us in a position in which the temptation we face is more than the power He has given us to overcome it (see I Corinthians 10:13). No one has the ability to consistently resist temptation in his or her own power. We need God s strength and provision in order to be victorious over enticements to sin. That s why it is so important that we put on the whole armor of God in order to fight off the wiles or enticements of the devil (see Ephesians 6:10-13). Jesus then says that we are to also pray but deliver us from evil. The word evil can also be translated as the evil one, a reference to Satan. This is probably the best way to understand the word evil here. The term deliver means to rescue. So we should pray that whatever situation or circumstance we find ourselves in,

12 God might deliver or rescue us from Satan s snare. For Christians, sin is always a threat, but our glorious God is also the faithful Father who can deliver us from evil. Jesus ended this prayer with a magnificent doxology which is a declaration of praise to God or a brief hymn expressing His power and glory (see Romans 16:27; Galatians 1:5; Ephesians 3:21; I Timothy 1:17; Jude 1:25; Revelation 7:12). The doxology Jesus gave was For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. This statement brings us back to the majestic Father which this prayer began with, whose kingdom, power, and glory will last forever. To all of this we are taught to add our Amen, which means let it be so. As far back as Moses, it was the practice of God s people to say Amen aloud to confirm the truth of what was said (see Deuteronomy 27:15-26; I Kings 1:35-37; I Chronicles 16:36; Nehemiah 5:13; 8:6; Psalms 41:13; 72:19; 106:48). The word Amen is not some magical formula, but confirming God s Word with Amen is a commendable practice as long as it is done uprightly, with life and liveliness as the Apostle Paul directs (see I Corinthians 14:16). VI. Conclusion. In this week s lesson, Jesus taught that the most important thing involved in giving is our motive. We must be sure we are doing it for the right reason to glorify God. Jesus also had much to teach His disciples about prayer. It should be personal and from the heart. It should include the elements of worship, petition, and confession. As believers, we should be encouraged to put these principles of

13 prayer into practice. If you are ever in doubt about what to include in your prayers, just remember the acronym ACTS which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. *** Union Gospel Press Sunday School Curriculum, The Bible Expositor and Illuminator ***

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