Material Wisdom

Lords of Darkness

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Chapter:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Gen. 2:17 π Prov. 19:17 π Prov. 23:4-5 π Eccl. 3:1 π Eccl. 7:12 π Mt. 6:24 π Mt. 10:8 π Mt. 17:27 π Lk. 6:30 π Lk. 12:13-21 π Jn. 16:8 π 1 Cor. 4:13 π 1 Cor. 10:24 π 1 Cor. 12:28 π 2 Cor. 10:12 π Gal. 5:13 π Phlp. 2:4 π 2 Ths. 2:7 π 2 Ths. 2:9-10 π 1 Tim. 4:2 π Jas. 3:13-14 π Jas. 3:14-16 π Jas. 3:17 π Rev. 12:12 π Rev. 13:17 π 2nd

Paul speaks of those who measure themselves by themselves and who compare themselves among themselves as being not wise. ( 2 Cor. 10:12 ) James gives a wonderful insight into the two kinds of wisdom - and their sources!

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts... ( Jas. 3:13-14; top )

That’s as good a definition of the motives for emulation of the wealthy and greed for more as can be found. not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there... ( Jas. 3:14-16; top )

This is one reason why wealth is so dangerous to our spiritual lives. If wealth is accumulated by emulation and greed, confusion regarding the appropriate use of wealth will be one result and an open invitation to further involvement with the demonic is another.

It is interesting to watch how the ruler of misusing wealth’s deceptions manifest in those enslaved. It is not just a question of being rich or poor. Rather, it most obviously manifests in how one counts one’s pennies. Those who are enslaved to mammon consider their pennies of much more value than does the one who is free of mammon’s control. Whether rich or poor, those enslaved have to save or use every penny “wisely.” But because it is a demonic enslavement, their “thriftiness” is quite often sporadic and even irrational at times. Rich people under bondage to mammon will “pinch pennies” even when it deprives a poor person of their pennies - and the pennies are of much more use and value to the poor than to the wealthy!

It is extremely difficult to see Jesus “pinching pennies.” The One who knows to send Peter fishing to catch their tax money doesn?t need to worry over pennies. (see Mt. 17:27 ) We are to give to every man who asks of us - but Jesus does not say that we have to give him what he asks for. ( Lk. 6:30; top ) We are to give him whatever the Lord tells us in our hearts to give him. But we are to give him something. We need wisdom to disperse our resources in a manner that glorifies God - not anxious fretting over petty financial considerations.

It is true that God does not want the resources He’s given us just foolishly thrown at every problem we think we see. Money is a defense as is wisdom - but only wisdom gives life. ( Eccl. 7:12; top ) Often the resource God most wants us to throw at a problem is ourself - our time, energy and personal service - and not just our money or possessions. When we give of our time, energy and personal service, He works into our life qualities like humility, love (that is, true agape love - not vicarious charity), patience, perseverance and endurance (to name but a few) as well as genuinely meeting the other people’s real needs. When we give only of our money or excess possessions, too often we are really no nearer to those we’ve given to, they are not really helped and we come away feeling smugly superior because we “helped” some poor slob out of a jamb. (See any pride issues in all that?)

Money is a tool and tools are meant to be used, even used up, to get the job done. We must take care to use the right tool to get the right job done. One does not use a drill to cut a straight line nor use a hand saw to make a small round hole. When personal attention is what is required, money makes a poor substitute (and vice versa). There is a time for every purpose under heaven ( Eccl. 3:1; top ) and the Holy Spirit is still the only one with an accurate watch!

But money is really only a tool. Should the tool become the focus, often the job never even gets done. Rather than focus on money, we must focus on Christ and His agenda for the people we would help. A drug addict/loner is an excellent example. It does him no good whatsoever if we feel good about giving him something that meets no need of his or that only meets his culturally-defined “needs” (or, worse yet, feeds his habit!) while we have ignored his true spiritual and/or physical needs that Christ would like to meet at that time. Too often, our “gifts to the poor” have been more for our benefit than theirs.

This self-centered attitude carries over into our relationships with those who work for us as well. The demonically enslaved employer or business owner expresses to their employees the attitude:

Your time, energy and resources are of value to me (you can do things for me I can’t or won’t do for myself) therefore you should freely (or at least cheaply) give them to me because I’m not rich. I don’t recognize that you value your time, energy and resources for different reasons and objectives because my goals are more important, more valuable than yours.

Another way this is said or expressed to the employee would be like this:

Your time is only valuable to me when you are pursuing my goals. And then I expect you to give 110% (or more!) while I pay you only half (or less!) of what your activity is worth to me because I don’t possess enough resources to share my wealth with you equally or even proportionately. I must gain more than you do in this transaction or I’m losing my secure financial standing. I don’t really care what you want to do with your life and I’m certainly not interested in helping you reach your goals - unless I can use your goals to reach mine, of course!

Some consider this to be acceptable, shrewd business practice. In reality it is only self-centered greediness and oppression of the poor.

The most obvious delusion in all this is the “I’m not rich” part - and it is the foundation for the rest of the delusions. The employer or business owner is truly rich - he or she has enough resources to buy everything they need (usually in great quantity!) and just about anything they want! And their perception that any financial position is secure (see Prov. 23:4-5 ) is as deceptive as the notion that paying decent, honest wages weakens their financial status. (see Prov. 19:17; top ) What is really exposed is that faith in money (mammon) - and not faith in God - really controls their life. These rich people who enslave their employees into poverty by paying low wages most often deceive themselves into their own self-proclaimed “poverty” by so rigidly structuring their budget that expenditures are limited only to the priorities of the budget. Outside of the budget - which includes highly expensive tools, toys, luxuries, artworks, etc. (none of which are necessary for living life) - they are “broke.” The demonic loves to get someone under this kind of deception - and loves to use these deluded rich people to oppress the poor by luring them into low-paying jobs from which they cannot financially escape. Mammon’s schemes are particularly vicious and result in unimaginable depths of human misery, bondage and oppression.

Those who are free of mammon count their money only enough to disperse it accurately and give it away as freely as they have received it. It is perhaps those who have the gift of helps ( 1 Cor. 12:28 ), who give of their time, energy and resources as freely as God has given to them (see Mt. 10:8; top ), who are most vulnerable to the snare of poverty. These have no desire to charge anything for their time and services and, if they do not heed God’s leadings (in which there are times to freely give and times to freely receive) they are easily manipulated by “thrifty” (greedy, penny-pinching) employers, friends and even family who seek only their own financial gain and have no care for the believer’s well-being.

James wrote:

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. ( Jas. 3:17; top )

The contrast is evident for those whose eyes are accustomed to the light. Those in darkness won’t get the point. Let he who has ears hear.

There are some who believe they have conquered the snares of wealth merely by believing that they have no real trust in their resources. Their trust is in God, they say, and, for example, when the mark of the beast (without which none may buy or sell – Rev. 13:17; top ) becomes mandatory, though they acknowledge that it will be “hard” for them, they believe they will be able to forsake all the comforts and luxuries which they have allowed themselves to become accustomed to in this world. Their argument is that because their trust is really in God and not in their possessions, they are at liberty to freely enjoy all the things this world has to offer. There is multi-faceted deception interlaced around elements of truth here so let us step carefully through this minefield. The buzz words used to bring about this deception are 1) trust, 2) liberty and 3) worldliness.

First, their trust may or may not truly be in God where their possessions are concerned. Only God knows the true condition of their hearts - we can only evaluate what fruit their lives produce and this must be done on an individual, case-by-case basis. There is still danger even where they truly are receiving their possessions from God because there still may be deception and disobedience in their disbursements of their wealth. If these people disburse their wealth according to the worldly principle of emulating the wealthy, attaining status symbols, luxuries and comforts, while their brothers and sisters and the orphans and widows around them suffer their torments alone, these are classic victims of mammon’s deceptions. To put it in the context of Jesus’ parable about the foolish landowner ( Lk. 12:13-21 ), if we need a bigger barn or larger storage unit to store our goods for our own pleasures and conveniences while our brother, sister, neighbor or some orphan or widow suffers need of daily necessities, we are deceived, failing to store up treasures in heaven with God. In our selfish attendance to our own fleshly desires and understandings we are failing to also attend to the interests of others. ( 1 Cor. 10:24 ; Phlp. 2:4; top )

Second, in regards to our liberty in Christ, Paul wrote,

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. ( Gal. 5:13; top )

Liberty, especially liberty from dark and evil things, is a prominent part of our upward calling in Christ. But when we use “liberty” as our excuse for pampering and pandering to the desires of our own sinful, selfish flesh nature, we can be certain we are deceived. When we “need” a larger barn, a second home, a second or third car, a video collection, etc. more than a brother or sister needs daily food and shelter, we are deceived. If we even have these things and know that there are poor brothers and sisters in need around us, we have already clearly demonstrated that we inwardly hold the attitude that we “need” these luxuries more than our brother or sister needs the necessities of life! When we will give to a “church” or “charity” that builds or maintains homes for poor people in some third world country so that we might gain a tax deduction but we have not attended to the needs of the poor, the orphans and widows in our own neighborhood or sphere of influence, we are doubly deceived - victims of both mammon and the principality who has gained political favor for that particular “charity.” Woe unto those who exercise their liberty at their brother’s expense!

Third, those who believe their Christian liberty is a license to handle and possess everything the world has to offer are operating very close to a dangerous precipice. There is an element of truth that one can have possessions and have God’s grace (power to live in a godly manner) to live above the grasping nature of one’s possessions. But the standard by which we know whether we are truly walking in that grace and liberty is not whether we feel guilty about how we spend our money, time, energy and resources. If our conscience is seared as with a hot iron ( 1 Tim. 4:2 ) we will not be able to “feel guilty” about anything! Relying on feelings of guilt is doubly flawed anyway: Guilt is always a question of fact, not one of feelings; and relying on our own sin-stained conscience rather than the conviction of the Holy Spirit ( Jn. 16:8 ) is to eat yet again of the tree of knowledge that brought about man’s downfall in the first place. ( Gen. 2:17; top ) The only standard by which we can know beyond doubt whether we truly walk above the deceitful grasp of wealth is threefold:

1) Our resources are not used to emulate the wealthy in any way but rather used to build up God’s kingdom (not our own or some man’s personal or “church” empire); and (not or!)

2) The needs of the poor, especially the brothers, sisters, orphans and widows, in our sphere of influence are attended to in an adequate (that is, proportionate to our own supply) measure; and (not or!)

3) We are prepared and ready to obey Christ’s personal, inner command to give any or all of our material possessions to anyone at any time without requiring some form of recompense or proof of God’s further provision for ourselves.

Anything else is mere religiosity and “charity” practiced in Christ’s name. If we would simply recognize that the word “worldly” simply means “being like the world” we would immediately know that we cannot be like the world and truly follow after Christ. Too often “Christians” who are conformed to this world simply cannot endure that someone might think them to be the scum of the earth (see 1 Cor. 4:13 ) and they must show that one claiming to follow Christ can still be just like anyone else in the world. No! Worldliness and Christlikeness are antithetical to one another. We cannot worship (bow down to, serve) God and mammon! ( Mt. 6:24; top )

Those who believe they will be able to forsake the comforts and luxuries of this world when confronted with the mark of the beast ( Rev. 13:17; top ) but who have not taken care to forsake the world and its comforts and luxuries now will face nearly insurmountable difficulty when that time comes.

First, they will have to overcome the constant, fleshly tendency to earn more. The flesh dies hard and will not succumb easily to denial of things to which it has had easy access for decades.

Second (in the words of Paul), they will have to contend with all the power, signs, lying wonders and unrighteous deceptions of Satan. ( 2 Ths. 2:9-10 ) If they cannot resist Satan’s deceptions now while he is still somewhat restrained (see 2 Ths. 2:7 ), how will they stand in the day of his full fury? (also see Rev. 12:12; top ) Only by God’s grace (power) will any of us stand. The wise among us who are even now bringing their souls into subjection in all aspects of dealing with their material and temporal wealth will be far better prepared to make that stand then. Let he who has ears hear.

Spiritual Fruit π Financial Scams
Lords of Darkness

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