(The Information & Edification Series)
The Bible calls upon Christians to deny themselves and to take up their cross and follow Jesus. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of Christianity, genuine Christianity, is selflessness. This is why in Luke 9:23, Jesus stated: “…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
It is why 2 Corinthians 5:15 also states of Jesus’ death and resurrection and what it means for Christians: “…that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
Indeed, the Christian, the one who truly belongs to the body of Christ, no longer lives for self and the promotion of self-interest but for Jesus Christ and his interests. His interests are given the highest priority and the Christian’s own interests are placed on the backburner, even if this means to endure suffering.
This is why Paul stated in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
It is also why John the Baptist who was growing in popularity was careful to redirect all the glory to God, by stating of Jesus in John 3:30: “He must increase but I must decrease.”
Finally, it is why in Galatians 5:22-23, it states: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Whereas the Bible makes it clear that Christians are not to be focused on self and on selfishly seeking their own interests, certain types of so-called ‘churches’ today, preach the total opposite. They encourage the exaltation, advancement and promotion of self and self-interest, resulting in the breeding of a congregation whose eyes are not at all on Christ or his divine purposes but on greedily advancing themselves and their selfish lusts, foolishly trying to create a heaven for themselves on this earth.
As one person put it: “We erect the idol of self and not only wish others to worship but worship ourselves.”
Christ calls us as Christians, to be long-suffering and lets us know that we should be prepared to suffer but these false teachers, prophets and preachers state, that we are the head and not the tail and so, should not suffer. Some have gone so far as to state, contrary to the scriptures, that suffering, like sickness or poverty is always due to a lack of faith or a lack of spirituality.
In fact, they teach their congregation and falsely so, that a man’s spirituality is to be measured, not by what the Word of God says but by the extent of his riches, how high a position he has advanced in secular life and how much he has accrued for himself.
Christ commands us to be content with whatever we have in life but these false teachers, prophets and preachers say that we should pursue greater material things, like lots of money, a big house, a nice car, a promotion and anything our selfish, greedy hearts desire to obtain or aspire to.
They delude people into thinking that this is where freedom lies, when in truth and in fact, there is no such thing as freedom, by any secular means. There is no such thing, for example, as ‘financial freedom’, although this nonsensical notion (which gives people the idea that once they have lots of money they will be free) is sadly gaining traction among even some believers. Let it be known, that freedom from the bondage of this world’s system is only in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Nowhere in the Bible does it encourage people to seek after financial breakthrough but exactly the opposite. What it encourages is for us to be hardworking, aiming to excel in whatever we do, honest in our dealings, selfless, content, seeking first the Kingdom of God, trusting God to take care of us, to provide all that we need (not necessarily want) and trusting Him to bless us for obedience to his Word,. This he does whenever He sees fit, in whatever proportion He sees fit, however He sees fit and in whatever way He deems fit, whether this favour be in the form of long life, good health, a peaceful life, a relationship, increase or otherwise.
The Bible does not advocate that we focus on riches or getting ahead in life but on honouring God in our conduct and pursuing after His Kingdom agenda. This is why the Word of God states that if riches increase, we should not set our hearts on them (Psalm 62:10). Note that this scripture does not state ‘when’ riches increase but ‘if’. The word ‘if’ means if God desires for some of his children to have it.
It is not his will for all Christians to be rich as some false teachers, preachers and prophets state. That is a lie from the pit of hell.
The beggar Lazarus who ended up in Abraham’s bosom en route to heaven was poor. The widow who got Jesus’ attention when she gave God her last two mites was poor and so was the Church at Smyrna in the book of Revelation.
All of these people mentioned above, lived lives that were pleasing to God, although they were poor and getting ahead in life was not their forte or their focus.
What they lacked in material riches, they made up for with richness of character and a trust in God that was priceless. This is why the glorified Christ said in Revelation chapter 2:9, of the Church at Smyrna that was poor: “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)…”
It was also why in Luke 21:1-4, it stated of Jesus, in relation to the poor widow:
- “And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.”
In fact, Christ requires us to not pursue after riches, abundance and our own glory but to purse after Him and His agenda. Yet some preach, teach and falsely prophesy a message that is predominantly about material blessing, abundance, getting ahead, promotion and breakthrough, which is all about self, telling people that this is their right and this is their entitlement as a Christian.
They do just as the devil did with Eve in the garden and select certain scriptures in isolation from the rest twisting them out of context to support what they say, making people believe that if only they do what they say, like the devil told Eve, they will be like gods unto themselves.
The result of these teachings that encourage self-focus is a people hungry for religious titles and position in their so-called ‘Church’ and to be seen by others because it will make SELF look important and more spiritual, a people who don’t give cheerfully without expectation of reward but only SELFishly as an investment to get back something greater for SELF, a people who speak in such a way so as to attract earthly things for SELF, like money and promotion and breakthrough with the warped expectation that somehow, these words of affirmation will result in an attraction of good things for themSELVES.
In their delusion, they call this pre-occupation with SELF, faith but this is not the faith of the scriptures. It is certainly not a faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord of the scriptures. For, faith in Jesus requires the complete abandonment of self-interest, the embracing of the concept of ‘contentment’ with whatever you have been allotted in life, the pursuit of the interest of others over and above and before yourself, complete trust in whatever God’s purpose for you in life entails and acceptance that his will (not self) is sovereign, even if it means that a person will not get all that he or she may have liked or all that he or she may have desired in life.
People who have true faith in Jesus Christ, understand that this life is not about them and pursuing their self-betterment but that the show is all about Jesus Christ and God’s heavenly agenda, we merely being allowed to play humble roles in His story.
Yet the ‘faith’ that these false teachers, preachers and prophets speak of, have nothing to do with Jesus (although they like to attach his name to their lies.) The faith they have is in some kind of magical formula based on a non-biblical ‘name it and claim it’ principle, which is really a faith in the power of themselves, to will whatever they selfishly want, into existence, by the words they speak.
This religion is not the one promoted in the scriptures. It is not true Christianity. It is growing in popularity because it encourages greed and the exaltation of self. Yet, it is false.
Barbara Ehrenreich rightly noted that: “The fastest growing brand of religion is of the magical ‘name it and claim it’ variety, in which the deity exists only to meet one’s immediate, self identified needs.”
People who subscribe to such teachings, do as they please and rebel against the TRUTH of God’s Word because they have been taught to worship self. God has been demoted in their minds from his sovereign position and is now regarded as just like a genie or the fictitious santa claus, existing merely to serve human beings and to grant self whatever self wishes.
Ironically, we were created to serve God but they have completely flipped it and turned his truth into a lie, by believing that God exists to serve them. In essence, they have exalted themselves to little gods in their own minds and believe that whatever they want, it must be granted.
This complete obsession with the advancement of self is also demonstrated in them leaving their spouses and remarrying when self gets bored or the marriage seems detrimental to their own self interest. The idea of staying with the one with whom they entered into a marriage covenant in the eyes of God and men and enduring suffering for the sake of Christ is a concept that they completely reject. For, they are not prepared for SELF to suffer and therefore, remaining married does SELF, no service.
As a result, divorce outside of the sole parameter set by Jesus (which is fornication) and remarriage (which the Bible does not condone), have become the norm among such circles (SEE Note 41 under my ‘COURTING OR ENGAGED Daughters’ Page entitled: ‘The Seriousness of Marriage and the Sanctity of Wedding Vows’)
Surely, such people, who are completely absorbed and consumed with self and their own selfish desires, do not constitute the true Church nor is the self-focus that is preached, the true gospel of the Bible. The message of these false teachers, preachers and prophets is a lie from the pit of hell and it leads those who don’t spend time reading their Bible, which is the ultimate authority on TRUTH, astray.
What we have growing in many so-called ‘Christian’ circles is false teachers, false self-proclaimed prophets and false preachers, who have denied the truth contained in the Word of God in pursuit of their own self-interest and preaching and teaching a false gospel about a false Jesus because they do not have dwelling within them, the Spirit of truth which comes from God. What they possess is a false spirit, a spirit of error, that comes from that deceiver, the devil.
This is why in 1 John 4:1-3, genuine Christians were warned:
- “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
Romans 8:9 makes it abundantly clear: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
Of the Spirit of Christ, Jesus told his disciples in John 16:8, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…”
It thereby follows that any Preacher, Teacher, Pastor or so-called Prophet that has the Spirit of Christ within him and is therefore a bona fide Christian, will make these three themes his priority. He will tell people:
- About the reality of their SIN;
- Of (a) the answer to their sin (which is the gospel of the RIGHTEOUSNESS of Jesus Christ by faith in his resurrection and confession with the mouth that he is Lord) and (b) the need for Christians to avoid sin and to instead live RIGHTEOUSLY, meaning obey God’s commands and instructions and teaching and reminding them of what those commands and instructions are; and
- Of the pending JUDGMENT for sin and the reality of hell.
Those that have the Spirit of Christ will not be preoccupied with preaching a message of blessing, advancement, promotion and breakthrough. For, the spirit is concerned with weightier issues of sin, righteousness and judgment. Where these three areas are not the focus therefore but other areas (that are all about self and how to better get for self and serve and advance self), it means that the persons pushing the self-advancement agenda do not have the Spirit of Christ within them. They have some other spirit.
In plain terms, these false teachers, preachers and prophets do not have the Spirit of Christ but the spirit of antichrist. Yet, they use the name of Christ and claim to believe on Him, only as a means of exploitation, for selfish reasons. Upon examination of their lives and their teachings, they willfully and rebelliously deny him with their actions, as these are clearly contrary to what the Word of God (the Bible), which is Jesus in written form, states and commands.
This indicates that, although they call him Lord with their lips, their hearts are far from Him. In truth and in fact, they do not want him to rule over them, for they find his New Testament commands to be grievous, burdensome and restrictive to their own self-interest. They therefore refuse to submit to all of his teachings. They claim to know Jesus Christ therefore and some are even deceived by the devil into believing that this is true but really, operating in them is not the Spirit of Christ but a spirit that is against Christ, the spirit of antichrist.
In Luke 6:46, Jesus asked of those who were using his name, claiming to know him but yet hypocritically refusing to submit to his Lordship through obedience to his will: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
In Matthew 15:8-9, he concluded of the false teachers of his day: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
The same holds true today. Those that have the Spirit of Christ do not rebelliously do their own thing, seek after their own selfish interest and ignore the clear commands of Jesus contained in scripture because they find them to be contrary to what they selfishly want to do and therefore too burdensome and too grievous. Those that have the Spirit of Christ submit to his Word, even where it appears to be detrimental to their own lusts and self-interest and even where it means they must suffer. For, as was stated in 1 John 5:3, “…this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
Even where a person who has the Spirit of Christ deviates stubbornly and foolishly from the right path, he or she returns repentantly through conviction and/or chastening because the Word of God is in their heart. It is impossible to get it out and they know that the Word of God is the ultimate authority and blue print for their lives, that which they MUST submit to.
False teachers, preachers and prophets who clearly have a spirit that is against Christ and his Word and therefore continue on on the wrong path without repentance were spoken about and described at length in 2 Peter chapter 2 and also in the short book of Jude. To learn more about their operations, you should definitely read those 2 chapters.
In 2 Corinthians 11:2-4, Paul stated, knowing that this spirit of deception, falsehood and anti-christ would try to infiltrate the true Church, undermine the truth, corrupt the minds of some of the people and lead those who were not grounded in the Word, astray:
- “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”
As I close, I have listed a few of the verses from the Bible that highlight God’s position when it comes to pursuing after riches and the advancement of self-interest, abundance and breakthrough. When you examine what these teachers, so-called prophets and preachers state and measure it against the Word of God, the only authority, the extent of their folly is exposed.
It is written in God’s Word the Bible:
- “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” (1 Corinthians 10:24)
- “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)
- “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)
- “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)
- “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:4-5)
- “But 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.” (1 Timothy 6:9)
- “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
- “Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.” (Proverbs 15:16)
- “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)
- “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16)
- “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)
- “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.” (Proverbs 11:4)
- “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2-3)
- “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
- “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:10-12)
- “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 (money).Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
- Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:24-34)
(Written on 8th June, 2020)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be informative, insightful or edifying, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 42 – ‘Ten Red Flags That That Speaker Or Teacher is a Wolf Disguised In Sheep’s Clothing or Operating Under the Devil’s Deception’
- Note 51 – ‘I Know The Plans I Have For You…’
- Note 98 – ‘The Real Meaning of Ministry’
- Note 99 – ‘Are You Serving the Real Jesus?’
- Note 131 – ‘Want To Be Rich? Read This’
- Note 136 – ‘Money Is Not The Driving Force In My Life’
- Note 142 – ‘Are You Chasing After Success?’
- Note 230 – ‘How Riches Deceive’