(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 5)
Mark 4:18-19 states of a category of people who heard the Word of God, seemed to have received it but then allowed themselves to become preoccupied with the things of this world, the deceptiveness of riches and other lusts, which resulted in them becoming unprofitable in spiritual matters:
- “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
Deceitfulness, comes from the word ‘deceit’ and to deceive means to hoodwink, to fool, to delude, to make someone think that something is true when in truth and in fact, it is not.
In light of the phrase ‘the deceitfulness of riches’ as used in the scripture above, at a forum I attended via Zoom tonight, the question was posed by one person: How can riches deceive? He also asked for examples from the Word of God which would highlight the truth of this statement.
I immediately began thinking. Although I could not verbally share my views in that forum because rightly so, only the males in the online Church gathering were allowed (based on the Word of God) to speak, there were at least four (4) main ways in which, to my mind, riches could deceive a person, which I scribbled down to write on later.
Based on examples from the Word of God, riches can make you believe a lie and therefore deceive you, in that it:
1. It can MAKE YOU THINK THAT YOU HAVE FAVOUR WITH GOD, that you are spiritual (moreso than other people who have less or are poor) and that he is pleased with your Christian walk.
The Laodicean Church is a prime example. It thought that it was in good standing with the Lord because it had been blessed with large pockets, to the point of not being in want of anything. However, what must have been shocking news when Jesus’ letter was communicated to them, he was not at all pleased with them and had given them a fail grade.
In Revelation 3:14-22, he stated:
- “And unto the angel of the church of the LAODICEANS write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
- So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because THOU SAYEST, I AM RICH, AND INCREASED WITH GOODS, AND HAVE NEED OF NOTHING; AND KNOWEST NOT THAT THOU ART WRETCHED, AND MISERABLE, AND POOR, AND BLIND, AND NAKED: I COUNSEL THEE TO BUY OF ME GOLD TRIED IN THE FIRE, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
- As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: BE ZEALOUS THEREFORE, AND REPENT. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:14-22)
Conversely, although the Church at Smyrna was poor, the Lord gave them a glowing report! He stated:
- “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:8-10)
Riches can therefore deceive, as it can result in those who have much, thinking that their gain financially, means that they are godly and are pleasing God, when this may not be the case. Riches and lots of assets are never sure indicators of godliness and when people think in this deluded way, the Word of God says to separate from them.
In 1 Timothy 6:3-12, Paul commanded Timothy:
- “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, SUPPOSING THAT GAIN IS GODLINESS: from such withdraw thyself.
- But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 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. 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.”
2. It can MAKE YOU BEGIN TO THINK THAT IT IS EQUAL TO OR MORE WORTHY, DESERVING, SIGNIFICANT OR NECESSARY A PURSUIT THAN GODLINESS itself and your relationship with God.
The pursuit of riches is an endeavour that strives for preeminence in the heart of man. Sometimes it does this by deceiving a person into thinking that he or she can pursue both God and riches or that they are both equally as important.
Yet, nothing could be so far from the truth. Riches and their pursuit should never be put on the same plane with the Lord (the Creator) and the Bible makes it clear that it is impossible to pursue both God and mammon, meaning money.
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus stated, “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.”
In light of this, Jesus instructed his disciples that they cease being preoccupied about the question of what they would eat or drink or wear. He reminded them that their heavenly Father was perfectly capable of taking care of his children, providing for their needs of sustenance and that he knew what their needs were. He encouraged them to not focus on acquiring stuff but on pursuing God’s Kingdom business and that he would in turn add what they needed.
Jesus continued in verses 25-34:
- “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.”
Riches therefore deceive, as the idea of it makes some people think that they must run madly after it and exert all or most of their energy on it and that if they don’t get it, that life is not worth living. It deceives them into thinking that it is as worthy a pursuit as spiritual matters.
Yet, God’s truth tells us differently and he urges his children to flee from such preoccupations.
In Timothy 6, Paul urged Timothy to “…flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness…”
Even where people, through their covetousness and love of money, smartly devise schemes that they apply the name of Jesus to and phrases from his Word so as to make their love of money seem more spiritually palatable, it is still NOT of God and is still intended to take people’s focus AWAY from God.
If a person deludes himself into thinking that serving God and pursuing riches can co-exist, hand in hand, he will end up letting go of his walk with the Lord (as many others have foolishly done) and crowning the pursuit of riches supreme.
In short, he or she will end up giving it worship because the pursuit of riches (which is different from having a good work ethic and being ambitious) is really idolatry. As the rich young ruler who came to Jesus to enquire as to how to obtain eternal life did (by walking away from him the giver of eternal life because he loved his riches more), so will that person who is intent on pursuing after riches and the so-called ‘better life’.
A person will end up letting go of his walk in pursuit of riches, as for example, when decisions are to be made and opportunities come for him to get money, he will turn his back on his beliefs, be prepared to compromise, be dishonest, take short-cuts and so on, just so that he can acquire the money and quickly. He will run after it mindlessly and in so doing, lose his fear of God and become enslaved to it.
3. It can MAKE YOU BEGIN TO PUT CONFIDENCE IN THOSE RICHES and not in God.
In other words, it deceives by displacing a person’s confidence in the Lord. For, instead of humbly relying on Jesus as the ultimate provider, a person in possession of riches can be deceived by beginning to have faith in his or her bank account and no longer in Him.
That person can then stop exercising faith in God and depending on him and instead, begin to depend on the money that he or she has. That person then feels secure and protected, not because Jesus is sustaining him or her so that no matter what, he or she knows that he or she will be okay but because his or her bank account is thick.
This is evident especially, if the riches begin to deplete, as the owners will then begin to worry and to panic, not trusting that God has them and is able to succour them even if their bank account is empty but lamenting in the fact that that which they placed their confidence in is dissipating.
Yet, Proverbs 23:5 states of the fleeting nature of riches, “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.”
Like the rich man who said to himself as he surveyed his ‘success’, that he would build bigger barns and enjoy himself for many years, riches deceive some people into thinking that they are untouchable, safe and secure for many years and even a lifetime. This is of course not true, as many people realized with the Coronavirus Pandemic.
No matter how rich they were the elite could not protect themselves from the devastating effects of Covid, their money being rendered useless to afford them any kind of protection whatsoever. As a result, many of them died. The rich man in the Bible was similarly deluded into thinking that plenty riches meant a long life was guaranteed. He too received a rude awakening, as God took his life that very night.
In Luke 12:15-21, Jesus stated:
- “…Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
4. It can MAKE YOU THINK YOU HAVE WORTH AND ARE SOMEBODY BECAUSE OF IT.
It is no secret that most people with lots of money, walk around with their head held high, their chest pushed forward and expect to benefit from the best and even preferentially favourable treatment, simply because they have money. Some go so far as to tell the people with whom they interact, do you know who I am?
Money therefore is deceitful as it can make people think of themselves in pride, as important, moreso than other people because of it. Yet, the worth of a man is not dependent on how much money he has in the bank or elsewhere. His worth has nothing whatsoever to do with his asset position but his character and whether he is in Christ by faith in his atoning work or not.
As Jesus himself said in Luke 12, “…a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.“
Although all human beings are equally significant and have worth in God’s eyes because he created them in his image and likeness, it is his children (those that believe on his Son Jesus and have submitted to his Lordship) that are considered to be extra special. Whether they have money or not or occupy the highest office in the land or are among the homeless, those are the persons that have the greatest worth in God’s eyes as these are his beloved children.
Money is not even a currency in heaven and no matter how rich a person is he can’t take one ounce of it with him when he dies. Even if they bury him with some of his riches, he will still be parted from it and ushered into an eternity where it matters not how much money he had or where he worked or who he knew or his social standing.
This deception of riches can therefore lead people straight to hell. As Jesus noted in Matthew 19:23-24, when the rich young ruler turned his back on him and on eternal life available through him and therefore chose hell, in order to continue to hold on to his riches, “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
5. It can MAKE YOU BEGIN TO HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF and to feel self-sufficient.
It is easy for the rich person to survey all that he or she has amassed and think in pride, look at what I have done! It is easy to begin to pat self on the back and to think, even as Nebuchadnezzar had done in the Bible, that I achieved this in my own strength and as a result of my own effort and intellect.
Such a person can begin to think and act like he or she doesn’t really need the Lord anymore and that spiritual things are not really that important. He or she tells himself or herself that he or she has arrived through his or her own hard work and effort and therefore, that he or she can take care of himself or herself.
Like the Laodicean Church that said I have need of nothing, such a person begins to live life with this mentality, putting Jesus completely out of it (but possibly holding on to the empty vestiges of religion), as he or she thinks that he or she is capable of running his or her own affairs and making his or her own decisions. In short, the riches deceive, as that person begins to see himself or herself, as his or her own god.
Riches can deceive by making the one who has it begin to see no need for God, no need for a Saviour, no need for help, as he or she begins to think that he or she is enough. In short, he or she becomes self-sufficient, thinking that all he or she will ever need in life to be successful and to solve life’s problems, is self.
It was for this very thing and the deception of riches in this regard, that the writer of Proverbs 30:8-9 asked the Lord:
- “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.”
In Daniel 4:29-37, Nebuchadnezzer had expanded so much while on the throne, that it went to his head and in pride, he became self-sufficient, not knowing God or caring to know him. As a result, God brought him down and humbled him and in the end, he was cured of his foolish self-sufficient disease, realizing that God was the ultimate Lord, that he (Nebuchadnezzer), despite all his earthly pomp was as nothing in his sight and that he (Nebuchadnezzer) was not self-sufficient but needed God, the breath in his nostrils belonging to him and the faculties in his mind being kept by him.
The scripture reads of Nebuchadnezzer:
- “At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of MY power, and for the honour of MY majesty?
- While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
- The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as NOTHING: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and NONE can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
- At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. NOW I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: AND THOSE THAT WALK IN PRIDE HE IS ABLE TO ABASE.“
(Written on 14th March, 2022)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, beneficial or edifying, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 18 – ‘Riches, Abundance, Promotion And Breakthrough – Lies From The Pit Of Hell’
- Note 32 – ‘Look At What ‘I’ Have Done!’
- 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 156 – ‘Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea – My Humble View Of The Letters Of The Glorified Jesus To The Seven Churches (Part 3)’
- Note 214 – ‘I Would Thou Wert Cold Or Hot’
Additionally, under the ‘SINGLE Daughters’ Page:
- Note 276 – ‘Are You In Love With Money? People Who Loved Money To Their Detriment In The Bible’