When you truly commune with the Lord in prayer, the Spirit of God not only helps you pray, but He will give you wisdom and revelation.
Recently in prayer my wife Carolyn saw two vital foundations that were pillars in the early Church. These two foundations have been cracked and are faulty and in need of great repair and restoration in today’s Church. They are the main reason for the Church’s defilement and deficiency in wisdom and power. Let us deal with only one of those two foundations today.
The first foundation has to do with pride/hypocrisy and lying to the Holy Spirit. In prayer the Spirit of God highlighted Acts 5 to us when swift judgment came on Ananias and Sapphira and their sin was dealt with severely in the early Church. Such hypocrisy cannot breathe under the weight of the glory of God. This hypocrisy and aspect of lying to the Holy Spirit is the leaven of the Pharisees that has leavened much of the Church.
Ananias and Sapphira, the two subjects of Satan’s deceit, were struck dead before the apostles for pride, hypocrisy, and lying to Holy Spirit. What Jesus was dealing with there in the young body at Jerusalem was the love of appearance – giving to be seen by men (Mt. 6). Think of how many things are done in Christianity today because of the love of appearance and to be seen of men. It was a dark motive that was seeking to mar the purity of the early Church and has succeeded in marring the Church of today.
“But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?” (Acts 5:3)
Ananias and Sapphira came to lay down the proceeds of the sale of their possession, but soon lay dead under the grip of their obsession. They concealed their true motives by lying to God. God revealed their pride and hypocrisy by speaking the truth. The lesson we learn: Guard your heart and don’t be tainted by pride and moral compromise in the glory.
One of the foundational reasons the glory of God is not manifesting in the Church is due to this pride and hypocrisy and love of appearance.
The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not in keeping back part of the price of the land, for no one required them to give it all. Their sin was in lying about it. But why did they agree to lie about it? Was it not because of pride and the desire to be seen of men? There was a hypocrisy working in them. They wanted to appear generous. The love of appearance literally killed them.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
As I said, a large portion of the Church today is operating under this false pretense – the love of appearance. This is foundational to the life, power, and effectiveness of the Church. Some of it has to do with our attitude toward money, our use of it, and the greed and covetousness that has been attached to it.
Think of the examples in Scripture concerning the deceitfulness of money and the covetousness often attached to it, and how many have succumbed to the pride and greed of it.
For example, Balaam was a genuine prophet. The Spirit of God would come upon him and he would hear form the Lord (Nu. 22: 8-9; 24:2), but money ruined him. God warned him but he didn’t listen (Nu. 22:12-13).
The Scriptures list him in several places as an example of one whose heart was not right toward money.
“They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Pt. 2:15).
“Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah” (Jude 11).
Simon the sorcerer is another example of one who desired to buy the power of God so he could be someone great as he was when he was a sorcerer in Samaria (Acts 8).
Elisha’s servant Gehazi is yet another example of one who ran after the money when his master Elisha refused it (2 Kings 5). Isn’t interesting that Gehazi also lied to Elisha about the silver and change of garments he’d received from Naaman? But God revealed the truth of it to Elisha.
BEWARE OF MODERN DAY BALAAMS
Without discernment you can be in the presence of a man of God but not realize they have corrupted themselves. Once spiritual things have a for sale sign you just might find yourself in the presence of a modern Balaam.
How many wrong things must a man of God do before you stop being mesmerized by his gifts? We have a Simon the Sorcerer generation today. Unfortunately, Balaam is not talked about in a positive light in the Scriptures because of his compromise. These things are all written for our benefit. You can avoid his error as well as the error of deceit in any minister. God gave us the Word so we don’t have to be ignorant of spiritual matters. He gave us his Spirit so we may discern truth from error.
COMPARING NOW TO THEN
Compare these quotes on money from our day’s most popular preachers to those of centuries past.
“The Bible says that He has left us an example that we should follow His steps. That’s the reason why I drive a Rolls Royce. I’m following Jesus’s steps.”
I’ve chosen to refrain from naming the said preacher. I don’t want to discredit all the good he may have done. Blowing out someone else’s candle does not make mine burn any brighter. Besides, the point here is to keep the main point the main point, and not gossip about how all preachers are after your money. Not all preachers are that way. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Thank God for the many pure hearted preachers in the land today who’ve not been tainted by greed and the love of money.
Nevertheless, how can such a careless and erroneous statement come out of this popular preacher’s mouth who has done much good?
So following Jesus has been reduced to driving a Rolls Royce? But what does the Bible say?
“For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth'” (1 Pt. 2:19-22).
One of the greatest examples given in Scripture for following in Jesus’ steps has to do with suffering wrongfully. That is the example we are to follow. (See also Mt. 10:25 and Jn. 15:20 among many others that teach us how we are to follow our Master.)
Here’s another one:
“Give $10 and receive $1000; Give $1000 and receive $100,000 . . . give one house and receive one hundred houses or a house worth one hundred times as much. Give one airplane and receive one hundred times the value of the airplane . . . in short, Mark 10:30 is a very good deal.”
So Mk. 10:30 has been reduced to a very good deal? How pathetic! What was meant to be a scripture to forsake all for the gospel and suffer persecution for that kind of consecrated lifestyle has been reduced to a money and materialism scripture. What an example of corrupted motives! Once again I refrain from naming the source of this erroneous quote; only to say that this ministry is one of the most popular ministries in America today.
Does Mark 10:30 really mean that kind of 100-fold return on all your giving? Let’s read that verse in context. First of all, this entire statement spoken by Jesus starts with vs. 29.
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mk. 10:29-30).
There is nothing in this verse that is in context with this popular preacher’s quote. This has nothing to do with sowing money, houses, and airplanes in order to reap one hundred times more. These verses have nothing to do with money! Period. This preacher’s interpretation is the product of the American gospel of riches and materialism. The real meaning of these verses is in the context of leaving all to follow Jesus.
I was a missionary for many years and left houses, family, and lands to follow Jesus. I’m not 100 times richer now than I was then. What I have received is that I’ve gained at least 100 more brothers, sisters, mothers, and children. I’ve lived and slept in 100 more houses than the one I left to follow Jesus. I’ve been to and visited many more lands than I left. And I’ve received some persecution with it all. Notice in the preacher’s careless interpretation of this text that nothing is mentioned about receiving persecutions. They don’t want to claim that part.
The Bible teaches us that a desire to be rich is dangerous.
“They that will be rich fall into temptation, and a snare, and many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Tim. 6:9). Unless money is indeed your servant, and you are a non-profit bond-slave of Jesus Christ, money will ruin you.
Now here are some quotes from men of old who have gone on to their reward. Notice how careful they were about their attitude toward money.
“I continually find it necessary to guard against the natural love of wealth and grandeur which prompts us always, when we come to apply our general doctrine to our own case, to claim an exception.” – William Wilberforce
“When I have money, I get rid of it quickly, lest it find a way into my heart.” – John Wesley
“Nothing that is God’s is obtainable by money.” – Tertian
“Shun as you would the plague a cleric who from being poor has become wealthy, or who, from being nobody has become a celebrity.” – St. Jerome
“You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity.” – Thomas Wolfe
Quite a contrast between those two schools of thoughts on money. Let’s understand that money in itself is not evil. The Bible says it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Money makes a good servant but a lousy master. The balance is that we must become bond-slaves when it comes to the use of money stewarding it for the Master’s use. God has given many believers power to get wealth so that they may establish His covenant on the earth. But we must become non-profit servants of God. We must not use money to heap up riches for ourselves lest greed and covetousness enter in.
The Lord highlighted this foundation to us recently because it is a major stumbling block and sin in the Church today, and one of the main reasons for the Church’s lack of power. He also used it to warn us as we come into more favor and increase in our own lives and ministry, for many of the Lord’s ministers have become money-minded and lost the anointing.
Beware and guard your heart. To be continued…