Saying NO to mammon.
The devil came to Jesus and offered him inconceivable wealth. In Matthew 4, the enemy offered Jesus as much as his eyes could see. He offered him the wealth of nations. He wasn’t fooling around. This was serious business. He wanted Jesus to betray his divine mandate and come over to his camp. All he needed from Jesus was worship. That was all. Not some big act of sacrifice. Just worship. To the ordinary man, that didn’t mean much, but to spiritual beings, it meant a whole lot. In fact, it meant everything. Whoever you worship owns your soul. If Jesus had been seduced by riches and bowed to the devil, he would have become the devil’s slave, to control and use whenever and however he pleases. That would have made it impossible for Jesus to lay down his life for our redemption and the salvation of humanity would have been completely thwarted. Jesus looked at the devil’s offer and said ‘no’! He walked away from the temptation. He refused to be seduced by the wealth of nations. Unlike Solomon, he wasn’t moved by inordinate desire to possess every good thing his eyes saw. He had an assignment, he was on earth for a purpose and that purpose determined his choices and actions.
Jesus could have compromised himself, said yes to the devil’s offer, received the promised riches and nobody would have known the truth apart from him, the Father and the devil. People who saw his very successful and rich ministry would have thought that ‘God blessed him’, and such an assumption would have been false. Many who are leaders in the Body of Christ have compromised their calling and sold out to mammon. Their secret is known only to themselves, the devil who owns them and the Father. They have sold their soul to the enemy to receive money from questionable sources and questionable means. Bowing down to the enemy wouldn’t be a public show of allegiance to the devil, it is usually a secret thing of the heart. No one would witness this compromise. Many are completely deceived by the trappings of material and financial success with which such people surround themselves. Any preacher who tells you that money is a sign of divine approval is deceiving you. If she tells you that having mansions shows that you are blessed, she is leading you on a path of destruction. You can have lots of money but be completely out of sync with God’s purpose for your life. Having lots of money is not a sign of divine approval, if it were, then Mexican drug barons, corrupt politicians and crooked CEO’s would be approved of God because they have lots of money. This was the same lie that the devil tried to sell to Jesus but was resisted.
When a minister compromises his faith, he tells the congregation that his financial success is a sign of divine approval. It isn’t. For many years I heard a very popular preacher in Nigeria say these words: ‘you cannot argue with results.’ By this he meant that you cannot question his calling because he had ‘financial results’ in his life. What utter nonsense! The fact that he has all these trapping of success does not in any way mean that he has divine approval. The fact that he has built large churches and universities does not in any way mean that he was sent by God. The fact that he has private jets and yachts does not mean that God is with him. Money is not a sign of divine approval. Money is not a sign that you are walking with God. Money is not a sign that the message you preach is the truth. Money is not a sign that you are truly called of God. Money can be easily accessed by anyone, including the devil and his children.
For several years I believed the lie perpetrated by this man and his band of deceivers. For many years I really thought that if God was pleased with my lifestyle, He would reward me with money. I thought that not having money was a punishment for ‘breaking the commandments of God.’ I thought that if I was really pious, I would be rewarded with riches. This was preached by deceivers all around me and because I didn’t know any better I accepted what they preached as truth. Money in itself is a resource that can be accessed by absolutely anybody. Serving God will not make you rich. If it did, then the first thing Jesus would have done for his disciples was to turn every one of them into millionaires. But that never happened.
Jesus said in Matthew 7 that by their fruit you shall recognize them. It is in the fruit of their character that you recognize them. It is by the fruit seen in the lives of members of their congregation that you recognize who or what they stand for. You cannot get apples from thorns; neither can a compromised minister produce good fruits in the lives of the members of his congregation. It occurred to me that the devil’s plan was not to seduce Jesus Christ out of the ministry. No. His plan was to keep him in the ministry with a compromised soul. The plan was to own the soul of Jesus while he went through the motions of preaching the gospel and doing great things for God. Jesus would have spent his life preaching a false gospel because his real master would have been the devil. The moment he bowed down to the enemy in his heart, the enemy would own him, control him and ultimately determine what he did in his ministry and in his life. Why seduce you out of ministry when he can use you to cause the most damage in the ministry? Why remove Jesus from the ministry when he had all the skills the devil wanted in his agent: charisma, utterance, visibility, influence? Jesus was the perfect candidate for compromise. The enemy works from within. Working from without is more difficult for the enemy. Working from within is what has always brought down great organizations: plant a traitor within an organization and the damage will go unnoticed until it is too late to salvage. It is among the brethren that an impostor can cause the greatest damage. I used to think that backsliders who left the church were the dangerous ones. Boy, was I wrong. The most dangerous are the people who stand behind the pulpits, whose souls have been bought by mammon, whose hearts have been compromised by the enemy, who now do the devil’s bidding and do a lot of damage to the body of Christ.
The devil’s plan is not to scatter, destroy or bring down your ministry. He is not remotely interested in doing that. His plan is to get you to sell your soul to him for money, then he will use you to preach his own satanically diluted brand of gospel. Because people are easily deceived, when they see that you are financially successful, they will assume that it is God who gave you riches, but that would be a very wrong assumption. A compromised preacher is the most potent weapon the enemy possesses. This is a preacher who is ready to do anything for money. Such a preacher will talk about prosperity, success and breakthrough but will fail to warn you about sin and compromise. He will talk about how God wants to bless you but will never rebuke sin in your life. Having money is not a sign of divine approval because the devil also gives money to those who worship him. The devil seduces their soul with riches.
There are many who secretly worship the devil but preach from pulpits in churches. Isn’t that scary? They worship the devil but stand on pulpits every Sunday morning and preach a lie to the people. We must understand that money is not a sign of ‘divine blessing’, prosperity or breakthrough. The enemy’s game plan is simple: seduce Christian leaders with money and raise false teachers, prophets and apostles who are flamboyant and financially successful. Then he will use these agents to spread a false gospel of deception in the Body of Christ. False prophets don’t present themselves as false, rather they present themselves as genuine followers of truth, that is until you begin to carefully examine their doctrine and observe the fruits they produce both in their own lives and in the lives of their followers. These prophets will freely use the name of Jesus to preach but by their fruits you will recognize them for who they are: agents of darkness.
If money is your indices for measuring true spirituality, then you are lost.
Jesus boldly said no to the seduction of mammon. We should do the same.