Saturday, 28 June 2014

Response to an Inquirer about 'Money is Filthy Lucre'

The following is Anti Mammon Conquerors' response to an inquirer about our post Money is Filthy Lucre. The comments from the person is in purple. Our response is interspersed between the paragraphs in purple text. We have decided to publish it to clarify for our readers what is meant by the spirit of mammon and why money is a danger to the soul.

[It’s good that you explain what you mean by ‘the spirit of mammon’, this was something I was wondering about – though I’d like to ask, where do you find that in the Bible? ]

Have you read Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”? The Christian is a soldier in a spiritual battle. 1 John 2:15-17 makes it clear that that from the world and that from God are diametrically opposed to each other. It lists everything in the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 

[We are warned that we cannot serve God and Mammon, but this is all that the Bible says, and there is nothing that I can find about a spirit of mammon or such like. You seem to be proposing two different, and not complementary, things. ]

There is a spiritual world out there as you know. Satan roams the world. He is real as I assume you accept and he works to tempt people. Many Christians seem to neglect this reality. Satan is described in the Bible as the prince of the world. The world is his and he owns the people who are not in Christ. They are controlled by him and they serve him because they are in rebellion against God. So, I am referring to mammon which is a spirit that operates behind money in this world. They are not merely complementary, they are together as one in the spiritual dimension.

[On the one hand, you essentially seem to say that money is evil in itself and that we should have as little as possible to do with it - that the Bible warns repeatedly against money itself.]

I do indeed make the distinction between money as a physical object and money as a spiritual object in the series of posts of which this post is a part of. Money has both physical and spiritual dimension to it. As a physical object, it is something that can be remoulded, burned, thrown down the drain, thrown onto a train track or flushed down the toilet. As a spiritual object, it tempts all people into greed and materialism. That is why Jesus warns about it, not because of its use, but because of how the spirit of mammon uses it to control people to serve sin. This is a great Bible study by Tim Conway: that explains this. I strongly urge you to watch it.

[I do not think this is Biblically accurate, for money is just a tool, and it is the misuse of money which is warned against. ]

This is a statement which is leads people down the slippery slope. I am not saying this criticise you, but to warn against the spirit of mammon. It is this statement which satan twists to tempt and trap Christians into being under the spirit of mammon.

[In fact, money is mentioned in a positive way several times in the Bible: in Jesus’ parables, money is sometimes something desirable/to be used (e.g. Mt. 25:14-30; Lk 18:8-10); Ecc 5:19shows wealth is a gift from God, though the context shows we should remember it is temporal; righteous wealth is a good thing in the psalms and proverbs, in general; interestingly ‘money’ in Acts is either translated from a word meaning ‘silvery stuff’ or ‘something useful or needed’.]

The word ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ are relative terms that come from secular psychology. I’m not saying that you are sinning by using these terms, but it is important to be very careful when using terms from secular doctrines such as ‘positive’ and ‘negative. Christians should avoid the word positive when talking about the Bible. This is because this word is a relativistic one, and the Bible is not relativistic, nor one of neutrality. The Bible is a book of absolutes. Thus, you say that money is mentioned positively in the Bible, it is your opinion about money and that you are reading in money as something positive as per the Bible. The Parable of the Talents is not about gaining money not does it justify investment. It is about using God-given resources to build His Kingdom. Hillsong has twisted the Bible to say that people need more money to build the Kingdom of God. This is very deceptive. This statement at its root or at its core is about gaining more money to use human efforts to build the Kingdom of God, rather than relying on God and waiting for God to give one what one needs.

[On the other hand, I strongly agree with you that it’s not about the amount of money one has, but about the attitude towards money. The main negative references to money that I would find were against the love of money (1 Ti6:10), mammon (which is ‘confidence (fig. wealth) personified’, so greed) and lucre, which also refers to love of gain/money (1 Ti 3:3,8; Tit 1:7). There are also things like the rich young ruler in Lk 18, where he could not follow Jesus because he was too attached to his wealth. So yes, plainly speaking, putting money or anything else above God or placing your trust in it is idolatry. ]

Jesus also said that where your heart is, there you treasure is also (Luke 12:34). The spirit of idolatry is extremely subtle. What I mean by spirit is the evil temptations around us that come from satan. Satan puts thoughts in our minds and uses our emotions to tempt people into sin. I will examine this in another post of and ‘Anti Mammon and Usury Conquerors’. Make sure you watch: which exposes satan’s plot on the Church.
[This does not mean that we should forsake the use of money though – as I said before, it is but a tool to standardise the bartering process. ]

I am not saying we should forsake the use of money. That money is needed to be used does not mean that it is has not evil spiritual dimension behind it.  

[Though money itself is not evil, and it need not be shunned, making it your treasure and idolising it is.]

To run from the temptation to idolise it, one must reject money that is not given by God. Thus, one must set one’s mind on the things above and not on the things below on earth.  

 [I fear that I do not think those two views are compatible, for either you must reject money completely, or realise (as Paul did with the Greek poets) that though money can be twisted to bad use and must not be placed above God, it can be used for good and can be a gift from God. ]

Money is an enigmatic thing. On one hand, it is needed to be used in the world, but for only a mere means of survival. Jesus told satan that “thou shalt not live by bread alone” when satan told him to “turn these stones into bread if you are Son of God”. Satan tempted Jesus to give into lust for the flesh, that is, to serve one’s needs. As long as one is serving one’s needs above God or even seeking to do so, one is under the spirit of mammon. Satan has caught that person.

[I also agree with your concerns about what seems (in the way you say it) to have the potential to encourage the prosperity gospel – that God should bless us with wealth. This is absolutely not true, and I think the second view of yours addresses this: we should not really care about how much money we have except in being wise and responsible with what God gives us, and rather just be content in that He will provide. ]

The prosperity gospel, by saying that God should bless us with wealth, or even our basic needs is to lower God down and elevate the status of man. The prosperity gospel has a high view of man and a low view of God. It is a man-centred “gospel” which is not the gospel at all. It is extremely subtle and has swept through the modern church.

[I still believe there’s nothing wrong with trusting that God will provide what we need, as is His will (He promises to: Mt 6:31-34). ]
I am not saying that it is wrong to trust God at all. Rather, I am saying that the spirit of mammon tempts people to put their trust is money or mammon instead of God. Trusting and obeying God is a must above all things to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Both trusting and obeying, not one but both trusting and obeying. Obeying God is what one must do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Matthew 7:21 warns us: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” One must strive through the narrow Gate. The Greek word for strive is ag√≥nizomai which means to agonise. One must agonise to get into the Narrow Gate who is Jesus. This means that one must absolutely run from anything that seeks to lead one into sin, such as lust for money. Money has a spirit behind it that seeks to control people into thinking they need more.

[This is not that we can claim from God what we want (which you imply in the objection), but that He provides what He knows is needed, as you said. Finally, I will add that I think the rebuke about monasticism was possibly to ask whether you are being consistent in what you say. If money is objectively evil, and we are to abstain from all evil (1 Th 5:22), then to be consistent, we must abstain from money and withdraw from the world. Just some thoughts I had, hope they are edifying :) ]

The rebuke about monasticism was made by someone who used the Matthew 19:23-26 where Jesus said that it is not impossible for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven in God’s strength to argue against the statement that mammon tempts to lead people away from God. His rebuke was not a Biblical one as it was done defensively and in his own pride to accept the warning about mammon.  The Bible clearly tells us we are not to be of the world for if anyone is of the world, the love of the Father is not is Him. We are to abstain from the world, which means we are to run from what is evil. What makes money enigmatic is that it has a physical dimension that is harmless, but a spiritual one that seeks to lead people to Hell. The word ‘money’ can refer to the physical or spiritual dimension. Here, you are referring to the physical dimension. Hence, my strong warnings about the spirit of mammon in the blog