Monday, 16 March 2015

Losing your first love is to succumb to mammon

Christians who deny that there is an evil spirit behind blindness to sin, whether in the unsaved or the true Christian need to read 1 John 4:1-3:

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.
A church that succumbs to mammon, and therefore are under his influence, is one that is made weak, ineffective to God. It is useless to God. This is because it has lost its first love for God like the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7:

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

There is no indication that the church of Ephesus was given over to false doctrines and teachers. They laboured for Christ like the many Christians who are active in their church and who give much of their time and money to serving God in their church. However, Jesus rebukes them for losing their first love. Their love for Jesus had cooled and lost its fervency. 
How did this happen? What causes a church who is active for Christ to loose its love, you may ask?

Some of you may be quick to say "unrighteousness, of course" as what one modern evangelical said dismissively regarding barriers to the Gospel. This is true, however, it is not the necessarily the greatest barrier for each unregenerate person, some of whom who do seek to follow the 10 Commandments, and are content with what they have, in the earthly sense of course. All are born cut off from God because God makes that to be the case. 

Not every unsaved person is like the degenerate person of the west who fornicates, commits adultery, protests against pornography out of pure selfishness, and of course, support homosexuality. Indeed, some unsaved people can be very content with what they have, such as the poor in Africa who have not heard the Gospel but very content with what they have. They may be only focused on earthly means to help their families, but they are not greedy. Of course, they do not seek after God, but they are not degenerate like the typical westerner of the 21st century - reveling in a debauchery, loving sexual immorality, and seeking to impose their moral standards of immorality on others. Yes, the secular unsaved westerner does impose his views on others - his immoral values. Not all unsaved people approve of abortion, homosexuality, adultery or even fornication as some calvinists seem to make it out to be.

Someone once said that it does not matter how spiritual something is, as long as it does not drive you closer to God, it is idolatry. Indeed, church work, ministry work or even evangelism can become an idol. These things are spiritual, concerning the spiritual life of others, seeking to save lost souls. However, if they are done just to satisfy yourself, or be comfortable with your flesh, despite how spiritual and anti-earthliness these things are, it is idolatry. As long as something is not done to serve God, but just for yourself, it is idolatry. This is by no means saying you cannot enjoy doing things that are truly done to serve God. Rather, it is to explain that as long as it is to satisfy yourself - your heart, your soul and your mind, it is idolatry. Idolatry is the antithesis to giving up all of one's soul, heart, mind, spirit and strength to God. All glory is due to God. 

The Greatest Commandment is to "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27). To fail to do this even in the slightest bit is to commit idolatry. Jesus said that no one can serve both God and mammon, not God and the devil, God and sin. He said that a person will hate one and love the other (Matthew 6:24). This literally means that there are only two type of people: those who love God and therefore hate mammon, or those who hate God and therefore love mammon.  If you love God, you will therefore hate mammon. If you hate God, you will therefore love mammon. Loving God itself is the hatred of mammon. Hating God itself is the love of mammon.

The unsaved who are very content with the material things they have and are not greedy are under the spirit of mammon and serving him, by the very fact that they do not love God. Failing to love God itself is to be serve mammon. The true Christian can be under the spirit of mammon, that is to be under his influence. Pastor Tim Conway from I'll be Honest once said he believes everyone in his church is influenced by the world in some way or another. Pastor Paul Washer once said to a group of Christians that all of us, have been stained by the world. Indeed, a true Christian can be influenced by the world's ways and systems which are of the devil. Thus, a Christian can be under the spirit of mammon which simply means to be influenced by him and succumb to him, although not serving him or trying not to serve him.

To succumb to mammon is to yield to his temptations to serve him. Mammon wants to be served. He demands it. He is not a merely personification of greed. Rather, he seek to tempt people by making them anxious for their "basic material needs". He feeds on the carnal human flesh and he tries to feed on the flesh of the Christian which is still an enemy to the Christian despite putting it to death (2 Corinthians 5:17). Why would mammon not want to feed on the flesh of the Christian? Feed on the flesh of the Christian will kill his zeal for serving God, loving God and seeking to save the lost souls. 

Mammon precisely tries to blind and feed on the flesh of the Christian. He makes them think he need not give up all he has to serve God. To give up all one has to serve God is not to deliberately make oneself homeless or poor. Rather it is live with all one has as though one does not have these things. It is to live as though you have no earthly things because you have Christ alone. For the Christian has no earthly things in the true spiritual sense because they are now nothing to him. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ (Philippians 3:8). The Christian should be able to say "I count all these things rubbish" whole-heartedly and unashamedly.

Only when one has truly fervent and a deep first love for God is one able to resist mammon is his temptations. The Christian is no different. If he has lost his first love for God, he will succumb to mammon and be under his influence. No one can serve both God and mammon.