Friday, 24 July 2015

What the Church needs to know about the spirit of Mammon

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 (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

Fulfilling the Great Commission involves reproving evil

The role of the Church, of which the true abolitionists are a part of, is to preach the Gospel, and teach people to obey the commandments of Christ. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus did not only tell the disciples to preach the Gospel and baptise people. He made to clear that this involves teaching people whatever He commanded His disciples:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:19-20).

Throughout the Old and the New Testaments, the people of God were commanded by God to fight evil, and expose works of darkness. Ephesians 5:11 is a command to the Church to take no part in works of darkness, but rather expose them (Ephesians 5:11). It is not a choice or suggestion, but a command that the Christian must obey to be counted worthy.

Reproving evil need not necessarily mean that one must take to the streets to protest, hand out posters exposing evil, or writing articles. It can be absolutely any act that resists evil, and shines the light of Christ on the evil. As long as one acts in a way that challenges evil in the Name of Jesus Christ, one is obeying the Ephesians 5:11 mandate. Proverbs 28:4 explains that “They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them”. This is the spirit of the mandate of Ephesians 5:11 which commands the Church to contest with evil, by seeking first the righteousness of God: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

Jesus’ command to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” in Matthew 6:33 needs to be understood by the Church if it is to reprove works of darkness, a part of the Great Commission.  Jesus was explaining to His followers that no one can serve both God and mammon in Matthew 6:24-34.

Exposition of Matthew 6:24-34

In Matthew 6:24, He states that “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.” He means what He says literally: no one, absolutely no one can serve God and mammon. It is impossible to serve both God and mammon.

Jesus then explains what it means to try to serve God and mammon as indicated by the word ‘therefore’ in Matthew 6:25, in which He says: “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?” That Jesus commands people to ‘take no thought’ of the temporal earthly things he has listed implies that to be anxious about such obtaining things is to be serving mammon.

It must be noted, however, that simply because a person is anxious about obtaining earthly needs does not mean the person is unsaved. It is that such a person is acting as though he was an unsaved person as Matthew 6:32 explains: “(For after all these things [what to eat, drink and wear as listed Matthew 6:31] do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things”. Crucially, it must be noted that the things Jesus is telling His followers not to take thought of in Matthew 6:25 are not sinful, wicked or evil things in themselves. They are legitimate human needs such as food, drink and clothing; basic human needs.  What Jesus is saying is that it is wrong to be anxious about one’s needs, regardless of what they are.

Jesus rebuked His followers who were anxious about obtaining their basic needs, legitimate human needs for their anxiety in seeking such needs in Matthew 6:26-30. In Matthew 6:26, Jesus tells the people that God feeds even the birds. He follows this with the question “are ye not much better than they?” which is to imply that if God feeds even the birds, how much more will He feed even His followers. In Matthew 6:28-30, He rebukes the people about their anxiety for clothing, by asking a question in Matthew 6:30 analogous to that in Matthew 6:26: “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?”

Critically in Matthew 6:30, He rebukes the people as “people of little faith”. This was because they were anxious about temporal, earthly needs. They had “little faith” by failing to fully trust that God will provide. Jesus then instructs the people on how to not be people of “little faith” as indicated by the use of the word ‘therefore’ in Matthew 6:31: “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? Jesus explained in Matthew 6:32 that to seek after such earthly things is to act like the unsaved who are earthly and faithless: “(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things”.

Jesus so far had given two commands in the passage we have considered, Matthew 6:24-34. The first, is that no one can serve both God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). The second is to not be anxious about earthly needs (Matthew 6:25,31). Jesus then gives a third command in Matthew 6:33 which says “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

It must be noted that the important word ‘but’ is used as a connector from Matthew 6:24-32, to Matthew 6:33-34.  That the word ‘but’ is used as the first word of Matthew 6:33 indicates that the two ideas being connected together are inconsistent, incongruent, contradictory or opposed. The two ideas concerned in Matthew 6:24-34 are being anxious for earthly needs, and seeking first the righteousness of God. The word ‘but’ in Matthew 6:33 indicates that being anxious for earthly needs is inconsistent, contradictory or the opposite of seeking first the righteousness of God. This is where the point of contention often occurs, in which it is asked whether the contradiction between the two are absolute, partial or situational.

From Matthew 6:24 which says 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”, it can be inferred that ‘but’ in Matthew 6:33 means that being anxious about earthly needs and seeking first the righteousness of God are diametrically opposed to each other – absolutely opposed to each other with no middle ground or third way.

The spirit of mammon has crept into the Church

Just as many Israelites in the Old Testaments attempted to serve both God and Baal, many in the 21st century Church (or modern Church), are attempting to serve both God and mammon. Many true Christians find this truth about the modern Church hard to accept, confusing, or an impossibility.  There are several commonly made objections to this claim which the author shall address.

1.      There is no such thing an evil spirit called the spirit of mammon.

This is an extremely foolish objection. There are a such thing as evil spirits, demons who do seek to blind people, both the saved and unsaved into thinking a sin they are committing, is a not a sin, but rather, a legitimate act. Why would a demon not want to seduce Christians into sin? If a demon was not seeking to blind and seduce Christians into sin, it would not be a demon.  Sacrificing to idols, which the human heart is naturally inclined to worship, is itself to sacrifice to demons: But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils (1 Corinthians 10:20). Thus, worshipping idols is to worship demons, and being seduced by idols, is to be seduced by a demon or demons behind it.

2.      What is being called the ‘spirit of mammon’ are really the sins of the human heart which are greed, pride, envy, hate, jealousy, and covetousness.

While it is absolutely true that the sins of the human heart such as greed and envy lead to certain manifestations, the role that a demon, whom it is appropriate to call the spirit of mammon, plays a role in blind and seducing both the unsaved and saved into such sins. It is because of the sins of the human heart that the spirit of mammon is able to dominate people, or, in the case of the true Christian, influence people, and hence to make them ‘under the spirit of mammon’. The true Christian can be under the spirit of mammon if he or fails to fully trust in God to provide all his needs, and as a result, become anxious and seek earthly needs.

3.      Those who are seeking to serve mammon are not true Christians.

Such a statement is a loaded one which must be considered very carefully. It is a “bait” used by Christians who cannot accept the statement that many in the modern Church are under the spirit of mammon. It is a trap used by satan to stir up Christians to fight each other for it has much potential to confuse people. Where there is confusion, there is satan.

The phrase to ‘serve mammon’ must be considered with extreme caution. One meaning of ‘serving mammon’ can mean to live and devote oneself to serving him, through serving oneself.  Those who are seeking to serve themselves, and not God are definitely carnal people for “He [Jesus] died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15). This is very clear.  

The other meaning of ‘serving mammon’ can mean to attempt to compromise with God. This is an extremely dangerous thing both for the true convert seeking to make this compromise with God, and the followers of Christ around this. Such compromise is a snare, not only for the true convert who seeks to do this, but also the Christians around him. This compromise with God is done by rightly seeking to worship Him, knowing that He is to be worshipped, but yet still seeking one’s earthly needs, and therefore, not seek first the righteousness of God. Seeking one’s earthly needs is to be anxious about such needs, a violation of Jesus’ command, not opinion, advice or suggestion, but command in Matthew 6:25.  

A person is either of two positions in relation to God; either to serve God or to serve mammon. However, many in the modern Church, the true 21st century Christendom, think that there can be a middle ground, or a compromise, and would like a middle ground to be available. As such, they cling to the deception, that such a compromise can be made. No! Such a compromise is worse, far worse, than seeking to serve mammon outright, boldly defying God and serving mammon like those who profess to hate and reject God.

No! Do not be deceived, there is no middle ground: you either serve God or mammon. Jesus made it very clear that He is especially angered by the lukewarm church in Laodicea.  The lukewarm church is the one full of compromises, being neither hot or cold (Revelation 3:16). It the one which Jesus describes to think itself rich and in need of nothing: “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” (Revelation 3:17). The name ‘Laocidea’ comes from the words ‘lao’ which means ‘laity’ and ‘dice’ which means ‘rule’. Thus, Laocidea means a church ruled by people. It is a church independent of God, thinking it need not rely on God for earthly needs, trusting only in its own strength, wealth and power.

You may argue that this is exactly what it means that such people are not true Christians. A true Christian can fall into gross sin and carnality, as was the case of the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians; 2 Corinthians).  The true Christian can fall into any sin. The question here is not what sins a person commits that determines whether he is a true convert, but whether it is habitual sin or not habitual. If he is habitually sinning and cares not that he offends God, he is a lost person, and if he claims to follow Christ, he is a liar. The true convert who is seeking to compromise with God in terms of serving God and mammon, is different. He cares about whether he has sinned or not, and his sin is not habitual, but rather besetting. As he is seeking to kill his besetting sins, is it not surprise a demon, such as spirit of mammon seeks to stop him from doing so?

Many in the modern Church are like the church of Laodicea. Thus, Revelation 3 provides a key to answering whether people making compromises with serving God and mammon are true Christians or not. In Revelation 3:19, Jesus says “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” That Jesus uses the word ‘chasten’ is very significant. It is the word used in Hebrews 12:5-8 which explains the difference between a true convert and lost person with respect to God’s chastening:

 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

It explains that if one is not chastened by God, one is not his child, but an unsaved person. This means that if one is chasten by God, one is his child. That Jesus chastens the church of Laodicea indicates that they are not lost people, but saved people, despite being lukewarm, and independent of God.

Fulfilling the Great Commission as Christ commanded

Understanding who the spirit of mammon is, and how he seeks to seduce the true Christian is crucial for the Church is obey Jesus’ command to fulfil the Great Commission. As long as one is anxious to the slightest for one’s earthly needs, one cannot seek first the righteousness of God. Thus, one cannot be effective for God in fulfilling the Great Commission