The devil has certainly had fun with the “prosperity gospel.” With some clever tweaks and twists he has led many to believe that a quick profession of Jesus Christ as Lord qualifies the confessor to treat God as some kind of personal Santa Claus. This line of deception is doing far reaching damage to God’s Word in three camps: fear-based followers, baby believers, and blessing chasers. The first group has fallen prey to fear at such a deep level that they won’t claim the promises God has provided for them and even feel obligated to harshly judge those who do. The second group is suffering serious damage to their faith and understanding of God’s true nature. And the third group has been led into increased self-centeredness, greed and idolatry. It’s not every day when a single demonic tactic can cause so much collateral damage, including division in the Body of Christ!
First, I want to call out the damage being inflicted on, and by, fear-based followers. God didn’t command us to “Fear not!” and to “Let not our hearts be troubled” to be ignored. Fear in any form is a device of the devil. In direct disobedience to this instruction, believers are allowing themselves to become so afraid that they might fall into the “prosperity-gospel trap” that they aren’t willing to pursue an understanding of God’s promises any more. Believers are actually judging other believers, with no knowledge of their hearts or motives, for simply speaking the so-called “prosperity scriptures” and for trusting in what God has said. How amazing and clever that the devil now has believers doing His work—attacking their brethren who speak about the goodness of God! Plain and simple, we cannot allow God’s Word be censored in response to fear. Let’s read the whole New Testament covenant and accept it. Trust God to bring correction as He will and believe the best about fellow Christians. At the same time, be willing and able to declare the truth and reliability of scriptures like this one: “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” This scripture does NOT promise a hundred-fold return to everyone who has suffered the loss of family or possessions. Nor does it promise that acceptance of the saving grace of Jesus is an automatic sign-up for a hundredfold return for every loss in life, no matter what. We can’t command God to deliver personal enrichment nor does this promise come except with persecutions accompanying God given assignments to further His Kingdom. At the same time, anyone who hears the Word of the Lord and, in faith does as commanded, is promised a return one hundred times greater than the losses suffered– in this present life as well as eternal life to come. The hundredfold return doesn’t come to those who seek it for their personal gain…but it certainly comes, in this life, to people who have obediently done what they are told to do by Jesus. Make no mistake about it God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (as in, every moment of every day as their very top priority). Let’s not let the enemy rob us of God’s wonderful truth!
The second group, undiscipled baby believers, is easy prey for the devil too. Scriptures taken in part and out-of-context can be very effective in causing new believers to fall into condemnation—of themselves and of God. They step out onto choppy water with the promises “You shall ask whatsoever you will and you shall have it” and “Ask anything in my name, and you will receive it” and immediately find themselves—faith and all– going under. The promises didn’t fail and God didn’t fail. They got “soaked” because they didn’t know that they needed to wait for Jesus to tell them when to step out! Too little understanding of the whole counsel and character of God gives the devil many opportunities to bring accusations against the Lord and cripple His children. We must start discipling immature believers. Point out that Jesus did “only what He saw the Father do and said only what the Father said.” Let’s focus them on the phrase “without me you can do nothing” and His statement that our prayers are fulfilled to “bring glory to God.” This is NOT to say that God won’t delight His children with love gifts and special blessings because He does. But for our part, let’s teach new believers to lift their prayers to the highest level, to ask God for His will and how He wants us to pray, and to trust Him to answer in perfect timing with every provision needed.
And finally, there are the blessing-chasers who have been indoctrinated with a heavy dose of new age and secular thinking. Unfortunately some of these folks are in churches, actively trying to bring in these secular viewpoints to improve upon God’s word. Following after the peddlers of the “Law of Attraction” and various gurus of positive thought, they are drinking from a dirty river far down stream of the actual source. They think they’ve discovered something God isn’t telling His children! The truth is that God, who created this planet, filled it with abundance, established the law of sowing and reaping, and continues to cover it with His generosity. So, by God’s design generous people will reap generosity and random acts of kindness will produce a return of kindness from surprising source, for believers and unbelievers alike. But, blessing-chasers seeking after self-gain, comfort and pleasures will reap the consequences of idol worship (for that is what self-centeredness is!) because the devil “rewards” people too. That’s why lottery winners frequently become destitute; windfalls of money lead to drug addictions and marital infidelity; and wealthy people often end up alone, depressed and empty. The source of the problem is NOT prosperity— it’s a lack of character and obedience to God. These are the prerequisites human beings need in order to be equipped to handle wealth and prosperity successfully. It is only “The blessing of the Lord makes rich and He adds no sorrow to it.”(Proverbs 10:22) The world has nothing that compares to the prosperity that God delights in for His servants …not even close!
Bottom line, it’s time to stop cooperating with the devil and reclaim God’s promises related to His generous nature. Let’s drive fear and judgment about prosperity out of the Body of Christ, train up new believers in the whole counsel of God, and confront the blessing-chasers with the requirements of self-surrender and obedience. Let’s make sure that anyone who comes to Jesus expecting just to “take and profit” is introduced to the real gospel message. They need to know that accepting Jesus as Savior means accepting Him as Lord too. This is not a cheap prize we’re talking about; it’s the pearl of great price that requires the surrender of all we’ve got for the rest of our lives in exchange for all He is!