The following doctrine is an attempt to illustrate the correlation between money, deception, and church. And it contends that the forces of evil play an active roll in the process of deception.
If we read Joshua 9:1-25 we see here the Gibeonites deceive the children of Israel into a peace agreement by telling lies and offering them a good bargain. In verse 9 we see that they came in the name of the Lord and in verse 14 they didn't seek God's counsel because they assumed such a blessing came from the Lord. These same tactics are used by the devil to get Christians into compromise and the same 3 Factors always apply:
1 A peace agreement...("make a league with us" v.6)
2 A good bargain...("we are your servants" v.8)
3 Deception...( they did work wilily, v.4)
The children of Israel knew how to overcome their enemies when they attacked in battle, but when the enemy came to them offering themselves and telling lies they were defeated in their cause. An example of this in the New Testament is found in the Laodicean church:
Rev. 3:14-18. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
v15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot.
v16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
v17 Because 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:
v18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.
The three factors present in Joshua 9 are present in the Laodicean church:
1 A peace agreement...("thou art lukewarm v16)"
2 A good bargain...("I am rich and increased with goods" v17)
3 Deception...("anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see." v18)
Jesus told them to anoint their eyes with eye-salve because they saw things differently to him... They attributed all their wealth as coming from the hand of God, when in fact they were deceived. The fact is the devil doesn't want to invest in God's people but when the conditions are right he will. What are the conditions? There is an old saying that goes, "You can tell which way the wind has blown, by the way that the tree has grown." And the Laodicean church had obviously been enjoying the cool breeze of prosperity, so much so the effect was not good.
First condition: To save his own concerns. e.g. Luke 14:31-32. It is a fact of war.
v31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
v32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
When God's people are obedient there is no limit to what they can achieve; just look at what Joshua's army was doing at that point in time. And today the same opportunities exist for anyone who is prepared to obey God. The devil is scared of such obedient Christians and will seek peace by way of an investment. But in order to do this he must convince them that it is God at work and not him. (He does some dressing up for the occasion like the Gibeonites in our example and tells some lies.) In the explanation of the "parable of the sower," Jesus reveals the three tricks the devil uses to accomplish his work. Matt. 13:19-22
1st - He snatches away the word from people's hearts so they can't be born again. v19.
2nd - Tribulation and persecution. v20-21. (Many fall away)
3rd - He deceives using riches and chokes the word. v22.
Millions, perhaps billions of people hear the word, but only a small percentage believe and get their sins forgiven. 1st round won.
Upon this small percentage the devil brings all types of trials, tribulations and persecutions and many fall away. 2nd round has many casualties.
But the ones left still serving the Lord after all this are in a similar position to Joshua's, (in our example) and these will be tempted in a similar way. Joshua had come out of Egypt. 1st round. Then endured 40 hard years in the wilderness. 2nd round (Heb. 3:17 many casualties). As he entered Canaan his enemies knew there was no chance to defeat his army in battle so they tried something else.
So the answer to the question "What are the conditions?" is: The devil is forced into investing in God's people. It's his final option.
Another example of this truth is found in King Solomon's life, at the height of his prosperity he received 666 talents of gold.
1Kings 10:14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold. The signature is unmistakable, and the effects undeniable. Getting back to the previous question, "What are the conditions?" I think there are other factors involved not easily defined.
You asked for it. Loosely speaking, I will try to explain that from a different approach. In pursuing these thoughts the question arises: what happens when a good bargain comes along? Is it from the devil or is it from God? Sounds strange does't it. Most of us are just ready to jump at bargains. The Bible says lots of things that are relevant to this let's look at some.
The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. Prov.10:22
The blessing of the devil, it maketh rich, and it cometh with three strings attached designed to undo and destroy the work of God in us and around us. (The moth, rust and the thief. More on this in a minute) God's blessings maketh rich and add no sorrow for us to enjoy and to share with others, and all partakers are blessed. Solomon said it is the gift of God Ecc.3:13. But if we step outside of God's boundaries we enter into dangerous territory. And if we cross God's limits in material things we get tempted and caught in sin.
Question) What are the material boundary's set by God for his people?
Answer) 1Tim.6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
God has made it possible for us to be content with only food and clothing, but it's no sin to have extra. However, sometimes the extra creates discontentment...That's dangerous. The point is this. We always have more food than we can eat, and we always have more clothes than we can wear, but we are not always contented.
Question) So where does discontentment come from in a child of God?
Answer) Uncrucified self.
The more we accumulate the harder it seems to crucify self. Self becomes like a vacuum that is never satisfied. How hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. If we profess to be crucified with Christ and are in a state of discontentment then we become possible targets of the temptation we are looking at. I said possible...
Eph.2:2 This verse reveals a universal truth: ...the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. To this I say, any Christian that has an area of disobedience in their lives has a spirit at work in that particular area although they may not be aware of it. The devil knows a good investment when he sees one and may choose this option. The devil knows our blind spots, we don't. As we progress in our pilgrimage we discover our own blind spots. This is one thing the Holy Spirit does, as He brings us into all truth. If we ignore or disobey the revelation of God in our lives we become easy targets for a good marksman.
And in summing up the question, what conditions are necessary to make the devil invest in God's people? The conclusions are:
First Condition: Forced into it.
Second Condition: You asked for it.
The thorns that choke the word are sown in the fertile ground of discontentment and for many, getting a loan is like sowing the seed that chokes the word. (Did I say loan?) Back to the question about good bargains, where from? The ~blessing~ of the devil comes with three strings attached. Matt. 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. Just to be clear, the three strings I mentioned are the moth, the rust, and the thief.
It doesn't require much effort on the devil's behalf to convince most Christians to start laying up treasures. However, in doing this the heart becomes attached to them and becomes exposed to the same corruptions as the treasure. Our hearts become moth-eaten and rusty at first and eventually, if nothing is done, the thief makes his mark. (This process may take many years.) The apostle Paul described this condition in 1Tim. 6:10:
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. What are the "many sorrows" that have pierced them? It's their attachment to their possessions and their inability to part with them. A classic example of this is found in Matt: 19:16-22. The rich young man left Jesus very sorrowful because he couldn't leave his possessions. The prosperity message is so unbalanced because but no one mentions the dangers involved and Jesus said it is dangerous. Mar 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? We don't hear again from the rich young man in the gospel, I hope he saw the true riches in Jesus Christ and managed to do what the Lord said. Some warn of the perils of debt, but mostly they only warn against too much debt and the dangers of what can go wrong. Almost nobody warns against the dangers of what happens when the debt goes right. Your heart has become attached to the debt, and is exposed to the same perils.
Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Covetousness goes largely unchecked in many [western] churches today, it is tolerated and sometimes even surreptitiously encouraged. The prosperity-gospel seems to have gotten worse over the years. What I mean is that it has become more lop-sided over the years than when it begun. And it seems to have found its way into many different denominations, just tailored differently. But by presenting only one side of a certain topic, an imbalance is created that if not corrected becomes very deceptive, as is the case today with many of the prosperity gospel's disciples and their doctrines.
It's interesting to note that Jesus never taught anyone to pay tithes, the only time[s] Jesus mentioned tithing was when rebuking the Pharisees for neglecting more important matters Matt. 23:23. Funny how some things stay the same.
Getting back to loans. 2Sam. 21:1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites. 2 And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)
In these verses we find God honouring the agreement between the Gibeonites and the Israelites. It had nothing to do with David or Saul, but nevertheless God wont break our agreements with the world. We have to. Don't think that God will break the terms and conditions of the loan agreement you have signed. A deal is a deal; many enter loan agreements without understanding that to be separate from the world must exclude such agreements. In general the Church doesn't teach this; however, careful study of the scripture reveals its truth. How sad it would be to miss out with God because of material things when God has already promised to supply all our needs.
Debt is always spoken poorly of in the Bible. There are many other examples in the OT about debt. Here is some of what Paul had to say:
Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon on debt:
“Scripture says, Owe no man anything, which does not mean pay your debts, but never have any to pay. My opinion is, that those who break this law ought to be turned out of the Christian church.”
If you understand redemption, and know that you have been bought with a [very high] price, how can you sign your life away to a mortgage?
Finally, if you made it this far you might be wondering what has all this to do with the conqueror. Allow me to explain the overlap here. Deception and wealth have a tendency to go hand in hand. I have attempted to document this, Bunyan did a better job than me. But in Bunyan's day [1628 - 1688] there was no such thing as fiat money. In Bunyan's day all the money was gold or silver, as it was for most of human history. Fiat money is created by bankers and politicians.
Today  the current modern economic system is the bastard child of politicians and bankers, our money represents debt and it is backed by the enforcement of our legal tender laws, all errors of judgement are picked up by the tax-payer via inflation. If you wish to pursue this further I recommend you ignore the politics, and ignore the economics, and pursue the words of our Lord Jesus. This life is short, His promise is eternal. Politics is evil, and economics is boring. True riches are in Christ Jesus the soon coming King.
P.S. I've since discovered that some sacred cows in the Church had their beginnings as Trojan horses. For further reading on this topic I recommend the book Holy War by John Bunyan.
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