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TITLE: DO YOU LOVE THE "THINGS" OF THIS WORLD?
Subtitle: Materialism Is A Curse Upon Christianity
I am convinced that most Christians are wrong in their concept of Satan. They view him in the same context as did those of medieval times--a hideous creature that has hooves, horns, and spends his time shovelling coal into the furnaces of hell. But this mental image is not consistent with what the Bible tells us about him. As a matter of fact, the apostle Paul tells us that he and his ministers transform themselves into angels of light and ministers of righteousness:
"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" 2 Cor. 11:14-15 (KJV)
There is an old maxim that states "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar." And Satan's main tactic is to entice people, not scare them to death. That was certainly his modus operandi in the Garden of Eden when he manipulated Eve into breaking God's only prophibition. He appealed to her senses and convinced her that partaking of the forbidden fruit was the logical thing to do! Yes, Satan's main role is that of a tempter and we see this vividly demonstrated in his interaction with the Lord during His wilderness experience.
"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.  And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.  And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,  And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.  Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.  Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;  And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.  Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.  Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him" Matthew 4:1-11 (KJV, emphasis mine).
The Greek word translated "tempt", "tempted",
and "tempter" is peirazo, Greek 3985, Strong’s #3985
peirazo, pi-rad'-zo; from Greek 3984 (peira); to test (object), i.e. endeavor, scrutinize, entice, discipline :- assay, examine, go about, prove, tempt (-er), try. (emphasis mine).
And I believe the difference between "test" and "temptation" is determined by God's sovereign will. He tempts no one to do evil (James 1:13), but He certainly allows Satan to do so as a test of His children. He even allowed Satan to test/tempt His own beloved Son in the wilderness. The Lord had been fasting for forty days and nights and, as a result, was in a state of extreme physical weakness. His hunger was intense and the temptation to prove He was the Messiah of Israel by working a miracle and making bread from the stones to feed Himself was nothing less than diabolical. But the Lord met that temptation with Scripture and passed the test. But Satan is not easily dissuaded and immediately attacked from another direction by tempting the Lord to prove His credentials by working another miracle--casting Himself from the lofty height and requiring the angels to save Him from death. Once again, the temptation was answered by Scripture and the test passed. Then in desperation Satan gave it his "best shot" and tempted the Lord to avoid death on the cross by giving Him the "kingdoms of the world and the glory of them." You see, that was not an idle boast on Satan's part. The Bible tells us that he is the "god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4) and has been allowed a certain amount of control over it. But the Lord also passed this final test by quoting Scripture and then told the devil to leave Him alone. Immediately thereafter, angels came and ministered to His needs. Was the temptation legitimate? Absolutely, because of the Lord's humanity! His deity could not be tempted to sin, but His humanity was "....in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). So when (not if) temptation confronts us, we must respond by taking refuge in God's Word and refuse to yield.
When most of us take time to consider the subject of temptation, more often than not our minds immediately focus on the most negative aspects of it. The image that comes to mind is usually that of Satan whispering seductively in our ear to entice us to commit some "big" sin such as lying, cheating, stealing, sexual immorality, etc., or even murder, but most mature Christians have little trouble in resisting such things. So what tactics, or "wiles of the devil" (Eph.6:11), does he use on those who are wearing the armor of the Spirit (Eph.6:13)? To answer that question, allow me to ask another. Do you consider idolatry a "big" sin--worshipping something or someone other than the Lord Jesus Christ? I think most of us will quickly agree that particular sin is pretty big! Yet how many among us realize that we are often guilty? I highlighted the word "worshipping" because I am convinced that, judging by their actions, many Christians do not fully understand its meaning. The etymology comes from the old English weoroscipe, in which the prefix weoro means "worth." To worship then, is to actively acknowledge the supreme worth of the object being adored. So when we allow anything to occupy a higher position of worth in our lives than Jesus Christ, we immediately beome guilty of idolatry. And need I remind us all that under Old Testament Law this sin was punishable by death?
How long must this transfer of total allegiance last before it becomes sin? About as long as it took Eve to die spiritually after eating the forbidden fruit! It takes place instantaneously. "But what if I do not realize it has happened?" Aha! This is the area of deception in which the devil excels. You see, our depraved and fallen nature takes to sin like a little boy does a mud puddle and all Satan has to do is keep us "feeling good." We are creatures who seek gratification constantly and if you doubt this, ask yourself the next time you get ravenously hungry--"Do I just want something to satisfy my hunger, or something that really tastes good?" A jam sandwich (two pieces of bread jammed together) and a glass of water will usually do the trick, but oooh a thick juicy rib-eye steak would be a whole lot better. Right? Beloved, for some of us that rib-eye steak often becomes a idol. Many of us place food ahead of Christ on Sunday mornings when we just cannot wait for the preacher to shut up and say "Amen" so we can get home, kick off our shoes, and chow down while watching football on TV. If someone who professed adoration treated you in that manner, how would you feel?
The intent of a "worship service" is, and always has been, to honor God and to express our gratitude and devotion to Him by acknowledging His infinite worth. It is supposed to be a time of total focus upon our Creator and Savior--a time of giving to Him of our time, talent, and treasury. It is supposed to be a time of remembrance with prayer and praise. In other words, its purpose is to direct our spiritual thoughts and energies toward God with no emphasis upon us. But how many go to Church with that attitude? If most would but admit it, they go to Church to be entertained--to receive something in compensation for their sacrifice of time. If the preacher does not consistently stir their emotions with his pulpit oratory, they leave feeling cheated. Of course a Pastor must make every effort to feed God's sheep from the Word of God, but many times the food is such that good teeth are required. It must be thoroughly chewed and digested to derive its "nutritional" value. Often it is a "dish" that is not one of our favorites, but is good for us and we need to eat a proper portion of it to remain healthy. Mature Christians understand this, but even they are often guilty of "getting the cart before the horse" by failing to truly worship because consciously or not, they are wanting to receive and not give. And this shift of emphasis--usually very subtle and not easily recognized--places self ahead of Christ and becomes an idol to us. Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5, 34:14; Deut.4:24, 5:9, 6:15; Joshua 24:19) and rightly demands 100% of our love and devotion. That means self and Christ are mutually exclusive, because both cannot co-exist--it is either one or the other. So when attempts at worship are cleverly manipulated by the devil to place the emphasis upon our flesh--our desires, our needs, our emotions--we will likely come away with a sense of spiritual satisfaction and perhaps even joy--but in actual point of fact, we have been worshipping the idol of self and not Christ! This is demonstrated in the untold numbers of Christians who are guilty of idolatry where their pastor is concerned. They "like" him so much that no one else will do and they will not even attend if they know he is sick, on vacation, or away for evangelistic meetings. For whose worth are they really concerned to acknowledge?
The music and singing of the worship service is another case in point.
Over the past hundred years a steady decline in quality has taken place--so
much so in fact that the music used in the vast majority of "worship and
praise" services is virtually indistinguishable from that to which
the masses of the world gyrate. Boogie is still boogie, even if it has
a few insipid "spiritual" lyrics added to it. Really now, do you think
God is at all honored when we offer such trash? If you cannot tell the
difference between the quality of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" and the
latest electronically-enhanced tune the choir director puts in the
mix, you are pretty far gone! Remember that the intent of the music is supposed to be an offering to God and anything less than the very best is not acceptable. It makes no difference if you are thrilled to the core of your being and enraptured by its appeal, the best that can be said of the overwhelming majority of such is that it merely panders to the flesh. "Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things" (2 Tim.2:7).
Yes, Satan (the serpent) is more subtle "than any beast of the field which the Lord God hath made" (Gen.3:1) and the ease with which he can get us sidetracked is phenomenal to say the least. Our fallen nature makes us a perfect target and unless we maintain constant vigilance, look out! Making money and buying necessities is a universal fact of life, but we must never allow "things" to become the focus of our existence. Materialism has become an idol to great numbers of those who profess Christ and a very sobering passage of Scripture in the Book of 1 John speaks to that problem:
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" 1 John 2:15 (KJV, emphasis mine).
In this context, "world" means the organized world system of planet earth--governments, philosophies, life styles, etc.--thereby making the biblical term "worldliness" the spiritual opposite of godliness. For a genuine Christian to be "worldly" is to be terribly backslidden and guilty of spiritual idolatry! But the individual who truly loves the world--regardless of any professed faith in Christ--shows by that illicit love that they are devoid of the Holy Spirit of God. "The love of the Father is not in them." And as this world spins out of control and hedonism becomes more and more the philosophy of the masses, we urge God's people to wake up and "come out from among them" (2 Cor.6:17).
Just as a baby is easily led to pursue shiny toys and candy, Satan is employing every trick in his arsenal to capture and keep the attention of men. Leading them into gross immorality or even lesser sins of the flesh is really not necessary because all that is needed to meet his objective is to keep them so preoccupied with living that they neglect Jesus Christ. Our society has become so hectic that we often meet ourselves coming back! Hurry, hurry, hurry, run, run, run until we are exhausted by it all--with never enough time to just relax, meditate upon the Word of God and pray. The new houses and cars and boats, and wide-screen TV's and swimming pools, and hunting/fishing/golf gear is not cheap and must be paid for if we are to be "successful" in the eyes of our peers. Those who do go to Church are usually so tired that they are miserable during the service trying to stay awake and wind up getting precious little out of the message. If you asked them, they would likely deny any sinful motive on their part--but yet they are as guilty of idolatry as if they had prostrated themselves before a heathen deity. "Things" have slowly but surely gained an inordinate place in their lives and all else is crowded out. Does this in any way describe you? If so, repent, ask the Lord for forgiveness and make a conscious effort to keep your attention focused upon Him. He alone is worthy of our adoration and we must not allow the devil to distract us.
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.
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