Monday’s Blog: Sin Series “Greed”

This is the eighth message in my series on sin. The series will end next week. For these last two messages we will focus on our willpower to turn away from temptation and put to death the things of our flesh.

The Bible instructs us to:

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.

Colossians 3:2-7

When our minds are on Christ, by the power of His spirit we can put to death those things that used to control us (Romans 8:13). To put to death means to deny our flesh of its desires. The verse above instructs us to deny our flesh of greed (covetous), which is idolatry. We deny our flesh of greed by continually making God the Lord of our lives, not money and other earthly possessions.

In the first message, I talked about keeping our lamps full so we are ready for Jesus’ return. Living with an eternal focus is the key to denying our flesh of greed. The perishable things of this world won’t mean anything to us once we are gone. So why hold onto them and make them lord of our lives?

My grandma, who I loved dearly, spent her life accumulating wealth and earthly possessions. My mother was adopted by her, but my grandma never acknowledged us as her real family. When my grandma was too old to care for herself, even though we were the only ones who truly loved her, she chose to move across the country to live with her greedy brother and his family because they were “blood relatives.”

She didn’t realize when she moved away that they would wipe out all her accounts and sell all her possessions. On her death bed, with deep regret, she held tightly to the last remaining possessions she had, the three rings on her fingers. My mother was appalled when she saw one of my grandma’s greedy family members trying to pry the rings off her fingers before she died. My grandma fought with all her might to hold onto those rings until my mother reached out for her hand. My grandmother peacefully released the rings into my mother’s hand to give to me and my two sisters as a token of her love for our family.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Matthew 6:19-24

Remember last week when I talked about envy and how the KJV calls it an evil eye? The original Greek word for eye in the verses above is “of-thal-mos,” which means “envious.” When we envy the things of this world, we are filling our hearts with darkness. Notice that it says “If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Jesus is talking to those of us who have received the light and then choose to make the things of this world our god instead of Him. The darkness will then be greater in us than those who don’t know Christ because we are a greater target for the devil.

“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

Luke 11:24-26

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”

2 Peter 2:20-22

I believe that is how Judas was deceived into betraying Christ. Judas followed Jesus. He was His disciple (pupil), and then designated as an apostle (one sent forth with orders).

When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Luke 6:13-16

I don’t believe Judas intended to betray Jesus. The verse above says that he became a traitor. I believe Judas gave into his greed and it opened the door for the devil to take him captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26).

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.

John 13:2

We can see Judas’ sin of greed when he earlier objected to the woman who poured expensive oil on Jesus.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

John 12:4-6

When Jesus rebuked him in the following verse, Judas did not take heed and turn from his greed. His greed ultimately led him to use Jesus as opportunity to get more money.

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Matthew 26:14-16

Sadly, Judas was like my grandma and filled with remorse for making money his god instead of Jesus.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.

Matthew 27:3

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for giving us these examples to turn our focus to You and set our minds on the things above, not the perishable things of this word. Help us to put to death anything that we hold onto as god of our lives instead of You. We praise You that You are faithful to help us by Your Holy Spirit in us. We will not live in darkness and allow Satan to take us captive to do his will. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world!

In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

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*Come back next Monday as the “Sin Series” continues.

*All Bible verses are taken from the NIV, unless otherwise noted.

*If you haven’t received Christ into your heart, click on the “SALVATION” tab at the top of the website.

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Monday’s Blog: Sin Series “Envy”

This is the seventh message in my series on sin in the church. Last week, I talked about how our spirit is perfectly holy in Christ. When our soul (mind, will, and emotions) and spirit are in agreement, our body (flesh) will follow.

I’ve already talked about bringing our mind into agreement with our spirit. Now we are focusing on our emotions.

James 3:14-16 warns us:

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

We may not realize that envy is linked to selfishness. To be envious is to be discontent with who we are and what we have (focusing on ourselves), and to be jealous of and covet what someone else has.

Selfishness always leads to discontentment, which leads to envy. When we focus on ourselves we break our fellowship with the Lord. Jesus fills us with everything we need. When we try to fill ourselves, we will be left in lack. Our lack will then cause us to envy and seek what others have.

In the Old Testament, the Lord’s people were left unfulfilled and in lack as they pursued their own will instead of God’s will. The Lord spoke to them through the prophet Haggai:

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.

Haggai 1:5-11

The King James and Amplified Versions define envy as “an evil eye” because it is not of God; it is of the devil (see James 3 above). Envy distorts our vision so we can’t see the truth. The devil takes what we can’t have (what is harmful to us) and makes it appealing in order to trap us. He did that in the Garden of Eden with Eve. The serpent (devil) pointed out the only fruit that was forbidden. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it” (Genesis 3:6).

Proverbs 7:21-23 shows how deceptively appealing adultery is, and the trap it leads us into:

With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.

The devil will also tempt us to envy what others have in order to prevent us from living out our calling. When my older brother and I were kids, my parents would hide eggs for us to find on Easter morning. My brother would follow behind me and then complain that I would get all the eggs. Every year, my parents would tell him to stop following me and find his own eggs. He would never listen and I’d always end up with more eggs than him.

I think we do the same thing in life. We see someone living out their calling, so we try to follow what they’re doing instead of seeking our own divine purpose. We are then left in lack while they are fulfilled. We complain at God and wonder why He’s blessing them more than us. But God is like my parents and telling us to stop following others and start following Him.

In my book “The LOVE Walk,” I shared how envy distorted the truth in my life for many years and kept me from my calling. When I started seeking God’s will, I found that most of the things I thought I had to have in the past, and was envious of in others, I didn’t even want. Envy blinds us of our true heart’s desires. It makes us think we need something that we don’t even want. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Envy robs us of our life because it keeps us chasing after something we can never take hold of.

And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:4

I remember the freedom I felt when I finally laid down everything I was chasing after and gave my will over to God’s will. When I stopped wanting what others had, and started seeking His will, I became free to be me. By being content with what God has given me, He has been able to bring out His heart’s desires in me. I couldn’t see those desires when they were buried in a heart filled with selfish ambition and envy.

Let not your heart envy sinners: but BE YOU in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

Proverbs 23:17 (AKJV)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You have no favorites. You will never bless anyone more or less than You would bless us. Your promises are the same for all who will receive them. We praise You that You have gifted and called each of us to a divine purpose. Help us to seek Your will so that we can live out the calling You have marked out for us. We praise You that Your gifts and calling are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). We turn from our selfish pursuits and seek Your will and receive our calling.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

 

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*Come back next Monday as the “Sin Series” continues.

*All Bible verses are taken from the NIV, unless otherwise noted.

*If you haven’t received Christ into your heart, click on the “SALVATION” tab at the top of the website.


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