by Harry Bethel

How does it feel to be deceived? There are virtually no Christians who have not experienced deception by the wiles of the enemy at some time in their walk with the Lord. But there is another type of deception that many Christians have also experienced, and indeed are living in delusion; that is self-deception concerning money and material wealth.

The Scriptures have much to say concerning riches. Many Old Testament saints were blessed of God with great wealth; Abraham, Job, and Solomon to mention a few. But in the New Dispensation we have a higher calling. The first thing recorded in the New Testament that Jesus had to say about wealth was, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven ...for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Mat. 6:19-21).

The second thing that He said about riches was that you cannot serve God and money (Mat. 6:24).

The third thing that our Lord said about affluence, as recorded in Matthew 13:22 and Mark 4:19, is that the deceitfulness of riches chokes the Word.

If one is truly deceived then he does not know that he is deceived. If you have riches, how do you know whether or not you are deceived by them? How can you find out where your treasure really is? How can you know whether you are trying to serve God and money? There is one test, and it is also a requirement for being a disciple of Jesus. Jesus told the little flock to sell all they had and give it to the poor (Luke 12:22, 32-33; also see Luke 14:33).

Many Christians today look for loopholes in the Word of God, usually regarding the basic things in life. Concerning money, the thinking goes something like this: "Even a poor man can be covetous." "Being wealthy is relative; how much must one have to be considered wealthy?" "Even though I have a lot of money in the bank, and own lands and houses, that's not really where my treasure is." And, "It is the love of money, that is the root of all evil. It's okay to have a lot of money as long as I don't love it."

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy saying, "They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare....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. But thou, O man of God, flee these things" (1 Tim. 6:10-11).

And James said, "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away" (James 1:9-10). "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you...." (James 5:1).

But Jesus Himself had much more to say about wealth. For example, He said to His disciples, "Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Mat. 19:23-24). "Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God...But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation" (Lk. 6:20, 24).

And finally we can read that familiar passage in which Jesus said to the Christians at Laodicea, "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...I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich" (Rev. 3:17-18).

The Christian Counter
The Christian Counter