One day, a few years ago, I read about a local so-called minister who was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for charges of fraud, corruption and obstruction of justice. He was facing up to 50 years in Federal Prison if he was convicted. There was a long list of things he had dome that were illegal and corrupt – and on TV they talked about not only his 9,000 sq. ft. home that he bought for 1 and 3 quarters of a million dollars, but also his several Mercedes cars, his Bentley Arnage, his Maybach, Lincoln Navigators and other cars, worth more than 3 quarters of a million dollars and then they talked about how when he had filed for bankruptcy he lied and said that he didn’t have a church or any assets, but that in fact he worked for a maintenance company! He produced falsified pay stubs from a company that had never employed him. After the court believed him and gave him relief of hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the nearly one and a half million dollars of debts that he owned, he went out and spent another 430,000 dollars on more luxury vehicles and he got in trouble.
He isn’t the only one. Regularly we learn about Christian leaders who have gotten themselves involved in various criminal activities. It seems as though they’re as corrupt as many of our political and national leaders and government officials and anyone else who ends up with more money, power and temptation than most of us will ever face. The difference to me for the local minister who got indicted is that he used to be a close personal friend of mine. He had been genuine, on fire for the Lord and had a heart for the poor, downcast and people who were hurting. He was who lead one of our friends, Rev. McCoy to the Lord and disciple him until God called Rev. McCoy into the ministry and now, he’s possibly going to spend the rest of his life in prison. How does this happen? There’s, first of all, a devil who goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, the Bible says.
How can you make sure that you don’t ever end up being a castaway in life and in the things of God? In the modern church, we face an incredible struggle in the area of personal holiness. There’s nothing wrong with being human, God made us as humans. God gave us our bodies and its natural appetites. But, if we fail to harness and control them, they become what the Bible calls in Romans 6:13. That’s why so many Christians, instead of pursuing God, find themselves pursuing the desires of their flesh. I ran across this quote from the French devotional writer Michel Quoist. “If your body makes all the decisions and gives all the orders, and you obey, the physical can effectively destroy every other dimension of your personality. Your emotional life will be blunted and your spiritual life will be stifled. That’s why the Word of God is reminding us that we need to let the Holy Spirit keep our natural desires and appetites under control. We need to harness our mind, body and spirit by bringing them under control and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies and minds are great and wonderful tools, when they are harnessed and trained by the Lord Jesus. He will make a person’s body into the Temple of the Holy Spirit and will use that person mightily to be a witness for Him. God wants to USE you to do His representative to the people around you in your life.
On the other hand, if we allow our minds to wander wherever they want, and let our emotions do whatever they feel like, and then give over to our bodily urges, these minds and bodies of ours can be our spirit man’s worst enemies. In fact, we don’t yield our minds and bodies to the leadership of Jesus, they can literally wage war against our soul. The Apostle Paul talked about this in (1 Corinthians 9:27). Even when he was well advanced in his ministry and what we could call a success, he was aware that he could still lose out with God if he didn’t submit his mind and bodily appetites to the Lord. That’s why you and I have to make sure that our body is our servant and not our master. Remember, Jesus said that no man can serve two masters. God wants you to be full of the Holy Spirit. He wants you to know what it is to be lead of the Spirit, to know the joy of living a godly life and to walk in continual harmony with God on a daily basis. He said it’s a RESONABLE thing for you to experience. It’s reasonable to enter into the service of the Lord and be lead and ruled by His Spirit. This is when you enter into the abundant life that Jesus promised you, if you would BELIEVE on Him!
When God tells you to present your body as a living sacrifice and not to be conformed to this world, He is hitting especially hard at the practices of the church crowd who hang around the churches but all they have is dead country club religion. Jesus warned us to beware of getting in the trap of always wanting more and always better than what we have – where nothing satisfies us for very long. He said in (Luke 12:15). God isn’t against you having nice things. The Bible says that He gives you all things richly to enjoy in 1 Timothy 6:7. God blesses you with the things you have and He wants you to ENJOY them. He has no problem with you being well paid for what you do. He’s the one who gives you the strength, skills and knowledge to be able to make decent money in the first place. What He’s talking about is that desire to have more than other people, using your money and possessions as a way of determining how important or powerful you are. He is telling us to beware of thinking that more things or better things will enhance our personal value, or our self-esteem, and that they will produce happiness and contentment. They won’t. He is talking about the idea of having money or things as a way of altering your mood.
Here are 3 ways that greed or covetousness, (materialism), tries to destroy a person’s soul:
- It makes provokes jealous of the good things that other people have. It builds resentment making a person envious and resentful of someone else who’s blessed with these things. It produces discontentment, causing a person to focus on what he or she DOESN’T have instead of what they DO have.
- Covetousness will drive a person to compromise in order to get more things. It drives a person to cut back on that walk with God in order to chase things. A person will skip church, lie, cheat or trample other people or whatever it takes just to get those things he or she is driven to go after. Like Jesus said, what will it profit if a person gains the world and loses his or her soul or loses out with God?
- It appeals to the flesh, not the spirit and the Bible says that the flesh wars against the spirit. (Galatians 5:17) Giving into the flesh is what keeps a person from succeeding in the things of God. When a person feeds carnal desires, the carnal desires grow and get the upper hand over that person’s spiritual life. It gives the carnal man the dominance.
Why aren’t more Christians close to God? It’s this one principle: WHAT YOU FEED GROWS AND WHAT YOU STARVE DIES.
That’s it. If you feed your flesh, and the fleshly part of you, that’s what’ll grow. If you feed your spirit man, that’ll grow. God tells you to stop acting according to your feelings and begin to act according to what’s right. Like you, I rarely FEEL like (in the natural) doing what I should do. I don’t feel like going to bed each night. My flesh wants to stay up all night. I don’t feel like getting up each morning. My flesh wants to sleep during the day and stay out all night. I don’t usually FEEL like reading the Bible, praying or going to every church service. That’s why I have to take control of my body and make it do what God wants it to do instead of what IT wants to do. How do you begin? The place to start is to reduce your chances of temptation. When you put yourself in the place of temptation, you’re literally strengthening the cravings of your flesh. When you’re around something (or someone) who’s particularly tempting, your cravings get new strength and power. The Word tells you what to do in (2 Timothy 2:22). RUN from them.