This post is part 3 of the Christian and Wealth Series. Part 2 ended with Christians indicted for serving two masters (Mat6:24), money and God. This post attempts to understand God’s perspective from the New Testament and the Old Testament regarding this behavior in-order to harmonize them into today’s context.
For part 2, refer to the link.
The current age operates within the new covenant context. Therefore, this post will first explore the New Testament. This post examines scriptures that describe the shift that repurposed the old covenant Law’s outward form of the performance to be subordinated to the inner substance that deals with the heart’s condition.
The purpose of this post is to expose the severity of serving two Masters and how the new covenant has significantly reduced this severity.
God Hates Hypocrisy
Whitewash tomb and the clean cup on the outside (Mat23:25-28) are metaphors used by Jesus to indict the religious hypocrites. They have a beautiful outer appearance that conceals death and uncleanness inside. Jesus strongly condemned this behavior, and such people (Mat23:33). Crudely said the hypocrite is akin to the harlot who builts for herself a monument to glorify her chastity. God condemns this as an abomination. God uses the word abomination to describe the sin of idolatry in Ezekiel. Later sections will reveal that Man’s worshipping money is equivalent to the sin of idolatry.
How would the commandment of loving your neighbor as oneself (Mark12:31, those that God presented in one’s life circumstances) not come across as hypocritical to the world in need when this excessive wealth disparity exists, creating unacceptable outcomes?
At this juncture, some may say that giving will not solve the poor’s problems for the poor the world shall always have (Mat26:11). In fairness, this retort is reasonable, and the last post will attempt to address this complex issue of sharing. However, do not be deceived into believing these grounds for inaction.
God Values Man’s Body
The body is the temple of God (1Co6:19). 1Co3:17 says that if anyone defiles the temple of God (their body), God shall destroy that person. The body committing sexual immorality amounts to defiling God’s temple. (1Co6:18-19).
1Co5:5 contains an example where. Paul sentenced the man who openly committed adultery with his stepmother to destroy his body, so at least his spirit is saved.
When one commits idolatry, one would assume that the worship of idols and pagan images are involved. The Old Testament focused on the external forms of idolatry, e.g., as recorded in Ezekiel. However, in the New Testament, idolatry includes such worship and much more.
Col3:5- “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”
A word study using the blue letter bible of this broad definition of idolatry from Col 3:5 affirms the different forms of the treasures man keep and worship in their heart (Mat6:21) as follow:
- Immorality (porneia-sexual)
- Impurity (akatharsia)- lustful, luxurious, profligate (extravagant/excessive) living
- Passion (pathos)- depraved passion
- Evil (kakos) desire (epithymia) – improper forbidden craving.
- Greed (-pleonexia)- greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice
The love of money is the root of all evil (1Tim6:10). Col3:5 offers two categories where this love has crossed God’s Bottomline tantamounting to worshipping two masters. The first, impurity, is the outward evidence found in the extravagant lifestyle choices of the person. The fifth and final post will explore what would amount to extravagance using objective economic metrics.
The second, greed, deals with the inner condition of the worshipper of Mammon. Man has abused the intended use of money. Money is a tool to serve man’s needs and not for man to serve as its slave.
Old Testament Context
Solomon built God His temple (1Kings6). This temple was still around during Israel’s exile to Babylon, as recorded by Ezekiel. God was angry with Israel during the exile for the following reasons
- They committed idolatry by worshipping at the high places (Eze6:3). The Israelites hurt God’s reputation and feelings by their adulterous hearts (Eze6:9).
- The leaders and priests desecrated Solomon’s temple by worshiping idols in the temple, carving images on the temple wall (Eze8:6, 10, 17), and carrying out human sacrifices (Ezekiel 23:37-39) in the temple.
God called this desecration as an abomination, a stench to God. God also describes their idolatry as harlotry in Eze16
- God was angry with the false prophets and their false divination (Eze13:9)
- God was mad at the Israelites for cursing their parents by way of their treatment, for oppressing the fatherless and widows (Eze22:7), committed crimes against their neighbor for dishonest gain (Eze22:12), oppressing the poor and needy (Eze18:12), for these actions God condemned Israel as having blood on their hands. These are sins of oppressing the vulnerable.
- God was displeased with the Jerusalem leaders’ proud attitudes. The Babylonians left behind the poorest in Jerusalem (2Kings25:12), but they dared to pride themselves as meat in the pot (Eze11:3), looking down at the exiles in Babylon. This attitude is the sin of the pride of life. The next post will reveal that Christians also suffer from this sense of privilege and entitlement.
God’s accusations of idolator, blood on your hands, and meat in the pot are three accusations relevant to the subject of money and serving two masters. Thank God for the new covenant of reconciliation to save Man from such dire charges.
Blending the New and Old Testament – What is God’s Position Now Concerning Man Serving Two Masters
God, in the old covenant, punished Israel’s sins of idolatry, oppression, and pride. They died from the plague, sword, and famine (Eze5:12), leaving a remnant in exile or scattered. It is evident in the new covenant Jesus’ sacrifice has satisfied God’s wrath. Else Christians would die ghastly deaths in mind-boggling numbers for these same transgressions.
God has new two overarching goals in the new covenant compared to the old covenant’s overarching goals: to obey and live or sin and die. The new covenant goals are to believe, and the spirit be born again (John3), and genuine faith works to save the soul (1Peter1).
This spirit-soul topic is extensive and exceeds the scope of this post. For this post, it is sufficient to draw attention to two things. Firstly, God suspends, delays, and alters the “punishment” mode to support soul tempering, detracting from the direct physical death sentence to allow soul salvation to occur. However, His Laws of Sowing and Reaping (Gal6:7-8) that repays wrong for the wrong (Col3:25) are still in effect, but the main objective is to transform (love motivated). The secondary aim is to punish (justice motivated).
Even though the words primary and secondary indicate priority, but in reality, God’s will decides which is primary and which is secondary. God is sovereign to determine whether His will is love or justice motivated. Generally, love motivation is primary, and justice motivation is secondary in the new covenant.
Secondly, because of the first observation, by the Holy Spirit, Peter, James, and Paul were aware of this human condition inclined to take grace as a “license to sin” partly exacerbated by the sense of entitlement (meat in the pot) that abuses the privileges granted.
- 1Pet2:16 cautions the believer not to use the liberty offered by the grace of salvation apart from works as a pretext for evil/maliciousness.
- Jam2:17 cautions the believer that a faith that boasts spiritual salvation apart from works is empty with no results to show. This kind of faith does not save the soul. See the following links for the post, titled “Faith and Work in Harmony,” and Once Saved Always Saved.” These posts specifically address Jam2:17. See link – https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/27/faith-and-work-in-harmony-4min-read/ and https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/27/once-saved-always-saved-10min-read/
- Gal5:13 cautions believers not to abuse the liberty of salvation by grace to live to satisfy the flesh, the lust of the eye, the craving of the flesh, and the pride of life (1John2:16).
Given these warnings, Christians should sober-up to recognize they are as challenged in worshiping money as non-Christians. Thus Christians would do themselves a great favor to ditch the hypocritical sense of privilege and entitlement.
Believers place themselves in harm’s way when they serve two masters. Harm occurs in two ways.
Firstly, serving two masters brings self-harm. The constant pendulum swing between the two masters creates an internal civil war in the soul. Each swing brings the soul into a cycle of self-harm illustrated above. Self-harm also occurs, as this deprives the believer of opportunities from obtaining their rewards in heaven and the production of glory in heaven and wealth ranking in heaven. See the following two links.
Secondly, harm occurs because it provokes God’s jealousy and risks violating God’s bottom line to destroy the temple (the body) that continues to practice idolatry. This risk remains notwithstanding Jesus’ blood covering. God remains jealous of believers’ love and does not want to share this love with Mammon. Provoking God is not a sound decision, which is akin to playing with fire, albeit Jesus is offering protection, and God deals with us in His love.
The following post four examines how the world, whether rich or poor, is negatively impacted by money. This post will also explore God’s offer in the new testament to free man from money’s enslavement.