Prosperity through Perdition

There are a lot of heretics out there who teach in defiance of God’s word, that God wants you to be happy.  They don’t just stand behind the pulpit, they often sit in front of it.  One need look no farther than the book of Job to see the problem with this logic.  The problem is, it isn’t logic, it’s a sin enabling lie.  The first one to ever whisper it was the serpent in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3.

He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

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. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

He told her to succumb to her desires, and he did it in such a twisted way.  Never would it have entered his mind to simply tell her outright “God wants you to be happy.”  The mistake was the same however, mistaking God’s will, for our own.  God shows us the folly in this in Jeremiah 17

7“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

8They will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.”

9The heart is deceitful above all things

and beyond cure.

Who can understand it?

God’s will does not align with our own, unless we align our will to God’s.  It does not work in reverse.  Why?  Because of Eve’s treachery, her abuse of free will, she doomed herself, and therefore everyone of her blood, the entirety of humanity, to an eternity apart from God, in hell.  She doomed us.  Not God.  God gave Eve the choice, and she chose the fruit, and like a fool, Adam followed her example.

This is known as “The Fall.”  As in the Fall of man from God’s grace.  Because of it, our hearts’ will parted ways with God almost as soon as it had the chance.

My nephew asked his mom the other day “If Jesus protects us, how come people die?”

I hear this a lot, not only from children but Christians, long in the faith, who have hit a major bump in the road, usually the death of a loved one.

I had a wonderful pastor who had a woman ask him this.  Her son had been killed on a Navy ship. She asked the pastor, if God was good, why did he kill her boy?

The pastor replied something along the lines of “Ma’am, I’m so sorry for your loss, but God never made a Naval ship.  He never made a Navy, and he did not kill your boy.”

It was a very illustrative way to say “Man has free will, and it can get him killed.”  Truth be told it got us all killed, as we see in Romans 6.

19I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life inb Christ Jesus our Lord.

I posted that verse in context because it makes for a good segue.   I wanted to point out the part that says “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?”

Shame is a powerful tool.  We should never seek to hurt others with it, but if the truth of my actions is shameful to me, I like to ask myself why?

Shame is the thing that tells you what you’re doing is wrong.  You may not feel it immediately during a sinful action, but it’s like the terminator.  It just keeps coming toward you.  No matter how fast you run, it always catches up.  We are not forever “free from the control of righteousness.”

I bring this up because the modern society we live in would like to eradicate shame.  Every decision anyone makes should be universally supported, whether it’s mutilating their bodies, killing themselves, killing their children, destroying their bodies with preventable disease, or drowning their pain in drugs.  “Don’t judge” has become the mantra of the “Christian lite” crowd.  They conveniently leave out the most important parts of that verse in Matthew 7.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

So when read in context, that verse actually means “clean up your own act so you can show your brother how to clean up his.”  In other words, it is closer to “please, judge” than “Do not judge.”  I know this will fall on deaf ears.  I heard the words “context is for kings” recently and a lot of things snapped into place for me.  The point is the Bible wants us to hold one another accountable.  You should.  And you should heed the account of others on your life.  Especially from an unusual source.  I have learned so much from my children…it’s amazing what you can learn when you’re open to it.

It bears repeating, shame is a powerful tool.  It saves lives, literally.  It points us towards the path of righteousness.  It leads us back to God.  It’s a beacon in the dark saying ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Shame is a gift from God.

Should we live perpetually in it?  No.  That’s just wallowing.  That’s like using a map to get to the post office.  What’s the point?  Let it guide you, then look to the future of your service to God.  Don’t wallow in shame after you’ve corrected course.  You can’t change the past.  You can make amends, but that’s really all.  People don’t have to accept your amends, but you can still make it.

God does not want you to be happy.  He wants you to glorify him through righteousness.  He wants you also to be a beacon in the darkness.  He wants you to pull the splinter from your eye so you can go out and pull the stick from your brother’s….and make the world a better place, or at least do the best you can to, in his name, for his glory.

Shame, misery, these things test us, they try us, they hurt, and it’s the only thing that makes us grow.  That’s prosperity.  Growing in God’s love.  Maybe you think your hurt is greater than I anticipated or that I would change my mind if I knew your story.  I promise you I wouldn’t.  Circumstances do not change absolutes.  No matter how dire, how grave, how horrific your story is, it does not change the fact that God is not cruel or evil or mean.  It is not likely God’s doing, it is maybe not even your own.

I do not pretend to know everything or have all the answers.  Sometimes the answer is a most unsatisfying “I don’t know.”  What you do about it, that’s your choice.  You can use it to grow you in your walk with God, or you can shake your fist in defiance, and leave righteousness.

If you do, I hope something guides you back.  Because Christ is the only way.  He’s the only thing standing between you and everyone else, and eternal damnation.  So the stakes don’t get higher than that, you see.  It is not unreasonable therefore, for me to wish anything brings you back.  Misery, disaster, pain, anguish, illness, deformity, plague.  l would rather you stumble to God on your hands and knees, blind, destitute and otherwise physically destroyed, than to die outside of grace, but happy.

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