What is true biblical prosperity and how does it differ from the popular “prosperity doctrine” many adhere to today? How do we put ourselves in a position to prosper in God’s kingdom? And what is the danger of believing a doctrine that is not biblically sound?
Verse 1, “… Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments.”
Psalm 1 expands this thought:
1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
Unfortunately, the message preached in many pulpits is, “just come to Jesus and He will cause everything you do to prosper.” There is an element of truth in that idea, but without qualifying it with the truths found in these verses and understanding what prospering means from God’s perspective, people end up coming to Him like a spiritual vending machine.
It’s the man or woman who fears the Lord, who doesn’t listen to ungodly advice, doesn’t hang around friends and co-workers who are up to no good, especially those who scorn the truths and reality of God, who will prosper. It’s those who delight in the things of God, meditate on those truths, and obey them, who will prosper.
Sadly, many buy into a superficial doctrine of prosperity and happiness, a message that sounds good to our selfish, sinful nature, but requires little of us in the way of change or growth. A large percentage of them will walk away from God at some point when what they believe doesn’t deliver, sometimes mad at God when they do. Continue reading →
Verse 3 says, “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
Just as wine can entice and weaken the resolve of the one drinking it and can blind one to the truth, the wine of false religion can blind, as well. It can be legalism (believing that rules and sacraments can save you), new age spirituality, today’s version of religious tolerance (believing that all roads somehow lead to God), or any kind of religious fanaticism.
Whether a person is fanatically religious in a pseudo-Christian way, fanatically atheistic, fanatically pro-abortion or pro-gay, or a fanatical Muslim or white supremacist, it has an appeal that can be intoxicating. This helps explain why men and women are willing to fly airplanes into buildings, strap on suicide vests or turn a gun on strangers and co-workers alike.
And just as religious idolatry can make a person drunk, so too, wealth, abundance and a focus on material things can drug a person into a materialistic stupor, “the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
Eventually the world’s false systems of religion and economics will come to an end, but we must guard against any vestige of them in our lives even now.
Ephesians 5 says:
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
God does not want us to be drunk with wine or religion or any earthly thing, but rather to be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit. When we do, just as drunkenness affects a person’s walk and life, the filling of the Spirit will affect the way we walk and live.
Verse 7.5 “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests. ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?’”
Fasting was a sign of repentance and humility and recognition of sin. God was asking the people if their fasting was merely a religious exercise or done because they were broken over their sin and rebellion against Him.
Oftentimes, we express outward sorrow and regret over our sin, but we must ask ourselves, are we sorry because we don’t like the consequences of our sin? Are we more like children who are about to be punished for some misdeed, crying, “I’m sorry; I’m sorry! I won’t do it again!” Or are we truly broken and repentant?
The first is worldly sorrow. It’s sorrow over the consequences and over the messes we make.
The second is godly sorrow. Godly sorrow leads to changes in our actions, not just outward expressions of sorrow.
It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death (2 Cor. 7.9b-10 NLT).