(Series: "Christian Greed")

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Greed: deception #4: Spirit vs. the Flesh (Money War)


Cognitive dissonance (click here for the dictionary definition)
Definition: Spirit vs. the flesh

There are people who don't know God. In this state, there is no problem between their actions and attitudes. When a person finds God, his mind is renewed(1), and he's open to godly things. However, a new battle emerges, called "The Spirit vs. the Flesh." Who will win? Usually, the flesh, because the spirit is weak(2). Is there victory? Yes(3), but it is by a secret.

The human tendency is to give in to one side, because the body can't take this tension for long. Either you need to sear your conscience to ignore it(4), or you need to have victory over the flesh. Psychologists call this warring condition "cognitive dissonance" (and this keeps them in business!).

The secret is to overcome the flesh by the Spirit, of God. If you fight the flesh, by the flesh, you will lose. The solution is to move from being self-centered to God-centered. This process takes our whole life, and it will never be accomplished while we are in the flesh, but we can get more mature and Christ-like with each passing day. The (secret) applicable verse is Galatians 2:20 (5).

Regarding money: yes, the flesh loves it, and wants all it can get. What does our flesh want to do with our money? Spend it on pleasure and comfort. What does God want us to do? He wants us to minister to others, even save them from basic problems, such as starvation. As James says(6), how can we say we love our brother if we'd rather have a dream house, dream car, dream vacation, dream "etc.," while our brothers/sisters in Christ starve to death? If you aren't aware of our brothers/sisters starving to death, please visit .

This is why it is so evil for religious leaders to be preaching "give-to-get" and the "health and wealth" gospel, as Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and other prosperity teachers do. The first step to fixing any problem is to first see the problem, so please search yourself and see if the love of money outstrips your love for God and man. If so, pray about how to overcome. I've heard that one of the best suggestions for fighting greediness is to be generous; it's an anti-dote to greediness.

Ask God to direct your giving, as you may not get the same answer if you ask your Pastor. (Unfortunately, many Pastors are quick to preach giving to their own church, but Jesus spoke more often of giving to the poor(7).) As you are led by God, you will feel the joy of giving.

Applied Scriptures:

(1) Romans 12:
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

(2) Romans 7
21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am!

(3) Romans 7
24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

(4) 1 Timothy 4
2Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

(5) Galatians 2
20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(6) James 2
15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

(7) Luke 12
33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.