By Stephen Phinney

The Word is clear; you cannot serve two masters at one time. The person will ultimately hate the one and love the other, or minimally, will cling to one and reject the other. In fact, God goes on to say that it is impossible to serve God and money at the same time (see Matt. 6:24).

God wants us to choose today which one we will serve. Here are ten fleshly decisions that men, women, and nations make that put them in a position of being humbled by the Lord:

1. Using Christianity to Gain Personally: People, or nations, who refer to themselves as “Christian” but yet, follow the mandates and principles of an evil world mock God. God is not to be mocked. In fact, if He is mocked in this fashion, He is obligated by Himself to effect “for whatever a man (nation) sows this he will also reap” (parentheses mine, Galatians 6:7, NASB; also see Numbers 22-24; Jude 11; Revelation 2:14).

2. Playing with the Edge of Evil: Playing with the edge of evil is using demonic and worldly answers to bail yourself out of the consequences granted by God. A good example of this is when Lot (Abraham’s nephew) separated himself from his patriarch (Abraham) and chose to submit himself to the land of Sodom, a land that was known for being lush and green with prosperity. Lot began swinging deals with the leaders of Sodom, thinking that he would be an influence on them. Well, we know how that story turned out. God not only turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, but after blasting the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, He turned the refreshing waters of the Dead Sea to salt. Now the land has a difficult time even producing weeds (Review Genesis 12-14).

3. Mixing True Faith with Selfish Flesh: The obvious result of this is no more “true faith.” If you want to go Emergent/Lukewarm, do this. People who mix principles of God with lies of Satan get the worst of the worst treatment from God. Not only does Satan love this, he finds in this, error globalization. On one hand, the “believer” says he believes in God, but he uses the ways of the enemy to practice life. He takes a perfectly good principle and turns it into a God tolerating sin – like the postmodern “Christian” view of abortion and divorce. You want to wrestle with an angel, do this (see Genesis 27-34).

4. Submitting Yourself to Jealousy: The evidence of being filled with jealousy is contradicting a teacher of Truth (Acts 13:45). The crazy thing is that contradiction almost always turns into blasphemy of God. When a person comes against a Truth preacher of the Word, he comes against God. I often refer to it as “intellectual competition.” Most humans buy into the lie of “intellectual rights” or individual self-conceived thought, which means the human thinks he has some type ownership of thought. It is all based in jealousy! Every thought I think or word I write is either from the mind of Christ or from my flesh, which is the receiver (antenna) of Satan. This is why our flesh must lay in the ground when we die. The “Christian” world has gone so far out on a limb with this lie that churches terminate or destroy the reputations of Godly men and women who use words of God in other communicators without “permission.” People who think they have intellectual rights are a people who think they are God (see Joshua 7).

5. Using Christianity Commercially: There is no better story in my eyes than of Gideon. Most are familiar with his miraculous work of conquering the Midianites to free Israel. Few are aware of the offer placed before Gideon, by the people, to be their king. He refused and asked instead for all the gold earrings of the enemy. He then took this gold and made a gold ephod (vest) for the priest to wear, much like the story of Aaron’s golden calf. The vest became an object of worship. Gideon then took on many wives and had seventy sons. After he died, God judged his entire family. (You can read the gory details in Judges 8). This mixture of true belief and commercialism tossed a nation to the enemy for many generations.

6. Taking the Credit for God’s Work: I have an idea. Let’s take God’s thoughts, Words, and inspirations through the power of the Holy Spirit; copyright them; and then require mankind to pay for them – with the promise to never rewrite, reprint, reproduce, or digitally master them. Yes, I’m being facetious! Who, in God’s name, came up with copyright anyway? This has stopped the multiplicity of the Gospel more than any other form of commercialism. Original thought is God. Enough said. (See 2 Kings 5.)

7. Worshipping Jesus and Money: This is the bling-bling rich young ruler that Jesus was addressing in Luke 18:18-34. I am not sure how true indwelt Christians can turn their poor poverty stricken Savior into a “Prosperity Doctrine” teacher? It has always been a mystery to me. Smart moneymakers have always found it easy to package and expect all others to be able to do what they do, which is why they are rich. If I had a dollar (Did I just say that?) for every time I heard some moneymaker say, “If I could do it, you certainly can.” Prosperity Doctrines are nothing more, or less, than multileveling Jesus. They cut and paste Scriptures in order to maintain their service to two masters, much like the rich young leader. This leader showed quick and responsible actions, came to Jesus, and appeared to have an ability to be taught. But once the real challenge was put before him, he ran into the arms of his real master – money. Why did Jesus ask him to “sell everything he had and give it to the poor” as a test of his inquest? It wasn’t just to test the motive to his question, but Jesus was also practically checking to see if he would fulfill one of the leading obligations of a new believer.

For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:34-35, NASB).

8. Ratting Out Another Christian: The first sign of love is loyalty! Today, we live in a society of children rising up against their patriarchs and even killing them. In the final hours of the end-times, we will find parents turning their own Christian children over to the guardians of the Antichrist for destruction. Why? For the love of money. A man’s loyalty is where his money is invested. As many of you know, Judas was the “coin keeper” for the disciples – that would be the banker for you and me. It was his responsibility to carefully manage the money in order to move the ministry from town to town. Remember his response to Jesus having his feet washed by Mary? He was upset because she was using expensive perfume, which could be sold in the market place for 300 pence, and given to the poor. I’m not sure Judas was really interested in feeding the poor; I do think he was controlled by people, places, and things that had value. How do we now this? He ultimately sold his Savior for 30 pieces of silver. Would Judas have sold his own grandma? Of course he would have. After all, he sold his own soul to Satan. Jesus called him the devil, meaning he became possessed or owned (see Matt. 26-27).

9. Buying Praise: One time I was drinking a Pepsi as I was waiting to pick up one of my kids at the local Christian school (before our homeschool years). A financial supporter was observing me without me knowing it. He walked over to my car and said, “So that’s how you spend my money.” Needless to say, I wrote him a letter the following day and encouraged him to stop supporting our ministry. Many “Christians” financially support their churches, favorite causes, or charity for the pure (maybe not so pure) need for praise. Let’s face it; givers get high praise and usually get specialized treatment for doing so. This kind of praise and admiration is more costly than the donation – it enslaves the ministry to the giver. I have turned thousands of dollars away due to God revealing to me the motive. It is like stealing from the offering plate. I know I will offend some with what I am about to write; but, all tax-deductable donations are subtle acts of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). We have been “duped” into giving, in order to get our giving back through our tax returns. Don’t get me wrong. I, too, use the 501c3 status to help givers gain this advantage. But, the real hardcore truth of the matter is the “right hand should not see what the left hand is giving.”

10. Buying Spirituality: A few years ago, I had a counselee slide a check in front of me after a particular session. I looked down at the check and it was written to me to the tune of $10,000. After asking him what the money was for, he said “Take care of my family.” I looked at the check one more time and said, “Yes, Lord” in my head. I proceeded to slide the check back in front of him and I said, “From here on out, the counseling for you and your family is without the talk of money.” Two years later, he was put in prison for using the same techniques in the business world. It is not uncommon for postmodern “Christians” to make offers like this. OK, maybe not as blatantly as my client, but certainly by rubbing shoulders with people who are more “spiritual” than they. People have the nasty habit of thinking their money, particularly donations, give them special privileges in spiritual places (see Acts 8:9-24).

I think it is time for us to carefully review how we can truly serve God instead of money! If asked, most self-proclaimed Christians would say that they serve God rather than Satan. They would be quick to deny they love money more than Jesus. But when put to the test, most of these Christians would choose the quiet deceptions of money over true Christianity. How do I know this? When I ask, “If God asked you to sell everything you had, live in poverty the rest of your life, and beg for bread for the sake of the Gospel, would you do it? Most say yes – but leave my office maintaining their present lifestyle of debt.