There are certainly spiritual capitalists who found their way into the Sheepfold, men who see opportunity not in the financial markets of the world but among believers to have a profitable business.
The apostle Peter clearly addresses this:
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves.Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep. (2 Pet. 2:3 CSB)(2 Peter 2:1-3 Holman Christian Standard Bible, HCSB )
The Apostle Peter cautions “They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words”. Did you notice the words “exploit”, “greed” and ” deceptive ” ? These false prophets are not separate from the Sheep of Christ. They are “among you”, as one of you. Maybe as one of the ministers or pastors. You may even know some of them yet not know they belong to the category of “false teachers”. Because it is based on deception. Let us briefly examine these three words in details
These so-called teachers are financially exploiting believers. I have come to realize that believers are financially vulnerable. Not because we are financially idiots, but because we have a godly attitude of openness to give. This is good, because it is very godly. The vulnerability comes in because this attitude is also very liable to deception and manipulation. Because believers are open to giving, financial predators amongst the sheep have found a profitable financial business. Don’t sweat, just speak the right words and money comes forth pouring into your coffers. We should grow up to maturity in our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Spiritual discernment in these days is priceless. Do not be a victim of spiritual financial scam.
The master weapon of these financial predators is deceptive words. That is, they will talk you into giving. Does this sound family to you? Deception means causing someone to believe a lie thinking it is the truth. In this case, they make believers believer it is the Spirit leading whereas it is their greed. They cover greed and make it appear as though God is directing the believer. Deception.
But what exactly are some of the things that these predators will tell believers so cunningly as to make them believe their lie? There are obviously many, but I will mention two very common ones.
The promise of a financial open door. Herein lies the masterpiece of the deceptive weapon of spiritual financial capitalists. They know how to arouse the interest in believers to seek financial open doors or breakthroughs to make them “take a step of faith” and give. Our quest for financial open-doors will cause our greatest vulnerability to these false teachers.
Giving to advance the Gospel. It is a good thing that believers have an open heart towards the spreading of the Gospel, except that this openness is a prime target for financial predators. How I wish the money given was really used to preach the Gospel!
The complexity created by this deception comes in because these two reasons when used honestly are actually true. our financial blessing in Christ operates in giving. And we really have to give because there are many true teachers and ministers out there that need finances to spread the Gospel.
This is at the basis of the exploitation. They mask greed and present it to the believer as a Godly cause.
We are not naïve
God has a solid financial plan for His people, including empowering the Church with wealth to continue what has to be done before Christ returns. But there are glaring excesses all around us when it comes to money in the Church. The dilemma surrounding this is that all of these excesses are occurring at a time when God is actually working to financially empower the Church.
The excesses have led some believers to completely trash the idea of money and wealth and want nothing to do with them. This is the same trend in grace. The abuse of grace by men unawares crept in have made some believers to loathe the very mention of the word. This extreme is itself also quite troubling. The twisting of truth should not make us shy from it; otherwise, the lie will be giving us the interpretation of the truth. Rather, we should know the truth and stand for it.
A Time for Spiritual Maturity
We are in a quandary that requires truth and spiritual maturity. The times in which we live are moments for great harvest. The Church needs a tremendous amount of finances to reach out to a dying world and this will not come from donations from Hollywood or governments. If you know God, then you know that He does not ever allow the arm of the flesh to fulfill His purposes on the earth. It will be the Lord’s doing, and not man’s. This money will come from the hands of believers who are financially empowered to have wealth to advance the kingdom. We should be grounded in the truth and mature enough to handle wealth while being mindful of the divine cautions about the deceitfulness and snares of wealth and subtlety of spiritual capitalists around us.