How the Devil Convinces You That Contentment and Thanksgiving Are Sin

Good Morning,

The twin enemies of biblical religion have always been materialism and skepticism. The early apostates, Jubal-cain and Tubal-cain, descended from a man who built a city and named it after his own son. An act of hubris which illustrates the hope the materialist relies on when he places his future faith and trust in those things of steel and wood. Lamech in Genesis 4 boasts that he will avenge seventy-fold those who stand in his way, especially the weak and the young. A destroyer questioning the power of God to order His world according to His ways. It is what we would expect from a son of Cain. The attitudes which motivate the skeptic surround a lack of desire to see the world through the eyes of God. They would rather make decisions from their vantage point in the spiritual underground. Darkness leads to more darkness.

For our prayer and worship help today we are going to spend a moment explaining how these two ways of approaching life only lead to damnation. Our goal should be, as those who love our neighbor as ourselves, to see all men come to the knowledge of truth, to have the shroud of the devil removed from over their eyes. It may seem as if we are jumping around from the previous two weeks where we talked about creation, agrarianism, and the considered life. However, the reason why we need to define these words is to helpfully teach others what the good and true is.

Materialism is a word which means a way of looking at life that believes that only what can be touched and moved has any value to human life. A good example of the hope found in materialism is the lottery. While we understand scratch tickets and the Powerball to be a violation of both the third and eighth commandments many people spend their dollars in the expectation that their Abe Lincoln or George Washington will turn into many Benjamins. My dad always referred to this kind of activity as a tax on people who can’t do math well, or as Solomon says it, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” (Prov. 13:11). If you have some free time, check out the documentaries on folks who won the Mega Millions. Around 75% of them are bankrupt within two years of their victory. There is no permanence to money. It not only loses its value, but the love of it is the root of all evil, and why is that? It is not because coins and paper are bad in themselves. We all need money to function. It derives from the fact that as the rich young ruler found out, and as the rich man found out in Hell, you can’t take it with you, and you can’t purchase your salvation with it. Riches may prosper for a season, but greed always leaves pain and anguish in its trail. Abandoning the Lord for the glory of stuff leads to nothing.

A large part of the desecration of our hills and valleys comes from the mindset that more is more, and that you can never have enough. It also is born from the twin poison fruit of a heart which doesn’t believe in the generations to come, nor thinks you have any responsibility to those who came before. Removing the top of a mountain to get the coal out in order to fuel a Chinese power plant for an afternoon doesn’t seem like being a good steward of the Lord’s resources, but Xi needs to see at night, regardless of what it does for the vista of Mingo County. Avarice will only lead to death. As the Scriptures testify a man who hates his children hates himself.

That is why the counsel Jesus gives in John 6:27 is to labor for the food which does not perish with eating, but that which endures to eternal life (spoiler alert: that’s Jesus). There’s certainly nothing wrong with making a good living. A laborer is worth his wages. The question we are asking this morning is what is the purpose and call of a day’s work. Why do we seek to do what we do, and for what reason do we sweat and bleed? If the answer to that question is anything other than ultimately for the glory of the Lord and in obedience to His gracious call then we’ve missed the point of it all. There is no future blessing in material things, only stuff that takes up space that someone will have to deal with when your gone.

Of course, we need not pick on financial concerns to make clear why materialism is a bad thing when it comes to the way Christ would have us to thrive. You can place in this category any number (no pun intended) of idolatrous items, which while in themselves may not be bad, but soon overwhelm the particular duties God’s law requires of us. We have to ask the question of ourselves, if thing x would go away tomorrow would it change our countenance and life of thanksgiving? If we would curse God and die then it is safe to say that we have a problem.

When it comes to the latter word in the opening sentence, skepticism, this one probably doesn’t need as much explaining. To get this out of the way, Christianity is not fatalism. We do not believe in a god who tells us to shut up, sit down, and just blindly follow like some cultish nutbar. The sufficiency of the revelation of the God of the Bible provides all men, not just the believer, with all the knowledge they need to live successfully and blessedly. The problem comes when we are deceived into thinking that the Lord is holding something out on us, and that like the Pharisees we need to add to what He has revealed in order to do that which is right. We don’t often think of those brood of vipers (as Jesus calls them) as skeptics, but that is exactly what they are. They look at the law of God and decide that His commandments are not sufficient. They are skeptical that Jehovah knows what He’s doing and that He needs their help. It is not just the ACLU lawyer or the DEI agent at the SPLC who denies the existence and authority of the Creator of the Heaven and Earth that we got to watch out for. There is a reason why the penultimate words of Christ in the Book of Revelation are to neither take away nor add to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. The Christian must feed on the word, and rest in its power.

As we think about how it is God would have us to live and enjoy His glorious world we need to rest in two truths. First, that what matters is of God, not of man. Cars, trucks, TV’s, vacations, hunting camps, etc… are all good and right in their own way. But they ain’t more than they are. If we seek the material and forsake the spiritual we are impoverishing our soul, and our future.

In closing, when we get the balance and order out of whack we only do that which the prince of darkness would seek us to do, and as with all things Satan gets a hold of they cease to be of use to anyone, at least not in a positive sense. Same with what the God of grace has revealed to us in the testimony of His truth. It is good and right for the Christian man and woman to be at rest in fullness of the disclosure of His Word. Both Christ in Himself and the Bible are more than sufficient to deal with the problems of each and every day, whether they be big or small. We are to plan according to the future with God’s provisions in mind, and worship Him just the same.

A last word:

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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