There are many people in this world who promise many things to eager people who are looking for shortcuts. We all want to find an easier way of getting to our goals, whether we are talking about our health, our relationships or finances. We want quick fixes and there are plenty of people out there willing to take advantage of our greed and laziness. However, there is no such thing as “easy” when it comes to life. Everything takes work which requires a great deal of effort on our part and often on the part of others as well.
We would think, with all the information available to us now, that we would understand that anything worth having is worth working hard to achieve. Yet, we continue to fall for the “get rich quick” schemes. We listen to people who encourage us to take high risks for high gain in our investments. We fall for the lie about making easy money on the Internet. We believe that good health is one miracle pill away. We invest in speciality foods instead of learning to eat and exercise properly. The proverb is correct in saying that a fool and his money are soon separated. It comes down to us being too lazy to be willing to put the effort into achieving our goals.
This also applies to our spirituality and there are plenty of people willing to take advantage of that. They are very quick to move in and separate us from the only path that can provide the peace and contentment we are looking for. They use God to speak to our human nature of self-centeredness. They convince us that God wants us rich and powerful. They turn us from a path of self-sacrificing love to a path of selfishness. They emphasize the individual instead of the mission. They are quick to separate us from our money as well as from Jesus Christ. Jude warned us as so many others have:
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. (Jude 1:17-19)
It is our “mere natural instincts” that get us in trouble because they are based in our sin nature. However, we are called to love according to the Spirit. If you need to test the spirit of those who are currently influencing you spiritually ask yourself whether they are focused on what you can get out of God or on what we need to give back for the mission? Are they teaching you how to honour God by loving people with his love or are they feeding your desire for short cuts? True teacher-servants of Jesus help to train you in acts of service:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
It really comes down to what our priorities and goals are. If our priority is the love of Jesus, demonstrating it to the world through our actions, then we will be able to stand up under any pressure to separate us from this love. However, if our goal is to follow mere natural instincts, then we will fall prey to every false teacher that is out there. The Apostle Paul wrote that if we submit ourselves to the correct spiritual trainers, those ordained by the Spirit, the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, then we benefit greatly by becoming mature in our service to Jesus:
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:14-16)
There are too many people who are being tossed back and forth by the waves. They are waiting for the next great move of the Spirit or the next teacher who comes along with new ideas. Silly people, stay where you are, submit, learn to do works of service, be built up in the context of the Body, learn to love like Jesus, until we are united in faith and knowledge, reaching maturity in our relationship and attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Jesus. This is our goal, is it not; to be like Jesus? My fear is that we have set this goal aside to chase after the things of the pagans, our creature comforts. What a shame when we have so many more things of greater worth, in Jesus.
Do not be fooled, there is a great deal of cunning, craftiness and deceitful scheming going on in the Body of Christ and its purpose is to separate us from our salvation. They want to divide us and convince us to chase after our own ungodly desires. They want us to live just like they do, by mere natural instincts instead of by the Spirit of Christ. Take a closer look my friends and judge by the Spirit if you have fallen for their schemes of deceit. Are they promoting self or are they promoting the things of the Spirit? I give the final word on this subject to the Apostle Paul:
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:16-26)