Ephesians 5:5

“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (NIV)

A greedy person is an idolater? It took me thirty-six years of my Christian life to fully understand this single verse.

There is no other classic example of a greedy person than Judas Iscariot who betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ for thirty pieces of silver. He was among the Twelve whom Jesus chose.

(Luke 6:13)  He called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles. He was one of those whom the Lord has given the privilege to do signs and wonders and to preach the good news of the kingdom of God.

(Mark 3:14-15)  He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.

(Matthew 10:1)  He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

During the earthly ministry of Jesus there were those who supported Him in terms of money for their basic needs.  There was no written record or evidence that Jesus asked for support and there was also no indication that He refused such support.  To support the ministry is just practical.  It is only common sense.

Judas was trusted to be the treasurer or the keeper of the money bag.  In the following context it indicates that Judas had a wrong motive in following the Lord. His heart had never been clean since he had heard God’s Word from the lips of Jesus.

(Luke 8:1-3) …Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others; These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

(John 12:3-6)  Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why weren’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

For three years he was with Jesus and heard the Word of God from the very lips of Christ yet he betrayed the Lord. It would have been different if the person who handed Jesus over to the bloodthirsty mob was an outsider, yet in that case it can’t be called a betrayal. A betrayal to an individual can only be done by someone whom he is closely related to and to whom he has entrusted things that are considered valuable or important. Judas was entrusted with money. Whether it was a large or small amount of money made available to a greedy person, he would certainly grab it. Judas exchanged, for thirty pieces of silver, the more than three years experience of the Lord’s love and kindness gained from this friendship.     When the Bible stated that the devil entered Judas, there was no indication of a force entry. Judas willingly welcomed Satan because from the very beginning Judas was greedy for money. (John 13:27)  As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

Yes Judas was greedy but still I could not fully understand the connection between greed and idolatry until I remembered my experience with a group of charismatic Christians.  They were called charismatic because they emphasized the gifts of the Holy Spirit namely, speaking in tongues and divine healing.  I believe that there is nothing wrong with the teaching of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  What was wrong was that repentance from all sins has not been given a special emphasis or importance.  They only focused on all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Another thing was the teaching of faith based upon faith alone, teaching people to depend upon their own ability to believe.  To them that is faith.  The power of positive thinking and positive confession which was actually from secular psychologists’ teaching and Buddhist practices even though they quote verses from the Bible to support their claims, is neither found in the teaching of the Lord Jesus nor in the writings of the apostles as guided by the Holy Spirit.  Their teaching about faith was a messed up and for greed.

Biblical faith is based upon what is written in the Scripture about Jesus Christ. Jesus is the object of our faith.  To believe that Jesus is the Son of God and He Himself is God and the only Savior of our soul, that is Biblical faith.  Other than that teaching, all other beliefs are only fanaticism or not faith at all.

The movement teaches that to exercise and to enlarge your faith, you must give large amount of money to the ministry so blessings from heaven will be released to you.  The supposedly gift of miracles was all just an attraction to curious people who were amused to be entertained.

Beginning in 1976 to 1985 before I came to the States I was an active member and had been involved with such ministry.  I was among the church leaders who attended seminar after seminar in major cities of the Philippines.  The purpose of that particular worldwide ministry is to introduce the gifts of the Holy Spirit which can be the common denominator for all Christians of different denominations without touching their doctrinal differences.  One of the leading speakers was a prominent Catholic priest.   “Don’t teach doctrine; just leave it to the Holy Spirit,” the movement was saying.

That’s the reason why charismatic Catholics practice the gifts of the Holy Spirit while they continue to worship idols and other gods.  Nothing was changed, they only added these practices without emphasizing the real repentance from all sins especially idolatry before accepting Christ.  Charismatic and the popular

 “Health and Wealth” doctrines grew rapidly and a lot of pastors introduced it to their congregation without realizing that greed begins to grip the hearts of the believers.

A greedy person is an idolater? As I said, I still can’t fully comprehend what this verse meant until I personally saw, with my own eyes the unfolding drama of the whole Christendom in this generation.

Money is needed for the furtherance of the gospel.  Supporting for the ministry is essential and one way to express our love for the Lord and His work is to give financial support.  But the doctrine of “Health and Wealth” produces selfishness in people’s heart.  Many times I have seen church services turned into frenzy fund raising activities.  It becomes like an auction quoting verses from the Bible out of context.  Television mega star preachers are bombarding people with guilt using verses from the Bible out of context just to get people’s money.   They use the word “seed faith” and say that faith is a force and so on.  A lot of ministers preach copied sermons over and over again promising people health and wealth.  They say that Jesus and the apostles were rich and so was Abraham.  If you really have faith, then give a “seed faith” because the more you will give, the more blessings from heaven will be released to you.  You will have health and wealth.  This gospel is not the real gospel at all.  This is a false doctrine that church people embrace. The ones who have received benefit from this ministry of madness are living in extravagant lifestyle and this is why a lot of pastors are striving to emulate and epitomize them. Man’s heart by nature is greedy, that is the reason why the followers of this movement grew in number and their preachers became rich.  They don’t teach the sin of idolatry because a lot of Catholics are among their supporters.  To show them favor, when the Pope died, one of their representatives, who was their flag bearer, went to the Vatican and kissed the hand of the dead Pope.

Majority of churches today becomes idolaters without the actual existence of idols made of wood, stone, silver or gold.  They become idolaters because they are greedy.  Even though they sing Christian songs to worship God, what they really seeking is money along with the things in this world.  A greedy person is really an idolater who worships the things of this world.

What happened to Christians in the Mediterranean World in the sixth century where Muhammad and his army wiped them out from their places will happen again to Christians in this generation if they will not truly repent and get rid of all false doctrines that produce greed in the hearts.  I don’t believe that Muslims will massacre the Christians in this generation but the Muslims will do anything to make people’s lives miserable if you will not join to their religion.

It is possible for a person to be preaching God’s Word and perform miracles like Judas did without realizing that he is betraying the Lord for money.  It is not the outsiders who we should be cautious and looked out for, but fanatical and deceptive Christians, especially church leaders, such as these.  Let us read the Bible:

(Acts 20:28-30)  “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

(2 Peter 2:1-3)  “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into dispute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”

(1Timothy 6:10)  “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Sin of idolatry follows other sin that’s the reason why in Romans 1:18 to 32, it reads: “God gave them over in the sinful desire of their hearts.” I suggest anyone who reads this sermon should read the whole context I have just quoted.  We should get rid of every form of idolatry in our lives.

A greedy person is an idolater and no idolater has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Please continue to read:  Idolatry is rampant in the Philippines

Previous articleThe Sin Of Idolatry
Next articleWhat Is Faith?