“Pitfalls of Gaining Financial Freedom”
Introduction: In our first message on stewardship I said, “I firmly believe that if good habits of STEWARDSHIP are formed early in the Christian life, they will serve as a deterrent against CARELESSNESS and WORLDLINESS. The Bible has much to say about our finances – the 90% as well as the 10%.” We want to look at the “Pitfalls of Stewardship” which may prevent us from gaining financial freedom.
I know of three obstacles that prevent Christians from being proper stewards, and these three are listed in I John 2:15-16, “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Here we read,
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (17) And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Perhaps you noted in these THREE verses, the words "the world" are used SIX times. So we need to ask ourselves, to what are these words "the world" referring?
In scripture the word WORLD translated from the Greek word "Kosmos" sometimes refers to the PHYSICAL WORLD in which we live. God created the earth to reveal to men that He is God, the all powerful creator. Psalm 24:1 tells us, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness there of, the world, and they who dwell therein…" But the physical world is not what John had in mind when he referred to "the world."
In scripture the word WORLD also refers to the HUMAN WORLD OF MANKIND. This is the WORLD referred to in John 3:16 where God "so loved the world" for whom "He gave His only begotten son" to die that sinful man might be redeemed. But this also is not what John had in mind when He referred to "the world."
So what then IS "the world" we are "to love not"? In order for us to understand, let me use the words, WORLD SYSTEM. The words "the world" here refer to an invisible spiritual system run by Satan that is opposed to God and Christ.
Love not the WORLD SYSTEM that excludes God.
Love not the WORLD SYSTEM that diminishes the need for God.
A "man of the world" is a man who is thoroughly caught up, committed, and devoted to a kind of living that leaves God out of the picture.
Here is one of the best descriptions I have read of this WORLD SYSTEM, "The world is human nature sacrificing the spiritual to the material, the future to the present, the unseen and the eternal to that which touches the senses and perishes with time."
Here is another definition, "Anything in a Christian's life that causes him to lose his enjoyment of the Father's love (your personal devotional life) or his desire to do the Father's will (your daily conduct) is worldly."
Now John comes right out in verse 15 and says "STOP loving the WORLD SYSTEM and the things that are IN that system." The tense of the language tells us, if you love the "World system" as a habit, then you cannot say you love God.
Worldliness is not so much a matter of ACTIVITY as of ATTITUDE. If you love the things of this world then you cannot love the Father in Heaven.
Let's face it. The world system without God surrounds and touches our lives every day. There is no escaping its reality.
WORLDLINESS is in our homes.
WORLDLINESS is in our lives.
WORLDLINESS is in our churches.
As someone said, we looked for the church and found it in the world; we looked for the world and found it in the church. "Is it any wonder that our teenagers are so confused when they see the church acting like the world and the things of the world in the church?"
Everything about the LIFESTYLE OF THE WORLD touches us every day. Someone said, "CHRISTIANS MUST LIVE IN THE WORLD BUT THEY ARE NOT TO LET THE WORLD LIVE IN THEM." Jesus said, as Christians we are to be "the salt of the earth" and the "light of the world." That is, we are to change the world and not allow the world to change us.
Please listen carefully. I realize there are many things in this world that are not deliberately anti-God, things that are not openly defiant of God's laws. But in a way, many of these seemingly innocent desires and activities are ungodly. What determines if something is ungodly or worldly?
Will it retard our spiritual appetite?
Will it weaken our spiritual influence and testimony for Jesus?
Will it bring glory to Christ?
Will it compromise our witness in life and testimony?
Will, in our effort to feel comfortable with people and activities of the world, we automatically lower our standards to their level of conduct.
Now John points out in verse 16 that the world system uses three devices to trap Christians: "The Lust of the Flesh, The Lust of the Eyes, The Pride of Life."
These same devices were used by Satan to trap Eve back in the Garden, Genesis 3:6 "And when the women saw that the tree was good for food (the lust of the flesh), and that it was pleasant to the eyes (the lust of the eyes), and a tree to be desired to make one wise (the pride of life), she took of the fruit…"
Satan used these same three devices on Christ in Matthew 4 as he tempted Him at the outset of the Lord’s ministry.
Satan challenged Christ to make "bread out of stones" to satisfy The Lust of the Flesh.
Satan took Christ to the pinnacle of the temple and appealed to him to demonstrate his faith, this was ThePride of Life.
Satan showed Christ all the kingdoms of the World and asked Christ to bow down to him, to satisfy the The Lust of the Eyes.
But thank God, Jesus on each occasion challenged Satan with the Word of God. So you are probably asking, how all this relates to our FINANCIAL FREEDOM.
Number 1: There is the LUST of the FLESH: Let me ask you a question, and before you respond, let me give you the answer. "Do you want to know why you don't read your Bible? Do you want to know why you don't tithe?" Here is the answer, "It is because you love money!" Were you surprised at that answer? You shouldn’t be, for in I Timothy 6:10 we read, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
The love of money has divided many a mother and father from a child and caused a lot of resentment among brothers and sisters at the reading of a will.
The love of money has destroyed many marriages.
Christians don't tithe because they love money and don’t want to share.
We don't read the Bible because we love money and don’t want to do what it says to do..
Why is it that so many children of God can't come to the point of trusting God? Some people say, "I can't afford to tithe." But the truth is, you simply can't afford not to tithe. You cannot afford to be dishonest with God. There must be a time in every person's life when he or she decides to get completely honest with God and trust Him.
Some people try to use the excuse, "I'm living on a limited income, so I can't tithe." It doesn't matter how much or how little income you have, one tenth is still God's.
You may not believe this, but if a man is making $100 a year, it is just as hard for him to give a tenth of his paycheck as it is for a man making $100,000 dollars to give a tenth of his.
If we think about this, the man making $100,000 a year must give $10,000. May I suggest that this may even be harder to give than $10 would be for the man who makes $100 a year?
Have you ever thought about this? Do you realize we ought to tithe on the sale of our homes? Yes, if you bought a house for a certain price, and then sold it years later for hundreds of thousands of dollars more, remember God gave you that money in the increased value of the home, and He should receive the tithe from the sale of the home. The reason it is harder to give a tithe when you make more money is because it is harder for humans to let go of large amounts of money without seeing a direct benefit.
When the Bible speaks of the love of money, it is not referring to affection for the physical currency of a country, but to the obsession of accumulating riches. We understand this from the verse that comes right before the one that warns us of the evil of loving money found in I Timothy 6:9, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” People love money not for what it is, but for what it can do for them: feed the lust of the flesh.
The person who believes that money is the answer to all problems is ignorant of life and the Word of God.
First of all, they are ignorant of life because they fail to understand that although money can pay for almost anything, it cannot buy unconditional love, good health, or peace of mind.
Secondly, the person who believes that money is the answer to all problems is ignorant of the Word of God that proclaims money can never satisfy, or give a good night's sleep.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 declares that money will never satisfy, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.”
Ecclesiastes 5: 12 informs us that money does not lead to a good night's sleep. “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”
The Word of God also warns us of the dangers of both keeping and seeking riches.
Ecclesiastes 5:13 warns us that keeping money can hurt us. “There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.”
I Timothy 6:9 warns us of the dangers of making riches our goal. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
Christians always seem to be praying for some way to strike it rich quickly by winning the lottery, inheriting a fortune, or making a killing in the stock market. I have had people say, “If I win the lottery I will give some of that money to the church.” Please don’t, because playing the lottery or gambling is nothing more than being a common thief taking that for which you did not labor.
The Bible also warns us about get-rich-quick schemes. In Proverbs 28:20 we read, “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”
The 18th century evangelist and preacher, John Wesley, once said, "When I have money, I get rid of it as soon as possible, lest it find a way into my heart." Wesley was aware of great riches that had nothing to do with money. He knew what Proverbs 13:7 meant. “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.”
Number 2: There is the LUST of the EYES: Credit cards contribute to the Lust of the Eyes. Most times when people come to me for help with their finances, it is almost too late to help them because they have already created a monster. They have charged too much without realizing that there is a day of reckoning.
I wish our President and those in Congress would realize that there is a day of accounting coming. Abraham Lincoln said this, "When a country is in debt, the country will destroy itself."
This is why today there in an economic upheaval in every country of the world. The largest country in debt is the United States of America.
Today the financial situation of people in this country is a mess, our government is in a financial mess, and our homes are in a financial mess.
Our current President is spending this nation into a debt load that our grandchildren are going to be paying off.
Why do people and nations spend money they haven't earned? Because they cannot deny the lust of their eyes; they have to have some object, and they have to have it immediately. For an individual, the lust of the eyes is fed by credit cards.
There are people who had nothing when they were in their twenties, and now have nothing in their thirties. These people will still have nothing by the time they get into their forties, fifties, and sixties because they are slaves to debt, working to pay-off the things they purchased before they had the money to do so. Many times the item they are still paying off no longer exists, or, if the item still remains, they don't officially own the item; thus, they have nothing.
Haggai 1:6 describes the tragic state of this individual. “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.”
Number 3: There is the PRIDE of LIFE: I have yet to see a baby born dressed in a tuxedo and carrying a briefcase. No one has ever seen this for the reason that babies are naked when they are born. They can't bring anything into this world with them.
Along these same lines, I have never seen a U-Haul truck attached to a hearse. Not one thing will be going with us when we die, but we will leave it all behind on this earth. Job explained the concept this way in Job 1:21, “And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
The Pride of Life is a serious pitfall to proper stewardship. Have you purchased a house or a car? It's not yours. Even if you paid for it in cash, even if your name appears on the deed or the pink slip, it is not yours. It is not yours for at least three reasons.
The first reason why your house or any of your possessions are not yours is because you didn't create them. It was God who created the raw materials that make up everything designed or built. Psalm 24:1 states that "The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof." This means that the earth and everything that it produces belong to God.
The second reason why your possessions are not yours is because they were not created for you. According to the Bible, God created everything in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, including nations and powers, for Himself. The Bible says in Colossians 1:16, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.”
The third reason why you do not own those things you think you do is because you do not maintain them. The Bible says in Colossians 1:17 that the Lord "is before all things, and by him all things exist."
Now you may be thinking, "Wait a minute, I take care of my car. I wash it, fill the tank, and change the oil." Your car, like all matter, is made up of atoms containing negatively charged electrons spinning faithfully around a nucleus of positively charged protons and uncharged neutrons. Whose power keeps those electrons spinning? It is the same God who keeps the earth and all the other planets in our solar system predictably rotating on their axis.
Those afflicted with the pride of life think that they can live however they like, eating, drinking, and engaging in whatever activity they feel like at the moment. "After all," anyone of them might say, ''I'm only hurting myself." But they are wrong. They are hurting more than their minds and bodies; they are hurting their families, and, if they are Christians, they are hurting their pastors, their churches, and the cause of Christ. If they are Christians, they have no right to treat their bodies however they like, because they do not own them. Why? Because in I Corinthians 6:19-20 we read, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”
Our possessions are not our own, our bodies are not our own, and our children are not our own for Psalm 127:3 tells us, "Lo , children are an heritage of the LORD."
Despite what the deed says, you do not really own your house; you are merely occupying it until the next person moves in.
No matter whose name is on the pink slip, you do not really own your car; you are just driving it until it either gets another driver or gets dropped off at the junk yard.
Now before this message is concluded, let me take you back to I John 2:17 to notice where the world is going. John is contrasting two ways of life, a life lived for eternity and a life lived for time.
A worldly person lives for the pleasures of the flesh, but a dedicated Christian lives for the joys of Christ.
A worldly believer lives for what he can see, the lust of the eyes; but a spiritual believer lives for the unseen realities of God.
A worldly minded person lives for the pride of life, the vainglory that appeals to men; but a Christian who does the will of God lives for God's approval, and he "abideth forever."
Everything about this present world system is changing, but the things that are eternal never change. A Christian who dedicates himself to doing God's will, to obeying God's Word, "abides or remains forever." Long after the world system, with its proud philosophies and its godless materialism, has been forgotten, and long after this planet has been replaced with a new earth, God's faithful servants will remain with God for all eternity.
Praise God, there is a way for the believer to combat worldliness! Please turn to that great challenge given by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:1-2. Notice again verse 2, "Do not conform any longer to the patterns of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Let's say it this way, "Don't let the world, SQUEEZE YOU INTO ITS OWN MOLD."
Notice Paul goes on to say, we are to be "transformed by the renewing of your mind." Old habits do not disappear overnight. The life style you had before you were saved will not change immediately after you come to Christ, but it can and must change if you are going to live for God and shine as lights for Him in the world. The key is the mind.
He who controls the MIND will control how you live.
If your mind is controlled by the Word of God you will live Godly lives.
If you mind is controlled by the World you will live worldly lives.
To sum it up, a Christian cannot help being in the world, but when the world is in the Christian, trouble starts! The world gets into a Christian through his heart: "Love not the world!" Anything that robs a Christian of his enjoyment of God's love, or of his desire to do God's will, is worldly and must be avoided. James 4:4 again tells us "…Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God…?"
Someone said, "First and foremost the Christian life is a positive allegiance to Jesus Christ. We should become so occupied with Jesus Christ that the things of this world become stale and tasteless." There is little danger of conforming to the lifestyle of the world WITHOUT, if you have enough of Christ WITHIN. John Wesley once said, "Anything that cools my love for Christ is of the world."
Let me remind you that we do not own anything, but we are stewards in control of a great deal. David had a cure for the pitfall of the pride of life, which is recorded in I Chronicles 29:10-14. The cure is recognizing that God is the owner of all.
“Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.”
Good stewards avoid the pitfalls of stewardship and the pitfalls of gaining financial freedom. Instead of loving the things in the world, they love the Creator of the world.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon “Pitfalls of Gaining Financial Freedom” then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, would you let me know? Please send an e-mail to, pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
Copy write permission: Because the “Weekly SERMONS” will be reproduced into other formats, PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THE FOLLOWING: The “Weekly SERMON” in its original form, without any changes, may be copied and re-transmitted by electronic mail, and copies may be printed for individual or ministry purposes, provided that such copying, re-transmission, printing, or other use is not for profit or other commercial purpose. Any copying, re-transmission, distribution, printing, or other use of the “Weekly SERMON” must set forth in full the heading that is given before each “Weekly SERMON.” Any other request for use, please contact Bible Baptist Ministries at pdmikBBM@aol.com or by phone at 570.829.5216.
In His Amazing Grace,
PS: In order to access the Weekly SERMON, please click the link to Weekly Sermon Library, where you will be able to choose: Plain Text (TXT), Microsoft Word document (DOC), Microsoft Word 2007 document (DOCX), Rich Text (RTF), Web Page (HTML) or PDF (Portable Document Format), any of the format(s) you desire. After you decide on the appropriate format(s) you may then print a copy of the Weekly SERMON, save it to a file on your computer, or download it and save it to a disk for future use. Your use of this material is meant to be flexible.