Are you A Good Person?
Analysis of Common Maxims from the Word of Faith Movement and the Prosperity Gospel (Bible Study & Devotional)
Are you a good person? Do you deserve as much happiness as you can find in life? Do you deserve to be wealthy and healthy? Do you think God is happy with you? What would happen to your soul if you died tonight? What would be more important; your level of success and comfort or your relationship with God?
“Live your best life now”
This is a common affirmation heard everywhere today but certainly is a refrain heard from the stages of the Word Of Faith movement and Prosperity Gospel. Is this the right mindset for a follower of Jesus Christ?
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
“I’m a good person and I deserve good things.”
Are you a good person? Most people you ask in the street will they are definitely a "good person". Is it true? Who's standard are we using?
"…as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
Let’s take a little test and find out who is good, if any. We'll reference Exodus 20, also known as the "Decalogue" or more commonly, "The Ten Commandments". Answer these questions honestly:
9 - How many lies have you told in your life?
8 - Have you ever stolen anything regardless of its value?
7 - Have you committed adultry, had sex outside of marriage, or even looked with lust?
6 - Have you committed a murder? No? Well then, have you been angry with someone for no good reason?
3 - Have you ever taken the Lord’s name in vain?
2 & 1 - Have you ever constructed a version of God in your mind that more comfortable fits your lifestyle? Or, have you ever placed a person or a job in the place of God? This is idolatry.
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
If you were honest, you answered in the affirmative to most if not all of these questions. In fact, we have all broken every one of these commandments. How? When Jesus Christ came, taught, died and rose again in victory over death he fulfilled the law that existed before.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Jesus has not abolished the law, rather moved it from stone to the flesh of our hearts. That is to say that we are all now responsible for our behavior without excuse. Also, the stakes have not been relaxed but ramped up. With the law being written on our hearts, we are now responsible even for our thoughts! Jesus said, if you have been angry at your brother for no good reason, this is murder in your heart, and if you have looked with lust at another then you have committed adultry in your heart. We have all broken God’s law. Next, ask yourself, when you die how will you be judged? If God is just how must He judge you with respect to the way you broke most or all of His laws? We all deserve the punishment. Thank God, however, He has provided for us an advocate, which is Himself, who came to us as the man Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus paid our penalty on the cross as the final sacrifice giving all people of the world access to the Kingdom of God in spite of our pitiful sinful nature. How do we access God’s Kingdom and accept the offer of eternal life with God?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Simple. Follow Jesus Christ. Turn your life over to Him and study the Word of God daily to find communion with your Creator and Savior. Pray for and strive for repentance that your life will become new, that the old will be washed away and the newness of life will be evident in you to all who see you. If it is on your heart then wear it on your sleeve and do not be ashamed of your faith in your Savior:
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
What does all this men? It means, you have a choice to make. Will you choose the world? To have your glory now? To live your best life now? Or Will you honor Jesus Christ even when it’s not the “cool thing” to do? Even when the world mocks you for it, or perhaps even persecutes you and wants to kill you for it?
How about this common mantra from the mind of secular humanism and some pulpits:
“NO FEAR” “Be fearless.”
“To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Fear, or respect is our teacher. The way we learn and come to honor God is by FEAR, which is learning. To say, I have no fear is a silly platitude intended to instill a false sense of security to one’s own desire and will for accomplishment or survival. What does King David have to say about “No Fear”?
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
So, does the Bible tell us to “go hard and have no fear”? Certainly not. God’s Word teaches us that fear is our best teacher, specifically fear of the Lord, respect for His commands and obviously respect for His judgement. Fear is what keeps us from walking too close to the edge of a cliff, and fear is what keeps us from engaging in activities that can kill us. But, some will say that Matthew chapter 10 instructs us to have no fear. Is this accurate?
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
Here we see in context that we are not to fear those who would persecute us here in the world. The command is not to go wildly into the fray with no regard. God’s clear command to us all is to fear and respect truth and God because the truth is what condemns us and the Creator is the only one who ensure us everlasting life. Therefore, have no fear of those who cannot affect your eternal soul. Once again a sharp and, for many, an uncomfortable command to hold your eternal soul of more value than your fleshly body in the world. In other words, the reward is not here. The goals are not here. When we seek after glory and our “best life now” we exchange God’s offer of eternal life for a temporary satisfaction of fleshly happiness. Remember, in opposition to that which is promoted by the prosperity gospel, your prosperity and happiness are not the priority in this life, God’s will is the priority. All the more reason, if we find do happen to find happiness and prosperity in this life, to rejoice and praise God for it, and to employ that good circumstance into a purpose that glorifies God. Too often we allow pride to drive our heart and we begin to think that we deserve something or that we need to acquire all that we can for as long as we can so that we can somehow be happy because of those accomplishments. Happiness is a metaphysical concept and has no foundation in the physical world. Have you ever met someone who has everything and has access to everything he could possibly want and is still unhappy. Proof that happiness is not a worldly condition, rather a transcendental state of peace and knowledge. Therefore, happiness is a simple choice and has nothing whatsoever to do with success or “living your best life now”.
Let’s take a look at a few of Joel Osteen’s most popular quotes and determine whether what is being taught is based on Biblical doctrine or a man-made, man-centered doctrine. The following are all from Joel Osteen:
“Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you're going to live your life.”
Who is in charge in this statement? Who is it that determines how you should live your life?
“You can change your world by changing your words...
Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
We see a vague allusion to the Epistle of James here as the tongue is, in fact, a source of evil. But what is more important here is the emphasis on changing one’s world with words. What power do you have at all to change the world? Who do we defer to in matters of world changing? Likewise, are we commanded to be concerned with our “world” in that way?
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
These answers are obvious but what is more striking to me about this statement is a direct reference to the occult, New Age, neo-Pagan systems of belief better known in common parlance as The Law of Attraction which is a method of drawing abundance to one’s self that was presented in the book and New Age training course titled, “The Secret”. Likewise, the same attitude and deference to self and even familiar spirits to aid one’s advancement and success are also found in the famous book and training course called, “A Course In Miracles”. What is put forth as the method for success in the occult and New Age systems is the idea of using language to affect reality or, in other words, to create your own reality by speaking it into existence. This is a process that is supposed to train the mind for success and in doing so will attract success and abundance to the speaker. My friends, if this sounds like Harry Potter spell work, that’s because it is. I was directly involved with this however in the dark occult methodology of Western Esotericism. But, they’re all serving serving the same master, that is to say the self, which is to serve Satan. When we seek to serve man we, by default, become fodder for Satan in his war against good. So, be very careful with such ideas that promote using your language to speak things into existence or to train your brain for success. Stand firm on the principles that God has provided in His Word. Christians, beware of any man who comes preaching a gospel different from the one given to you by the apostles:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
There are many more examples of an obviously man-centered doctrine that comes from the teachings of Joel Osteen and other self-help gurus of similar ilk. They all center around the same message that you deserve to have success and all the comforts your desires can imagine in this life. As seductive as it sounds and as popular as it is, beware of opportunists and those who would seek to confuse your relationship with Jesus Christ with a man-made, self-centered, New Age agenda of relativism. That said, I don’t think Osteen is really obfuscating his intentions. He certainly does present himself as a Christian and a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but as we should always ask, which Jesus is he preaching? There are impostors everywhere today just as God’s own Word tells us there will be. By his own words it seems clear that Osteen is happy to preach his own gospel and makes no apology for doing so. But, if we love truth and seek to honor God, we will adhere to the pure Gospel taught by Jesus Christ and the apostles of the first century.
The mistake found in a lot of prosperity gospel teaching is the idea that it is God’s will for you to be prosperous and abundant and healthy right now. The mistake occurs with the implication that you deserve to be wealthy, or that you deserve anything. We deserve punishment because of our fallen state (Romans 3:9-10) and that is all we deserve. That is the proper mindset for a follower of Jesus Christ to have. The only thing we need to be seeking to have in abundance is God’s grace and mercy. What does that mean? What is grace and mercy? Grace is when you get something that you don’t deserve - which is forgiveness and the reward of everlasting life. Mercy is when you don’t get something that you do deserve - punishment for breaking all of God’s commands, which we are ALL guilty of doing. Does that make more sense now? The Biblical approach is that we ought not allow our prideful nature to overtake our faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. When we allow ourselves to start believing that we are owed something or that we deserve to be happy and wealthy and healthy because we are good people, we do make a fatal mistake. We see this running amok in the world today where people are professing that they are owed something simply based on their existence or their choice to be unusual, be it, special treatment, or money, or a life of notoriety, or certain rights, or anything that satisfies the immediate desires of the flesh. This why we use the word “submission” when we speak of our relationship with God. We must submit to Him and His will for our lives. God’s will for your life might not be that you should be wealthy or even healthy. God’s plan for your life might not be what you expect or even want it to be! It is God’s will that we seek to glorify, not our own lives. That might sound like a hard teaching to itching ears and those who love smooth preaching. But, truth, objective morality and God’s will are not subject to your desires and dreams - it’s exactly the other way around. Keep this in mind the next time you hear someone claiming their promises from Jesus on something like wealth and abundance. The best advice to give anyone in this errant mindset, or in fact even to remind ourselves from time to time is to say:
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! It’s about God’s will. If we come into harmony with God’s will, then we are able to find the only true peace and happiness that exists in this world. Forgiveness is a free gift from God. But, it will cost you everything. You’ll have to let go of your desires for worldly gain and recognition. You’ll have to submit to the will of God and follow Jesus Christ as your master and go where the Holy Spirit guides you. To live any other way is to grieve the Holy Spirit and we all know that is a foolish and deadly way to live.
So what is our command?
Matthew 5:13-16 “Salt and Light”
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
You have a choice to make.
Will you choose the world? To have your glory now? To live your best life now? Or Will you honor Jesus Christ even when it’s not the “cool thing” to do? Even when the world mocks you for it, or perhaps even persecutes you and wants to kill you for it?
Do I want to live my best life now?
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And after that, whatever He places in my path will be my life. I give it ALL to Him and He guides my life. If I were to seek to guide it myself I would certainly land myself in a den of iniquity, What can I produce that’s good? Without Jesus Christ living inside myself, all my actions are relative to what feels good to me, and to what seems right by my subjective point of view. Look around yourself! That doesn’t work out so well. We NEED a Savior, and objective moral law giver who will guide us through those moments where our subjectivity could cause great harm to others. And Thank God, WE HAVE A SAVIOR who wants to give us exactly that.
Are you a good person?
By whose standard?
May God bless you all!