The Cross For Our Worship

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Mat. 4:8-10

Let me begin, at the very outset, by stating the most important thing that I set out to say in this post.

What I want every reader to understand is that as far as the believer is concerned, the devil has only one goal – only one: to blind the believer to God’s plan and purpose in the Spirit. The devil’s singular goal in your life is to blind you to God’s spiritual purpose and instead have you focus on the material life of this world – and thus worship him.

Seeing this is the singular point that I wanted to make in this post, I probably need to write that in bold capitals:

THE DEVIL HAS ONLY ONE GOAL IN OUR LIVES: TO BLIND US TO GOD’S WILL AND PURPOSE IN THE SPIRIT, AND THEREBY WORSHIP HIM.

THAT IS NOT HIS NO. 1 OR NO. 2 OR NO. 3 GOAL: RATHER, IT IS HIS SINGULAR GOAL IN OUR LIVES.

Very few men would not stop to consider it, even if it were momentarily, if they were tempted with a substantial amount of worldly wealth. And no amount that the devil would give any man would hardly compare with what he was offering Jesus here: “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”.

Jesus was under severe, intense temptation here. The master of this world was offering Him “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”! Just stop and think about that. The devil’s “if” indicates that our Lord Jesus was about to lose and lose it big.

But in Jesus, Satan met more than his match. At every step of the way, Jesus did not miss a single beat. He met the devil’s challenge word for word – and the devil knew Jesus meant every word He said. Try as he might, the devil could not crack a chink in Jesus’ spiritual armor and finally he had to leave.

Notice in the scripture above that it is about whom we worship. If you told a believer today that they were worshipping Satan, they would have you arrested by the state police. Literally. But this scripture proves to us that, without a doubt, many believers are actually worshipping Satan.

Colossians 3:5 states:

“… covetousness… is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).

Idolatry is the worship of false gods, and the Bible teaches here that coveting the things of this world is equal to worshipping a false god – in this case, Satan himself.

Satan was trying to get Jesus to commit the sin of idolatry. He was showing Jesus the glory of this world and trying to get Him to lust and covet after it. Mind you, Jesus here was not God; He was as much man as you and I.

But Jesus was dead to covetousness. Long before He would be crucified physically, Jesus had crucified his flesh in the Spirit. He had not an iota of desire for the things of this world. As far as this world was concerned, for Him, the words of the Apostle Paul applied:

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8).

Walking fully in the Spirit, Jesus made short work of the devil’s strenuous attempts to have him worship him by coveting the world.

Today, Satan has no such problems with the church as he had with Jesus. As a matter of fact, today, there is a gospel that is fully dedicated to worshipping the devil – and this gospel is alive and well in a born-again, Spirit-filled, tongues-speaking church. It is called the gospel of prosperity. A vast majority of the church of Jesus Christ are under the influence of this gospel.

The gospel of prosperity is vast in its scope. This gospel begins by saying that Jesus promised us that “… all these things shall be added unto you” (Mat. 6:33). From there on, it reverts into free-for-all mode, where any teaching is acceptable as long as it brings material and physical gain to the recipient.

The healing ministry, today largely an inherent part of the prosperity gospel, has itself become a big money-spinning industry. There are healing ministries, healing churches, and even healing schools! One of the most diabolical offshoots of the healing ministry is the wildly acclaimed ‘deliverance’ ministry, where the devil is clearly running things in person. At present, under this ministry, the hottest-selling commodity is something called anointing water. Whatever this water is, it has taken on a life of its own and it has become the life-support for many believers.

Incidentally, in many places of worship and even on the streets, this water is being sold at exorbitant prices.

Under the guise of ‘deliverance’ people are being made to eat grass, snakes, frogs… the list of horrors is endless.

Under the prosperity gospel, every other ministry – the worship ministry, the prophetic ministry, the apostolic ministry, and every all other ministries – have been hijacked to cater only for the physical and material well-being of God’s people. And, apart from the fact that these ministries no longer cater to the spiritual need of the church, today, all these ministries are million-dollar money- minting machines.

The devil loves to be worshipped and he will use everything in his power to achieve this goal. That is why he was willing to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if only He would worship him. If you know anything about how the world runs, you will acknowledge that what the devil was offering was a sure deal. Jesus would have become the most powerful man on earth!

Now, we all know that although the devil has power over all the material wealth in the world, yet he is the stingiest and most selfish soul alive. He is extremely rich in two these qualities. But here we see him willing to give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

This shows the extent to which the devil will go to blind God’s people. If you have a problem with money in your heart, he will use money to ensnare you. He will bring money into your life. Of course, he will begin by giving you small amounts since it is not in his nature to give. But if he sees that the amount he is giving you is not enough to get you away from seeing into the Spirit, he will increase the bounty. But the devil goes even further than that. He will sacrifice everything if the catch justifies it!

That is why all the top preachers today are wildly moneyed. You cannot take someone who was powerfully called and anointed by God – as many of these men were initially – and try to con him with a ten-dollar bill! If you are serious about your mission to derail such a preacher, then you will have to think in terms of “releasing” private jets and million-dollar mansions. And, believe me, the devil knows all this and he is willing to pay the price.

He had no problem giving the Son of God “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

Today he is giving preachers dollars and material wealth.

Of course, with Jesus, the devil was patting in the dark. Jesus did not exhibit even one carnal trait upon which Satan could hinge his traps on. But he tried anyway.

But with us, he knows our weak spots. If you lust after anything, the devil knows it and he will give you tons of it, if need be.

But there is no way we can claim to be living for God if we love the world and the things in it. On the contrary, we need to die to the flesh and to the world. That is why we need to thank God exceedingly that He has brought us, once again, the revelation of the cross. Through this revelation, the Pauline doctrine of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) has become alive again! Praise Jesus for that!

And we should be extremely grateful that this gospel is being revealed in our day. How much God loves us! And how is it that God has brought about this revelation in our day?! We are not blind, and we can see the damage being done by the charismatic gospel. How much grateful should we be to God for bringing the cross into our hearts?

The cross “…by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

What glorious words! Being crucified to the world, and the world to me, beats “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

It is the only way I can worship God in truth and in the Spirit.

The Glory And The Power

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Matthew 4:8-10

Notice here that in all the temptations that Satan took Jesus through, the single temptation where he needed Jesus to fall down and worship him involved the power and glory of this world. He would give Jesus these if he would fall down and worship him.

You would be shocked at the thought of Jesus falling and worshipping Satan, but you need to remember that Jesus was as much blood and flesh as you and I. The devil is not stupid, as many people suppose. And the power of the glory of this world is not something to tamper with.

This was the last temptation that the devil would tempt Jesus with at that particular time, and that is noteworthy because we know that one always saves the best for last. In other words, this was the devil’s best temptation.

What many Christians do not realize is that Jesus refused, gave up, or surrendered what the devil was trying to give Him. Jesus, as a man, knew that it was truly in Satan’s power to do exactly what he had told Him he would do. When Jesus made that answer to old man Satan, He knew exactly what He would be missing.

That was why Jesus did not do His rounds in a Boeing 747 (which He very well could have afforded to do, being the Son of God – and you can imagine the crowds being awed by the sight of that big iron bird in the air and pointing to each other, “There goes the King’s Kid!” as He whizzed past). That was the reason also that He was persecuted instead of being revered. That was the reason Jesus would undergo many of the things He went through.

Jesus was aware of all that, but He would not bend His knee and worship Satan. That cannot be said of many Christians today. Many are seeking after the glory and riches of this world. And therein lies their spiritual downfall.

Someone said, “Those who say money does not bring happiness are those who have never owned money”. He was right in a way. Money, after all, is the god of this world. Money is power. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been compromised the world over almost entirely due to this single reason, the love of money. As an African I know that only too well. I am well aware that there are many African preachers and Christians who cannot serve God with any degree of spiritual freedom any time they come into contact with someone with money (or when they meet a white man, because a white man is considered ‘superior’ and moneyed).

In the same way, there are many white people who do not “see” God clearly when it comes to dealing with an African. They prefer to serve their ego.

This is a truly big problem with the church, and it needs to be faced and dealt with squarely because it is destroying the church of Jesus Christ.

The sad thing about all this is that if one is not serving God in freedom (as described in either of the above cases) he is not really serving God. He is serving something else.

But God wants us all to serve Him in freedom of spirit. And He wants us to serve Him and Him alone. Do not “fall down” to a white man, nor to your ego, nor to anything because if you do so, you will not be worshipping and serving the One True God.

Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Christians worship Satan unknowingly on so many fronts. It is time we faced this truth so that we may be set free to serve God and Him alone.

The problem today is that there is a glut of conformist gospels; gospels that conform to a worldly standard; and these gospels are being taught in church. This was the very thing the Apostle Paul feared for the Corinthian church, as he tells them in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4: “… I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him”.

Unfortunately, that is the very thing that is happening with the church today.

But he tells Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).

Notice that word, “doctrine” there. Our safety is in the doctrine that we submit ourselves under. What we become ultimately depends on the doctrine we are hearing. The teaching that we hear moulds our spiritual desires and expectations. We should desire and seek after the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, which the apostles preached and on which the Early Church was built.

The Apostle Paul tells us what doctrine he preached: “… Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).

There are some people who have made Paul’s words a populist saying. But it is not. On the contrary, it refers to the work of the cross that a knowledge of Christ will bring into our hearts, which work will crucify the lusts of the flesh and reveal the life and character of Christ in us. This alone will enable us to worship God and to serve Him only.

A vision of the cross was what enabled Jesus to not desire the world or its influence and power. In that way He was able to not fall down and worship the devil.

When we are not walking in the revelation of the cross, when we are not taking up our cross and following after Jesus in crucifying the flesh, we will be in church singing “Glory, Hallelujah!” but we are worshipping the devil. That sounds shocking, but it is the truth.

That truth is made all the more real by the unashamedly materialistic gospels being preached today. In lusting after money and all that it offers, we have compromised the gospel of Jesus Christ in an incredible manner.

Nowadays in Africa, there is much fear in church circles of what people call ‘Freemasons’. Many Christians fear that this shadowy clique are out to ‘buy out’ the church through the ungodly wealth that they possess.

We don’t need to look that far. We ourselves (today’s church) are the real ‘Freemasons’! We have jeopardized the gospel of Jesus Christ by paying heed to ‘fables’ in church. A preacher comes to church and says things that the flesh wants to hear and we clap and cheer. In reality, we are doing obeisance to the devil.

A true worship of God will require us to refuse the glory and power of this world just like Jesus did. And, pray, what kind of power can unbind the flesh from these things? Only one thing can: the cross. We need an understanding of the cross which goes far beyond the conventional knowledge that Jesus was crucified on it for our sins. We need an understanding that agrees with scripture that ” if one died for all, then were all dead” (2 Cor. 5:14).

And in the small way that God has granted me, that is what I am dedicated to doing in this blog.

Grace is Mercy – And Victory (Part 2)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9

In my last post I promised to narrate two incidences in my life where I have witnessed God’s grace – here in the form of His unsolicited mercy – in my life. Well, as I was meditating on these experiences I came to realize I had spoken hastily: there are actually many more occurrences in my life where I have seen the Lord’s grace working in my life than I can narrate. Probably these two stood out more prominently, but the others are no less spectacular.

Time and space does not allow me to narrate both incidences here, so in this post I will narrate only one. If I find the grace to narrate the other one, I will in a later post. Everything, though, is geared to give glory to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me begin by saying that I was educated in a British school. That doesn’t mean that I went to Britain, no. But our African school had a British principal and we were taught by many British teachers. I remember names like Mr. Kirkwood, Mr. Shaw, Mr. James, Mr. Pragnell, and many others whom I cannot now recall. This school and the teachers built into me an appreciation of the things of God, for which I am eternally grateful. The teachers weren’t necessarily saved, but they had that deep-rooted tradition of worshiping God. Every day we would sing Christian songs, and pray. This kind of lifestyle had a big impact on my later life.

But not everything about the British is praiseworthy – and I hope by saying this I will not be receiving a summonses from The Hague! The flip side of my British upbringing was that I took on a certain trait of not wanting to be disturbed. Later on in life I found that I highly valued my privacy, something that was set to put me on a sure collision course with society at large because Africans generally have few reservations or barriers in their relationships.

It was with this rather egotistic mindset that I moved to Musoma in 1993 and the first morning after I arrived I was subjected to the rudest intrusion into my privacy that I had ever met. Exactly at 5 a.m. I was woken up by the loudest noise I had ever heard at that hour, which I later learned was a Muslim ‘crier’ calling the faithful to prayer over a loud-speaker.

I had never been subjected to such an experience before and I was livid. What right had anyone to wake me up at such an unholy hour? And if he had any right to yell into a microphone at that time, I also had the right to sleep!

Mind you I was saved, but had you shone a flashlight into my face at that moment, you would have turned to stone. I could feel my eyes and they were icicles! I lay there in bed seething and thinking of which appropriate authority I should go see first thing in the morning. At that time I wished I was a lawyer – then I could know the precise clause in the Constitution which guaranteed my right to sleep without interruption! The thought even crossed my mind that I should write a letter to some newspaper editor to highlight this great social injustice.

But the morning light dispersed many of these thoughts and I was not even sure then how I would present my case to a civil authority. I decided to persevere and await the end of the matter. One way or another, I was certain there would be an end to it!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, let me say that I really suffered as my ego was pounded morning after morning, day after day. I could have moved to another location in town, but in Musoma there are mosques strategically situated in every part of town. The agony went on for quite a long time.  I don’t recall having the grace to even pray about the situation. Whenever my thoughts turned in that direction, I would be anything but a fine, young, born-again Christian man.

Then one day, I woke up and it was gone! The condition that had troubled me for so long had simply, in an instant,  vanished from my heart. I remember clearly that I just woke up and I felt this deep peace in my heart. It was like someone had come in while I slept and cleaned my heart – literally. I hadn’t realized how much of a burden I had been carrying! I found myself having the softest, most loving thoughts towards the Muslim crier. At that moment I truly loved him. I felt clearly in my heart that I would even welcome it if they were to affix that loud-speaker to my bedroom window and direct the horn towards my bed!

And that has been it up till today. I have my challenges with regard to the Muslim faith, but I have never had a problem again with the crier. Never. Whatever time he decides to make his move, or however loudly he calls out, whether he be far or near, my heart is always at peace.

I want to make it clear that it is not that I decided to accommodate the situation, or something as simple as that. No. This was a supernatural transformation that occurred in my heart one morning; and it was so tangible that I knew immediately the Lord had touched and helped me.

I did mention that I did not pray about this temptation. That does not mean we should not pray. I would not encourage any such thing. Indeed, we should pray very hard to be delivered from temptation and trials. But I am sure God delivered me even without me praying just to show me His abundant grace, which is not dependent on a formula or any principle.