False Doctrine About the Holiness of Prosperity
False doctrine, as used here, is a reference to inaccurate teaching. More specially, here the matter is the inaccurate teaching that equates prosperity with holiness. Three of the popular ideas in this area will be mentioned below.
1. Only the lazy and sinful are financially poor. Passages like Proverbs 10:4 teaches that the sin of laziness often leads to poverty. Passages like Haggai 1:5-11 suggest that sin can lead to God taking our wealth away.
However, sometimes poverty is the result of sinful oppression, as in passages like Amos 2:6. There are too many people who work very hard, but they work in sinful systems that keep them in poverty. For example, a single mother of two, who became single when her young husband died without life insurance, goes to work and spends more money on child care than she brings home.
There are people who work hard and invest in a company that goes bankrupt. The bankruptcy not only leads to the loss of jobs at the company but pensions are not paid and stock investments are lost and poverty results. There is no blaming the poor for laziness or sinfulness, in these examples.
2. God always blesses obedience with financial prosperity. It is true that God can bless with material prosperity, as He strongly alludes to in Malachi 3:10-12.
However, there is no evidence that people like Paul, Timothy, Peter, and even John, the second most prolific writer of the New Testament, were financially prosperous. This is in spite of their great sacrificial obedience to God.
3. Giving more money to God always leads to financial prosperity. It is true that the more we give to God, the more God gives to us (see II Cor. 9:6). It is true that sowing tomato seeds leads to reaping tomatoes, and sowing finances leads to sowing finances (see Gal. 6:6-7).
However, the reason faith is needed is because God doesn't always move according to our expected time table. We may sow down here and reap in eternal life. We are actually taught to sow faith based obedience more than simply money, and we reap grace, in whatever way God decides to give it.
In summary, some poverty is because of laziness or the punishment of sin. God can and may bless obedience with financial prosperity. God can and may bless our giving to Him with more money given to us. However, poverty is not always the individual's fault and God is not restricted to the expectations above.
Consequently, it is false doctrine to lift these notions up as what has to be. Prosperity doesn't always equal holiness. There are too many prosperous thieves and murders. But their day of reckoning is coming.
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