What Man Made Wrong, Jesus Made Right

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”
Romans 5:18

The Problem

As I’m sitting here in Murang’A, Kenya, I realize that no matter what continent I’m on, man suffers from the same problem: We desire to have more..

One of the pastors we have been fellowshipping with during our conference asked the question “Can God ever fail someone?” He asked this question as seriously as could be, with no lack of genuine interest. His question came out of a conversation on the prosperity gospel that had come out of the session I was teaching over James 2. This problem of wanting more, has led men to distort the teaching of scripture to sound as though God will give us whatever we claim in His name. He spoke of a pastor at a conference telling the attendees that all they need to do is to claim a new car, house, insert whatever desire wanted, that if they believed hard enough and prayed to God hard enough, that He would give it to them. The example of purchasing a key, carrying the key around, praying about the key, believing that God would deliver the match to the key was also given. This is a problem, specifically when you have people who exist in poverty hear that God will give them whatever they want if only they believe hard enough. When they don’t end up with what they believe so hard in receiving from God, they become disappointed because they think God has failed them.

What is the point of teaching people this pitiful, weak, and heretical theology? Are we telling people this in order to bolster and boost church attendance numbers? To increase giving? People always want to get more. People always want to make sure “self” has the best for “self.” This desire leads people to feel as though they are entitled to their heart’s desire, regardless of whether or not it will benefit them. This though comes from proof-texting scripture such as Psalm 37:4, which says “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you your heart’s desires.” What is missed in this passage, is that when we pursue God, His desires become our heart’s desires. I don’t see anywhere in scripture that God just gives us what we want, however, I do see where He gives us what we need. I also see, as in Ps 37:5-6, where we are called to commit our way to Him, and He will make our righteousness shine like the dawn. It doesn’t say He will increase our storehouses and increase our possessions because we go to church and give money to the church.

The Solution

Because man wanted more, and wanted more to the point of wanting to be like God (see Adam and Eve), we required an avenue to be cleansed from that iniquity in order to have eternity with Him in heaven. One trespass on man’s part led to the need for salvation, that salvation came from one act of righteousness that could only come from God. Jesus was the one act of salvation who brought about that cleansing that man could not provide himself. We wanted more, that led to us earning nothing but condemnation. But, because God is a loving God, He gives us something we don’t deserve: Justification and reconciliation through the sacrifice of perfection.

I encourage us to look at ourselves and our ministries through new eyes, to examine our hearts and what we’re teaching those we are responsible for shepherding. In order to gain new church attenders, we cannot promise that God will give people something that His word never promises He will give. We must strive to show them the God of love, without misrepresenting who He is.

Phillip Whitfield
Phillip Whitfield is a passionate follower of Jesus and a youth pastor, husband, father, and an all around nice guy! When he's not sun tanning on the beach in South Texas, he's studying to teach young people about Jesus and hoping to support parents in raising up their children in the ways of God so that they never depart from it!

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