Monday, November 12, 2007

Spiritual Mercenaries

Winter was fast approaching, as Paul sat in a damp prison cell. It was not like the last time. This was no house arrest, he was not allowed visitors, and the Roman prison was anything but accommodating.
At least they had shown him a modicum of grace by allowing him some parchment, a quill and an inkwell. Paul was by no means feeling sorry for himself, he gladly bore the stripes and the chains for the cause of Christ.
He busied himself by writing, first one letter, then a second to the young man he called his beloved son Timothy, and though imprisoned he found the strength of character to be an encouragement to his student, to continue teaching and discipling him.
The memories took him back to his time in Asia, how he had persevered, preached the word, and established a church even with a death sentence hanging over his head. He remembered fondly how he had labored, and taught and discipled, he remembered all the hours and days spent exhorting those of the church of Asia, but after his departure, the mercenaries had struck.
Hot tears dampened the parchment upon which he wrote, as he relayed to Timothy something he already knew, that all those in Asia had turned away from him. Not a one was left, all his hard work scattered to the wind.
In spite of this, the tears Paul was shedding, were not tears of bitterness, nor tears of anger, they were tears of compassion and heartache. Paul wept because those of Asia had rejected truth. The spiritual mercenaries had struck, and with enticing words beguiled those whom he had built up and edified.
If spiritual mercenaries were few in number during Paul's day, in our day they have become a cottage industry. A spiritual mercenary, much like the modern day mercenaries, who sell their services to the highest bidder, are men of no particular allegiance, who will fight on the side that offers the best compensatory package.
Their only allegiance is to themselves, and the motto of the spiritual mercenary echoes the motto of the real life ones, in that they both hold to the principle, "I got to get paid."
Right or wrong, sin and righteousness, are subjective to the spiritual mercenary. They will say whatever it takes to reach their desired end. The spiritual mercenary does not care what he teaches, if at the end of the day he can cash a check, and buy a bigger house.
Another commonality of spiritual mercenaries, is that they wreak havoc wherever they go. They attempt to divide and conquer a congregation, promoting themselves rather than Christ, preaching a different gospel than that which is found in the Bible.
The tragedy, is that spiritual mercenaries are often successful, and after they've achieved their objective, they leave destruction in their wake. At heart, spiritual mercenaries are poachers, who realize that it's hard work fishing in a stream, or a river, and decide to go fishing in their neighbor's fish tank. Their message will always tickle the ears, it will always be sugar coated, and palatable because their goal is not repentance, or sanctification, their goal is a following, and more importantly that followings' tithe at the first of every month.
True shepherds weep as Paul did at the thought of their labors, time spent in prayer, in mentoring and discipling, only to have the mercenaries come in ravaging and destroying the flock they helped build.
Some often ask me why I concentrate on wolves, spiritual mercenaries, hirelings, and pharisees so much, and the answer, is because it adversely affects the sheep. People are hurting, people are looking for answers, people want to know Jesus, they are sincere in their desires, and their sincerity is exploited, they are being taken advantage of, and bled until all they are left with is an overwhelming feeling of resentment and bitterness. The resentment and bitterness extend beyond the person who deceived them, and made them empty promises, and eventualy come to include God Himself. I have met men, who want nothing to do with God, who don't want to hear of church or fellowship because they have been so wounded by mercenaries in the past.
If the mercenaries kept to themselves, if they were somehow kept isolated from the sheep, I would pay them no mind, they could go on deceiving each other and being deceived until judgment day, because many of them are beyond help, they have already been given over, their conscience seared, and the only thing driving them is the ever growing greed that is never satisfied.
The obvious truth however, is that they are not isolated, they roam among the weak, immature, and innocent, preying and feeding, preying and feeding.
I have often said that I consider myself a level headed, balanced sort of person, and few things get to me. There is perhaps a handful of things that stir my ire, and this ongoing systematic shameless manipulation and exploitation of God's children is one of those things.
I already know what some of you are thinking, that the sheep are just as guilty and as complicit for giving heed, for being beguiled by the empty words and insincere smiles, and to a certain extent I agree.
The times however are upon us, wherein the deception is so concentrated, so well focused and refined, that it is attempting to overtake and deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Flesh is still flesh, and it likes what it hears, justifying the accepting of certain teaching because it comes from men who call themselves servants of God. Couple the strength of the flesh, with the spiritual immaturity so many Christians find themselves in today, and you will begin to understand just how successful the spiritual mercenaries are.
If there is a silver lining in this dark cloud that has settled over the church, it's that the spiritual mercenaries are predictable, and easy to spot. If they talk about their homes, their cars, and their airplanes more than they talk about Jesus, if they focus more on positive affirmation and being happy with yourself rather than repenting of your sins, if within any given week they preach on 1 Kings 17 more than once, chances are very good that you are in the presence of a spiritual mercenary.
I know the words make you feel warm inside, I know you can close your eyes and almost see yourself running through your mansion, exiting through the imported teak doors, onto your own personal Olympic size pool, where a personal butler is waiting with a freshly chilled mixture of orange and strawberry juices, but my advice is to snap out of the daydream, and run. Run as fast as your legs will carry you, stick your fingers in your ears as you're trying to find an exit if you have to, do whatever it takes not to fall into the trap, not to be beguiled and deceived by the empty promises, so that a few months, or a year from now, your only companions won't be bitterness and resentment.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.


Anonymous said...

I agree, and can never express it enough using this keyboard.

Anonymous said...

perhaps this is the cup from which the great falling away shall be poured from?! it seems the church at large in america is ripe for such pickings.

Elm Street Chapel said...

Yes Michael,
you are so right. The mercenaries freely take advantage of God's people, with little fear. The only thing I can really take solace in is that, as you pointed out, both sides of this issue were prophesied. The great fallen away is at the door just as deliverance for God's people is. When people shirk the responsibility for their own salvation they give up more than they think. The responsibility for working out your own salvation with fear and trembling is not a popular message, but it is one that could save a lot of grief. People are so quick to hand over spiritual responsibility for their lives to those they should be able to trust, they never give a thought if they can trust them. I believe one of the saddest things of our day is the doctrines of devils and men. Man led by his own lust for power and control, fetters the unsuspecting. It's just as Jesus said it would be.

Anonymous said...

Please continue to expose the wolves. You are so correct. They are everywhere and they can easily deceive people sometimes because they use the truth of God's Word and then twist it to say what they want it to say. Sometimes it takes the Holy Spirit to step in and open your eyes like He did mine and my family. Unfortunately, damage had already been done. However, we learned a valuable lesson and now we are very discerning and search the scripture for the truth. Thank you for your writings. They help me very much.

A Seed Sower said...

Yes Bro Michael people forget what life is all about dont they, its not about teak doors and swimming pools, when it comes down to life and death people would give everything they had just to buy one more hour....
I just have to give Glory to God. You know there are no coincidences with our all knowing all seeing God. A strange but wonderful series of events have led up to this time in my life. If it were not for the obedience of a lady who listened and obeyed God and moved to my city, I would not have met Bro Michael. If it were not for Bro Michael’s listening to God and then in obedience to God starting this blog, I would never have met and become friends with Bonnie, who folks, just happens to live in the same area as my son and granddaughter in Sydney Australia. Bonnie also has a friend who works in the children’s ward of that hospital. Now listen brothers and sisters there are no coincidences with our Merciful, Faithful, and Loving God. God cares, He really cares about every single one of us, all he wants is for us to listen to His voice, and then obey what He tells us, regardless of what may seem the cost to us. When we are willing to obey Him there is no end to what He can do, through us and in us for His Glory.
Once again Bro Michael, dear Saints of God thank you for your prayers and messages of encouragement and comfort, I will keep you updated as I hear.
Helen B

Anonymous said...

By the grace of God, I have survived many, many mercenaries. They must serve a purpose, like teaching us to focus on our Lord and Saviour and to search the Scriptures daily to see if what they say is true. They teach us to sharpen our sword. They teach us to become strong in the Lord, if we learn to lean on Him and not on them. Praise the Lord! I have survived!

Anonymous said...

Another reason to run for the exit if you are in such a church or ministry is that the love of money is the root of every other evil thing being exposed in the church today. You cannot stay clean and pure for very long when your leadership is not. And, believe me, it's NOT if the love of money is there.

Some years ago I worked in a new ministry in its first year that was supported by (and therefore pretty much run by) billionaires, and I watched close up what happens to even godly people with access to that kind of lifestyle. Where you see the love of money, it's not long and you will find lying, hypocrisy, flattery, sensuality, gluttony, abuse of various kinds, lust, adultery, and homosexuality.

It is very sad because almost everyone around the minister has their own personal agenda for being there, so if he ever realizes he made a mistake and wants out, it probably feels almost impossible because of the entangling tentacles of a bunch of Jezebels and Judases and their "poor, dependent families". But if he doesn't get out then, he can only go on by deceiving himself and being deceived.

I will never forget the blantant statement of a brother I worked with in that ministry after I confronted him for exhibiting an ugly spirit around me. He said, "This ministry is going places and I don't care what I have to do, I'm going with it ." Wow. Imagine saying that out loud! Guess where it went? The way of all flesh.

My point is that I do not believe these prosperity preachers or ministries - of which the one I refer to was NOT - could possibly keep themselves free from all the other sins, such as what I listed above, which rush in the open door afforded by the love of money.

Helen - thank you for sharing how the Father is showing Himself faithful in the midst of your family's crisis. I only tonight saw your posts about the accident. I pray that you and your family will receive everything our loving Father intends through this - which is a lot - so that Jesus receives the most possible glory!

Anonymous said...

I agree, Linda. If we desperately want the Lord enough, then like the treasure in the field or the pearl of great price, we will not be satisfied until we find Him. I sat under many of these mercenaries myself but in the end they did not satisfy. But sadly my husband is an example of a casualty as you describe, Bro Michael, and his bitterness is towards God as a result. I believe that some of these mercenaries have had their consciences seared and know exactly what they are doing, but others are as blind and deceived as those they are leading into the pit. The path to hell is paved with good intentions and human sincerity. I pray often that those sheep who are hungry might become increasingly dissatisfied, and that they might be awakened before too late - I know many of them.

Elm Street Chapel said...

What you speak is truth, brother.

It seems that those who have been at the disposal of these 'mercenaries' have either been caught in the trap or have left the church all together because what they have been promised never came to pass.

Thankfully, as Dave mentioned, we have been warned of these type of people. The Lord just led me to read in Jude this morning.

Jude 1

...3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ...8Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities...10But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 11Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever...15To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. 16These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.

17But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. 19These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

20But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

21Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22And of some have compassion, making a difference:

23And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

24Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

25To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

A Seed Sower said...

Bro Michael, Saints, this is the news I awoke to this morning,via e-mail from New zealand, PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME!!:

Great news to greet you when you wake. Ebony is responding to simple questions with thumbs up then reached up and pulled Nadines head down to her and said i love you Mummy. Neck brace is off and she has had a suck on ice cubes. God is so Good and faithful isn't He. Haven't been able to talk to Jonathan as both their phones are flat but we will keep you informed as things progress. Thank you so much for your prayers and the prayers of your friends. God Bless you heaps. John and Bev.

Elm Street Chapel said...

To God alone be the glory! He is so faithful.

Thank you Lord for hearing the cries of your saints.

In Him,

Anonymous said...

Psalm 19:12
Who can understand his (his own) errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.

Psalm 19:13
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

Proverbs 22:15
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

Acts 1:24
And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen

Proverbs 10:17
He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, But he who refuses correction goes astray.

Zephaniah 3:1-2
Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, To the oppressing city! She has not obeyed His voice, She has not received correction;
She has not trusted in the LORD,
She has not drawn near to her God.

Anonymous said...

Helen B. - Wow! This is great news. God is merciful and kind and we thank him for Ebony's speedy recovery.

Talkning about spiritual mercenaries, I once saw a church invite a speaker who introduced the prosperity gospel. At that time, the prosperity gospel was unknown and everyone got so excited. This preacher called for the congregation to buy new cars for all the pastors in the church (instead of fundraising for the church building that was being developed). He promised that all who give will receive within a few weeks answers to their prayers and wealth. People went into debt to give to the pastors expecting a quick reaping of the promised 10, 30 and hundred fold….it never came. Needless to say, after that the church broke up into many small churches because all the pastors wanted a congregation that is accountable to them and they can get tithes from. The church building was never completed (even 20 years later). The church that was once responsible for a great revival in my country is now caught up in the doctrines of men and rituals that have no benefit and that keep the flock under bondage to the pastors (they even preach that those who leave that church will die or go to hell!). It took but one mercenary to lead the church astray...its a sad thing to be deceived and not even know it, to be blind and be led by another blind man and not even have a clue they are blind too. That is why we have to have our spiritual ears perked up and to pray for the gift (or spirit??) of discernment....lest as you put it...we get fleeced, butchered and served up as lamb chops.

In His Grace

Anonymous said...

Praise God for Helen's grandaughter! Halleluia! God truly is almighty and powerful!

I also want to praise God for the lack of money my family has always had! As I read these posts, I am hit time and again by the greed of the human race. Some of the stories you guys tell are heart breaking.
I used to laugh at people when they asked if I bought a lottery ticket, I would tell them, "I didn't think I would be a very nice rich person, so I don't play." I always said that tongue in cheek, but the more I hear about these people preaching monetary returns in the church and what they behave like, the more I believe that God personally blessed me with poverty for a good part of my life. (I probably wouldn't have admitted that in my youth!)
I am so glad that I escaped this particular deception. It amazes me what man will sink to, all in the name of God.

Mrs. Pugh

HisLoveAbides said...

Shalom all,

This post, brings to mind the spiritual mercenaries of the Dark Ages. A glimpse of their activities can be found in the book 'John Wycliffe' The Dawn of the Reformation.

He too, Michael, had to deal with the evil of his day.

On page 18 of the same book we find "Wycliffe began his attack on the medieval Church by exposing the errors and vices of the begging friars. He had begun by showing respect for them because of their beginnings and the life of St. Francis. They professed to depend on the gifts of others, but their corruptions had become notorious. In 1360 he published his 'Objections to the Friars'. They had never been so forcibly assaulted before. The vigour of his mind and the conviction of his soul began to be displayed to these enemies of the Gospel and to the common people. The friars realised that they faced a foe who would not relent. It was his pastoral concern for the people that moved him. The friars not only failed to do any good; they did great harm.

His complaint against the friar was that 'he stuffs the people only too effectually with garbage'. They were expert communicators. They knew how to make a long discourse on the seven deadly sins attractive by telling a long story of a miser carried off by the devil, or a murderer detected in the act. The arts of sensationalism were their stock-in-trade, but what proved their main attraction was the cheap price at which they granted absolution to the people. Wycliffe's contest with the begging friars continued through his life."

The more things change, the more they seem to remain the same.

Shalom and Love in the Messiah,