Part 4. Divestment--The Forgotten Words of Christ
April 21, 2008
By Ron and Karen Schwartz
a word for contemporary Christians, but it is not a word of assurance
and comfort as is being preached from pulpits all across our land, and
it is not a word of encouragement as spoken by contemporary
(self-proclaiming) prophets. The word is “Divest.” Recently,
the Spirit of the Lord spoke to an assembly of His people and said, “Divest
yourself of all things you think make you spiritual.”
Most Christians see Satan as the Great Deceiver, so they try to focus
their attention on thwarting his deeds. They believe that the great
deception of the last days is his action to deceive the world into
denouncing the deity of God through social corruption and sin such as
humanism, atheism, abortion, liberalism, and the homosexual agenda. As a
result, they undertake a less than mediocre attempt to prevent these
social sins from overtaking their societies. But all these activities of
Satan are what in military terms may best be described as “feints.”
“Feints” are “maneuvers designed to distract or mislead, done by giving
the impression that a certain maneuver will take place, while in fact
another, or even none, will.” One type of feint is when an army pretends
to be attacking in one area to draw the enemy’s attention away from the
place where the true attack will occur. That way, while the enemy is
marshaling its forces in one area, the real attack takes place in
The scripture tells us that Satan is the ultimate foe, with superior
knowledge and an unfathomable ability to deceive. Knowing this, why
would we as Christians believe that Satan’s objectives and activities
are so obvious that his strategies would be so predictable? The social
sin that we see all around us is obviously from Satan. It goes without
saying. But to assume that social sin is his ultimate strategy
discredits him and makes Christians foolish. All these social sins
(which he is certainly behind) are feints, designed to draw attention
away from his actual attack. These feints cause Christians to
continually look at the world and society to find satanic activity,
thereby preventing them from seeing the true focus of his assault.
Consider how cleverly disguised is his deception. First, allow
Christians to build societies founded on godly principles, and then
bring these societies under attack. The “wicked,
lazy servant[s]” of God (contemporary Christians), seeing the
assault upon their Christian values in society, become “afraid.”
Knowing that they are losing ground to societal sin, they have “circled
their wagons” around their churches, valiantly proclaiming that these
sins will not become part of their last bastions of hope. They don’t
understand that these social sins, which now seem to be assaulting their
churches, are not the true nature of Satan’s attack. His goal is NOT to
get Christians to renounce God and turn to sin. He has done this in the
past and mighty revivals came about as a result. No, this time he’s much
cleverer: he will accomplish the same thing without the possibility of
Christians are on the defensive. They have invested their treasures in
“society.” They engrave “In God We trust” on their currency, post the
Ten Commandments in their courtrooms, teach Creation in schools, and
offer prayers at their sports events. But these novelties are merely
icons of their faith and not the actual substance of it. Satan has
allowed and even encouraged Christians to “invest” in these outward
manifestations of their faith for a reason. He wants Christians to spend
their time and focus their energy on engravings and statutes instead of
their spiritual lives. He knows that in attacking these icons Christians
will rally around them and deify them.
Consequently, Christians are battling society for their rights to have
shrines engraved on their walls and on their currency while remaining
ignorant of the true nature of Satan’s attacks. And as they lose their
battles, they become more and more afraid of the other “social”
liberties they stand to lose. Just as profitless as burying money in the
ground is the effort Christians waste on battling society over Christian
This is the reason why God does not aid Christians in their efforts to
create their Christian utopia. He’s not interested in their social
utopia. He wants, no… He demands that His people serve Him and exalt Him
above the engraved icons of their faith. God is a jealous God, and He
doesn’t care about Christian shrines, idols, or the icons of their faith
that serve to exalt their achievements instead of the gospel of Christ.
It’s not that a Christian utopia would not be a nice thing to have.
And yes, we ought to stand up and firmly advocate doing what is right.
The problem is that our focus on social and political agendas has become
such a major distraction. Many Christians feel that it is their ONLY
PURPOSE IN LIFE. They feel that it is God’s will for them to battle
politically for society to adopt Christian values and morality. They
have come to believe that God views their success or failure by the
degree of social redemption they achieve. That is simply not the case.
Nowhere in the scripture are we encouraged to change the morality of an
unsaved society. It is an impossible goal. Christians who try to do so
will find themselves at war with the unsaved, because it all comes down
to personal rights. Instead of warring with the lost over societal
morality, we are supposed to bring redemption to them.
Let’s be clear about this. God’s will is that none “should
perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).”
The Great Commission is not to go into the world to change its morality
but to bring the gospel to the lost. This is what seems to be forgotten
among today’s politically active, socially militant Christians: the
pursuit of God’s true objective, which is to “go
ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark
This is not to say that we don’t have responsibilities to society; we
do. But our responsibilities do not include the hostile antagonistic
opposition (pervasive in Christian thinking) against all those who do
not embrace our morality. In contrast, Christianity is meant to be
socially responsible for the weak and unfortunate. It is meant to care
for the “fatherless” and the “widows
(James 1:27)” by showing the love of Christ to those in need.
Does this mean that we should allow society to push their morality
on us? Or, as Christians like to ask, “Does this mean that we should
lie down and ‘take it’ like the proverbial doormat?”
This is “cart before the horse” thinking. If Christians would simply do
what they are supposed to do, society would take care of itself. That
is, if Christians would “humble themselves”
and repent [“If my people, which are called by my
name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from
their wicked ways (repent); then will I hear from heaven, and will
forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14)”],
if they would embrace the Great Commission and evangelize [“Go
ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark
16:15)”], and if they would take responsibility for the poor, the
needy, and the outcast [“Pure religion and
undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and
widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world
(James 1:27)”], then all these things would take care of
themselves [“But seek ye first the kingdom of God,
and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you
(Matthew 6:33)”]. However, as long as Christians continue to
selfishly focus on their own interests, comfort, and enjoyment, the
world (society) will never see Christianity as the benevolent faith it
is meant to be. Instead, Christianity will be hated.
The Choice of Humility
It is this idea of “humility (1 Chronicles 7:14)” that is lost among
the politically active Christian “thinking” of today. Christians view
their western nations as belonging to “them” – not to God. They take
their “rights” in hand and arrogantly demand civil liberties, and then
they wonder why God does not rush to their aid. Today Christianity has a
choice. Christians can “humble themselves, and
pray, and seek [God’s]
face, and turn from their wicked ways (repent),” and wait for God
to “hear from heaven …forgive their sin, and …
heal their land (1 Chronicles 7:14),” or they can create
political action groups and “try” to do it under their own power. But
then, Christians have already made their choice haven’t they? And their
choice does not include God. Contemporary Christians are arrogant enough
to believe that they can change society through their own effort, and
through the intelligence, politics, and savvy of their own experts. They
do pray also as a sort of backup plan in case their efforts fail,
however, it is clear that they do not trust God to be capable of the job
without their help. Or perhaps it’s just that the idea of humility is
lost to the self-confident, power hunger, and self-absorbed Christian
leaders who shape the opinion of contemporary Christianity. Christians
will ask, “should we do nothing?” To that we respond: “Absolutely not.
Why not try humility and repentance. Why not listen to God rather than
the leaders who are looking only to make a name for themselves.”
It is clear that going “into all the world and
the gospel (Mark 16:15)”, taking responsibility for the poor, the
needy, and the outcast (James 1:27)” and
allowing God the govern their lives (Matthew 6:33)”
are not viable options for today’s socially militant Christians.
Christians don’t want to redirect their money toward the poor and away
from their buildings, their ministries, and their programs (less than 1%
goes to the poor and outcast). Neither do they wish to embrace the
outcast, the drug addict, the prostitute, or the gang members in their
churches. They see themselves as being above such social “trash.” As a
result, their only option is to go to war with society and attempt to
achieve their religious agenda by creating a Christian utopia.
However, this is a war they will never win. The “commoners”
(society) are rebelling against what they see as today’s aristocracy
(the arrogant, moralizing, and didactic Christians).
History records that Christian’s once succeeded in creating their
utopia. It was known as the Holy Roman Empire. This is what can be
expected when religion is successful in creating its own utopia.
Consequently, it is clear that the healing of our nations must come from
God. But to have His support there must first come humility and true
repentance from His people. Because of the politically militant course
that some Christians have chosen, Christians everywhere will eventually
be hurt. Those who enjoy homeschool education will come under attack,
religious liberties in public schools and the workplace will fall
victim, and every social religious right and freedom we currently enjoy
will come under scrutiny. Our only hope is not found in politics but in
the promises of God. We must humble ourselves, seek His face, and
Satan knows that for their arrogance Christians will not turn to God but
battle society over religious rights all on their own. Consequently,
Christians are unable to see the attack on their social values as a
“feint” designed to ensnare them in a battle that will simply waste
their energy. They have invested too much into their societies to trust
them to God. Once again we remind you that we must humble ourselves,
seek His face, and repent.
In addition, the preoccupation that Christians have with the politics of
Israel is another feint. Christians politic, lobby, and campaign, along
with government officials and religious organizations, to try to stop
what they view as the final climatic assault on God’s Chosen People
(Israel). How foolish! Satan has cleverly orchestrated these things. He
knows where Christians place their values, so that is exactly where he
directs his feints. Christians see these attacks and respond just like
Satan knew they would: they bury their talent (i.e., engage in useless,
profitless activities) by battling solely against political agendas
while the true nature of Satan’s attack goes unnoticed. Does anyone
really believe that the objectives of our greatest adversary are so
transparent? Do Christians really believe that his cunning and guile are
Contemporary Christianity has eroded under the subtle assaults of
Satan to become the center of the most concealed form of idolatry that
this world has ever known. Its idols are not made of wood and stone but
of flesh and blood. The idols they worship are themselves. It is a
clever deception, is it not? While Christians are attempting to shore up
the sin eroding their societies (no matter how lame their efforts may
be), then he begins the true attack: cleverly disguising idolatry as
Christians have invested centuries of effort in creating their
pseudo-Christian utopian societies. One needs only to visit any
Christian forum or listen to any Christian network to see its effect.
The goal and objective of every Christian organization has at its core
the creation of a Christian social utopia. As a result, social
fulfillment becomes the goal of every Christian church, and the church’s
spiritual net worth is measured by the amount of personal fulfillment
that each member experiences. Consequently, Christians have become very
self-indulgent. Their lives are consumed by the pursuit of this utopia
in both their social and spiritual settings.
"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of
the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I
know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were
either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor
cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I
have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize
that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
Contemporary churches have bought into the myth that “gain
is godliness.” They have come to believe that a growing church
that is financially productive, able to undertake building programs, and
able to afford to hire more staff is a church that God has blessed and
in which the Spirit of God is moving. Such a philosophy has given rise
to the “word of faith” and the “prosperity” movements. Consequently, it
should come as no surprise that Satan continues to use this myth to
thrust the church into the final stages of his deception: idolatry.
Think about it. When any church believes that growth in numbers,
finances, and building size are measures of how blessed they have
become, it then concludes that greater numbers and finances are
ultimately the will of God. Therefore, its success and effectiveness can
be measured by how productive it is (in regard to membership and
donations) in comparison to other churches of the community. This
eventually leads to the culture we have today – pervasive throughout
Christendom - where everything concerning Christianity revolves around
churches, and where individual Christian identity is defined by the
particular church they attend rather than the Lord they claim to serve.
Christianity is supposed to center around the “good news” of Christ’s
death and resurrection, and it is therefore supposed to be evangelistic.
Instead, it has become all about the personal fulfillment of its
members. They are obsessed with making themselves feel better
spiritually. There is no end to inspirational books, Christian media,
churches, and broadcast Christian entertainment that encourage
Christians to continue their “pursuit of happiness.” The poor, the
needy, and the outcast of society fall by the wayside as they pursue
their pleasures. What Christians see today as their utopia is in reality
their apostasy. Their pursuit of self-fulfillment has created the
competitive, non-cooperative, divisive, egocentric, and self-centered
form of Christianity we find everywhere. It has ultimately become the
apostate form of church that we find today in communities everywhere.
These churches largely ignore their communities and sacrifice the “good
news” for self-indulgence.
This form of Christianity is Laodicean Christianity. It is all about
individual pseudo-spiritual and social fulfillment, where
self-fulfillment becomes the goal. As churches reach this level of
apostasy, they claim, ”I am rich; I have acquired
wealth and do not need a thing.” Churches like this have need of
nothing that money can’t buy, and therefore they have no need of God.
They buy church members by building better churches and through
purchasing better preachers than their competition. With more members
come more finances and the ability to build even bigger churches. But
contemporary churches are not the true Church of the living God. They
are edifices of death. They are whores that sell themselves for pay.
Like every good junkie, Christians have become addicted to their
pleasures, and the churches have become places where Christians go to
get their fix. Churches are not threats to the “gates of hell,” but they
most certainly are threatened by them.
The greatest lies are not the lies told by Satan to keep the world in
sin – everyone in the world knows that they need God regardless of how
much they deny it. The greatest lies are those embraced by contemporary
Christians to validate their belief that their profitless activities -
done in the name of Christ – are the work and the will of the Lord.
The forgotten words of Jesus
18 A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit
19 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good — except
God alone. 20 You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not
murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and
21 "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing.
Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great
wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to
enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go
through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of
The theme of Christ’s teaching has at its center a single instruction:
The institutional church, for the most part, actually ignores the words
of Jesus and instead focuses all its attention and effort on the
epistles of Paul. But have the writings of Paul made void the teachings
of Christ? Is it possible to do one without the other? Or is it possible
that the teachings of Jesus are supposed to be the center of the New
Testament, and if so, then why are His teachings ignored?
Many Christians will take issue with this. They will retort, “We have
not ignored His teaching. It is precious to us.” Okay, if so, ask
yourself this: What would happen if the institutional church actually
embraced and obeyed Jesus’ teaching? What would happen if churches would
divest themselves of their property, give it to the poor, and
simply follow Christ? Churches bring in around $100 billion each year
but give less than 1% of this to the poor and needy. Some churches claim
to give 5% to 10% of their income to the poor, but this is only because
they roll into their numbers administration fees, support for Western
missionaries, and building and utility expenses for all programs that
can also support community and social affairs. However, be not deceived.
The vast majority of these expenses are incurred because their
constituents want it. Churches merely open their programs to the public.
What would happen if the church itself would obey the words of Jesus
(whom they claim to serve) and divest itself of the trillions of
dollars in assets they own. For one thing, world poverty might just
about be eliminated. Along with that, at least $100 billion per year
could go to maintaining that status. Churches would find that when their
members can see their money being used for something more important than
parking lots and sound systems, contributions would actually increase.
Instead of a meager 3% of their income, Christians would give 10% to
20%, and contributions would approach a trillion dollars per year.
Remember the hundreds of millions of dollars that poured in from
everywhere following disasters of Hurricane Katrina and the World Trade
Center on 9/11? That is what the church is capable of. So why not obey
the words of Jesus? Why not divest?
Many Christians seek to justify the need for the beautiful buildings by
explaining that they “build churches to draw the unsaved.” Such a
statement is utterly ridiculous. How many sinners drive past a church
and say to their friends: “Look at that church! I can’t wait to go there
next Sunday!” They are not thinking about going to church on Sunday, nor
do they think that because some church is particularly fancy they want
to attend it. They are thinking about sleeping in on Sunday, getting
drunk, going fishing, playing golf, watching the game, etc. But the few
sinners who do get desperate enough to attend a church each year and get
saved are enough for contemporary churches to claim success.
Let’s be honest. Contemporary churches do not pick locations in upscale
neighborhoods to build their majestic churches because they are trying
to draw the lost. They are trying to draw rich Christians. If they truly
wanted to draw the lost, they would build their churches in the inner
cities where they could do the most good – where the truly desperate
Moreover, if Christians were truly honest, they would admit that they
really do not want to draw sinners. What would happen if the world
really took churches up on their offer, and one Sunday, dozens,
hundreds, or thousands (depending on the size of the church) of sinners
walked in and sat down? Prostitutes dressed their working clothes, drug
addicts who haven’t showered in weeks, murderers, inner city gang
members, etc. What would happen? Well, you can be sure that if people of
this sort came in, the Christians would leave and find another church
where “that sort” are not welcome.
So let’s quit lying that the majestic, upscale churches in affluent
suburbia were built in the name of Christ, for His glory, and “to reach
people.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Churches are designed
and built not to attract the world but to attract wealthy Christians.
Up to this point we have merely considered the easy part. That is to
say, we have only considered the financial aspects of divestment as
instructed by Jesus. However, the words the Spirit spoke were not about
the financial aspects of our lives but about divesting ourselves in the
areas we consider spiritual.
In many ways, contemporary Christians act like investment brokers. They
see their life as a portfolio of investments and invest in whatever
yields them the highest rate of return. The problem is that their return
on investment is not a return that benefits God. It is what benefits
them individually. Consequently, before they can begin to be a benefit
to God, they must first divest themselves of their current investments.
Paul observed how quickly the Galatians embraced “another
[alternate (Wuest)] gospel.” If the
Galatians could be guilty of embracing an alternate gospel, should it
surprise you that contemporary Christians are also guilty of embracing
an alternate form of spirituality – something they believe to be
spirituality but in reality is little more than self-indulgence?
The form of spirituality in which contemporary Christians continue to
invest is a “feel good” religion. It encourages them to placate to
Christian needs for pleasure instead of evangelizing the lost, it covers
up the guilt Christians feel for not obeying the words of Christ. It
rationalizes away their sin, apathy, and compromise, and it numbs them
against the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
That is why it is so very important for Christians to divest themselves
of the form of spirituality they have come to believe is from God. It is
not from God. It is part of Satan’s end time deception. It is part of
We call upon you to see yourselves as God does. When you walk down the
street and see a woman all decked out in seductive attire, do you think
of her as virtuous? Of course not. So when God sees apostate,
idolatrous, compromising Christians attending church, “acting” like
something in their hearts they are not, pretending to be spiritual,
anointed, and gifted, do you think He tells Himself, “Now, there is a
super Christian”? Of course not. He calls them as they are. He says,
“Now, there is a whore.”
If you are ever to truly receive from God, you must divest yourself of
your acting, your pretending, your arrogance. You must freely admit that
you are a fake and a fraud. If your arrogance will not allow it, then be
sure of this: someday everyone will know what kind of fraud you are.
You probably believe that you and your church are spiritually sound, but
then, don’t all Christians think that way? If you are at par with most
Christians and your church is at least par with most other churches, and
most other churches are spiritually dry fountains, then what does that
say about you? We beseech you to listen to the words of Jesus: “You
say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.'
But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and
naked.” Quit buying into Joshua-gate. Quit buying into the
greatest lies from the greatest liar. You are not what you think you
are. Your greatness and spiritual “overcoming” exists only in your mind.
It’s time to get real. It’s time to divest.
It’s important to understand that God never said that our nations
must repent in order to receive His healing - God said that His people
must. In the book of Revelation we find that after the curses and
plagues are poured out upon this world that people “still
repent (Revelation 9:20).” Since God only asks that His people
repent it becomes clear that the arrogant and defiant people of that age
are His. If Sodom would have been spared for 10 righteous what then do
we know about the end of this age? We know that judgment does not hinge
upon the “spiritual” condition of this world, but upon that of God’s
people. If judgment is falling upon our nations it’s because of the
failure of Christians and not the sins in our land.
In addition, we all know that Saul was the first king of Israel and that
his reign ended in disaster. Saul eventually overstepped his authority
and was rejected by God. But Saul’s predisposition to overstep what God
ordained for him was, in fact, characteristic of his reign. Twice in the
book of Samuel God said that He ordained Saul to be a “captain” over His
people (1 Samuel 9:16, 10:1). The Hebrew word used is nagid, which means
“chief leader” or head of a family. However, when Samuel presented Saul
to the people, they declared him to be their “king (1 Samuel 10:24).”
The Hebrew word used is mamlakah which means “kingdom, sovereignty,
dominion, or reign.”
We find here that God and His people had two different opinions. God had
in mind to give the people a political leader as their “captain.” The
people, however, were looking to replace God with a king. Whether or not
God remained king of His people lay squarely in the hands of Saul. Would
he succumb to the flattery of God’s people, or would deny himself and
take his rightful place as their leader? Saul succumbed to flattery,
choosing to accept their endorsement instead of God’s.
The tragedy of this situation is that it did not end there. Church
leaders throughout history have refused to recognize the disastrous
consequences of giving in to the flattery of their followers and
accepting the mantle of king. People are never satisfied with just a
leader. They want someone who will be an icon of their kingdom, someone
to set on a pedestal, someone they can deify and follow. Christians
continue to press their leaders to be more than what God apportioned to
them. And their leaders humbly accepted this new role, excusing their
sin by saying, “I never wanted this responsibility. They made me take
Remember Saul. Whether or not he replaced God as their king was in his
hands. It was not up to the people. The people declared him to be their
king, but God declared him to be their leader. Who would he listen to?
We know what happened. Saul chose the grandeur of the kingship the
people offered, and in doing so, he stole the kingdom from God. Don’t
allow that to be the commentary on your life.
Most Christian leaders find it both impossible and impractical to
“divest” themselves of the honor and respect they feel is due them
because of their ministries. Like the Pharisees, they sit in “chief
seats” resembling thrones, set up in front of the congregation,
sometimes even on a platform or stage. Are they willing to follow the
words of the Christ and divest themselves of all their grandeur? Would
they “sell it all” and follow Christ?
We call on Christian leaders to set an example for the church to
follow. Divest yourselves of your greatness, of all that you believe
makes you special and spiritual, and then perhaps your congregations
will do the same. Look at the cold arrogance of your congregation and
understand that you are looking through the window of your own heart.
Therefore, we call upon Christian leaders to repent and to “divest”
themselves of all that they hold as spiritually valuable.
Satan’s plan of deception is not at all as simplistic and transparent as
you think. He has guile that you cannot begin to fathom. The deceptive
nature of Joshua-gate is far too cunning. Consequently, you must listen
to the small voice in your heart that is telling you it is time to stop
being a fraud and repent. Don’t try to figure it out. Just do what in
your heart you know that you must: divest!