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Bible verses about Materialism
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Laodiceanism is a form of idolatry. It is a kind of worldliness in which God is gradually pushed off into a small corner of a person's life, and in the meantime, the Laodicean's faith, his trust, is subtly shifted toward materialism. Faith gradually shifts to created things, even though God is acknowledged. That acknowledgement is something that we have to understand: A Laodicean is not outwardly anti-God. He is in all likelihood attending church services regularly and unbeknownst to him, he does not know that his faith has shifted to materialism.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian and the World (Part 8)


 

Numbers 22:28-30  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is incredible that Balaam even replies to the donkey. If an animal spoke to one of us, would we respond? Perhaps he thought, "Well, I've talked to her enough. She was bound to answer me sometime." This is obviously a miracle—there is only one other place in the Bible (Genesis 3, the serpent to Eve) where an animal speaks—yet Balaam acts as if it happens to him every day! The donkey asks him questions, and he answers!

Balaam is totally, spiritually out of it. He has no thought for God or for spiritual things. He is so self-possessed, so full of self-interest that he cannot think beyond the end of his nose! All he is thinking about is, "What am I going to do when I get to Balak? He's going to pile all this money on me! How am I going to set up the sacrifices? What am I going to do? How am I going to say this? I know God will let me do it because I'm just a wonderful negotiator, and that's just the way it is. All the other gods have done exactly as I've bargained, so I think. . . ." As he travels, he talks to himself like this, thinking only about the wonderful job and the wealth he has ahead of him. He is heedless to anything else.

When these amazing things happen, they fail to faze him. They fail to make him wonder what is going on. He does not even ask why the donkey was treating him in a way she had never had before. She was totally out of character! She speaks, and he answers! It illustrates the depth of his spiritual blindness. He could not see God if He had bit him!

In today's lingo, we would call Balaam totally materialistic. Everything was based on what he could see, feel, hear, smell, and taste. He could not understand beyond that.

He was involved in spiritism, with augury, enchanting, and such, but there is nothing spiritual about him. He had no depth. And this made him thoroughly evil. He bore a nice façade that made him look spiritual, but in reality, there was nothing there. The donkey was more truly spiritual than he was!

He may have had some spiritual knowledge, but it did not work in him properly because he never put it into practice. He may have known about Israel, about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, perhaps even of some of God's instructions to Israel. He certainly knew God was, in all His power and sovereignty, working for them. But none of this knowledge that he may have had did him any good. He even talked to God, and God talked back to him! God was doing all these things in his life, and he was thoroughly blind to all of it.

The incredible thing here is that Balaam acted as if these things happened to him every day. But they did not! These were once-in-a-lifetime events, but he was so self-centered that he shrugged them off, ignoring them as if they did not matter. Here was the great sovereign God saying, "Wake up, Balaam! I'm here! Can't you see Me? Can't you see Me working?" But Balaam is blind to the true reality of Him. The "seer" can see nothing because he is so stuck on the here and now, on what he has in his hand and in his pocket.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Balaam and the End-Time Church (Part 2)


 

Isaiah 2:6-9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Portrayed here is an entire nation devoted to getting, much like our modern world. The American motto seems to be, "The chief end of man is to glorify prosperity and enjoy it forever." We worship—we serve—what we make. Another facet of this is that potential fruits of material success are self-confidence and pride, which to the successful mind subtly makes God unnecessary. But since all men must have a god, and a righteous God asks awkward questions as to how the success was attained, such people turn to a more amenable god. They worship their own success, secularism, the confidence of men in their own powers. The quest for material wealth thus produces a powerful need to assimilate to the world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Amos 3:15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Some of these people owned two or more houses, at least one for the summer and one for the winter. These homes must have been luxurious! Certainly, they were not completely made of ivory, but the woodwork must have been inlaid with ivory, a symbol of costly items affordable only by the wealthy.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church and Laodiceanism


 

Amos 3:15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Some of the people had so much wealth that they hardly knew what to do with it! These few wealthy Israelites were so rich that they owned not just one house, but two, three, or four! Blinded by their riches, thinking God had prospered them for their righteousness, they ignored the terrible oppressions they were inflicting on the poor and weak. For this, God promises punishment.

Thus, Amos scathingly rebukes them:

» I will not turn away its punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals. They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor, and pervert the way of the humble. (Amos 2:6-7)

» Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, 'Bring wine, let us drink!' (Amos 4:1).

» Woe to you . . . who lie on beds of ivory, stretch out on your couches, eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall; who chant to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best ointments (Amos 6:3-6).

He describes a tremendously wealthy people. Men sought to make money at any price, no matter what the consequences to the "little guy." The derogatory term "cows of Bashan" describes the rich women who controlled Israelite families, making demands on their husbands to keep them in their accustomed lifestyle. Spoiled people living ostentatious lives, luxuriating in expensive materialism, satiating their flesh with wine and rich foods, they denied themselves nothing.

But how did they obtain such wealth? Property and legal rackets! Exploiting the poor! Shady business deals! The powerful and rich used the laws and the courts to their advantage against the weak and poor who could not afford legal assistance. The latter always came out on the short end of the deal.

They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly. . . . For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins. You afflict the just and take bribes; you divert the poor from justice at the gate. (Amos 5:10, 12)

Israelites held their public meetings and court trials at the city gate where everyone could witness the proceedings. When rebuked for the way that they lived, for their social attitudes, for their immorality, for their lack of spirituality, the hedonistic Israelites would typically malign or assault their critic rather than repent. Bribery, obstruction of justice, and attacks on law-abiding citizens were common occurrences.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Amos 8:3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Now that He has announced Israel's imminent calamity, God begins to show how His punishment would alter the lives of the people. Notice the dramatic change of attitude in the people. The songs of His Temple would ordinarily be happy and joyous songs of praise to God, but He will turn the songs of their temple—sung to Baal in the name of the Lord—to wailing, for the numbers of the dead will be unimaginable.

Because of their self-absorption, God's "sudden" punishment will stun the people of the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and the other nations of modern Israel, including some members of the true church. In their spiritually unaware state, they will be incredulous at God's punishment for "such a little bit of sin." But God has a different perspective; He says they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17).

Because of their self-procured wealth and affluence, they think they are being blessed with material things. They see themselves as following the way of God, but their religion has deceived them by failing to teach them His truth. They think that what they are doing is right, but they are deceived. However, God still holds them responsible because the truth is available. He views them as personally rejecting Him and His Word.

Today, some evangelicals attempt to prepare the people for what is to come, but their teaching is a mixture of right and wrong. Jesus says, "They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 15:14). In their ignorance, the people do not realize the terrible calamity that is coming soon upon modern Israel. It will be far more terrible than anything ever seen on this earth!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Matthew 6:19  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Among the ancients, treasures, riches, or wealth consisted of clothing as well as gold, silver, gems, wine, lands, and oil. An abundance of anything conducive to the ornamentation or comfort of life was considered treasure. Like then, most people today are thrilled with splendid display of expensive garments and accessories. Our treasure, in fact, often consists of beautiful and richly ornamented articles of apparel. In a society like ours, an unlimited number of things could become our treasure—clothing and jewelry, cars and boats, or CDs and DVDs, to name a few.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Treasure


 

Matthew 6:19-20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

To us, wealth is money, land, houses, and cars, but in biblical times, clothing was a key part of a man's wealth. For example, Joseph gave his brothers "changes of garments" (Genesis 45:22), and Achan coveted "a beautiful Babylonian garment" (Joshua 7:21). Part of clothing's appeal to them was its ability to make a "display," so the garments of the rich were impressively colorful and opulent. Moths were the most destructive force against such treasures. Although a moth is small, its power to destroy clothing is great (Job 13:28, Isaiah 50:9; 51:8; James 5:1-2).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Treasure


 

Matthew 6:19-20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"Rust" represents anything that "eats into" and destroys things more durable than clothing. In this parable, it has a wider application than mere iron oxide. Rusting or oxidation will eventually corrode all metal, including silver and gold; all of our physical treasure will deteriorate in time (Proverbs 23:4-5; James 5:3). Once moths and rust settle on an object, they gradually eat their way from the exterior to the interior. Thus, beyond their ability to destroy physical objects, moths and rust represent the decay of a person's life.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Treasure


 

Luke 9:3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

At this point in His ministry, Jesus tells them not to be concerned with procuring extra provisions for their journeys as they went to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons. He specifically instructed them, "Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece" (Luke 9:3). A short time later, He gave similar instructions: "Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road" (Luke 10:4). The parallel account in Matthew 10:7-10 mirrors these directives:

And as you go, preach, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.

Jesus Christ was not issuing a blanket prohibition against sandals, or against money, or against owning more than one shirt. However, for a limited interval of time, He directed them to travel lightly, for a number of reasons.

First, for these initial activities, Christ did not want His disciples to be concerned about physical preparations. He wanted them to focus on the job that He had given them to do—preach the gospel and report back to Him—rather than on worrying about obtaining extra clothing or footwear. His emphasis was on the mission He was sending them on, but He knew human nature's tendency to worry about the details of its own comfort and existence. He did not want the disciples caught up in any preparations that would delay or distract them from His work through them.

Second, Christ was helping them to build faith in God as their Provider. He was teaching them to live and do His work without concern for their physical lives. He states clearly that if we are seeking His Kingdom first, and all that it entails, God will provide for all of our real needs (Matthew 6:33). The Father provides for even the birds and flowers, and we are of much greater worth than these (verses 25-32). God even has a name that reflects this: YHWH-Jireh, the Lord will provide as He thinks fit.

There is an alleged contradiction between the accounts given by Matthew and Mark. In Mark 6:8-9, Jesus says, "Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts—but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics." In Matthew 10:9-10, He instructs, "Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs." This problem is easily resolved when we realize that He is really talking about two different things. In Matthew's account, Jesus does not forbid wearing sandals or carrying a staff, but only forbids their providing themselves with more—getting extra ones. Instead of being concerned when their current trappings wore out, they should trust God to supply their need and go just as they were. On this verse Albert Barnes comments, "The meaning of the two evangelists may be thus expressed: 'Do not procure anything more for your journey than you have on. Go as you are, shod with sandals, without making any more preparation.'"

Third, Christ did not want His disciples caught up in the spirit of materialism. Certain elements within the culture of the day would "preach" for money, either religiously or philosophically. Charlatans would sell "snake oil" cures. Mediums and spiritists could do seemingly miraculous things—for a price. People in this society would do anything to turn a quick penny just like today.

Christ's words in Matthew 10:8 are meant to counteract this mindset. He had given the disciples miraculous power to heal and cleanse, as well as authority over demons. Yet, because He had given these spiritual gifts to them freely, Christ told them to carry out His instructions without seeking monetary or material compensation. God's workers are worthy of their hire but should not build personal fortunes through the services they render for Him. God is certainly generous, and provides for His servants as He sees fit, but He prohibits them from using His gifts for their own gain. He will bless them as it pleases Him!

David C. Grabbe
Living By the Sword


 

Luke 12:13-31  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In Luke 12:13-21, a listener in the crowd surrounding Jesus asks Him to instruct his brother to divide the inheritance due to him equitably. Jesus declines, saying that life should not be based on having many possessions. He uses this occasion to teach His disciples that a godly life is more important than material things. To explain this, He tells a parable about a rich man who builds larger and larger barns to store all his crops and goods.

Since he had everything he could possibly want or need, the rich man's focus was on living an easy life. God's response is that the man was foolish because, when he died later that night, his goods would do nothing for him. Someone else would inherit and enjoy them. A person whose life is caught up in what he owns is not rich toward God. The Parable of the Rich Fool illustrates Jesus' teaching to guard against every kind of covetousness.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Rich Fool


 

Luke 12:15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The apostle Paul tells Timothy that "godliness with contentment is great gain" and that, instead of possessions, we should be pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Paul learned to be content in whatever state he was in (Philippians 4:11). Jesus Christ set our primary goal as seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). The inevitable result of doing this will be wonderful blessings and eternal life.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

Luke 12:16-17  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Human nature tends to value the wrong things in life—to eat, drink, and be merry—things without eternal worth. Because of this temptation, people's main anxiety concerns accumulating this world's luxuries. The rich man may even have been embarrassed by his inability to store his hoarded wealth, but he never considered using his riches for the benefit of others. Irishman Jonathan Swift observed, "Nothing is so hard for those who abound in riches as to conceive how others can be in want." A generous person, however, sees the needs of others first (Proverbs 11:25-26; 22:9). We should sow goodness and generosity so we will reap the same (Galatians 6:7-10).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Rich Fool


 

Luke 17:32  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Just before Lot's wife reached her place of safety—though she had made some effort to escape the impending disaster—Lot's wife disobeyed the angel's command and looked back. "She became a pillar of salt" (Genesis 19:26).

Why did she look back? The context does not specifically give a reason, but she probably had an inordinate love for the world and the material things she had in Sodom. Obviously, Lot was a wealthy man who had enough livestock and servants to cause a problem while he lived with Abraham (Genesis 13:5-7). He and his wife may have had a palatial house with many fine furnishings, servants to do her bidding, fine clothes, sumptuous food, and frequent entertainment.

Also, Lot had achieved prominence among the citizens of Sodom beyond his wealth. Genesis 19:1 shows him sitting in the gate of the city, a place usually reserved for the elders and judges. Lot's wife may have been reconsidering her decision to forsake the privileges of her high social status and her prominent friends.

Maybe she just loved the ways of this world more than God. John writes:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (I John 2:15-17)

There may be more to it, however, than we have thought. Most people assume that Lot had only two daughters, but this is not the case. He says to the Sodomites, "See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man" (Genesis 19:8). He had two unmarried daughters. Later, in verse 14, he "spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters," meaning he had other married daughters who were not virgins. Finally, the angels tell him, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here" (verse 15), implying he had daughters elsewhere.

Since Lot and his wife had more than two daughters, they left more than just material possessions in the city. When God rained down fire and brimstone upon Sodom, their married daughters and sons-in-law—and possibly grandchildren—perished with the rest of the city's populace. What a poignant and tragic test of their faith!

Thus, when Lot's wife fled for little Zoar, her wealth, her house, and her social circle were not the only things on her mind. Those concerns were insignificant beside the certain death of her flesh and blood. Perhaps she did not believe that God would follow through on His threat. As a loving mother, her emotions for her doomed family in the city clouded her ability to make proper decisions.

Jesus makes a pertinent comment in this regard in Matthew 10:37-39:

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Though it goes against our human nature, God requires us to have more allegiance to Him than to the members of our own families. For His disciples, leaving family members behind to do God's will may be the most common hardship that they have to face as they come out of this world (Revelation 18:4). Perhaps this is why He reminds us to "remember Lot's wife." The day may soon come when we will have to heed God's warnings without hesitation to flee again.

"In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back" (Luke 17:31). When God commands His elect to flee to a place of safety, many of us will be required to entrust family members to God's mercy. Without doubt, this will be one of the greatest tests of our spiritual lives. We will know that before us lie life and hope and behind us death and destruction, just as Lot and his family experienced in fleeing Sodom.

Ted E. Bowling
Remember Lot's Wife


 

Ephesians 5:5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Covetousness is a strong desire for and a seeking after material things that become objects of our worship if we hold them as more important than God. Someone else's house or car can be an idol if we covet them. This attitude is identified with idolatry because it replaces God with self-interest and visible things.

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

2 Timothy 1:6-7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It takes the Spirit of God to produce a truly sound mind. This verse also implies that, as long as the mind is devoid of God's Spirit, it cannot be considered to be truly healthy. Any mind that lacks the Holy Spirit will, like Esau's, be limited in its outlook, unstable to some degree, and focused on itself. It may be very sharp regarding material things, but it will be deficient in the ability to cope with life in a godly manner because it cannot see things in a proper, righteous-or-unrighteous context. Instead, it will have a strong tendency to twist situations toward its own self-centered perspective. This does not make for good relationships.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Three)


 

1 John 2:15-16  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

These verses are a basic guideline to the alluring heart of the Babylonish system. This system has its basis in human nature. It feeds right into our desire for frequent change and variety of experience as the answer to fulfillment in life, but the Bible clearly reveals God drawing His children into His oneness.

Babylon promotes fulfillment in material things, excitement and gratification of the flesh, and variety of experience. These major fruits are easily seen in the world around us as confusion of purpose. People do not know where they are going. They are bouncing in every different direction. There is competition, hitting heads with one another. There is disunity and diversity everywhere. There is disharmony, fighting with one's neighbor. There is separation from each other and eventually from God and ultimately the separation of death. The result is that the world is not a happy place to live in.

None of these factors that are part of the allurement of Babylon can give a lasting sense of peace, fulfillment, abundant living, and purpose in life because none of them is in constant harmony with the purpose of God. Each of these things, though they may not be sin of and by themselves, can only produce a temporary burst of well-being.

Many, many times, God instructed Israel against this proclivity. They were to seek out only Him in His only habitation in Jerusalem. But Israel is disastrously curious and terribly smitten with the discontented, unsettled, impatient "grass is always greener" disease.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 7)


 

Revelation 3:15-20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Laodicea is described as being materialistic, self-satisfied, no longer interested in doing God's work whether it is in their personal lives or as a public proclamation. Jesus Christ's rebuke here is the strongest in the Bible! When He says He will vomit them out of His mouth, it shows great distaste - His own people are not enthusiastic or zealous about doing a work!

Their estimation of themselves strongly implies spiritual self-satisfaction. They evaluate themselves on the basis of their material wealth, but when God looks, He judges them on the basis of their spirituality and find they lack a great deal. Being worth nothing, they had to be spit out.

Their spiritual condition is so bad that the Savior is on the outside looking in! He has to knock on the door, as it were, to be let into services or into their lives. It is no wonder that He says that He will vomit them out! So He says, "If any man hear my voice. . . ." If anyone is willing to repent, He will come in. He is appealing to anyone in that condition to change his or her attitude.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church


 

Revelation 3:17  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This verse reveals an additional problem that magnifies the Laodiceans' dangerous condition due to their indifference. They are ignorant of their real spiritual condition.

We are given two opposing evaluations in verses 14-17. One is from the all-wise, all-seeing God, while the other is from material and spiritually weak men. Laodicea means "judgment of the people," which could apply to either the people's judgment of themselves or of God's judgment of them. The Laodicean saw what he amassed materially and saw much. God saw what was amassed spiritually and saw little. Each judge looked for what was most important to him and thus made contrasting judgments.

This should tell us a great deal about the Laodicean. His heart is focused on material things, even though he had been given the most precious spiritual knowledge that could be given to a human being.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Laodiceanism


 

Revelation 18:11-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The merchants, who gained wealth and perverse pleasures from this world's system of religion and commerce, cry and lament because it satiated their greed for materialistic acquisition and their lust for self-pleasure. As the Babylonian system incorporates every expression of corrupt government, so its prostitution includes every corrupt economic system and idolatry. Even human beings are reduced to cargo, traded as slaves to drive the engines of production, prosperity, and sinful pleasures.

Sadly, the modern descendants of Israel have promoted and become part of this self-serving, perverse world system. Sin inevitably brings its own punishment, and there are always consequences to disobedience. Thus, when today's Israelites go into captivity in the last days, they will have no excuse for their sin and no freedom whatsoever.

Martin G. Collins
Slavery and Babylon


 

Find more Bible verses about Materialism:
Materialism {Nave's}
 




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