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by Bola Olu-Jordan
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Today, preachers seems to have a common skill wherewith they warm up themselves into the hearts of their listeners and that tool is the ‘excellence of speech and show of wisdom’. The parade of oration and philosophy seems to have taken over the dependence on the Holy Spirit in messages. People-satisfaction and responsibility have overtaken responsibility to God and satisfying Him. The approval and applause of men now seems to matter more than that of God!

Such skill leads to manipulation of the innocent who have congregated with a sincere heart to worship God but end up worshipping man. The desire to be acceptable lead many preachers to an intellectual research of play of words that appeal to sense and logic thereby sacrificing the simplicity and grace in the work of the cross and reducing Christianity from relationship with Jesus to mere religion. Paul told the church at Corinth: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” 1 Cor 2:1-2.

Relying on wisdom, strategy and psychology to get the people’s attention is forgetting that the wisdom of man is foolishness with God as “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty… 1 Cor 1:27-29.

People erroneously mistake words of wisdom with the Word of God nowadays. The product of the former is a shift from God to self. Just like many mistake positive confession to positive thinking (there is a great difference). Words of wisdom arouse the innate ability of man to do things by Himself through the intellect (soul) but the word of God depend on the spirit of God to do all things. This practice is actually a New Age practice, foreign to the church of Christ, but now, tragically gaining popularity in our altars today. It has the characteristic of appealing to sense and logic of the hearers through dissemination of facts which may not necessarily be a spiritual truth.

There is a great difference between preaching Jesus and preaching wisdom, just like there is a great difference between preaching facts and preaching truth. Jesus is not facts, He is the Truth. Facts are words of wisdom, sensible and logical words, that appeal to human intellect and reasoning (soulish) but the truth is only perceived by the spirit. In Genesis chapter 1:17, Satan approached Eve with words of facts but hid the truth just as we see today in our churches where facts about life and living are generously churned out with unbridled abandon. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” Gen 3:4-5. This was corroborated by God in His urgent tone of sending Adam and Eve away from the garden in Gen 3:22: “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever”.

Facts do not have Biblical truths, but enjoy Bible verses to back it up. Such is what Satan uses. The fact is that if Adam and Eve ate the apple, they would actually be like God, knowing good and evil and their eyes would be opened, but the truth is that they would die a spiritual death and that was the truth the serpent concealed from them! The Church today tell people about their inheritance, prosperity, miracles, healings, etc, which are facts, but refuse to tell them the truth that these don’t bring eternal life, it is eternal life that bring all these and not vice versa. Therefore, they must not be used as condition, hook, or bait to bring people to the Born Again experience. That’s why Jesus warned us to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and its righteousness (spirit) and all other things (soulish) shall be added.

Fact messages develop peoples’ soul, which can be controlled by Satan, at the expense of the spirit. Thus people lose sensitivities to the spirit but develop an ultra-high sensitivity to the soul, knowing good and evil (wisdom), and no longer need to depend on God to solve problems but with a simple application of wisdom out of many 7 points and 3 steps messages.

When Eve ate the forbidden fruit, she made some comments in Gen 3:6: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat”. Note the comments:
1. It was good for food
2. pleasant to the eyes
3. tree to be desired
4. make one wise

She was so impressed by the ‘sweetness’ that she could not resist giving it to her husband. She totally could not care whether her husband would rebuke her on why she would even entertain the thought at all talkless of tasting it, knowing the warning of God. She must have said: ‘I am sure when my husband eats it, he would forget the warning’, and she was right!

Consider this: don’t you think Adam and Eve, after eating the ‘sweet fruit’, would have wondered in their hearts why God would deliberately keep them away from eating such a ‘delicious’ food and ask them instead to eat herbs? Friend, sin is sweet. If sin is not sweet, then nobody will taste it. That is actually a fact, but the truth is that the ‘sweetness of sin’ is short lived, its torment is eternal! Sin has torment; the torment of sin is death, everlasting, but at the moment, it has an appeal, a pleasure and lure and a sweetness.

Notice the characteristic of the fruit: It was Good for Food, Pleasant to the Eyes, Tree to be Desired, Make One Wise. These are the characteristics of the messages preached in the church today: it is simply irresistible and harmless. When you look at it closely, you may not see any evil there. You may honestly submit and surrender like Eve did.

Good for food.
Crowd gather in the church every Sunday to eat good meal of the word because it is good for spiritual consumption. People yell in the church. ‘Preach it Pastor’. ‘Say it again’. ‘I believe’, etc. Who does not like good food, even dog? As Pastors begin to ‘rev’ from the scriptures, linking verses together, opening your eyes to promises you never thought was for you and challenging you to take it immediately, you begin to wonder: ‘waow, this is great, I never thought this is for me’. Although, it looks harmless, but care must be taken not to overfeed your soul-man while your spirit man is lean. Remember, you are a spirit, not a soul and “… the flesh(soul) lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” Galatians 5:17.

It is your spiritual development that determines your spiritual level with God, not your soul development. Why? Because God is spirit and you are also a spirit, so communication between two spirits, (you and God) must be in the spirit, not soul. The moment Adam and Eve ate the apple, they lost their spiritual status, became seeing and knowing. They knew they were naked. They became afraid and ashamed. They could no longer have fellowship with God in the Spirit, and lost the spiritual sensitivity to perceive God in the cool of the day. When God, wanted to have fellowship with them as He used to, they were no longer there. All these, for eating fruit they thought was good for food and pleasant to the eyes, tree to be desired to make one wise. This is what happens to a Christian that eats from the facts and wisdom messages in many churches today.

The good meal many a church feed their congregation with today only open their eyes to see their material nakedness. It energizes their hearts to pursue economic emancipation, and wisdom to go about changing their situation. These enstranges them from perceiving God in their hearts in the cool of their days. This is why churches congregate material conscious, worldly, miracle- seeking, and not God-seeking Christians today.

Quest for healing, miracles, prosperity, material things and pleasures today is the only reason why many of our churches are filled to capacity. The Clergies are also capitalizing on this and providing it anyhow, despite Jesus’ warning in Luke 12:29-31 that we “seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. BUT RATHER seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you”. Unless we abide by the tree of life alone, our resistance will fail when Satan come calling with his irresistible alternatives. Friend, don’t be deceived, Satan’s meal looks good enough for food, except for the power of God!

Pleasant to the eyes
This is another great characteristic of Satan and this is actually his first weapon of attack. When Satan offers a gift, the wrapper is the greatest attraction. His gifts ALWAYS look very beautiful. When Eve saw the apple, she confessed, it was pleasant to the eyes, so her eyes lusted after it. Devil’s apple, they say, is full of worms, but who ever accepts it would have been so taken away that it’s only in the mouth that he notices the worms and by then, it may be too late. When David saw Beersheba, his eyes lusted after her. She was so beautiful in his eyes that he would stop at nothing to have her, to the extent of committing willful murder. Still he had no spiritual sensitivity until a man of God confronted him. He had been captivated. Prov. 6:25-27 says: “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned”.

Have you ever wondered why the tree was called the tree of 'good and evil'? Perhaps you have thought: ‘after all, it’s not entirely evil; it contains some good, too’? The fact is that good leads to death and that good that you see is even more harmful than the evil! Have you ever met good people before: those who wont hurt a fly, who think no evil, and depend on their good works to take them to heaven? Right? Wrong! Good works take nobody to heaven just as neither evil works. It’s only faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah says: All your good works are as filthy rags before God. Eph. 2:9 says: “by grace are yea saved, through faith, not of works, lest any man should boast”. God does not need your good work to save you, Good works is actually a stumbling block before God. “Good” is a deceit and that was why God forbid them entirely from going there. God would have separated the good and the evil but they are inseparable and God was not there. It was Satan that was hiding there but he needed something to fascinate people and bring them in and that he found in the 'good'.

Those in the New Age Movement or other cults are first fascinated before they join. I was fascinated by the art of telepathy before I joined the occult. That I could communicate with somebody several miles away without telephone was so incredible that I had to try it and Satan did not disappoint my fascination. Soon, I moved to astral travel, etc. “There is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is a way of death”. That is good and evil. There is absolutely no good in that tree. You can’t take the good and leave the evil. That’s why God told them to eat from the tree of life and warned them about the tree of good and evil. Good and evil is of the devil. The New Age movement preaches relative good. They preach the good of humanity and mankind, but all is powered by demons of deceit.

Remember the Bible says in Romans 6:18:‘by good words and fair speeches, they will deceive the hearts of the simple’. Not by evil words. In another place he said ‘while they preach peace and safety then there come to them sudden destruction’ (1Thess. 5:3). Note those words; peace and safety; yet, it brings destruction! They prophesy life, greatness, healing, prosperity, goodness, etc into your life and you are so pleased that you develop goose pimples. Be careful because the Bible says if it were possible they will deceive the very elect (Mt. 24:24). They may preach healing, prosperity, miracles, etc all in Jesus’ name, but they may not preach Jesus. Healing, miracles, deliverance, prosperity, etc are not the gospel, results not withstanding. When we preach Jesus, those things come, but those things don’t bring Jesus.

Hold on a minute, you want to say that but those things they say come to pass. Of course it will, otherwise, it would be a failure. When Satan told Eve that they would not die, they would only be like God, knowing good and evil, of course it happened and that is the same result today. There are outstanding miracles, healing, deliverances, etc but what will Jesus say to them at the last days: “But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” Luke 13:27

Those who preach societal relevance and financial empowerment as the gospel tool to fight Satan’s kingdom and those who preach or seek after material gain, sensual pleasure, worldly comfort, etc, as a prerequisite to serving God have erred. I am not saying these are not possible, but should not be the tool or the reason. Remember the adage, not all that glitters is gold. In fact when something glitters too much, you better take caution. When a business deal looks so grand and so attractive, a wise businessman will exercise restraint. “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel” Prov. 20:17. The way to hell is full of fun and enjoyment. It’s so wide that it can accommodate a lot of things. Many churches accommodate anything and everything today on the bill of liberty in Christ.

The rate at which many fill churches nowadays is outstanding as they are held spell bound by the logic of ministrations. We are now in an era when it is a shame not to be called a Born Again Christian, unlike many years ago. The tree of knowledge of good and evil brings so much enlightenment, discovery and new experiences that it’s a total shake-off from the traditional gospel. The preaching of the gospel is being modernized by the day. Researches are coming out on how ministers can hold their congregation spell bound by demonstration of words. No wonder you see the office of the pastor becoming more lucrative. Which parents would dare want their children to become pastors many years ago, but the story is different today. It has become a tree to be desired. The desirability comes from lack of proper understanding of what the tree of good of evil stands for. It stands for death, unnoticed death, spiritual death, yet the world think it is life!

The tree of knowledge of good and evil is a tree to be desired but the tree of life is the old rugged cross, never to be desired. Even Jesus wished the cup would pass over Him. Jesus Himself said in Matt 16:24-25: “… If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it”. The tree of knowledge of good and evil has no denial but an appeal, a lure. Those who preach the message of the tree of knowledge of good and evil indirectly tell you to reject the cross (i.e. unpalatable situations) because God has not created you for problem but for enjoyment. On the way to Golgotha, Jesus was so tired that another person helped him to carry his cross. But the fact messages tell you that it’s a way of dancing, rejoicing and fun and this is evidence in our services to the extent of forgetting devotion to God but pleasing our sensual self with funfair, singing Satanic songs with spiritual wordings: it belongs to Satan, regardless of where it is sang; he has the copyright. The way to the crown is still the way of the cross. Isaiah said: there is no beauty that we should desire Him (Is. 53:2). You must take up your cross and follow Him. You must lay aside all your past. You must forsake the world and embrace Him alone in faith.

Today, there are so many ‘carry overs’ that we are unwilling to lay aside. Our past ways of life, our pleasures, character, etc. To some it is friends, others it is music, dressing, job, vice, etc. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a tree to be desired, but the tree of life has no attraction, it has no comeliness, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.

Multitude clustered around Jesus because He gave them physical food, which truly, would guarantee their physical living, but when He would give them food that would guarantee their eternal life, they all left. Even the disciples almost left. They said this is a hard saying. Jesus asked them if they would also leave Him. Don’t people cluster today for same? Everywhere there would be a miracle rally, people rush… for things that would not satisfy?

“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”. The truth does not make you wise, it sets you free. If it makes you wise, then it leaves you to your wisdom to sort things out for yourself. But the truth (Jesus) makes you free and if the son (the truth) has made you free, you are free indeed! If the message you listen to will make you wise, then it is not from the tree of life, it is from the other tree. It will open your eyes but destroy your relationship and trust in God. The church today is changing from 'the truth will set you free' to 'what you know will set you free'. The church is simply moving into the era of wisdom to be able to make the right choice. Dependence of the Holy Spirit has been sacrificed on the altar of wisdom and knowledge. The fruit of good and evil will make one wise, knowing good and evil. It teaches that when you know good and evil, you can simply take the good and leave the evil. Whichever one is chosen, good or evil, it belongs to Satan. The only alternative is to choose life. Adam and Eve continued to have fellowship with God as long as they were eating from the tree of life. The moment they ate from the tree of good and evil, fellowship was cut.

Although, we need healing, prosperity, deliverance, miracles, etc, these are ‘good’ but have to do with our present life and are material. If this is all that our Christian life is all about then we are Carnal Christians, pursuing only this life (fleeing vanity) at the expense of our eternity and the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8:7). We must stick to the tree of life, which provides no outward attraction because of the ruggedness of the cross.

Enlightenment and automated messages of pressing the button here and receiving it at the other side belongs to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We must not be caught there. It if happened to Eve and Adam, it can happen to anybody. The reason why Christianity seems to be developing and churches springing up at every corner is because many ignorantly preach the message of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and Satan is busy promoting it because it is his work, indirectly. People call it church growth, anyway.

Many preachers today are intellectually engrossed in research of play of words with logical sequence and rhymes that evokes mental reasoning in the minds of the hearers to appeal to their soul. The words are a beautiful array of poetic and rhythmical expressions used by orators, philosophers and politicians for the purpose of capturing, controlling, winning, influencing and gaining control of the thoughts of the hearers. This is one of the greatest instruments available to mankind to achieve this, but it is soul based and negates the work of the cross, usurps the place of the Holy Spirit and undermines the simplicity and the grace of the gospel. Paul said: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God” 1Cor. 2:1.

People no longer gather for fellowship but miracles, they no longer gather for salvation but for healing. They no longer gather for words of life but for words of wisdom. People no longer give their lives to Christ but to the Church. They no longer wait on God to change their lives but on positive thinking and anointing oil. People can no longer receive direction from God except through their Pastor-seer. It is no longer ‘thus saith the Lord’ but thus saith the man of God. Positive thinking, imagination, desire-it, claim-it and receive-it (even when it is not in line with the word of God) has replaced fasting and prayers.

Do these all suggests that wisdom is of the devil? No! There is a difference between the wisdom of this world (personal application of knowledge) and the wisdom of God (Holy Spirit application). Paul in 1Cor. 2:6-7 clarifies the issue “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” 1 Cor 2:6-7. “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe”. 1 Cor 1:20-21.

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