A new article from a pastor of 30 years disgustingly shames the poor and blames them for their lot in life...
You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. -- Deuteronomy 8: 18 (ESV)
The above link is to a new article entitled, "7 Discernible Signs the Spirit of Poverty Is Attacking You." I have never heard of the author, Dr. David Williams. His bio sounds nice. Over 30 years as a pastor, over 500 outreach ministries, and over 40 million dollars given to missions through the church over his many years of service. Assuming these missions and ministries were presenting the correct Gospel, this is all very commendable. This article however is not. It is more of the pro-money arguments that continue to infect the church at large today. When people ask me if I think God wants them poor then my answer is yes. If that is the question on your mind and in your heart the answer is a resounding yes because wealth has become an idol unto you. I understand where we get it from. Most in church "leadership" still present wealth as something to pursue despite the numerous warnings in Scripture. This article summarizes some of the faulty thinking that continues to lead to false teaching within the church today regarding money. Let us reason together beloved as we go through Dr. Williams' arguments.
"The poverty spirit is the biggest scammer of all time. I believe God Himself planted into the human heart a desire for wealth. After all, in Deuteronomy 8:18a (KJV), we were told to "remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth." And, in context, it was referring to physical, material wealth." -- Dr. David Williams
Let me start with the obvious. There is no "poverty spirit." Not as it is being presented within Charismaniacal circles. There is no reason to super-spiritualize the human condition or over-spookyfy it. Rain falls on the just and the unjust. Furthermore the notion that God planted in the hearts of man a desire for wealth is contradicted by the Word of God. Repeatedly God warns us about wealth. He even goes as far as to bemoan how difficult it is for a rich man to even enter the kingdom of heaven. This highlights the church's obsession with earthly prosperity when what we ought to be reinforcing is the eternal prosperity only found in Christ Jesus. Notice here he only quotes half of the key verse today because the second half of the verse reminds us that this is part of the Torah. This is God giving His law to His people. The covenant the key verse refers to is the Abrahamic Covenant. We as the church are under the New Covenant. Now, all good things still come from the Lord so if you happen to find yourself wealthy then praise the Lord. If you happen to find yourself impoverished -- praise the Lord. The thing that should be constant is praising the Lord and godly contentment:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. -- Philippians 4: 11-13 (ESV)
Plenty, hunger, abundance, need. It matters not when we are in Christ. By all accounts the Apostles were not rich men. They left everything they had to follow Jesus. The church needs to stop pointing people back to this world and get back to the Gospel and pointing people to heaven. Dr. Williams continues:
'"Do you think God would rather see the false cult leaders, the whiskey producers and drug dealers enjoy wealth rather than His people who love Him? Do you believe God chooses some to be wealthy and others to be poor? Jesus said in Matthew 7:11 (MEV), "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"' -- Dr. David Williams
For starters this is a forced choice question with two answers that has a third answer. Maybe He wouldn't want either to be wealthy. God does not care about money the way Dr. Williams presents Him here. Let us look at some topical church examples to debunk this point. One of the worst false teachers alive today is Kenneth Copeland. Yet Copeland is worth in excess of 600 million dollars. Joel Osteen wouldn't know the Gospel if it hit him in the head and yet he is worth in excess of 30 million dollars. Does anyone seriously think that God chose for them to be rich by making merchandise off of His sheep? Money and wealth are carnal benefits of this earth. We are supposed to be pilgrims and sojourners through this earth. So does that mean we are supposed to be poor? No beloved but we are supposed to be content in all situations and indifferent towards the things this world exalts.
"Wealth is a good thing; not a bad thing--unless we put it first, loving money more than we love God. It seems like a paradox, but the truth is, the people who bite on get-rich-quick scams usually suffer from a poverty spirit that comes from not knowing or applying God's Word." -- Dr. David Williams
The assumption always made by pro-wealth Christian is that money can be controlled by the flesh instead of the other way around. That it can be avoided as an idol in our lives. Yet the Bible teaches us that we cannot serve two masters. The Bible warns us how difficult it will be for the rich to enter heaven at all! The rich young ruler went away sad because he could not part with his money, even for God. I am not saying that one cannot master money instead of being mastered by it but the Bible makes it clear this is the exception and not the rule. Dr. Williams presents it as simplicity, which it most certainly is not. He continues:
"Matthew 25 tells us about three men, each given the responsibility of handling the master's money, each according to their ability. One got five, another got two and another received one. Two of the men doubled the money in business and investments. The other guy did nothing. The fellow who did not even try to increase the money given him eventually had everything taken away. He lost it all. This is exactly the result of harboring a poverty mentality. It steals, it kills and it destroys. It darkens dreams, kills plans and destroys the future of its victims.
Profit is not a sin; neither is it carnal. Profit, achievement and productivity are virtuous attributes in God's eyes." -- Dr. David Williams
Ugh. If you read the Parable of the Talents and surmise it is about managing and investing money then I suspect that you are already like the rich young ruler. Remember it is a parable beloved. The Parable of the Fig Tree is no more about figs than the Parable of the Talents is about the talents (money). It is about being about the King's business. The most valuable commodity entrusted to us is the Gospel, not money. God gives us everything and the lesson here is what are you doing with it and why are you doing it. The problem with the "other guy" is more about his view of his God as being mean and capricious. He was motivated out of fear instead of knowing who he served. There are far too many Christians who bury their salvation in the ground as this last servant did with the money his master gave him. They play church every Sunday but one day they will be asked what they did with the riches entrusted to them in knowing Christ Jesus. Dr. Williams' summation here is silly. So the final servant had a "poverty mentality?" Really? He thought God reaped where He did not sow and you think that equates to thinking like he wants to be materially poor? Again, ugh.
"God's Kingdom embraces prosperity, not poverty. The poverty spirit is a formidable obstacle that prevents the release of wealth to God's people. Those who have attracted a poverty spirit to their lives can never live up to their potential, like the failure of the one talent man in Matthew 25." -- Dr. David Williams
Wow. This is straight NAR, prosperity gospel heresy. Is Dr. Williams seriously making a biblical case that our brothers and sisters struggling for their very lives in the Middle East or in the underground church in China have attracted a spirit of poverty that is preventing the release of wealth from God unto them? How disgusting. Also, is not God, God? Are His hands tied in heaven or is He truly sovereign? Does He look somberly down upon a child in poverty in South America or even Detroit and wish He could release wealth unto them if only they would defeat that dang poverty spirit they have. God is not bound by our limitations even the ones people like Dr. David Williams create in his wickedly deceitful heart. What is even more staggeringly disgusting is the assertion that poor Christians can never live up to their potential. What is truly sad is that the Bible teaches the opposite. It teaches us that it is much harder for the rich to live up to their potential or even gain eternal life at all! The failure of the man in Matthew 25 is not about how he viewed money but rather how he viewed God. This is the idolization of material wealth. Nothing more and nothing less.
"The spirit of poverty: Puts blinders over believer's eyes. Puts fear in the hearts of believers. Steals ambition. Makes dreams seem impossible. Tears you down by reminding you of past failures. Makes you feel less qualified than others. Drives you into the back rows of life. Convinces you that the biggest win would be not to lose. Twists Scriptures about money, wealth, greed and covetousness. Those who say, "I don't care about money" or "I'm not getting into the greed game," are not being anti-greedy, but, instead incredibly selfish. You should always want more so you can help more, and you should want extra to help other people. This is what the Bible teaches." -- Dr. David Williams
What a display of pure carnal thinking. So according to Dr. Williams, Christians who do not find themselves wealthy have blinders over their eyes besides the fact that the greatest levels of faith are often found in the poorest of countries. Poor Christians have no ambition and live with fear in their hearts. They constantly ruminate over past failures, feel less qualified, and live in the back rows of life. He then accuses them of twisting Scriptures and in the same breath claims the Bible teaches us to be greedy! Only in the mind of someone worshiping Mammon can you believe that it is selfish to not be greedy. This is most certainly NOT what the Bible teaches. Dr. Williams can pretend all he wants that his real motivation for seeking wealth through greed is to help people but we all know that is not what is going on here. That is like people who like to point out that Joel Osteen does not take a salary from his church, which he shouldn't. He still is worth over 30 million dollars by selling books to the same people he refuses to take a salary from. How miserable does Dr. Williams view his Christian brothers and sisters who happen to not be rich?
"The poverty spirit has stages: Poverty mentality or poverty thoughts. Poverty beliefs. Poverty addiction. Poverty spirit--and like a magnet that clip on demon begins to attract lack, decrease, poverty, debt, loss, hardship, scarcity, and shortages. The poverty spirit's gifts to you." -- Dr. David Williams
Please do not lose sight of the fact that he is making all of this up. There is no Scriptural support for any of this nonsense. I love that he believes that poverty is an addiction for people. So not only does he not understand poverty and the Bible but he does not understand addiction either. It is important to recognize that Dr. David Williams is not only loathing poor Christians but he is blaming them. They have a poverty mentality. They have poverty beliefs. They are demonically influenced. No sir. They are not. Now he lists what he claims are the symptoms of a poverty spirit:
Symptom 1: They are repelled by what they classify as "materialism." You mean as Jesus taught us? To not store up treasure here on earth where it can rust and rot? Instead to store up treasure in heaven? Is that what you mean? I am repelled by a man claiming to be a Christian leader teaching Christians that they need to be greedy and if they are not they are just being selfish and must a demonic spirit of poverty around their neck. That really repels me.
Symptom 2: A person with a poverty spirit is in denial, comforting themselves with words like: "Everyone has debts." "Others are experiencing the same thing." "Well, it's just the way it is--others are in the same boat." Right. I must have missed that portion of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said we must self-flagellate if we find ourselves in debt and never seek comfort.
Symptom 3: The poverty spirit convinces people that money matters are shameful to talk about, especially in church thus, lack is presented as a virtue or some kind of righteousness. It is not shameful to talk about money matters, in church or otherwise, unless you are talking about them like this. Unless you are twisting the entire canon of Scripture to suit your blind carnal greed. Unless you are abusing the flock by demanding they adhere to the tithing portion of the law. Money is not shameful like it is also not the source of all evil. The love of money however, as displayed sickeningly here by Dr. Williams, is quite shameful and evil.
Symptom 4: Judging successful, productive people as "money grubbers" or "thieves." This is what is known as a red herring. The issue is always how they became rich. If it was through illicit means or manipulation then yes those judgments are indeed righteous. Notice a key flaw in his thinking. Successful and productive people must also be rich. No beloved. I know plenty of successful and productive people who follow the Word of God and are not rich by this world's standards. They have so much more to give back to the body of Christ then this man as well.
Symptom 5: Making excuses about why others are doing better: their good breaks, etc. They always seem to come up with a reason why they are superior for having less. Clearly Dr. Williams holds poor people in very high contempt. Now they either excuse the rich as being luckier than they are or brag about their poverty? Where is finding these poor people?
Symptom 6: This dark spirit encourages people to judge others as "shallow" if they think of, learn about or act on financial matters.
Symptom 7: This spirit will give a believer a sense of being more spiritual or mature than those who want to succeed financially, giving the believer a sense of moral superiority by having less. What??? I have never met anyone who considers anyone shallow for wanting to make money. Nor anyone poor thinking it made them more spiritual. In fact, the Bible teaches us the opposite. It is the rich that always feel justified but they give out of the wealth not their lack. These accusations from Williams become more and more ridiculous. There is only one dark spirit on display in this article and it is encouraging the writer to say the most repulsive things about people he claims are his brothers and sisters in Christ.
"Thoughts and words are important. The Scriptures are clear about that. Telltale poverty thinking and speaking that are attracting a poverty spirit are not often simple to identify but here's a sampling: Thinking, "Where do we cut?" instead of "How can we increase?" "This is my hard-earned money." "Money isn't important." "Rich people are greedy." Poverty thinking and speaking leads to a poverty belief and addiction, and finally, attracts a poverty spirit that destroys a person's chances and getting ahead financially." -- Dr. David Williams
Beloved this is straight word faith heresy. The belief that our words affect and create reality. They do not. Only God has that power and to try and claim it for yourself is to usurp God's power. Good luck with that David. Sometimes it is completely responsible to ask where we may need to cut in our budget. Sometimes the money is hard earned even if God provides the opportunities. Many rich people like Dr. Williams are arrogantly greedy. Compared to the kingdom and the Gospel, money is not important. Please understand that if David Williams stood before Christ today He would treat him as the rich young ruler. He would tell him to give away everything he had if he wanted to follow Him. Hmm"it sure seems like money was not important for Jesus when it came to that man! The point again is these statements do not create a poverty belief and addiction leading to a poverty spirit. Mercifully, he concludes:
"I believe the strong spirit named Belial is behind the poverty thinking today. From the etymology and historical records of the name Belial, we conclude: He is a spiritually twisted, proud, arrogant, independent spirit that refuses to come under any authority. And he tempts people with positions, titles, promises of fame, riches, popularity or practices which ultimately bring the individual to a place of uselessness, emptiness, futility and a meaningless, pointless existence. And there's why some are attracted to those late-night infomercials and web scams. But you're on a different plane because you chose God's covenant and God's principles. Proverbs 10:22 (KJV) "The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it." [AMPC adds: "neither does toiling increase it"] Remember, toiling will not increase your wealth, but the blessings of the Lord will." -- Dr. David Williams
Why not conclude by displaying complete biblical ignorance since there was nothing Scriptural in this entire article. Belial is not listed as a spirit in the Bible. In the Old Testament it was largely used as a proper name and it only appears once in the New Testament as a name for Satan. It is true that it can be traced and translated as "worthless" or "wicked." That does not make it a spirit roaming the Christian landscape looking for someone who has poverty beliefs. That is completely absurd. As is his usage of Proverbs 10:22 after such a horrific article. All this proverb teaches us is to give praise to God for any increase we get and do not rely upon ourselves for the increases we may or may not get in life. It is indeed all the blessing of the Lord.
Except Dr. David Williams seems to think that God wants everyone rich and greedy. If they are not it must be a poverty spirit they have invited into their lives with a poverty addiction and belief system. Beloved there are Christians being martyred as we speak in the Middle East who never had a chance to experience anything but utter poverty and persecution their entire life. There are good brothers and sisters hiding in basements in China living on Xeroxed chapters of the Bible and maybe a daily bowl of rice. To say these people are addicted to their poverty and are somehow holding God back from blessings them is beyond insulting - it is wildly ignorant and it has no place in the sane discourse of doctrine within the body of Christ.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- July 27, 2017
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.