Chapter 13 Meanings
The Boys/Wolves with Gold
The three boys with gold illustrate prosperity preachers, who hold money as the greatest treasure of all and see God as a means to attaining that treasure (rather than preferring God above wealth as the ultimate treasure).
They function in the story as dangerous wolves because prosperity preachers propagate deadly doctrines (Matthew 7:15). Love of money is one of the most powerful forces keeping people from God. One cannot be saved while loving money. But instead of rescuing people from that lethal love, prosperity preachers throw gasoline on the fires of greed.
The painful cure for the wolf bites (greed) is repentance. It is painful because it requires humility and letting go of cherished sins.
|“You’re wondering about the gold?” said the first, holding his necklace. “It came from the cottage. Come with us, and we’ll show you how to use the cottage to get more gold than you ever dreamed possible.”
“I was told I had to leave the gold to go to the cottage.”
“You were told wrong. The Ruler—the one who built the cottage—is the wealthiest man in the high country, and he wants his people to be rich. That’s what the cottage is for. It’s the means through which he gives lavish gifts to his people.”
“I’ve seen other children from the cottage. They didn’t have gold.”
“That’s because they don’t have faith. If they would believe the gold is theirs and claim it, they’d receive it.” -p.108
Prosperity preachers teach that the goal is to be rich in this life. Evaluate that attitude in light of 1 Timothy 6:9—10 and Mark 4:19.
Sometimes God gives wealth to his children for them to enjoy. And when he does, it’s not wrong to enjoy it (as long as you do so without violating any biblical principles about giving, generosity, and kingdom priorities).
However, if getting rich is one’s goal, he is subjecting himself to untold spiritual danger.
One of the primary obstacles that keeps people out of the kingdom is wealth. To preach in a way that makes it sound like one can enter the kingdom while still loving money is a lie and the height of cruelty.
|“Progress toward the cottage is impossible when your heart is enslaved to something else. Wolf bites inject poisons that incapacitate desire for good and cause you to love the wrong things. In this case, gold. We could no sooner carry you to the cottage than force a camel through the eye of a needle.”
… “Even a person who is ostensibly childlike, if he turns your eyes to gold as your treasure, be assured—he is from the city, not the cottage.”– p.113,115
What do we learn from Mark 10:21–25 about the danger of pursuing money?
It’s possible to come to the point where you desperately want to follow Christ but find yourself unable to let go of the one thing you must let go of to follow him. Just as it’s possible to get into an affair and fall in love with someone other than your spouse, it’s possible to fall in love with wealth, destroying your marriage relationship with the Lord.
Is there anything in this world that threatens to impede your movement toward God?
I think the biggest danger for me at this point in my life is my investments. I’ve been trading stocks, and it puts my attention on gaining money every day for significant segments of the day. At this point I still believe what I’m doing is the wise course to take right now, but it’s a daily battle in my heart to keep my hope in the Lord and on spiritual things.
|“You should have checked their tracks. You would have seen wolf tracks. Everyone’s true nature is exposed by the trail they leave. Even a person who is ostensibly child-like, if he turns your eyes to gold as your treasure, be assured—he is from the city, not the cottage.” -p.114|
Jesus warned us to spot wolves by their fruit (Matthew 7:15—20). What are some examples of bad fruit that expose wolves in sheep’s clothing? See 2 Peter 2:1—19.
The most common traits false teachers tend to have in Scripture are pride, greed, and sexual immorality. I suspect that the second two are a result of the first. In their arrogance, they elevate themselves above accountability. And where people walk in the darkness of privacy, those sins are common.
As you look back at the trail you’ve left, what signs of the Holy Spirit’s work in you are evident?
The main sign I see is that throughout my life, I’ve made efforts to seek closeness with God and to please him. Those efforts have very often been weak and inadequate, but it has remained the primary focus of my life.
| “They told me to trust the Ruler. Isn’t that the same thing you’ve been telling me?”
“Their lie was not one of words, but of definition. It is true that faith alone is required. But faith is believing what is promised, not believing in what is desired.” -p.115
Faith is believing what God has promised. Presumption is believing what God has not promised. See Matthew 4:6—7 for an example. What are some other examples of times we confuse presumption with faith (expecting something from God that he hasn’t promised)?
Any time a person feels anger toward God because of something that happened, that person was expecting something from God that he didn’t promise. Most of the time this happens with things that God promises, but not in an absolute way in this life. God promises protection, joy, sanctification, and guidance. But none are promised in an absolute sense in this life. Sometimes we expect God to provide more of these than he does, or in different ways than he does.
This is especially true when it comes to God’s protection. Christians take God’s promises of protection to mean it is impossible for them to be deceived or to fall away, so they don’t take serious precautions against spiritual dangers.
|“Your ability to believe has suffered two blows—one from the wolves, who make you trust in the wrong things, and another from the little ones, who infect your eyes with doubt. One prevents faith, and the other misdirects it.” -p.115|
Contrast the way naturalists and skeptics damage your faith with how false teachers damage it.
The naturalists and skeptics damage my faith by introducing doubt—making me doubt God’s Word. False teachers damage my faith by making me believe God said things he didn’t say.
Jesus gave so many warnings about the danger of being deceived, it is something we must take very seriously. When our faith is strong, we can expose ourselves to false teaching without suffering much damage. But those ideas can hide away in our memory and resurface in a moment of extreme spiritual weakness, resulting in serious damage to our faith. We must not play around with wolves.
|“They’re probably close. We need to stay alert.”
“Who? … The little ones?”
“No. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Remember when we told you about the powers that control the little ones? … They are the enemy.” -p.114
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:11—13). What is the difference in the way we fight spiritual enemies and the way we respond to flesh and blood enemies? See Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:21; Matthew 18:15—17; Ephesians 6:12-13; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.
We love and pray for our flesh and blood enemies (Mt.5:44), and the way we defeat the evil in them is by means of doing good to them (Ro.12:21). Our primary concern is to bring them to repentance (Mt.18:15-17).
Spiritual enemies, on the other hand, must be wrestled, resisted (Eph.6), and their strongholds demolished (2 Cor.10).
We take steps to protect ourselves from burglars, muggers, and scammers. What kind of damage does a spiritual wolf do to a Christian who is not on his guard? See Colossians 2:8; 2 Peter 3:17; Matthew 24:10—13
Col.2 – They take you captive.
2 Pe.3 – They carry you away until you fall from your secure position.
Mt.24 – They cause your love to grow cold until you join the many who will fall away and betray and hate other believers.
What are some threats we must beware of? See Luke 12:15; Acts 20:30—31; Matthew 26:41; 1 Peter 5:8; Matthew 16:6.
Lk.12 – greed
Acts 20 – teachers who distort the truth to gain a following
Mt.26 – temptation—especially in times of physical weakness
1 Pe.5 – Satanic attacks
Mt.16 – Spiritual influence of hypocrites
|The warriors had suffered defeat in the last encounter with Kailyn, Abigail, and Watson, even though the humans had been caught off guard. Now that they were alert, they would be near impossible to defeat -p.166|
What does “staying alert” look like for you? See Matthew 26:41; Revelation 2:2; Ephesians 6:10—11,18.
In my case, the more victory I have experienced, the more at risk I am. The longer it’s been since I’ve fallen to a particular temptation, the harder it is for me to take it seriously. It seems like it’s no longer a danger, and my defenses come down. So for me, staying alert means realizing this and never letting up in my efforts to steer clear of temptation and preferring God’s presence to the rewards of sin.
It also means continually reminding myself that I have a formidable enemy (one who has defeated the strongest of men before me) who is working hard to destroy me.
Why does God allow the wolves among us? See Deuteronomy 13:1—3.
It’s to test our hearts, to expose how devoted we are to his Word. When we are deceived, it usually isn’t just an honest mistake. Something in our hearts wants to believe their ideas.
|Watson frowned. “I have seen wolf bites like this before. Men have died of lesser wounds.” -p.112|
On a scale from 1 to 10, how serious is the threat of the wolves in the passages above? And on the same scale, how serious would you say your precautions are?
They sound like a 10 to me. At my best, my alertness level is probably 7 or 8. But all too often it’s zero.
Clearly, we are far more vulnerable when we are not alert than when we are. What are some spiritual threats you need to be more alert to in your daily life?
Laziness, self-pity, vengeful attitudes toward hostile people, impurity, and apathy.
|“You said the wolves injected poisons that make me love the wrong things. Is there … a cure?”
“There is. But you must understand-the cure is excruciating.”
“I don’t care how painful it is. … I don’t care about the risk. Without it, I’ll die anyway.”
Watson met Abigail’s eyes and nodded. “He is ready.” -p.115
The cottage piece Abigail gave Adam to cure his wounds was a call for him to joyfully prefer the banquet (what Jesus has to offer) above all the lowlands (world) had to offer. This is the essence of repentance.
At what point is a soul “ready” to turn to God? See Jeremiah 29:13.
Anything short of wholehearted pursuit of God will be unsuccessful. People don’t come to God until they reach a point of such disillusionment with this world that they are ready to leave it behind completely.
If what God offers is more satisfying than sin, why is repentance painful? See Luke 22:61-62.
It’s excruciating because it doesn’t happen until we become brokenhearted over how we have offended God.
|“You are already dead. And if you truly die, only then can you live. The cure will destroy the part of you that is dead. Then you can have life that will heal your wounds.” -p.115|
in what sense are unbelievers “already dead”? See Ephesians 2:1-2; 1 Timothy 5:6; 1 John 3:14.
If unbelievers are already dead in one sense, in what way are they put to death when they come to faith in Christ? See Romans 6:6-8, 11-12, 7:9-13.
I hold the third view. I believe it solves the problems of both the other views and fits the argument of Romans best.