What is the connection between poverty, sin, and spiritual oppression? Is there one? And how can we escape this cycle of bondage?
“And the dragon…went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 12:16)
First of all, it is important to understand that it is sin that typically causes poverty. God promises that He will provide whatever those who are His truly need to survive, and in His generosity He usually gives significantly more. Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33 NIV)
But when we are not actively seeking the furtherance of God’s kingdom and His righteousness in our own lives, this promise does not hold. God makes no commitment to bless and provide for those who oppose Him and His holiness. To the contrary, living in opposition to God–the very definition of sin–sets us up for His wrath.
Common sense demonstrates this. Spending the money God has given for essentials on gambling, addictions, or lusts causes needless suffering. Preoccupation with sin and the energy expended running after it saps strength and time that should be used to provide for ourselves and our family, and further His kingdom. We look at people like this and say they are foolish and they are, but these are the real life results of–knowingly or unknowingly–setting yourself up against God and His principles, and living a life of sin.
The second thing we must understand is that not everyone who suffers from the effects of sin is themselves guilty of the sin that caused their grief. Children suffer from their parents’ sins, spouses from each others’ sins, employees from their employers’ sins, and citizens from their leaders’ sins. We do not live in a vacuum; what we do affects others.
The third thing to remember is that sin and its effects can easily become generationally entrenched. Sinful lifestyles, habits and attitudes tend to get passed down from parent to child because they teach us not only how to live, but also how to think. The children of a single mother in sinful relationships are likely pick up her ways. Those of a dishonest father may grow up believing this is normal. A family that finds it easier to collect support than hold a job will likely pass it on to the children. God says that He “…punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6-7 NIV) of those who hate Him. People not only suffer from, but themselves also tend to pick up, the sinful attitudes of their parents and grandparents. The only escape is to break the generational cycle of opposing God–to turn from sin to right living.
Spiritual oppression is defined as a demonic attack that causes people to remain separated from God and His blessings, and sin-whether our own, or that of others–is the vehicle: it is what keeps us separated from God and His blessings. Jesus came to save us from our sins, it is God’s desire to free us–and, He told us how to do it, “…If you abide in My word…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) It is knowing and obeying the Bible that sets us free!
So, if we are living in any sinful situation, we must stop. The Bible says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” (Psalms 66:18) If we do not know how to get out of a grievous situation that is the result of someone else’s sin, we should again approach it as the Bible instructs: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) When we don’t know what to do, we should always ask God. Sometimes the answer will be obvious and quick; sometimes we will need to do much research on our own while continuing to ask for His guidance; and sometimes we will have to suffer for a time for reasons unknown to us–but ultimately, God will not ignore us if we are following Him and earnestly looking to Him for help.
Having said this, there are common sense guidelines for those seeking to get away from the effects of others’ sins. People leave the country of their birth to get away from war and injustice, and many abandon crime-ridden inner cities because sometimes the problems are just too big and staying there hurts those who remain. Frequently, getting an education makes people more employable and gives them the opportunity to expand their horizons. Children growing up in troubled families can be successful academically and avoid the bad influences around them with good counsel, encouragement and support of loving Christians outside the immediate family, and potentially have better lives as adults.
God loves us–enough to give us, His people, everything we need to live full, productive and joyous lives. Sin and its effects hinder and keep us from enjoying everything God intends for us, and we must personally avoid it at any cost and seek His will for deliverance from experiencing the effects of the sins of others.
Thank You because You are for us, who can be against us?
Thank You that You, who did not spare Your own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, also freely give us all things!
Thank You that in all things we are more than conquerors through You who loved us.
Thank You that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall ever be able to separate us from Your love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!!! Amen. (Romans 8:31-32, 37-39)