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Poverty Comes from Sin

Strange Gala

Poverty is a result of sin.

I’ve been toying around with this idea in my head for a few months now, and after studying the subject I’m ready to make a public declaration. I believe that poverty — all poverty — can somehow be traced back to sinful attitudes and behavior. Because God didn’t create poverty, and He never intended for people to lack the basic necessities of life. In fact, everything that we know about God tells us that He is a God of abundance.

If poverty isn’t God’s design, then it’s something that only occurs in the world when we go astray from God’s principles. And the thing that separates us from God’s principles is our sinful nature. At its root, all poverty comes from sin.

Poverty is not God’s plan

Poverty is a type of spiritual and financial slavery, a condition that God never intended us to live in. We know this because of many things that He tells us in scripture. There are a lot of different ways that we could study this in the Bible, but for today I’ve chosen a simple passage from Deuteronomy 15:4-6 that spells the idea out pretty clearly:

However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.

There are two key concepts that we can take away from this passage. The first is that poverty is not necessary. God tells the people up front that “there need be no poor people among you.” Why? Because the world that He created for us and the land that He gives us to live in are good. And beyond that, God’s heart is to bless people, with abundant food, abundant money, and abundant resources. Remember, everything in the world belongs to God, and He gives it to us to take care of our needs.

The second takeaway here is that our abundance is conditional. God doesn’t promise to take care of all of our physical needs no matter what we do. Instead, He makes it clear in verse five of this passage that blessing is conditional on obedience. “If only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.” God’s promise of provision only applies as long as we are walking in His principles.

Does that mean that God is vengeful and vindictive, punishing those who disobey him with poverty? Not at all. What it means is that God is so good and so loving that He spells out exactly how we should live in order to enjoy wealth and abundance. Most of us would never have figured out how to live in abundance on our own. So in His mercy, God showed us how. If you want to enjoy financial freedom, it’s easy — you just need to do precisely what God tells you to do.

Directions to the party

Think about it like this: A friend invites you to come to a lavish party that he’s throwing at his private lodge in the mountains. It promises to be a wonderful night of fun and feasting. The only problem is that the mountains are steep and the roads are difficult to navigate. If you don’t know exactly how to get to his lodge, you’re certain to get lost on your way. But your friend really wants to have you there, so along with the invitation, he sends you a detailed map.

As long as you follow your friend’s map, you’re going to eventually arrive at his party. The trip may be arduous — you are traversing mountains, after all — and it may take a while to make your way. But the map doesn’t lead you astray. The directions are true, and at the end of the road is the promised reward.

But what happens to all of the people that discarded the map? Will they ever make it to the party? A few of them may stumble upon the lodge on their own, but many, many more will not. Those that try to go their own way or attempt to take shortcuts are going to get hopelessly lost. They’ll never arrive at the party — instead, they’ll spend the evening driving around hungry in the cold, dark night.

So it goes with sin and poverty. God wants to bless us richly and give us wonderful things. But the road to blessing is narrow and winding. He has given us detailed instructions about the right ways to live abundantly. If we’re faithful in following those directions we can’t help but to be blessed. If we abandon the directions, though, we have no hope at all, and it’s our own fault.

Poverty, sin and fairness

Before you get up in arms, let me address some of your objections head-on. I’m not saying that every poor person has committed some horrible sin in their lives, and I’m not saying that people deserve to be poor because they do bad things. Very often — too often — people suffer in poverty because people in their families, their countries or their governments have sinned against them. It’s certainly not fair. But then again, sin is never fair, and victims never deserve the mistreatment that they receive.

In upcoming articles, we’re going to discuss the practical ways that sin causes poverty, both on an individual level and on a societal level. But for today, ask yourself this: I’ve been given a map to the party. Am I willing to follow the directions?

——

Photo by Martin SoulStealer. Used under Creative Commons License.

 

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Comments

  1. I found your site after searching for answers about what God says about wealth and prosperity. I initially agreed with your reasoning, that poverty is a result of sin, and I spent many prayer sessions repenting as well as asking for forgiveness of any sins that I wasn’t aware of and those of my parents or any past familial sins that may be linked to me.

    Then I started thinking about the amount of billionaires that are atheist, immoral millionaires and just the vast number of very cruel and undeserving people who live off their trust funds or family wealth passed down from the great grandfather whose riches were made by sheer greed. How many actors and sports stars who make money hand over fist are repentant Christians? You get the point.

    Maybe it’s applicable in the case of Christians who have fallen into sinful ways and poverty, and repentance and sincerity (no core word pun intended) will lead the way back to financial health.

    In any case, its rough watching battered moms with young children struggling, while their estranged husband hides wealth and continues to live in the comfort and ease that his money allows.

    • Hi Leah, thanks for your thoughts. You raise some good points. But I think you read some things into this article that I didn’t intend. You’re right that a lot of wealthy people aren’t godly people, and that seems unfair at times. David certainly lamented that in Psalms. The premise that sin is the root of poverty doesn’t mean that everyone who sins will be poor — sin affects different people in different ways. Some sinners will be very rich. And some, as you mentioned, will get rich by abusing others.

      The sad fact about sin is that it often causes poverty for one group of people while bringing riches to another group. It’s not at all fair — but then again, sin never is.

      Keep an eye out for a follow-up article coming later today that will deal with some of these ideas. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • For any one that reads this anytime someone gives Godly advice please make sure it comes from the bible I only see opinions no scripture.

        Let’s start with the fact that Jesus Christ calls us to deny self. You can find this in Mat 10:38 Mat 16:24. Jesus also tells those that do have to sell what they have and give to the poor so that they may have also. Mat 19:21 then if you look at the church in Act they were all selling what they had and sharing. God tells us not to build riches here on earth but in heaven Mat 6:19 – 21. God does not promise you houses, cars, and worldly possessions. When God does bless you he does not bless you to hold on to the blessing but to pass it on so that someone else can be blessed by it.
        Please give me one scripture that supports this theory that being poor is caused by sin. Maybe you should watch the movie God’s not dead where the old lady talks about Satan leaves sinful people alone because he has already got them. Or you can read 1timothy chapter 3 it will tell you the same thing. if you have any questions and need help finding the answers in the bible let me know I’m not a scholar but I would be glad to help tstites@telstrat.com

      • Tony, if you “only see opinions, no scripture,” you must not have read the article. The entire post is based off of Deut. 15:4-6, the text of which I included verbatim. But just so you know that I’m not making this stuff up, here are some more scriptures that make the same point:

        Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored. (Prov. 13:18)

        Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. (Prov. 10:4)

        The righteous person is rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead. (Prov. 11:8)

        Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed. (Prov. 11:18)

        These are just a few of many scriptural supports for my position. Satisfied?

        Like most of the other commenters who have been upset by this post, you’re getting bogged down in imagining things that I didn’t say and making arguments that aren’t relevant to this conversation. I am not saying that Jesus calls us to pursue wealth, or that we should live righteously for the purpose of making money. I am not saying that God promises “houses, cars, and other worldly possessions.” What I am saying is that we can’t really deal with poverty without dealing with poverty’s root cause, which is sin.

        After seeing your comment, I re-read I Timothy 3 several times, and can’t find any way whatsoever that it’s relevant to this conversation. And just because an old lady makes a statement in a movie doesn’t mean that what she said is theologically sound.

        If you want to be a part of a conversation on a topic like this, you should read the original post in its entirety, and make sure that the sources you site are authoritative, accurate and relevant to the issue at hand.

  2. Woman of GOD says:

    My dear friend you may want to re-evaluate this statement for the bible declares that Job was an upright man and a man after GOD’S own heart not only did Job have to deal with poverty but it was GOD himself that suggested that Job go through it. Ijs

    • Hi IJS,

      I see where you’re coming from, but you’re confused on a couple of the details. First of all, it was not God who suggested that Job be put through his sufferings — it was Satan that suggested it. God allowed it in order to prove Satan wrong about Job’s integrity.

      Secondly, if you look carefully at the text, you find that the things that made Job poor are still attributable to human sin. Job 1 tells us that Job’s livestock was stolen by Sabeans and Chaldeans in two different raids. Satan used the sin of these people to cause poverty for Job. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that one person’s sin can cause poverty for another. But then again, sin is never fair.

      Finally, we can’t talk about the story of Job without looking at the ending. Job proved faithful to God, and God restored his wealth and joy, to a greater extent than what he had at the beginning of the story.

      I’m not saying that God can’t use poverty, because He certainly can. But God doesn’t create poverty. Poverty comes from sin.

      • Woman of GOD says:

        Im yet praying for you and all who mis-quote the scriptures. My bible tells me that GOD said to satan “have you considerd my servant Job” Listen I will not debate the bible with you but I will suggest that you study the bible and seek GOD for understanding. GOD bless you my friend.

      • I’m not misquoting anything, and your suggestion that I am is rather uncharitable. Let’s look directly at the text of verses 8-11 in Job 1:

        8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

        9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

        When God asked “have you considered my servant Job,” He is not suggesting to the devil that Job be attacked. Rather, He is holding Job up as an example of faithfulness in the midst of an evil world — rubbing Job’s integrity in the devil’s face, as it were. Then Satan responds that the only reason that Job fears God is because his life has been blessed. It is Satan who says “stretch out your hand and strike down everything he has.”

        I could go on with this, but I think the point is clear. My position is consistent with scripture. You’re the one misquoting the bible in attempt to make your case.

  3. Ramiro Llado says:

    Even though the Old Testament is in many ways full of wisdom, it is no longer the mirror to reflect what is sin and what is not. It’s in the New Testament where you will find the measure of sin. How about Christ’s statement to the rich man that the way to salvation was to give all his riches to the poor and follow Him. After all, in all of Christ teachings you can feel His preferential option for the poor.

    • Ramiro, you have some interesting ideas here, but almost none of them are really rooted in scripture. I’m not sure where you got the impression that the Old Testament “is no longer the mirror to reflect what sin is” — that’s in direct conflict with things that Jesus said in the New Testament. He said that He didn’t come to change anything about the law (i.e. the Old Testament). And when He does talk about sin in the New Testament, He always starts with the standard found in the Old Testament and then raises the bar from there.

      You’re correct that Jesus puts a lot of emphasis on caring for the poor, and we’ve covered that in many, many articles on this site. To say that He had a “preferential option” for the poor is completely unfounded in scripture, though (in addition to being grammatically meaningless). Jesus didn’t show favoritism toward the poor — He called out the people in power because of their sin, not their money. And He spent time with rich people too, ministering to them in the same way that He ministered to the poor.

      You’re also misinterpreting Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler. Jesus saw that although this man had lived his life according the law, he treasured his riches more than he treasured God. He was a money slave, and this wrong attitude toward money was coming between him and God. Jesus never meant that to be a prescriptive teaching for the world in general. Salvation does not require every person with money or possessions to sell all they own and give to the poor. What it does require is that we abandon our idols — money or otherwise — and follow Christ with our whole hearts.

      In the end, I think you’ve missed the point of this post entirely. I’m not saying that anyone who is rich has not sinned, or that everyone who is poor is a miserable sinner. What I am saying is that poverty is a fruit of sin, and the first step to fixing money problems in our lives is to address the sin problems in and around us.

  4. Oluniyi says:

    There is now where in the bible that says poverty is a sin in fact Romans 15:26 you mean the poor saints were living in sin because they were poor? What about the poor widow that gave her last, what did Jesus say about it? Did he say she was poor because of sin or she was a sinner because she was poor? Common like Leah stated we can’t even use poverty to judge whether you are a Christian or not…no not at all, satanist, atheist , homosexuals are part of the richest in the world and why is a rich Christian adulterer not in poverty(physical) ? Read revelation chapter 3 where Jesus addressed the laodicean church and get back to us! How can poverty be sin common on!

    • Olyniyi, did you even read the text of this post before you wrote your comment? Because you’re accusing me of saying a lot of things that aren’t anywhere in the article.

      I am not saying, and have not said, that poverty is a sin. What I am saying is that poverty is CAUSED BY sin, and that’s an important difference. God’s purpose for us is for us to have everything we need — He provides for us out of His abundance. But when we deviate from His plan, we open the door to poverty, because we start walking outside His provision.

      I’ve made it clear in this article and in others that the fact that someone is poor doesn’t mean that they are living in sin, and the fact that someone is rich doesn’t mean that they are walking in righteousness. Sometimes the wicked prosper — you’ll find that principle all throughout scripture. But their prosperity is always temporary. On the other hand, sometimes righteous people suffer in poverty that is caused by the sin of other people. That’s not at all fair… but then again, sin never is.

      You can’t judge someone’s salvation by looking at their wealth or poverty, and I never said that you could. The letter to the church at Laodicia that you mention in Rev. 3 has nothing to do with this. Yes, it’s possible for people to have money and still be morally bankrupt. I never said that it wasn’t.

      The text of this article stands on its own. But I’ve written a follow-up article for people like you that addresses your criticisms and misunderstandings head-on: https://godmoneyme.com/2013/04/28/poverty-comes-from-sin-answering-objections/

      • The truth in your article is sound and stands…those who have ears hear…it even reveals those that lean on their own understabding rather than that of Holy Spirit. May Yahweh continue to bless your ministry!

  5. kelly Ejiroghene Ufinomue says:

    I wantto use this medium 2 appreciate God Almighty for as many that contributed to this topic”poverty is a sin”.This topic has been in me since 2006 where I told so many people that truly poverty is a sin & to even go ahead 2 right a book on it.it is not the desire of God for man to be poor but He made it clear in His word that all things made by Him is good & for us.These things include righteousness,peace,joy,happiness & even riches.God was never poor (ref:from Genesis through revelation).so,to conclude this segment of discussion,I will like to say that people are point because they lack instruction from God which leads to disobedient & finally to sin.

  6. Thank you for the article. And I’m sorry you’ve had to defend or re-explain yourself over and over to people who refuse to hear and know the truth. It is pointless to be argumentative in these situations and try to one up the next person. The fact that you researched this, provided scripture and took the time to explain it is much appreciated. Thank you again.

  7. so if that is the case, what do you have to say for someone who is rich and yet a siner?

    • Topic on its own for another day.. Thanks for the article

    • Lol we all sin… it rains on the wicked and the just… this teaching was to enable those that have ears and the full armour of Christ to search their hearts of their own poverty be it spiritual emotional intellectual physical and yes financial. Poverty is a fruit of Satan, as is confusion fear and misery, all these are rooted in believing a lie of Satan’s, which is sin, all poverty is rooted in sin. Read the article again…but this time pray in Yahweh’s name that He unlock your mind, pray in His power which transcends all understanding. He is our living Teacher. Someone that is rich and is a sinner likely is spiritually impoverished. Sin carries consequence; there is no escaping it. Consequences are not limited to finances anymore than blessings are. Be in the word. Allow it to renew your mind.

  8. Thank you for writing this.

  9. Keep up the honest work!!!!

  10. Load of rubbish. We are disciples of Jesus who was Himself poor. Are you calling God a sinner? Ridiculous.

    • Ruben, you — like many other commenters on this page — obviously didn’t take the time to actually read the article, or the follow-up articles in this series. I’m not saying that every individual’s personal poverty is caused by some personal sin that they have committed. I’m saying that the phenomenon of poverty in the world is linked to the phenomenon of sin in the world: If we had no sin, we would also have no poverty. And the road to solving society poverty problems also involves solving society sin problems.

      So of course I’m not saying that Jesus was a sinner… and I would point out that your assumption that he was poor is not at all obvious in scripture. What I am saying is that, to the extent that Jesus and his disciples may have lived in societal poverty, there was societal sin around them that caused that poverty. Sometimes poverty is caused not by sins that we commit, but sins that others commit against us. This is horribly unfair, of course. But then again, sin always is.

    • This follow-up article addresses a lot of your concerns: https://godmoneyme.com/2013/04/28/poverty-comes-from-sin-answering-objections/

    • He was humble. He was not poor. Even the “poor” are not poor that are in Him. Their needs are always met through His mysterious ways and not just the financial ones.

  11. Amirra Wade says:

    Just a thought… What defines wealth in God’s eye? A lot of his greatest people were not wealthy with things of the world, however, they were wealthy in Him. They didn’t have much but they were by all means taking care of. So with that being said, in my opinion poverty is not a sin. Poverty is of the world. There are an abundance of resources on earth that could be used so that people would not go without, but…. Since poverty is of the world then there are people who do. Just my opinion😊

    • I think God’s view of true wealth is described in the New Testament as the “glorious riches of Christ Jesus.” More on that here:
      https://godmoneyme.com/2012/07/22/riches-in-christ/

      One thing that people often miss about this article: I’m not saying that poverty IS a sin. I’m saying that poverty — like all human suffering — is CAUSED by the brokenness of our sinful nature. It’s an important distinction.

      • Amirra Wade says:

        I understand what you are saying I feel the same way. Should have paid more attention to what you were saying.

      • Amirra Wade says:

        By the way this was a great article/topic, you helped me out with two things: you helped me answere my quest, and you made me remember to pay attention to the whole story.

    • Amirra Wade says:

      I do apologize, I went back and read… Poverty is sin.

  12. Nthati Motsabi says:

    If poverty is caused by sin then why sinners are more wealthier than the rightious people

    i’ve those who have repented living in poverty but sinners enjoying the fruits of wealth

    the bible says those who obey God will not lend to the nations but the nation will lend to them but in real life sinner always borrow the rightious

  13. while you said a lot of nice things you fail, like many others, because you cherry pick from the bible. you say god blesses abundance on conditions, but to take that viewpoint means you negate the entire new testament. a person can find a scripture about anything in life. to take it further, every situation in life has two views, good and bad; you can find both views in the bible. on one hand you can find that god brings death in the old testament and then in the new testament he brings life. God kills in the old and heals in the new. famine in the old, abundance in the new. if you cherry pick one scripture you fail at understanding the entire story. the bible from front to back is about a story. that story is about man’s journey to the knowledge of who god is. god is commonly called “holy” and most people have no clue what that word means. holy means completely different and set apart from everything else. in the ancient world man believed everything was done by god. they believed famine and abundance came by god. they believed if the appeased the god with sacrifice the god would bring forth rain and a harvest. if they wronged the god he would bring pestilence and famine. the same goes for life and death, health and sickness, etc. this was a pagan thought that stemmed from pagan societies such as babylon, greece, rome, egypt, persia, the entire middle east. Jesus through the NT shows us explicitly that god is the opposite of those ideologies. he is the god of living, the god of abundance, the god of health, the god of immortality, the god of marriage, the god of goodness. the entire bible is compare and contrast, the entire thing and the failure man has is not being able to distinguish the difference. Jesus is the key. Use his life, what he did for the common person as the deciphering tool to understand the heart of god. Did Jesus ever require anything from anyone for them to be blessed? Not once. Use that and go back to your theory and correct yourself because God requires nothing from man.

  14. Rosemarie Thompson says:

    Great article, easy to read and understand and also packed with the wisdom of God. Amen.

  15. Ted O'Donnell says:

    St. Francis of Assisi to Doris Day or even Mother Theresa. Poverty isn’t a sin but pride is.

  16. Nathaniel murtala says:

    Today I will follow the right daretion so that I come out from porvety

  17. John W Reed says:

    Aside from the Old Covenant mindset of do good and get good and do bad and get bad, I find it interesting that you say righteous obedient people will prosper. Yet, I know plenty of people who were Godly, and very thrifty and budgeted quite well but they never experienced abundance. I have seen righteous people apparently forsaken and their seed begging bread. That passage must not be some promise for material wealth. I just wonder the more I read your articles. I am very familiar with KY. Lots of old money, lots of corrupt money, lots of money passed down. I wonder just how prosperous you are. I wonder if you could write a $100,000 check and have it not effect your life standard as you gave it to charity? If you can’t, I wonder about your own financial advice…

Trackbacks

  1. […] I wrote a couple of weeks ago that poverty comes from sin, I suspected that some people would object to the idea — and they did. The premise is a […]

  2. […] wrote a couple of weeks ago about the principle that all poverty comes from sin — God intends to provide for us, but when we separate ourselves from Him we also separate […]

  3. […] we first wrote about the relationship between sin and poverty, it caused a bit of a stir (so we published a second article  to explain the principle in greater […]

  4. […] the relationship between poverty and sin. And we’ve found this sad fact: At its core, poverty always comes from sin. Sometimes it comes from sin in an individual’s life, which leads to individual poverty; […]

  5. […] been beating up a lot on poverty lately, talking in various articles about how poverty is caused by sin and how righteousness leads to prosperity. Based on these ideas, it would be easy to think that […]

  6. […] providing for those who are faithful to follow Him, we’re really talking about righteousness. Sin causes poverty, but the Bible teaches us that prosperity is a fruit of […]

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