Financial Sanctions in a Spiritual War

Many are not exercised upon the subject of making their wills while they are in apparent health. But this precaution should be taken by our brethren. . . . They should arrange their property in such a manner that they may leave it at any time.”¹

Financial Warfare

As we read, see, and listen to the news (early in 2022), one of the words we continually hear is SANCTIONS.

Part of being a faithful steward or manager for God is to protect the possessions that God has entrusted to your care. This responsibility is always a concern for the disciples of Jesus. They know that Satan will do his best to see that the Christian’s possessions are diverted from God’s mission on earth to Satan’s efforts to destroy those who have chosen to follow Jesus. Satan will do all that he can to damage the cause of God.

Ellen White, in vision, saw and heard Satan instructing his evil angels: “We must do our utmost to prevent those who labor in God’s cause from obtaining means to use against us. Keep the money in our own ranks. The more means they obtain, the more they will injure our kingdom by taking from us our subjects.”² Please recognize that this was Satan speaking to his evil angels. Jesus has commanded all Christians to go make disciples of these enslaved subjects of Satan.

Satan recognizes, as do secular heads of state, that conventional warfare also means that financial warfare is taking place behind the scenes. In a physical war an aggressor attacks another country. Economic sanctions are commercial and financial penalties meant to dissuade the aggressor from continuing the war. Sanctions punish the aggressor for attacking without provocation.

Plan When Young

Satan is the aggressor in the great controversy between Jesus Christ and Satan. Satan attacks Christ and His followers. Every disciple of Jesus has been caught in this conflict since they were born. What can the Christian do to sanction Satan as the aggressor? Every person over the age of majority can plan to ensure that their families’ possessions continue to work for Christ. Creating a plan is the best way to keep financial resources away from the aggressor, Satan. Planning while young fulfills your stewardship responsibilities during your life on earth. Your plan will enable you to pass your resources to your children, and enable you to provide a legacy and example of stewardship for them. Parents who plan to care for the needs of their family and sanction Satan are the best example to their children.

How to Plan?

Every country of the world has a plan to protect its territory and economic well-being. There are two general types of economies: the agrarian, or commodity-based, economy, in which trade is in goods instead of cash; and the financial, or currency-based, economy, in which money is used to purchase goods and services. There are two Scripture examples of planning, one for each of these types of economies.

Abraham Estate Planning

“ ‘I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’. . . And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’ ” (Gen. 15:2-4, NKJV).³

In the Old Testament Abraham converses with God about his plan for the possessions God has entrusted to him (Gen. 15:2-4). Abraham plans to give Eliezer, his servant, all his possessions. Abraham lived in a commodity-based economy and had a plan for the disposal of his wealth after his death. God did not accept Abraham’s plan based on custom but instructed Abraham that a son would be born to his wife, Sarah. This son would inherit Abraham’s possessions.

Paul Using an Estate Planning Metaphor

“For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives” (Heb. 9:16, 17, NKJV).

In the New Testament Paul uses the last will and testament metaphor to describe the new covenant. The description of how a will works is identical to the way a will is administered today in a monetary-based economy. From the beginning to the end of Scripture, every person has had the opportunity to plan to protect God’s possessions.

Customs, Culture, and Traditions

Every person alive today can plan to protect the possessions that God has entrusted to them. Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs) have made many reforms that go against the customs, culture, traditions, and practices of most members of their societies wherever they live. As a result of these choices, SDAs have made significant REFORMS in their beliefs, lives, and actions.

The following SDA beliefs are not held by the majority of the world’s 7.9 billion inhabitants (being a Christian is out of step with most of society [2.38 billion Christians] and Protestants are a minority in many areas of the world [1 billion Protestants]).

  • SDAs believe that the seventh day, Saturday (Sabbath), is the day of worship, rather than any other day of the week.
  • SDAs believe in the cosmic conflict between evil and good, Satan and Jesus.
  • SDAs believe that sin (not the economy or anything else) is the primary problem on this earth.
  • SDAs believe that the TEN COMMANDMENTS are still valid and should be kept.
  • SDAs believe in a heavenly sanctuary and that Jesus is our high priest there right now.
  • SDAs believe that a final judgment is currently going on in heaven.
  • SDAs believe that the human body is the temple of God. Health practices that honor God are evidenced by how our physical bodies are cared for.
  • SDAs believe that God owns everything, including our possessions.
  • SDAs believe that living on 90 percent of income and tithing 10 percent is better than living on 100 percent.
  • SDAs believe that this earth is not our home; we are pilgrims just passing through.
  • SDAs believe that the soul sleeps when a person dies.

Ellen White suggests a reform that Seventh-day Adventist Christians should consider. “If man had made you the executor of his property, would you not closely study the will of the testator, that the smallest amount might not be misapplied? Your heavenly Friend has entrusted you with property, and given you His will as to how it should be used. If this will is studied with an unselfish heart, that which belongs to God will not be misapplied. The Lord’s cause has been shamefully neglected, when He has provided men with sufficient means to meet every emergency, if they only had grateful, obedient hearts.”⁴ Every Christian should plan to keep our heavenly Friend’s property safe and secure from misappropriation. Jesus is the God who created everything, owns everything, and entrusts you with possessions to manage.

Plan to Sanction Evil

Seek to make a plan directed by God rather than peers, society, customs, culture, and traditions. Abraham tried to follow the customs of his time, but God gently led him to a plan that has blessed all the nations of the world. That blessing came through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. When God directs your plan for your family, you place sanctions on Satan. ≤

¹ Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1940), p. 328.

² Ibid., p. 154.

³ Bible texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version of the Bible. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

⁴ E. G. White, Counsels on Stewardship, pp. 328, 329.

Dennis Carlson

Dennis R. Carlson is the director of Planned Giving & Trust Services at the General Conference.