Who Is Master of Your Soul?

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

People are quick to acknowledge the Ten Commandments as good rules to live by. Still, many of us from predominantly Christian nations have turned aside from the living God only to become servants of “other gods.” Christians are not immune to the seductions of the gods of this world. We may not bow down to images, yet born-again believers can be strongly influenced by seductive spirits in the atmosphere — “gods” in the kingdom of darkness that plague individuals and bring down nations.

Drug addicts relentlessly pursue the next high; the sensual person keeps trying to fulfill his lust; and workaholics ruin their lives and their families in a consuming thirst for money and security. Driven by dissatisfaction, people repeatedly go back for more of what brought only momentary pleasure. Because of the dayto-day onslaught of the entertainment industry, a lack of godly convictions, and improper priorities, many people worship at least one of the three gods we will discuss in this booklet: Bacchus, Venus, and Mammon.

All of us must ask ourselves, “Who is my master?” Christians need to settle on all the promises of God revealed through categories of doctrine. We must learn to pray as never before for discernment, protection, and complete freedom from the enemy who is only out to rob, maim, and destroy God’s creation.


“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).

“Supplications” are fervent prayers on critical subjects. “Prayers” (plural) simply means we are to turn every need or desire into an attitude of prayer. “Intercessions” are intense seasons of prayer concerning a particular overwhelming burden. It means to continue to pray without quitting and as often as possible in a person’s schedule. Intercessions are prayers of tenacity and of importunity.*

Regarding what goes on in their respective countries, mature believers are the pivoting forces within each nation as they pray according to 1 Timothy 2:1. First of all, we are to pray for leaders — for all men and women in authority.

Together with prayer, we give thanks for all men: “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2). In other words, the key to the well-being of a society is within the realm of the Church. It does not depend on the wickedness or goodness of leaders. The key to the strength of nations is in the condition, attitudes, and practices of local assemblies. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). It was not just that men would be saved, but that we would have knowledge gained by experience through the truth. “The truth” is a system of learning, through the teaching of Bible doctrine. God desires that the truth would govern the five parts of our soul and lead us to magnify Christ.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” — our great Intercessor of Hebrews 7:25 and 26 — “Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Definition Comes by Doctrine

Someone commented to me rather casually, “We don’t go for this doctrine stuff.” Their ignorance revealed that they did not understand God’s system of categories in Scripture. Categorical doctrine equals God’s system of right thinking in the believer through a body of doctrine from the Word. It is how we can live by every Word of God.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus Christ mentions the importance of Bible doctrine: Matthew 7:28, Matthew 22:33, Mark 1:27, Mark 11:18, Mark 12:38, Luke 4:32, John 7:16, John 7:17, John 18:19. He kept reiterating the principle of doctrine. Religious leaders were astonished at His doctrine (Matthew 22:33). Doctrine is how to think spiritually.

Remove Stumbling Blocks that Offend

For example, Paul said to let no man despise your youth, “…but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). If a Christian offends a new believer or someone who wants to be saved, it is better that a millstone were placed around the Christian’s neck and he were cast into the sea, according to Luke 17:1-2.

When I realize that I have offended anyone, I need to go to God on my knees and ask for forgiveness. This is why: We can easily offend people who have a need for God, and who are seeking God, but who are still careless because they do not know how to think with God. They may be looking for help but do not know how to verbalize their need. But, the Christian who becomes a stumbling block to such a one would be better off if he were drowned in the depths of the sea than to face God with that offense. In other words, take the stumbling block out of the way (Isaiah 57:14). Never again put a stumbling block before another person (Romans 14:13b).

Do Not Despise Doctrine

In 1 Timothy 4:13 he said, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” Do not despise doctrine. Jesus spoke through the inspired writer of Hebrews, “Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart, and they have not known my ways” (Hebrews 3:10). A careful study of this verse in the original language speaks of people who never learned doctrine in categories, so they could never, ever find God’s ways.

“They have not known my ways” — They have not known My categorical doctrine; they have not known how to live by My Word; they do not have experiential knowledge of the Word.

“Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine…” — the definite article indicates a system of categories — “…continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:15).

“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17). As a leader of a church, I am to labor in the word and doctrine — not just deliver nice messages. “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words; even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness [speaking of the Finished Work]; he is proud, knowing nothing.…from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8). According to 1 Timothy 6:12, with the words of God — with categorical doctrine — we fight the good fight of faith, not sight.

Become a Prayer Warrior through Doctrine

In 2 Timothy, we find the key to 1 Timothy 2:1-6, regarding our need to develop a strategic prayer life. Prayer is developed out of knowing doctrine. The principle is this: We are to pray prayers through doctrine and in the preciseness of the Spirit.

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses.…” — the Word of God in categorical doctrine — “…the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life — speaking of the three gods we will be discussing — “…that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully…,” which means according to Scripture (2 Timothy 2:2-5).

Then in verse 15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, [precisely and accurately] dividing the word of truth.” Truth is the doctrine of Christ in life.

In 2 Timothy 3:7, many continue to learn but never come to a knowledge that is gained by experience in the system of doctrine. They are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

The Profitability of Doctrine

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine…” (2 Timothy 3:16a).

Regarding doctrine, Jesus said in John 6:63, “The flesh profits nothing; but the words I speak, they are spirit, and they are life.”

Every Word of God is profitable “for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16b). We must never forget that both reproof and correction are involved with instruction of doctrine.

“…That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” or in other words, mature (2 Timothy 3:17).

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine….” People who live in sentimentality don’t want you to have convictions and to speak the truth as it is, because the truth is offensive in this twentieth century post-Christian culture — “…but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:2-3).

“And they shall turn away their ears from the [system of] truth [and categories], and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist...” — Go out and win souls! Do the work of an evangelist — “...make full proof of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:4-5). The Word of God keeps bringing up the importance of sound doctrine, whether it was by Jesus Christ or the apostle Paul.

“He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel” (Psalm 103:7). Why didn’t the Lord let Israel know His ways? Because, according to Hebrews 3:10, they refused to accept sound doctrine, and therefore, thousands of God’s people died the sin unto physical death (verses 11-19). The difference between believers is this: Everyone who is bornagain knows something about the God of salvation. Yet, only those who have received the Word with the filling of the Holy Spirit as the governing authority in their souls can know His ways.

*We suggest reading Pastor Stevens’ booklets on prayer, Do I Really Know How to Pray?, Grace Publications, 1997, and Intimacy in Prayer, Grace Publications, 1998.


We need to pray for all men, because every person in this universe — with no exceptions — lives with a thirst.

The Bible says in Proverbs 27:20, “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” This is the problem we face today. Men are never satisfied. They are continuously thirsty.

The psalmist said in 18:5a, “The sorrows of hell compassed me about.” The sorrows of hell have a hold of me. Why? Because hell is never satisfied (Isaiah 5:14).

In Psalm 116:3, the Word of God says, “…the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.”

Many make their bed in hell, according to Psalm 139:8. In Isaiah 28:15, people made an agreement with hell. Drug addicts and alcoholics make an agreement with hell, believing that grace will cover their sin — and it will not! Adulterers make an agreement with hell that it is okay to sin. Fornicators have to make an agreement with hell to have unlawful sex. They are never satisfied, and they will never be full; the sorrows of hell compass them about. In Luke 12:18-20, the rich man’s barns were full, so he decided to build more barns. Then he said, “After this, I will eat, drink, and be merry.” And God said, “Thou fool, this night your soul will be required of thee, and you can never enjoy your new barns.”

Bacchus, the God of Addictions

There are three gods among Christians in any ministry if Christ is not Lord of their lives. The first god is Bacchus, the god of drugs and alcohol. Bacchus — the god of the chain smoker. Exodus 20:3 says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” So here comes Bacchus saying, “Smoke a little marijuana tonight. Go ahead! Of course, you’ll want it again tomorrow night.

Take heroin tonight! It’s okay — just this once.” In a few days, you need to have it again. You are never satisfied, and you have got to have more. We all want freedom, but what we choose to make us free often leads us to bondage. We want liberation, but it leads us to hell. The hell comes on the inside, and the drug addict shakes. He experiences living hell.

“Give me more!” His god is Bacchus — the god of millions of people in churches who profess that Christ is their God, yet they go back to Bacchus. Hell encompasses them. It’s on the inside — a living torment of hell, until they get their fulfillment with drugs. A twenty-year old begins to look old and worn out. Satan steals, robs, destroys, and finally kills them (John 10:10a). But there is another god.

Venus, the God of Sensual Lust

Venus is the god of sensual lust: the god of masturbation, fornication, promiscuity, and immodest dress, causing women to expose their bodies. People bow down to Venus, who is also the god of homosexuality, lesbianism, and premarital sex. They believe they will never be complete unless this god satisfies their desire.

Then, once they do, it does not satisfy. Hell and destruction are never full. The eyes of a lustful man are never satisfied.

But there is another side of the god of sensual lust. Gluttony! People who are ruled by this god will eat and eat again — in the middle of the night or any time in the day. Venus is the same god of gluttony referred to in Luke 21:34, regarding surfeiting in the Last Days. Those who serve this god have no discipline.

Venus is the same god that makes some people force themselves to vomit to get rid of the food they gorged (bulimia), or that makes others starve themselves to death (anorexia). And whether it is that or just eating uncontrollably to try to be fulfilled, it is sin, caused by the god of sensual lust.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). The Lord is a jealous God.

Mammon, the God of Material Lust

Then there is another god called “Mammon,” which means money.

Covetousness is idolatry controlled by Mammon and accompanied by demons (Colossians 3:5; Psalm 119:36-37). It causes a man to say, “I’m going to build barns. After I do that, I’m going to build bigger barns. I’m going to have security.” Of course, he will die rich and wealthy — filthy rich. He knows he doesn’t need it, but he is driven to get more, because he is never satisfied with what he has now. He wants more.

Mammon is the god of a lust for things or money. They can be wonderful when used properly, but terrible when they become god: Mammon. And Jesus Christ said it so beautifully in Matthew 6:24: “You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Little Gods Controlling Great Nations

These gods take over until the psyche gets mad. In Deuteronomy 28:28, the Israelites were stricken by God with madness, shigga`on. Their psyche was mad with these gods. They hated the wilderness because they never knew the one God. As a result, they came under the control of all three of these gods.

These three gods control America. The entertainment industry is a primary tool used to gain strongholds in individual lives. Movies and television glamorize premarital sex, adultery, fornication, immodest dress, drinking. Suggestive cartoons are available for very young children to watch. This industry is cursed to hell with their three gods. Bacchus, Venus, Mammon — they are out to take their prey by whatever means they can find.

“Supplications, prayers, and intercessions.” No wonder the Holy Spirit said we need these weapons of spiritual warfare. No wonder He said them in just that order.

Men are thirsting. “Do you know where I can get some marijuana? I’m thirsting for it.” “Let’s go to the bar tonight. We have only been married a year or two, but we have already left our wives. Could we go and have a few drinks tonight? There’s nothing wrong with it. Let’s sublimate unto our god Bacchus.” “Let’s go down and see a prostitute while we are under the control of our god Bacchus. He is my god — has been for years. But I’m saved. Well, I think I am,” say the people under the power of Bacchus.

“Well, I should have never married her (or him), and I have thought it all over. I’ve given it the old college try, but I’m leaving. I’m going home.” And then the divorce, then another marriage. This time the attack is from the realm of Venus, the god of hell!

“Just a few more years of this rat race and we will finally have the lifestyle we always dreamed about! God understands that work is important. So what if we miss a few church services. Besides, we’ll be able to give a much bigger tithe!” The god of Mammon drives people to distraction from the things of God. Temptations come, as they do to everyone, but there is not enough doctrine received to instruct the soul. Then, when least expected, the chest pains come. All the planning and calculating in the world can’t prepare an unprepared soul for his appointment with God.

The Reality of Hell

Someday, if they don’t get saved, they will go to hell. But for now, hell is on the inside. The rich man in Luke 16:24 said, “Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” The rich man was thirsting in the flames of hell.

Adultery is like the flames of hell. First the act, then the guilt flames up. The guilt follows until your conscience is seared. And these three gods deaden the conscience until the conscience can no longer function with any kind of reality. We become indifferent to the fact that we are in the trail of dying early, and that we are in the trail of total destruction. These gods with their power lead us with the flames of hell into this inevitable end.

We should never even have to be occupied with these sins, but we are because these gods are out there. Jesus Christ is still the homeless One in this sense: when He was on earth, He had no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20). Though He now reigns on His eternal throne in heaven, He is still longing for a home on earth in the hearts of men who are called by His name.

People everywhere are thirsting, yet the drink of these three gods never satisfies them. Do you understand why Acts 17:30 says, “I wish men every where would repent” — change their mind and make a radical decision? As the prophet Jeremiah said, “Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God” (Jeremiah 31:18b).

A Righteous Thirst

Jesus Christ was on the cross. He had forty different fevers, according to the exegetical historical records we have available to study. Blood was coming out of His pores. His head, brows, tongue, cheeks, back, legs, toes, bones, muscles — His entire body, from His feet to His precious head, was racked with fevers.

In John 19:28, Jesus said, “I thirst!” It was, of course, a legitimate, physical thirst.

The soldiers took the anodyne meant to ease the pain and offered the sour vinegar to quench His thirst. They attempted to put it on His lips, but He refused it. He was saying, “No! I’m an example! I am here in your stead. I don’t want it! I must experience the full punishment for sin.” The crown of thorns, His head bleeding, His back blistered and bleeding, the nails in His feet and hands. And on the inside, He was saying, “I thirst! I thirst for my Father! I thirst for His glory! Look at me! Father, I thirst.”

“I have a godly thirst to reach the people who are thirsting — for those who never get filled. They destroy their bodies, their souls, their families, their marriages, their future, their potential. I thirst because they are never filled!”

Jesus Christ on the cross was thirsting for people who think they are filled, yet they go back again and again to the same things. Influenced by Mammon, there are people who are still never satisfied with money. They want more, and they don’t want to walk by faith.

They want the security of money, the security of buildings and real estate, while souls go to hell. Then, there is the drug addict who is never satisfied. The sensual person keeps going out with one partner after another, and lust is robbing him of God! And it is robbing him of heaven, because they will never go there. According to Galatians 5:19-21, they will not enter heaven.

It is lust, not love. It is need, not God. It is flesh, not Spirit. It is rebellion, not humility. And Satan keeps inventing more and more distractions.


It was the eighth day of the feast of the tabernacles. The priest went down to the pool, took some water, and brought it up before the people. He poured out the water, a symbol of God pouring out His Spirit, and at that moment, the Lord Jesus Christ stood up and began to speak.

“If any man thirst…” — and you do. You who follow Bacchus, and Venus, and Mammon, you are thirsting but you will never be full. “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his [emotions] shall flow rivers of living water” (see John 7:37-39). Christ was speaking of the Holy Spirit who, after He was glorified, would be given to us who believe.

Jesus went to the woman at the well (John 4:4-30). He said, “If I drink the water you are offering Me, I will thirst again. But,” He said, “I have water to give you. And if you drink the water that I give you, you will never thirst again. Just keep drinking it. You will never thirst again.”

Satan, through seduction and enticement, puts desires into the hearts of his people and into the hearts of Christians who become his representatives. He promises to make them feel better and more secure than ever. But God says, “If you rely on hell’s provision or any natural provision, you will thirst again. You will never be full.”

Hell and destruction are never full. The eyes of men are never satisfied (Proverbs 27:20). The sorrows of hell go with you wherever you go (Psalm 18:5). As your heart gets harder, and you take the broad road of Matthew 7:13, your conscience becomes weaker and weaker, until finally, it is seared. Then as you get older, the fear of God is gone, and you are still thirsty.

Esau cried out in anguish (Hebrews 12:16- 17). He cried and cried, and he tried to find a place for repentance, but he found none. He had a thirst that was not satisfied, and His conscience toward Jesus Christ was dead. With all of the privileges at his disposal, he still did not call upon the Lord, and Esau went to hell. This is why: He cried with a worldly sorrow, but it wasn’t a godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). Judas cried, and he said, “I betrayed innocent blood,” but he never accepted Christ. Acts 1:25 says that he thirsted for something he would never have. Under the control of Mammon, Judas Iscariot was thirsting, but he was not satisfied — and he went to his place.

Don’t Quit

When you receive a call from God, but you see no way to fulfill it, determine that you will not be a quitter. Stay with God and be filled with the Living Water of Christ at the fountains of grace. Do not be a coward who backs off with excuses and becomes a spiritual wimp with a Laodicean attitude. Some people leave their call and think they are going for something bigger and better. They will never find it!

What does the Lord desire for us? Salvation? Yes. But Jesus Christ wants all men to learn doctrine — to be able to think with God’s thoughts and God’s ways, from a divine viewpoint. He would have all men to come to a knowledge of doctrine by experience through learning, believing, receiving, and living it out. As a result, we will have sanctity. What is sanctity? Sanctity is Christ in you.

Sanctity is Christ governing you with heavenly thoughts, so that you have your conversation from heaven (Philippians 3:20). When the sanctity of a living God controls your thirst, then you share it with others. The river flows from the heart, in the mind, to the emotions, and then it goes out. Not down, but out! And the spring goes up, because you are always satisfied. Is it any wonder that in Psalm 42:2, the psalmist said, “I thirst for the living God”? Is it any wonder that in Matthew 5:6, they that hunger and thirst, and continue to thirst, after righteousness shall be filled continuously?

Hell Is on the Inside

With the god of Mammon, there is a concept of infinity, an economic immortality that says, “I’ve got to have more!” There is a kind of infinity related to Bacchus, the god of drugs, that says, “I need to have more.”

Then there is a sensual infinity regarding Venus, the god of lust. “I wonder what she would be like?” or, “I’ve had five husbands, but I want to do it again.” Hell is on the inside.

Can you see this? Hell is on the inside, and because of that, a hell is produced on the outside. Murders! Rapes! Molestation! Robbery!

Wars! Stealing! The hell goes from the inside to the outside. Our cities are not safe. There are drug addicts, dealers, and perverse people whose consciences have been seared and who are ruled by their lusts. Some people are so careless, they think nothing bad will ever happen to them, but it only takes once. There is a hell out there!

There is a hell experienced by those children with divorced parents but who desire to have a mom and dad at home every night — a living hell.

There are teenagers who dress immodestly. A pretty young girl may lead two lives. A year goes by, then two years, three years, and she advances into that hell out there where there are diseases like AIDS and herpes. It is a world of immorality, where there’s no real love, just sensual pleasure under the god of Venus. They bow down to a filthy, lying god.

The young man is kind, and he fools his parents. All of a sudden, he starts for the first time. First it’s pot. Then, on a Friday night with a certain crowd, he tries heroin. It takes him away from worry and stress into another world — but it’s a living hell. It was sent to kill him (John 10:10a). In just a matter of time — maybe five years, maybe ten years — Satan will kill him! It is a hell!

How to Have Heaven on the Inside

When Jesus said, “I thirst,” He said, “I love them all. I will die for them all.” He said, “I will pay a ransom, and that ransom is My life. I will pay for their sins, and I will take their sins upon My body. I will die in their place.”

Jesus is saying, “I thirst for your freedom. I thirst so you will never thirst again. I thirst to win you to Myself. I thirst to have you in My family. I love you, and I will die for you personally. I thirst because I want you. I want to take you out of the inside hell and the outside hell into a heavenly conversation of grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. I will do that in a moment. I will come to live inside, and I will never, never, never leave you nor forsake you.”

Jesus wants us to put Him first. In Matthew 6:33, He said we should seek His kingdom and His righteousness before any other thing. Of course He wants us to honor our pastor-teacher, but we are to serve God first, honoring the pastor-teacher and the Body of Christ through the will of God (2 Corinthians 8:5). He knows that through faith obedience we will have a living heaven on the inside.

When we allow the Lord of heaven and earth to be the master of our soul, He will give us the love of the Holy Spirit, the comfort, the cleansing, the peace, the freedom, the joy, the wisdom of Almighty God inside. He will make us His tabernacle. In John 14:17-20, Jesus said, “I will make them my habitation. I will control every thought while I let them use their individuality to enjoy fellowship in the light. I will sup with them, and they can sup with Me. And when pressures come, we will be living together as one.”


Suffering is not a tragedy when it is for God. The tragedy is what we miss when we are not filled with God’s promises and His power. It is what we miss in the Word, what we miss by not having supper with Him. The Lord Jesus Christ wants to have supper with us! And the tragedy is what we miss, not what we suffer.

Do you know how many tears were shed before a message like this could be delivered? This is from the heart of God. He doesn’t want Bacchus or Venus or Mammon to be our gods. Neither are we to give place to these gods of Satan.

Jesus Christ is your God, and His desire is that we would have a single eye on Him. He offers us mercy, grace, and love. He forgives. He has paid for every sin, and He will help us if we fail in the process. He only asks that we get up, isolate the sin, and go on. Always choose to be around the right company (Proverbs 2:20). Don’t be a companion of fools who don’t think with God (Proverbs 13:20) just because they have leadership qualities and you like them.

Fellowship with Spirit-filled men. Be around the men and women who have one God — the Father instead of Bacchus, the Son instead of Venus, the Holy Spirit instead of Mammon, and the Word of God instead of conversations that can only be fulfilled in the lusts of the flesh, which will leave you thirsting again.

Dear heavenly Father, we are amazed at Your faithfulness to us. God forbid that we would become familiar with Your instruction in precise thinking through Your Word. Continue to convict us of Your perfect holiness, and draw us into Your ways, away from the gods of this world. In Jesus name, Amen.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the King James Version.

Grace Publications is a ministry of Greater Grace World Outreach, Inc. http://www.ggwo.org

Greater Grace Church in Ukraine http://www.ggwo.org.ua