World Impact with Billy Wilson “The Perversion of Power”
(Billy Wilson:) Today World Impact is in Nuremburg, Germany, home of the massive Nazi rallies and the Nuremburg trials following World War 2. On this program we’re going to be talking about the perversion of power. Stay with us.
(Announcer:) In 1920 Germany was a devastated country. An entire generation of leaders and fathers were dead in the trenches of World War 1. Sanctions strangled German dignity and economy. Foreign troops occupied the Rhineland and hyperinflation was at its peak. No government could keep control more than a few months. Into this vacuum stepped a calculating, charismatic leader. His name was Adolf Hitler. He organized the national, socialist German worker’s party, the Nazi party, around traditionalism and nationalistic pride. In 1933 Hitler was named chancellor. The next year his elite SS guards removed opposition to his dictatorship by assassinating 85 political and military leaders in one night. The Nazis promised national and cultural renewal. They used religious imagery, folklore and prevalent racism to sway public opinion. Hitler used film, books, posters and mass rallies in Nuremberg to promote his ideals. And the public fell in step behind a man they saw as their deliverer.
(Billy Wilson:) Welcome to World Impact. I'm Billy Wilson and today World Impact is in Nuremberg, Germany. We’re continuing a series we’ve been doing across Germany on power. We’ve been talking about the power of grace, the power of the cross, the power of prayer. And today we’ve come to Nuremberg to do a very unusual program. It will be called "The Perversion of Power." Now Nuremberg is famous of course because of the massive Nazi rallies that were held here in the 1930s. I’m standing now in the Congress Hall, where they had great Nazi gatherings during those days when the Third Reich was rising to power around the world. This is also the place of the 1945 and thereafter trials, Nuremberg trials, after World War 2. We’ve come here today to talk about power and how it can be perverted. Obviously in Adolf Hitler and in the Nazi regime, power was corrupted and perverted for great evil. Power can also be used for great good. We're going to be talking about principles of power on this program today. Now this is an unusual program. It’s going to be a bit stark, even be a bit startling. I believe God’s going to touch your heart through it. And as He does I want you to call me at 1-800-95-SHARE. Go to the website WorldImpact.tv for more information about our subject today and also to leave your prayer request or connect with our ministry. I’m glad you joined us on this World Impact program. I’ll be back in just a moment from here in Nuremberg, Germany, to talk about the perversion of power.
(Announcer:) God poured out his Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. This is that blessing foretold by Joel to empower the servants of God. In the study book, This Is That, we’ll bring you face to face with the Holy Spirit. Combining wisdom from the ministries of Jack Hayford, Derek Prince, Ron Luce, and many others, This Is That will show you how to live the Spirit-empowered life. And as a special offer, order now, and we’ll include this DVD of World Impact shows from Germany. This is That, and four episodes of World Impact, yours for just 25 dollars. If you desire a real encounter with the Holy Spirit, the essays, reflections and journaling sections of This is That will help you explore Him beyond measure. Call 1-800-95-SHARE or go to WorldImpact.tv today.
(Billy Wilson:) Today World Impact is in Nuremberg, Germany. I'm sitting now in the documentation center here in Nuremberg. Today we're talking about power. Actually we've been doing a series of television programs across Germany on the power of grace, the power of prayer, the power of the cross, but today's program is about the danger of power. Actually we've called this program "The Perversion of Power." We felt like Nuremberg would be an appropriate place to address this subject as we look at the rise and fall of the Third Reich. The documentation center here at Nuremberg is a great museum. In fact, it’s one of the most outstanding I’ve ever seen in the world on World War 2, and especially on Nazi Germany. Today we’re going to be asking the question, What happened? What are the dangers of power? How can we avoid this kind of perversion of power in our own hearts and in our world again? So today let’s talk a little bit about power. Lord Acton said,
“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Edward Abbey says,
“Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst, and corrupts the best.”
And David Brin said,
“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it is more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”
Psalm 62 verse 11 says,
“God has spoken once, twice have I heard this, that power belongs unto God.”
And Psalm 75:6-7 says,
“No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man, but it is God who judges. He brings one down. He exalts another.”
And in Acts chapter 12 verse 21 through 25 an account I want to share with you on this program today reads,
“On the appointed day Herod wearing his royal robe sat on the throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, 'This is the voice of a god, not of a man.' Immediately because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down and he was eaten by worms and died. But the Word of God continued to increase and spread."
Herod Agrippa the First was a powerful man. He was the grandson of Herod the Great. In fact many say that Herod Agrippa had greater territories than even his grandfather Herod the Great. He gave this speech as recorded in Acts chapter 12 and it was fantastic. In fact his personal charisma was overwhelming. It was so strong that people said, “This is the voice of a god.” And Herod did not correct them. Because he did not give God the glory for the power he had, God smote him and he died. The Bible says he was eaten by worms. Now many scholars believe this was Fournier’s Gangrene that attacked the lower intestines. And in fact many believe it was the same disease that killed his grandfather Herod the Great. Now as we look at Scripture we see over and over again that God shows Himself with the power both in the secular and in the spiritual world. In other words, God is Lord of heaven and earth. And no man can come to power except God allow it. And God is able to take power away or to give power.
We see a brilliant account of this in Daniel chapter four and chapter five. The Scripture tells us that Nebuchadnezzar, one of the greatest leaders in the known world at the time, was on his throne. In the middle of his glorious reign, so to speak, he has a dream. In the dream he sees a tree. The tree is cut down in the middle of the night and those who cut the tree down say, "Leave the stump." The tree falls into the earth, it’s covered with dew, and he can’t understand this dream. Finally he calls Daniel in to help him understand the dream of the king. Daniel says, “The tree, Nebuchadnezzar, represents you. You are great. You have great stature. And yet God is going to bring you down because you have not given him the glory for your kingdom.” Now just as Daniel has spoken, within a year the Bible says that Nebuchadnezzar is exiled from the throne. He becomes homeless. His hair grows out until it become like the feathers of an eagle. His fingernails grow out until they become like claws. He is on the ground. He is without his kingdom. He is exiled. He becomes a nobody. And for seven years Nebuchadnezzar is exiled and lives like an animal. At the end of those seven years he comes back to his right mind. He reclaims his sanity. And God restores him to the throne. In that moment Nebuchadnezzar says this,
“I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble.”
Nebuchadnezzar learned the big lesson, that power comes from God. Now the Scripture says that his son, Belshazzar, came to power after Nebuchadnezzar. Belshazzar throws a party. He uses the gold and silver of the temple. In the middle of the party God’s hand comes into the room and writes three words on the wall. And Belshazzar cannot understand them. He calls for Daniel. Daniel come in and says to Belshazzar, basically, "You did not learn the lesson of your father Nebuchadnezzar that God rules in the kingdom of men and thus God is going to bring you down." In fact Daniel chapter five verse 21 and 22 says the following:
"He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal. He lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle. And his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he acknowledged the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men. And God sets up and puts down whomever he pleases."
And then Daniel says,
"And thou his son O Belshazzar has not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this."
God reigns in the kingdoms of men. Power belongs to God. In just a few moments I’ll be back from here in Nuremberg, Germany, to finish this message on the perversion of power.
(Dr. Eckart Dietzfelbinger:) The Nazis used a lot of tricks, a lot of tricks. And one of these tricks was to use religious elements. For example, they copied elements of the Christian liturgy. And when Hitler appeared in the Zeppelin tribune he appeared like a priest, during the night, by an impressive search Lichtdom. And the Nazis copied too the songs of Christian leaders’ music. And then they used other texts. And they said we are believing that God has sent us this Messiah, the new Messiah, Hitler. And we will work together with him. If you have nothing to lose, there are two possibilities. On the one side you are thinking about what you can change for yourself or if you have no ideas you can project all your responsibility to a strong person. And he will do it and I am a part then of this people community. I am a part of it. I belong together. But the bad thing is that you give up all your responsibility because you have to accept until your death all what this leadership is doing. And so it was possible to declare it, the majority of the German people trusted Hitler totally, they loved him. Hitler got thousands of love letters and such. And of course we have a psychological side of this thing too. And so he presented here the German army in a perfect way. Here on the Zeppelin field, he showed the people never, never, no nation can win against us. And so Nuremberg is a very good example how you can manipulate people. But on the other side how people are projecting all their responsibility, all their tools, all their fate, to a political system. And get then, the bill, And the bill was the second World War.
(Announcer:) On September the first, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. In 1940 they overwhelmed France. By 1942 Germany dominated Europe and North Africa. But long before the outbreak of war Hitler constructed the Dachau labor camp for those he considered non-Aryan, Jewish, or otherwise socially undesirable. Such people were persecuted as enemies of the Reich. In this way Hitler offered up Jews as the object of his people’s hate. And the masses love him. Eventually, Hitler’s perversion of power cost him six million troops and killed 17 million innocent people in state-sponsored eugenics, labor camps, and death camps. Auschwitz alone murdered three million people in two years. Hitler gave the orders and Nazis pledged to obey. But the Nuremberg trials showed the world that we’re all responsible for our own actions, for our individual power to choose whether to do good or evil.
(Billy Wilson:) Again today World Impact is in Nuremberg, Germany, and we’re talking about power. In the first part of the sermon we talked about the danger of power and how that Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar and Herod all learned that power belongs to God. Now that is the first principle that I want to share with you today concerning power. In First Chronicles chapter 29 and verse 11 it says,
“Yours O Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor. For everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours O Lord is the kingdom. You are exalted as head over all.”
And Jesus came to them and said in Matthew 28 and verse 18,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."
The first principle we must understand when talking about power is that power belongs to God. Now when Jesus came, He did not come with the armies of men. In this museum here in Nuremberg, there are amazing pictures of the rise and fall of the Third Reich, and of the Nazi army and all of its splendor and glory. And yet Jesus understood that the way to true authority, the way to true spiritual power was not man’s way. It was God’s way.
This brings me to my second principle today concerning power. And that is that power must be handled with humility. The writer of Philippians, the Apostle Paul, says that Jesus humbled Himself. He emptied Himself. He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. And because He humbled Himself, God gave Him true authority and true power and exalted Him. And gave Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, and every tongue confess, that He is Lord. Jesus did not come with earthly power. He came with spiritual power and humbled Himself before God. Someday, Jesus will rule and reign the kingdoms of this world. They will become the kingdoms of our Christ and of our God, because He handled power with humility. Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, leaders throughout history, have failed to understand that power requires that we walk in humility before God. John Adams, the great American statesman, said,
“Because power corrupts, society's demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases."
In other words, people expect more out of leaders than they do out of others. Perhaps God does as well.
"To whom much is given much is required."
If you’re in a position of leadership or power or authority today, God expects you to handle it with integrity, with righteousness, and with humility.
The third principle I want to share about power is that power should be used for good and not for evil. In Acts chapter 10 verse 38 it says that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power and He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with Him. Jesus used His power to do good. Now in our world today people can use authority and power either to do good or to do evil. We certainly see that here in Germany, how that Hitler used his power, his personal charisma, and his personal position, to do evil. The travesties committed here during World War 2 and before are unlike any in human history. Power was perverted in Hitler’s leadership. And yet power can also be used for good. The Bible tells us in Galatians six and verse 10,
"Therefore, as we have opportunity let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
And Proverbs 3:27 says,
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act. Let us use any influence we have to do good, to help the poor, to help those that are not privileged as were are. To help those that are hungry, that are thirsty, that are crying out for mercy on the earth. Let us use our authority for good. For this is the will of God."
And finally today, the final principle I want to share with you is that earthly power is a test for heavenly power. In the Gospel according to Luke chapter 16 verse 10 through 12 it says,
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much. And whoever is dishonest with very little also will be dishonest with much. So if you’ve not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?"
This principle is throughout the Bible, that if God can trust you with a little, He will give you more. This is very true with power and authority. Though the scripture in Luke is talking about worldly wealth and riches, God is talking to us today about position and power. In Acts chapter six, those who were called diakonos or deacons were given earthly authority to take care of widows. They did it faithfully. Because of this, God deposited in them the true riches. And miracles began to happen in their ministry. And hundreds of people were saved and touched through the ministry of people like Philip and Stephen who once had waited on tables. The same principle is given I believe in the New Testament when it concerns leadership in the church. Paul says if you want to be a bishop, if you want to be a leader, you need to be able to take care of your own house. In other words, you need to use the authority given to you in your home first well, and then you can take care of the church of God. Today there is no doubt about it. Power has the ability to corrupt and be perverted. But power can also be used for good if we submit it to God. Don’t forget today power belongs to God. Handle it with humility. Use it for good. And remember, God is testing you. If you can handle earthly power, He’ll give you heavenly power.
(Song:) Jesus, Jesus, My Redeemer,
Shout it out, Shout it out
(Billy Wilson:) Today World Impact has been in Nuremberg, Germany. I’m in the documentation center here in Nuremberg, which is a large museum that demonstrates the rise and fall of the Third Reich. We wanted to come to Nuremberg to remind all of us that God is in charge. He puts up one, and he brings them down. But at the end of the day, power belongs to God. Now at the end of World War 2 in 1945, the Nazi trials were held here in Nuremberg. One of the great messages from those trials was that no matter your position in life, you are responsible to do what is right. In other words, some of the generals, lieutenants, and even captains in the Nazi army would blame those above them for their acts of atrocity. But the Nuremberg trials said no, that won’t get it. You are responsible if you do evil with the authority or power that you have.
So as you’re watching this program today I want to remind you that no matter what’s going on around you or who’s over you, you’re responsible to do right. I also want to say to you today that when power is perverted it brings great destruction and damage as happened here in Germany at the end of World War 2. This country was decimated because someone perverted power. Thousands and millions of lives were destroyed and wounded for many years to come because of what happened when one man and one regime turned power the wrong direction. Perhaps as you’ve watch this program today, you realize that you have been the victim of an abuse of power. Maybe it’s your father or your mother. Maybe you were sexually abused. Maybe you’re being abused by your boss at work. Maybe even by a church leader and you need healing in your heart. If that’s true today I want you to call me 1-800-95-SHARE in the United States or go to our website WorldImpact.tv. Share your story with me. I want to pray that God will heal your heart and remind you that justice will prevail even if it’s only in eternity. He loves you and He’ll give you strength to go on. So call me right now. 1-800-95-SHARE or go to our website WorldImpact.tv. On this program we’ve also been offering the book, This is That, which talks about being empowered by the Holy Spirit in the 21st century. In a world that’s filled with war and destruction and even perversion, God gives us the power of his Spirit in order to make a difference for good for Jesus Christ. So be sure to get the book This is That. Thank you for your prayerful and financial support of this program. Today World Impact has been in Nuremberg, Germany, talking about power and sharing Jesus with the world.