To truly understand prosperity, you have to realize that there are two different types of prosperity. There is the kind that springs from the Word and there is the kind people bring from the world.

Psalm 73:12 speaks of the latter type. It says, "Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches."

Most of us, however, are only familiar with that kind of "prosperity." All our lives we've seen people lie, cheat and steal their way to wealth. So much so, in fact, that many people have the mistaken idea that riches themselves belong to the devil.

Money is viewed as contaminated, as part of Satan's domain. So, we've just backed off and let him have it.

How wrong we've been! According to the Bible, the silver and gold of this earth belong to the Lord (Hag. 2:8), not to the devil. And the Lord wants it in the hands of His children.

Proverbs 13:22 says, "...The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just." The problem is, we've let the sinners have it for so long that we've forgotten who it really belongs to! What's more, as we've seen how many problems that kind of wealth carries with it, we've begun to wonder if we really want it at all.

It's true. Worldly riches walk hand in hand with corruption, with grief, with disease and with death. One look at the lives of the ungodly rich will provide ample proof that the prosperity gained by the ways of the world will destroy you just as surely as poverty will.

The Word verifies it. Read on down a few verses in Psalm 73 and you'll find that those who are wealthy and wicked end up in slippery places. They are cast down into destruction and they are "utterly consumed with terrors" (v. 19).

Someone can accumulate a vast amount of money and experience the wealth of the world, but without God that wealth will help to destroy him. Look at Proverbs 1:28-32 and you'll find out why. There, Solomon describes what will happen to those who take the worldly road to riches.
Then shall they call upon me [wisdom], but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
Read that last phrase again and let it sink in. "The prosperity of fools shall destroy them."

That principle holds true for believers and unbelievers alike. Does that mean you, too, should avoid being prosperous?

No! It means you should avoid being a fool!

The Word of God clearly defines the characteristics of a fool. In fact, the scriptures cover the subject quite well. Among them are 13, which I call "The Fool's Dozen."

As you read them, let the Holy Spirit search your heart. If you see ways in which you've been a fool, repent and make a firm decision not to be caught in that trap again. Put foolishness behind you once and for all, and prepare yourself for real prosperity.

1. A fool despises wisdom and instruction. (Prov. 1:7)
Let me give you an example of this. Years ago, when the Lord began to show me from the Word about the dangers of borrowing money, I made a commitment to the Lord that I wouldn't borrow another dime.

But when I shared that decision with some other people I knew, they just laughed at me. They could see what the Word of God said just as well as I could, but they were making money by borrowing so they refused to pay attention to it.

Back then interest was low. They were able to borrow money at 4 percent and lend it out at a higher rate. It was profitable for them.

A few years later however, interest rates shot up past 20 percent. Since the rates on the money they'd borrowed were tied to prime, suddenly they were losing money fast. By ignoring the wisdom of the Lord, they literally trapped themselves into a losing situation.

2. A fool is right in his own eyes. (Prov. 12:15)
You can avoid this kind of foolishness by constantly comparing your opinion to the Word of God. When they differ, always go with what the Word says, no matter how right your own opinion may seem to be at the time. If you do that, it will be impossible for the devil to deceive you for long in any area of your life.

3. A fool makes a mockery of sin. (Prov. 14:9)
Here the Lord is referring to the kind of person who thinks, for instance, that it won't hurt him to watch R-rated movies. "That stuff doesn't really bother me all that much," he says.
Another example is the believer who drinks "just a little." "God won't do anything to me for having a few beers," he says. God doesn't have to! The human liver wasn't made to process alcohol, and you can't put any through it without ruining it. The person who thinks he can is a fool by God's standards.

Sin, in any measure, will eventually bring ruin. As Galatians 6:7 says, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." If you sow sin, you will reap destruction. There's just no way around that. "The wages of sin is death..." (Rom. 6:23). Not "sometimes is" - "always is!"

4. A fool hides hatred with lying and utters slander. (Prov. 10:18)
Don't go around bad-mouthing everybody from the pastor to the president. That's the mark of a fool. One cannot harbor a critical spirit and prosper in God.

5. A fool does mischief for sport. (Prov. 10:23)
This is the person who tears up something just for fun. I know a lot about this one because, when I was a youngster, I was a prime example. My dad used to tell me, "Now boy, you don't have to squeal those back tires every time you leave a signal light."

I thought, What does he know?

I'll tell you what he knew. He knew he was paying for the tires!

Prosperity will ruin a fool like that.

6. A fool has a perverted mouth. (Prov. 19:1)
Having a perverted mouth means more than lying and using profanity. It means having a disobedient mouth. It means saying things that are out of line with the Word of God.

Having a perverted mouth also includes the ridiculous habit some people have of reversing the truth. If you took their words literally, you'd be going exactly backward all the time. They see a small dog and they call it a big dog. If there's a big storm they call it a little storm.

Spiritually, that's foolish.

The world of the spirit doesn't operate on what you mean, it operates on what you say. Mark 11:23 tells us that "Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith."

Take note. That verse didn't say you shall have whatsoever you mean. No! It's what you say that counts.

Now, I'm not suggesting you should be tied up in knots all the time worrying about what you might say. Just use the wisdom God has given you.

The Word of God says the mouth of a fool is totally full of foolishness. I know people like that. They're always jesting. You can't get a straight answer out of them.

What they're actually doing is trying to sell themselves socially by saying cute things all the time. But you don't need to do that. You have the Spirit of God, faith and a godly personality to endear you to people. That's all you need.

7. A fool trusts his own understanding. (Prov. 28:26)
The Word of God tells us to lean not to our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord with all of our heart. When we do that, God will direct our paths (Prov. 3:5-6).

8. A fool utters his entire mind. (Prov. 29:11)
This is the guy who gets upset about something and decides he has to let everybody know about it. "I'll just give them a piece of my mind," he'll say.

Don't do that. No one wants a piece of your mind. If you give it to them, you'll only end up alienating people.

Learn to keep quiet.

That especially applies in the area of spiritual revelation. When the Holy Spirit gives you insight into a situation, don't go blab it all over town. If you do, the Lord won't trust you with this kind of supernatural knowledge in the future.

There have been those who have received revelations about someone's weaknesses or needs. They've been given that insight about what was wrong so they could pray for that person. However, instead of keeping that information between themselves and God, they told others about it. That kind of conduct will cause the loss of the anointing of the intercessor.

Don't let that happen to you.

9. A fool walks in darkness. (Eccl. 2:14)
The Bible tells us in 1 John 2:9-11 that when we're not walking in love, we're walking in darkness. So, if you have anything against anyone, get that settled. Go before God and forgive him or her before that broken relationship makes a fool out of you. It also says if we walk in the light as He is in the light, His blood cleanses us from all sin. As long as unforgiveness remains, darkness remains. As long as darkness remains, sin remains. Only a fool wants that because sin brings death to everything - including blessing and prosperity.

10. A fool does not pay his vows. (Eccl. 5:4)
You cannot imagine how many people have made faith promises and pledges to this ministry and then failed to follow through. Don't do that!

If you've already made some vows and some pledges you aren't able to fulfill, go to God and ask His forgiveness. Then, I'd encourage you to go to the person or the ministry that you made that pledge to and get things straightened out with them.

11. A fool is swallowed up by his own lips. (Eccl. 10:12)
Read what Jesus said in Mark 11:23. Enough said.

12. A fool says in his heart, "There is no God." (Ps. 14:1)
Most believers would try to excuse themselves from this one really quickly. "Oh Brother Copeland," they'd say, "I've never said there's no God." Maybe with their mouth they never have. But they've said it with their actions.

How? By sinning just a little here and there and thinking it won't matter. They'll go to an immoral movie or have a gossip session about the pastor, ignoring God's command to the contrary.

With their actions they're saying, "There is no God."

Psalm 53:1 connects that kind of thing to corruption. Whether you realize it or not, the more you act that way the more corrupt you will become.

That's an insidious trap and it's easy to fall into, so beware! Satan doesn't care whether you publicly proclaim to be an atheist or whether you deny God by your actions. You'll make a fool of yourself either way.

13. A fool is slow to believe in his heart. (Luke 24:25)
Religious people are especially bad about this one. You can show them something, straight out of the Word of God, and they'll just shake their heads because it disagrees with their traditions.

I used to run into that all the time. I'd go into churches and preach for 2 weeks or more before I could have a good three-day meeting. It took that long to get the people to set aside all the unbelief they'd been wallowing in and have a little faith!

Don't make that mistake.

Be quick to believe anything you see in the Word of God. By clinging to your unbelief you will miss out on healing, prosperity, peace of mind and hundreds of other blessings God has for you. And that's foolishness in anybody's book!

Now you may be wondering, How do all these characteristics relate to prosperity?

Anyone who fits the Bible description of a fool will be destroyed, despite his prosperity. In fact, a fool is more likely to misuse his prosperity to bring about his own ruin.

The prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

But don't let that scare you into staying poor. Let it inspire you to leave foolishness behind. Then your prosperity can be what God always intended it to be: a blessing, not a curse.

Excerpt permission granted by
Eagle Mountain International Church, Inc.
aka:  Kenneth Copeland Ministries