Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What Does the Bible Say About Scammers Claiming to be Man (or Woman) of God?

There are plenty of scammers who claimed to be men (and women) of God, but scammed people in various schemes, such as Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, and so on and so forth. Some operated such schemes themselves. Others participated in such schemes and recruited their church members.

And please don't say this does not happen. Here are a couple examples.
Nanci Jo Frasier, of Focus Up Ministries of Ohio, pusher of Profitable Sunrise Ponzi
[Report 1] [Report 2] [Report 3] [Report on Profitable Sunrise]
Bradley Collins, fake pastor, in $30 million Ponzi scheme within state of Indiana
Jim Bakker of the PTL Club, who kept two separate accounting books to conceal his fraud in the millions.
[Wikipedia entry]
There are many many more scammers, who were WIDELY KNOWN to be man (or woman) of God, yet was clearly sinning by telling lies, committing fraud, and dragging innocent people into scam for their own profit.

What does the Bible say about such scammers and sinners, who flies the banner of God but are clearly working for Satan?

False Men and Women of Righteousness

Bible has LONG recognized that there are many false men and women of righteousness, even if they can perform miracles.

"So it is no surprise if his [Satan's] servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness."
-- 2 Corinthians 11:15

"false Christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect." -- Matthew 24:24

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves."
-- Matthew 7:15

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." -- 2 Timothy 4:3-4

False prophets, in this case, don't want your soul, but want your allegiance and your money, and promise you wealth if you join. All the while flying the banner of God. They are teaching you myth instead of truth.

Now you're probably asking, how do you know who's telling the truth, and who's telling myths? 

How to Discern False Righteousness

So how do you tell a false teacher from a real one? 

One test is does he teach the Gospel properly? Beware that the Gospel is NOT simple messages like "God Loves You" or "God Wants You To Be Wealthy" or such platitudes. The Gospel is clearly defined as "the good news concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)  If he teaches something else, something is not right.  (thanks to GotQuestions.org)
Another test is the "tree test", which is derived from this Bible quote:

"You will recognize them [false prophets] by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit." -- Matthew 7:16-18

Clearly we are not talking about trees, but the meaning is clear: bad father, bad child. If the father is pure, the child is pure. Etc. This metaphor can be taking in many ways. Is the possible scammer involved in previous scams, or suspected shady behavior? If so, how do you really know his "current" project is clean? 

One more test... the St. Jude test of 3 major errors

"Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion." -- Jude 11
  • "Way of Cain" refers to Cain's rejection of God's plan and killing his brother
  • "Balaam's error" refers to Balaam's sabotage of the Israelites through false offerings, and curse / prophesize for money
  • "Korah's rebellion" refers to Korah's promotion of himself over Moses
Rembrandt's Balaam and his Ass
Rembrandt's Balaam and his Ass
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Balaam, according to the Bible, was under control of God, was not able to curse the Israelites, but later he told King Balak of the Moabs how to get the Israelites to curse themselves through committing sins by leading them astray. That, according to St. Jude, is just as serious as Cain's betrayal by killing his brother. 

But basically, betraying God for money is one of the ultimate sins. And if you're naive enough to fall for a false prophet of money, you're not only dumb and greedy, you're just as guilty, but at least you can beg for forgiveness, as your betrayal was technically not deliberate. 

Punishment for Such Scammers

May the scammer who scammed you in the name of God, and lead you to scam others, by spreading the false message for the scammer, rot in hell where they belong. 

"Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. " -- Matthew 7:19

What should you do to such scammers

How to punish such is God's work, however, Bible has a bit of advice for you:

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. -- Ephesians 5:11

You may help someone else to turn away from the darkness, and embrace the true light, not the false promises of a scammer falsely flying the banner of God but doing work of the Devil. 
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