- Last week, “You shall not commit adultery.”This week, “You shall not steal.”Next week, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”Then finish off with, “You shall not covet” and thereafter begin our book study of Daniel.Go ahead and get ready by reading the book and praying God guide our study.Today’s text:Do not steal.Others’ Stuff Stolen“The Others” was three times filmed as a movie, the name of a tv series, and a season 4 episode in the tv series Andromeda.“The Others” was how Stargate universe referenced those who achieved ascension in the popular sci-fi series.In music three groups were called “The Others,” three albums were titled “The Others,” and the Dukes of Windsor had a song called “The Others.”The Others appears in Literature, that is books, novels, magazines, and as reference to the allies of Aquaman.Robbery, fraud, unpaid debts, and cheating we understand.I want to address some of the less understood ways people steal from others.Gambling, Slander, and the worst is stealing somebody’s faith.Getting by GamblingI feel my skin crawl when I hear Christians talking about buying lotto tickets.What is wrong when God-fearing folk find it okay to gamble?Gambling is not the same as investing.When you invest money, that is risk. You risk loosing it.Yet, these two things are not the same.When you profit from investing, the money comes from someone getting a product they want, and the investor gets what they want. It’s a win for everyone. That’s not sin.With gambling, nobody wins without someone else losing.When you win at gambling, you profit at the expense of someone else’s pain and loss.It is morally wrong to profit at the expense of someone else.If someone sticks a gun to your head and takes your money we call that robbery.One person approaches the other with the spirit of a thief.When someone wins at poker, the lotto, or some other form of gambling both people have the spirit of the thief.Every person that gambles has the spirit of the thief hoping to get what is not theirs.The Bible teaches getting gifts from willing givers, gaining profit by working, but does not teach people to take from others.Habakkuk tell us:Won’t all of these take up a taunt against him, with mockery and riddles about him? They will say: Woe to him who amasses what is not his— how much longer?— and loads himself with goods taken in pledge.”Gambling is the sin of greed done in the spirit of a thief.The Bible says “Woe to him who amasses what is not his.”Stealing with SlanderLet’s touch on slander.Stealing someone’s reputation is sin.The Bible is clear about having a good name:A good name is to be chosen over great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold.If stealing money from someone could be worse, it is stealing someone’s name.ILL - In 2006 “Fast Eddie” Johnson was arrested for sexual battery and burglary. Reporters heard about the arrest and mistakenly attributed the crime to another Edward Johnson.The second Edward was a TV commentator. He noted
“The thing that disappointed me the most is some people were overzealous enough to think it was me and attack me with a ferocity I can’t comprehend,” Johnson said in a telephone interview from his home in Phoenix. “That’s the part that didn’t allow me to sleep last night. That’s the part that forced me to reach out to as many people as I could and say, ‘Shame on you; that’s not me.’ ”Wether by mistake, or even far worse, with intent to harm, slander hurts another’s name.NOTE: Slander is not always speaking lies, sometimes the sin of gossip where talking about people in a way that makes others think less of them uses the truth to hurt others.If you can’t say it to their face, saying it to someone else is a the twofold sin of gossip and slander.Falsifying Someone’s FaithGambling and slander are two ways people steal from others.At each point I noted how things get worse, yet of all, this seems the worst manner of taking from others.Look here to the prophet:Therefore, take note! I am against the prophets”—the Lord’s declaration—“who steal my words from each other. I am against the prophets”—the Lord’s declaration—“who use their own tongues to make a declaration. I am against those who prophesy false dreams”—the Lord’s declaration—“telling them and leading my people astray with their reckless lies. It was not I who sent or commanded them, and they are of no benefit at all to these people”—this is the Lord’s declaration.Adrian Rogers once said about this passage,
God is saying if you are guilty of stealing the Word of God out of someone’s heart, or stealing something from someone else, and calling it the Word of God when it’s not the Word of God, and preaching it as it is the Word of God, God says, “I’m against you.” This is the worst form of thievery.Agreed? This is the worst form of thievery.Richard Dawkins is an outspoken atheist. He teaches evolution and even wrote a book called “The God Delusion.”How many students did rob of their faith?ILL - In 1982 I was not the firm in faith man I am today. Lake Sumter Community College, as it was called then, was not what I’d call Christian-friendly.From the very first humanities course, I knew the instructor was unfriendly toward our faith. His initial statements were something like, “All religions come from human need to explain away what we don’t understand.” In another class, the Bible was identified as a banned resource.Sadly, the highly intelligent present arguments so cleverly, belittle the faithful, and whittle away at faith that many believers have God’s Word stolen from their hearts.TRANS - Now that we touched on stealing from someone else, lets consider those bent on getting God’s stuff.God’s Stuff StolenILL - In literature the apostrophe placed after the word, if it’s single, before the “s” implies ownership and after the “s” if it is plural.Our title indicates people take what belongs to God.This is a popular theme for preachers; ministry cost money and you belong to God.Therefore, God is not asking you for what belongs to us, but what belongs to Him.Money is one part, but first let’s talk about something no Christian can say they lack.Stealing You from GodDEF - Robbery is stealing by force and implies someone present when theft occurs.Burglary is entering a property usually with intent to take stuff.Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.The Bible teaches we were “bought.” Perhaps that doesn’t sit too well with some people. As last week we noted married people “give” themselves to one another. In this passage, however, we see God purchased people.Perhaps this verse is more clear:For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb.Regardless of the theft, God is present everywhere and taking what belongs to God is far worse than taking when someone is not looking.Taking from God is always an aggressive action.ILL - Some years ago my mother and nephew who was a boy at the time, entered my parents home. It appeared the someone was attempting to remove the television along with several household items.It was not long before my mom realized she entered an ongoing act of theft.While on the phone to report the crime, the thief made his way out the door hopping the backyard fence. A still lit cigarette burned a hole in their bedroom closet signaling the perpetrator’s hiding spot.To this day, decades later, this crime has an impression on my mother. Why, just recently we installed several pieces of technology to alert should someone enter the house.People that enter a home think they are getting away with something.Thats the idea. Enter and leave with something.That is why most thefts happen at night. People want to get away, not get caught.However, God is not, unlike my mother and many who come to discover a thief stole from them.The Bible says:even the darkness is not dark to you. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you.There is no dark place to hide from God. God knows every act of theft when people steal from Him.Stealing Stewardship from GodOkay, say we understand Christians are God’s people. Literally God’s own possession.What else do people withhold from God?According to Malachi people do “rob” God:“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me!” “How do we rob you?” you ask. “By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions. You are suffering under a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are still robbing me.Some contend that tithing is OT and I won’t argue that.As a fact, I’ll argue that tithing came prior to the Law.It started with Abraham, stayed with Jacob, and then Moses commanded the people tithe.Jesus commended tithing so, who am I to say “don’t tithe 10% of your income?”So better to give 10% of firstfruits before anything else. I shouldn’t have to say that means before tax.But the Bible, also, speaks about offerings.The Bible demands both tithe and offering. That is one way of saying more than 10%.TRANS - Stealing from others and God, but we have one more point.Our Stuff StolenThis point might seem funny after saying you belong to God.So, we need to look again to the Bible to gain clarity:For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it.Save life = lose life (this is robbing God)whoever loses life because of Jesus and the gospel = save it (this is giving to God)Now follow this closely.The one who give their life to God gains back life, but the life gained is what Christians call born again life.Now look at this verse:Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”You give, and get back, so who is the one that gets swindled when people withhold themselves from God?See it? The person is the one who is cheated.The prophet says it clearly:Your guilty acts have diverted these things from you. Your sins have withheld my bounty from you,God loves people and wants so much to give abundantly to every human being.Sadly, many refuse to take God’s instruction and are guilty of stealing from others, God, and even themselves.God loves the worst of sinners and this includes the thief.God loves so much that He did the only thing possible to save sinners who need His redeeming help, Jesus died for sinners.Why are people scared to trust God when He proved His love by dying for them?Why would someone withhold themselves from God when it steals their own joy, peace, and happiness that Jesus offers?TRANS - Breaking the eight commandment is more than simple theft, its taking from others, God, and even oneself.Let’s bring this to a close.ConclusionI want to relate a tragic story told by Adrian Rogers decades ago.
In Oklahoma City years ago, there was a horrible, terrible, apartment fire. The firemen had rescued all they could from the building. There was one woman in hysterics. She said, “I must go back into that building. My baby is in that building.” The fireman would not release her. They held her with strong hands, yet compassionate hands. She said, “You must let me go! You must! My baby is in there! My baby is in there!” They said, “Madam, no one can go back into that building now; it’s too late.” She said, “Please, oh, please, somebody, please!” One strong fireman said, “Turn the hoses on me. I’m going in.” They said, “If you wish, you may. But you may never come out.” He said, “I’m going. I can’t stand here.” And up the ladder into that second story he went. They sprayed the fire hoses on him to keep away the flames. He went into that room, black, dark, acrid with smoke. He found the crib where the woman said it would be. He looked in that crib: there was that bundle. He reached down, picked it up gently, hugged it to his bosom, and back out he went. When he appeared in the window through the flames, the people cheered. He came down the ladder. The mother broke away from the fireman, rushed up, and reached out and received that bundle, pulled the blanket back, and said, “Oh, my God! That’s not by baby! That’s my baby’s doll!”The saddest thing I can imagine is a person to stand before God holding on to the things of this world and not knowing Jesus as their Savior.When all the smoke is gone, to look back and see that their life was one of stealing themselves of the great life that is only found in Jesus is the ultimate sadness.How sad a day when a child or adult lives a life tearing down what God builds and lives a lie their entire life stealing at every turn.(end)
1 Corinthians 6:19–20HCSB
1 Peter 1:18–19HCSB
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