I am extremely punctilious when it comes to my family’s finances. I have spreadsheets,
budgets, and online accounts and I check them regularly. And by regularly I mean several times a day, minimum! Last Thursday morning I attempted to log on to my banks website to check activity and update my records as I always do. But the login failed and I was told that my account had been blocked and I needed to contact the banks customer service department.
What I found out infuriated me! Someone had gotten access to my credit card and used it Wednesday evening (While I was sleeping peacefully in bed mind you) to make nearly $250 of purchases through iTunes. The bank apologized and said we would have to wait to see if Apple would flag these as fraudulent before we could actually file a fraud claim. So, being the proactive guy I am, I called iTunes. Yes, the purchases had been made with my card, but not to my account. In fact, after the last purchase (the bank had said a purchase was attempted after they blocked the account) the iTunes account that was used was shut down. “Sorry,” Apple said, “we cannot refund the money.”
Now, the church is not in the banking business. We are in the soul-saving business.
Nonetheless, fraud can still take place, even with the most diligent of efforts to avoid it. But we should never stop taking whatever measures necessary to limit it from happening.
Elders are responsible to watch for the souls under their oversight and will have to “give account” for their shepherding (Heb 13:17). Because of spiritual fraud Paul, by the Holy Spirit, directed the elders to “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch;” (Acts 20:28-31a).
To the Christian Peter warned to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8) and to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Pet 1:10). Paul again wrote “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).
Why was all this necessary? Spiritual fraud! Again Peter wrote, “But there were false
prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pet 2:1). And to the Corinthians Paul said that, “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).
This was not a new phenomenon for Jesus Himself warned to “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt 7:15). “He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22).
The charges cleared my bank. They have issued me a new card and a fraud claim has been made. I should get my money back, but we all pay for fraud in interest rates and bank charges. The person who committed this crime (sin) probably will get away with it, in this life anyway (Num 32:23). But we all need to be diligent that we, and the church, doesn’t fall victim to spiritual fraud. The loss will be far greater.