August 22, 2018
I got one of those phone calls today from the IRS saying that I needed to do something (I didn’t listen long enough to find out) lest I find myself in serious trouble. How did I know this might be bogus? Let me count the ways! The first sign was the bad grammar used by the recorded voice. Seriously?! If you’re going to scam someone at least speak their language properly! And of course, there is the whole issue of getting a “critical” recorded message from the scary IRS. I always have one question related to these things: “WHO FALLS FOR THEM?!?!” I realize it must be lucrative lest the scammers would move on to more profitable endeavors. But, again, who sends their money to an anonymous voice claiming to be the IRS, or the Treasury Department, or any other government agency?
I’m tempted to send a letter out to the members of Mt Vernon Church that looks something like this (because obviously these things work):
I have recently been contacted by the IRS regarding your giving to the church. They have notified me that you are seriously behind in your tithe and there will be life altering financial repercussions (not to mention spiritual ones) for you if you do not remit a check for a minimum of $1000.00 to the church by this Sunday. I will do all I can to hold off the financial penalties that will be assessed by the government, not to mention possible arrest and imprisonment of you and/or your first-born child or grandchild, but I can only do so much. I cannot emphasize enough the need for you to make this issue a priority in your life. If you have any questions you need not call me. JUST SEND YOUR CHECK! Next month I will write directions for you on how you can obtain money from a frozen account located in Burundi, Africa. It will only require a check for $1000.00 made out to Ellen Little. The money will then be freed up to an off-shore account that will open to the correct password. Guess who will get the correct code? That’s right, you! Soon you will be rolling in cash. Well enough of that… I’ll get back to you in 30 days.
Protect your family today. SEND THAT CHECK!
Clearly “in Jesus Name”,
Rev. Doctor William K. Little
I won’t turn any $1000.00 checks away, but I suspect the good folks of Mt. Vernon have a little more sense than those who fall for these lies. That being said, “If we think we can’t be deceived then we already are.”
The Bible has a phrase for these swindlers. They are called “wolves in sheep’s clothing” or “false teachers.” They manifest themselves in a variety of ways but in the New Testament, they are mostly religious sorts who deceive the People of God. Neither Jesus nor Paul had any patience with them… none at all!
In Matthew 7 we are warned by Jesus:
Matthew 7: 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them.”
Jesus speaking of the end times said:
Matthew 24:4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many…
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Paul speaking to Timothy said
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
How do we prevent being deceived then?
First, I would say that we need to fully accept the possibility that we CAN BE DECIEVED! Remember “the road to destruction is paved with good intentions!” I was talking recently with someone who had gotten themselves and a loved one into an impossible situation. It was easy to trace the roots of their predicament back to years of enabling, i.e., covering and making excuses for the guilty party. The problem with enablement is that it seems so right in the beginning. Then patterns emerge that are difficult to see and almost impossible to overcome. Wolves in sheep’s clothing look so… appealing.
Second, speak the truth and look for the truth. Not what you want to hear… but TRUTH. Look at Titus:
Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.
Know the truth of scripture so that you can recognize the “truth that leads to godliness.” Unfortunately, too many of us have a cursory understanding of the Word of God which just makes us dangerous.
Third, rebuke those in the church who teach or even influence in an ungodly way.
Titus 1:10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach… In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
Last, surround yourselves with Christian people who are sincere about seeking after Gods agenda and not their own.
I have to run, but before I go… I have some property in the Everglades if you are interested…