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Spiritual Scammers

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 1 John 4:4

As I pulled the AARP Bulletin magazine from our mailbox yesterday, the front page displayed in bold letters, “Older Americans Are Under Siege from Scammers.” Scanning the pages inside, I saw articles about fraud, growing scams, cryptocurrency ATMs, and many other articles meant to try to keep us safe. In 1 John 4, the author believed to be John, the apostle, warns against spiritual scammers–the false prophets of the world. 

As modern scammers leverage technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), to deceive people, false prophets can appear convincing. These spiritual scammers aren’t above using every trick possible to make us believe what they are saying is true. While they may sound compelling, they use all the right words that pull at our heartstrings and tickle our ears. However, their fundamental objective is serving themselves, promoting their agendas, and feeding their greed.

The author tells us this is how to identify spiritual scammers:

But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here. (v. 2-3)

Friends, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are even preachers out there using Jesus' name to peddle untruths. They use God’s sacred Word to spin stories that support whatever they’re selling. As statistics can be manipulated to promote an agenda, these false prophets falsely use God’s Word to spread untrue messages. They may downplay Jesus’ good news of deliverance or make his message of love situational. Or, they may want you to send money to support their ministries, which instead lines their pockets.

Thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can test the assertions of these spiritual scammers. When phone scammers become uncomfortable when you go on the offensive, asking them questions that make them squirm, we must also test what is being said to ensure what is being asserted is consistent with the Word of God and the message of freedom from sin in Jesus Christ. 

But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception. (v. 6)

As believers, we must discern truth from deception. We must apply the same scrutiny to spiritual scams as we test material modern-day scams. The spirit of truth guides us, and God's wisdom helps us recognize the spirit of error. Stay vigilant, test the spirits, and rely on the greater One within you to overcome deception.

Heavenly Father, We come before You with hearts open, seeking discernment and wisdom. Your Word reminds us to test the spirits, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. We acknowledge that deception surrounds us, both in the spiritual realm and our daily lives. Help us discern between truth and falsehood. Just as we examine the spirits, guide us to recognize deceptive schemes, whether they come through human voices or technological advancements. Shield us from the allure of false promises, whether from scammers, manipulators, or those who deny Your Son, Jesus Christ. May we cling to the confession that Jesus has come in the flesh, for this is the mark of the Spirit of God. Remind us that Your Spirit within us is greater than any spirit of error. Strengthen us to resist the world's deceptive allurements, knowing that we are children of God. Lord, we pray for discernment in our interactions, decisions, and daily choices. May Your truth illuminate our path, and may we walk in the light of Christ. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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