January 9, 2015

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1

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

The familiar chirp of a text message emanated from my cell phone.

hello whats the lowest price for your Craigslist item(s) for sale. Will U accept a Cashiers check, IF OK PLS TEXT BACK, DAN

Texting on a qwerty keypad phone“That’s odd”, was my initial response. However, this was the first response to my Craigslist item so I was anxiously accommodating. I am trying to sell the sound system from our closed Church plant. Since the doors closed, this mound of electronics has ceased to emit sounds of worship and preaching, rather it accumulates dust in a basement storage room. We have dispensed with all the other accoutrements of the Church (Chairs and the Will of God).   I do not know all the reasons as to why it has taken so long to part with the sound system. However, I do know that it is not easy to sell a Church / DJ / Band sound system, regardless of whether there are deeper issues. There simply is not a large market for used sound equipment. Therefore, I was hopeful when some interest was shown in my Craigslist sound system advertisement. So, I texted back:

Dan – we will take $1,600 for the sound system; we would prefer cash. The sale will be at my business during regular business hours.

Dan replied:

1,600 sounds good. How should your name be on the Cashiers Check & what address should we mail it to. We’ll pickup after check clears Dan

All sorts of red flags went up with this response.

Who agrees to buy anything without first seeing the item? Who agrees to send money to someone they don’t know? What is this preoccupation with cashiers checks?

I discussed this series of texts with two of the more cynical of my co-workers. “Scam” was their immediate response.  Therefore, I Googled “cashiers checks” and “craigslist” and read theCraigslist page on how to avoid scams. Their fourth bullet point is “Don’t accept cashier/certified checks or money orders – banks cash fakes, then hold you responsible.” That was enough for me to make my decision. I texted Dan:

Too much fraud with cashiers checks anymore. Will have to require cash.

I never received a response from Dan.

Do you think that I was too judgmental of Dan?
“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1),
am I now subject to being judged based on my judging of Dan?

Maybe, I should have given him the benefit of the doubt and worked with him more.  Maybe, I was too cynical and just assumed the worst and lost out on a sale.

Or, maybe, Dan is a scammer in consumer clothing.

I think that Dan is the latter. The reason I can be reasonably assured of that characterization is because of his fruit. He did all the things that scammers do. When I tested his fruit,  he disappeared. I am not condemning Dan for his faults and refusing to forgive him. (Matt. 6:14-15) As a result, I am not judging Dan. What I am doing is practicing a discernment that does not condemn, but distinguishes a scammer from a true buyer in order that no harm will be incurred to my bank account. It would be naïve for me to think that there are not people in this world who are trying to scam me. It would be foolish for me not to practice discernment in business and finance transactions.

Yet, there are worse scams than being stuck with a false cashiers check. My soul and the souls of my family are of more value to me than my bank account. I believe that a scam that defrauds me with false teaching is much worse than anything Dan was trying to do. Therefore, I hope that I am much more diligent in discerning spiritual scammers than I am monetary ones. I am amazed at the lengths many will go in refusing to recognize the existence of scammers in the Church. We are told that there will be “Dans” in the Church. There will be scammers – false prophets who appear to be great people, true believers, great teachers, wise counselors, but who are really scammers.

It is not judging them to test their fruit.  When we practice spiritual discernment, we are not condemning a person for his faults and refusing to forgive him.  We are merely trying to distinguish a scammer from a true believer in order that no harm will be incurred upon the children of God. We are told some of the tell-tale signs of  a spiritual scammer that should send up red-flags to the discerning believer:
  • Controversies (1 Timothy 1:3-4)
  • Different Doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3)
  • Divisions (1 Timothy 6:4)
  • Destruction of Faith (2 Timothy 2:18)
  • Destructive Heresy (2 Peter 2:1)

We don’t need Google to help us discover the scammers of the Church. God has already told us what they will do and how they will do it.  It is up to us to respond appropriately when those red-flags of discernment go up.

PRAYER: Father, you told us that there will be scammers who will come into the Church.  Lord, I truly hate how our enemy attacks your children.  Make us wise.  Give us discernment to know who are the faithful and those who are not.  Enable us to respond appropriately and in love, but still responsibly so that people are not led astray.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen


  1. Wise as serpents, harmless as doves…good call.

  2. I’ve done a lot of warning my own mother about scammers she’s known, or been involved with, one of them, supposedly Christian. It’s in the Bible about how people would use money as a way to attract the undiscerning. It’s a bad place we’re all living in, and we should care for those who are weaker, if they’re of the household of faith.

    Great page. Hope the Lord opens it up to all who need to know about this.

  3. Another great word. Fantastic message today. Thanks!

  4. Excellent example of a biblical truth.

  5. Great analogy!

  6. Amen! Fantastic post and exceptionally timely.

  7. We must be wise because the enemy is very very wily in just about every area which includes “religion” as you well know. Lord bless you!!

  8. I greatly appreciate your balanced approach for dealing with scammers in the church: respond appropriately in love, but responsibly with wisdom. That wisdom comes from God’s Word. We have to be well-grounded in truth to recognize a scammer when we see one. A timely post, JD!

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