Consequences of Stolen Words
The Bible speaks often of stealing. In its various forms the word “steal” appears 44 times in the Bible (not to mention other similar words such as “rob,” “covet,” etc.).
There is an interesting passage in Jeremiah involving this concept of stealing. As with other such thoughts, this one condemns the thief. However, what makes the passage so interesting is the object said to be stolen and the one who did the stealing. The stolen objects were God’s words and the thieves were those who claimed to be his prophets. The passage reads: “Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbor” (Jeremiah 23.30). In this passage, the stealing is done by deception.
God’s words are still being stolen. The stealing is being done by those who claim to speak the oracles of God, but pervert or distort God’s oracles (Galatians 1.7; 2 Peter 3.16). When doctrines and commandments of men are taught, God’s words are being stolen (Matthew 15.8-9). People are being deceived as a result. We cannot bury our heads in the sand in regard to the reality of false teachers. Not only are they endangering themselves, they endanger the souls of those who would hear and follow their teachings (Matthew 23.15).
Those “prophets” of Jeremiah’s day were false prophets and spoke erroneously. They convinced the ignorant, gullible, and hardhearted of the truthfulness of their words to the detriment of their lives. Numerous are the false prophets of our day who likewise speak falsely. Sadly, they convince many others to follow them, to the detriment of their souls. Perhaps Peter said it best: “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. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2.1-2).
The condemnation of God rests upon those who steal his words.