Looking Out for the Christian Con Artist
Matthew 7:15 warns us:
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
This doesn't apply just to prophets, but to teachers and anyone else pretending to be a Christian leader or role model. There are many warning signs of such individuals, usually centering on false doctrine. We see these in such well known teachers as Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar and countless others.
However, sometimes Christians and non-Christians will come into personal contact with wannabe leaders. An article on the City of Englewood, Colorado website states:
The clever con artist is a good actor who disarms his victims with an affable "nice guy" approach. But behind his friendly exterior is a shrewd psychologist who can isolate potential victims and break down their resistance to his proposals. Each conquest is part of a game in which he must "best" his fellow man.
The typical con artist is amoral - but seldom violent, and mobile, with an excellent sense of timing. He sincerely believes his victims deserve their fate. And, if caught, he'll probably strike again later. Con artists are seldom rehabilitated.
The following are some warning traits that are characteristic of such individuals. Not all such signs may be present, but many can be seen in these dangerous people.
- They are in love with themselves. This trait can manifest itself in various ways, such as the way they talk about their accomplishments and awards. They'll pretend to be humble and play down their achievements, all the while giving the glory to God - but that doesn't stop them from talking about those accomplishments!
- A questionable lifestyle. They may talk about how to improve your life, never giving up, thinking positively at all time - but they don't know how to run their own lives. Their personal lives are in turmoil, they constantly lie, and have left a long trail of broken hearts and people who have been used and abused by this person.
- They take, but never give back. They sponge off of others, plead poverty and hard times, wives and girlfriends who have left them, etc. They will borrow money and never pay it back. They get others to do the leg work for them while sitting back and doing nothing, all without so much as a thank you. They will then accuse those who have tried to do the work of having done nothing. Nothing is ever the fault of the con artist.
- They are smooth talkers and great actors. This is vital to being a good con artist. Their specialty is preying on the ones who trust too easily. They have probably studied psychology, either in school or through self-study. If they spent half the effort at a real job as they do fooling people they'd be huge successes, but they enjoy conning other people.
- They throw around Christian terminology, quote Scripture, and act like the persecuted Christian when others disagree with them.
- They play the victim. They've refined the art of crying crocodile tears. They are always the one wronged. When critics call the con artist out, rather than answer charges made against him, he will try to squelch all criticism. This isn't to say that a person should spend years answering the same charges over and over again, but at some point an innocent person must address the most serious complaints.
- Pressuring someone to get married. If you have only known someone a short time and he or she is wanting you to marry them, beware - especially if you see any of the above traits in this person. Chances are they have a history of several marriages. Such a person will marry, not for love, but for a source of money, and then bleed the victim dry at every opportunity.
- Asking for money. As mentioned above, the con artist may plead hard times. If you have ever given this person a cheque, he may try to empty out your bank account. Alert your bank for such a possibility.
Romans 12:19-20 states
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
So does this mean you should do nothing about the con artist? No. This isn't what Romans is saying. This simply means you don't go out and beat him up, or seek any other kind of personal revenge. Nevertheless, he poses a danger to countless other people and it would be irresponsible to just sit back and do nothing. Make no mistake about it - the con artist may quote Scripture, attend church, socialize with Christians (who he considers easy victims), but he is NOT a Christian. Take whatever legal steps you can to shut these people down.
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