The Seventh Commandment
John 10:1, 10:
He who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold but climbs up some other way is a thief and a robber. The thief does not come but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.
TCR 317. In the natural sense, this commandment means, according to its letter, not to steal or to rob or to commit piracy in time of peace; and in general, not to take away anyone’s goods secretly or under any pretext. It also extends to all swindles and illegitimate gains, usuries, and extortions; and again, to frauds in paying taxes and duties and in repaying debts. Laborers transgress this commandment when they do their work unfaithfully and deceitfully; merchants, when they practice deceit in their merchandise, in weight, in measure, and in their accounts; officers, when they deduct from the soldiers’ wages; judges, when they are influenced in their judgments by friendship, bribery, nepotism or other reasons, so perverting laws or investigations, and depriving others of the lawful possession of their goods.
TCR 318. In the spiritual sense, to steal means to deprive others of the truths of their faith, which is done by means of falsities and heresies. Priests who minister solely for gain or from a lust for honor, and teach what they see or could see from the Word to be untrue, are spiritual thieves, since they take away from the people the means of salvation, which are the truths of faith. Such are called thieves in the Word in the following passages:
[See John 10:1, 10 above.]
Do not lay up treasures on earth, but in heaven, where thieves do not come in and steal (Matt. 6:19, 20).
If thieves come to thee, if robbers by night—how thou art cut off—will they not steal what is enough for them? (Obad. verse 5).
They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up on the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief (Joel 2:9).
They have committed falsehood, and the thief comes in, and the troop spreads itself outside (Hos. 7:1).
TCR 319. In the celestial sense, thieves mean those who take away from the Lord His Divine power; also those who claim for themselves His merit and justice. These, even if they adore God, still do not trust in Him but only in themselves, and also do not believe in God, but only in themselves.
TCR 320. Those who teach what is false and heretical and persuade the common people that it is true and orthodox, although they read the Word, and from it may know what is false and what is true, also those who by fallacies confirm falsities of religion and seduce men thereby, may be compared to impostors and their swindles of all kinds. And because such swindles in the spiritual sense are essentially thefts, such persons may be compared to counterfeiters who strike false coins and gild them or give them outwardly the color of gold, and pass them off as pure coins; then again to those who know how to cut and polish crystals skillfully and harden them, and who sell them as diamonds; also to men who carry apes or monkeys, clothed like men and with veiled faces on horses or mules through cities, and proclaim that these are noblemen of an ancient stock.
They are also like those who put on false faces smeared with paints of various colors over the living and natural face, concealing its beauty; and they are also like men who exhibit selenite and mica, which shine as if from gold and silver, and try to sell them as coming from veins that are very precious.
They may also be likened to those who by theatricals lead men away from true Divine worship, or from churches to playhouses. Those who establish all kinds of falsity, regarding truths as of no moment, and who discharge priestly functions solely for gain and a lust for honor, being thus spiritual thieves, may be likened to those thieves who carry keys with which they can open the door of any house; also to leopards and eagles, that with sharp eyes search for the fattest prey.
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- John 10:1, 10: How might we be led at this day to “climb up some other way” toward heaven or spiritual life, instead of approaching the Lord directly, who is the Door of the sheepfold, and the Good Shepherd?
- TCR 317 mentions “frauds in paying taxes and other duties.” Some people feel that since taxes are so high, and what the government does with them is so wrong, it is okay to evade paying taxes wherever you can, including by illegal means (provided you can avoid getting caught). What is your view? Why?
- TCR 319: Most people at times have trouble with trusting in the Lord, while proudly or anxiously ascribing success or failure to themselves. Is this stealing from the Lord?
- Were theft and swindles a major factor in causing the current recession?
- TCR 320: Some people see signs in our General Church of people being led away from true Divine worship to mere theater. How can we avoid such a thing happening in Kempton? Where is the line between true, spiritual worship having elements that appeal to our natural affections, versus deteriorating into mere entertainment?