It seems like hardly a week of digital life passes in which I’m not electronically alerted to either the fabulous news that I’ve won the lottery from a small African nation I’ve never visited, or with condolences on the loss of a very wealthy, but otherwise kin-less, relative in Nigeria. “We regret your loss but you are the sole survivor. Please submit your bank account and financial institute’s routing number so we may remit your inheritance.”
Obviously, the spam filter doesn’t always work. Scams get through.
A lady in Texas, however, recently discovered yet another pathetic, if not laughable, scam during a Facebook encounter with “Pastor Joel Osteen.” The Christian Post reports that she received a message inquiring about whether she “was a true Christian, and did she believe in the Christ Jesus.”
Her positive response to the unsolicited online query resulted in the tremendous offer of a financial windfall from “Pastor Joel Osteen.” (Well, he is sorta like the Bill Gates of false teachers. His net worth is over $50 million and his house … well, it ain’t in my ‘hood!)
If the lady would first merely remit her own funds to an obscure orphanage in Delaware, the pastor would then reward her financial faithfulness with a $35,000 windfall from a recent “big Texas donor” that had “gifted Osteen Ministries.”
Well, that dawg didn’t hunt. The online scammer impersonating the pulpit scammer failed in the attempt. The Facebook account was subsequently deleted.
Lakewood Church, in response to the “Your Best Scam Now” attempt, issued this statement.
“Unfortunately, there are some on social media who masquerade as charitable organizations for the purpose of fraudulently seeking donations. We take this matter seriously and believe it is important for people to know that Lakewood Church never contacts individuals through social media for the purpose of soliciting donations.”
Uh, yeah, okay. Joel Osteen talking about masquerading is about as jocularly credible as my African lottery win. But anyway …
According to the article, the diligent policing by Lakewood Church to protect the integrity of the social media presence of Joel and Victoria resulted in the removal of “around 17,000 fake accounts within the last three years.” They hired “an outside firm” just to ensure the digital authenticity of the “church’s” two otherwise inauthentic “pastors.”
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Romans 1:28-31)
Look, it’s a shame that such scammers exist, but a fallen world, hurtling ever more rapidly towards depravity, makes it a Biblically-forewarned reality. The idolatrous worship of money will drive the greedy and ruthless to exhibit absolutely no shame before God or man in pursuing, by any means possible, the acquisition of their god. They will lie, cheat, and steal from anyone and everyone. Consciences seared, and likely “given up by God,” (Romans 1:24) they emulate the evil one, roaming the earth, (1 Peter 5:8) driven by pride and greed in their selfish efforts to deceive.
The unknowing and unsuspecting targets, if successfully deceived by the scammer, think they are engaging in noble, even Christian, behavior by participating with them, all the while they are being duped by a greedy agent of evil posing as an arbiter of hope.
That slick-talking, hope promising scammer should be ashamed. It’s egregious deception. Scripture condemns those who practice such things and commands believers to be discerning and alert to them. It’s ungodly and unrighteous. It’s the fruit of an unregenerate soul to attempt to deceive others for worldly gain.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. Romans 16:17-19
As Paul advises, such smooth talking flatterers must be repelled by true believers and exposed for their “unfruitful works of darkness.” (Ephesians 5:11) People should avoid such deceivers and refuse their enticing pleas and false promises of hope and help. A “repent and believe” Gospel presentation is the proper response for such a scammer …
and that goes not only for Joel Osteen … it goes for that Facebook scammer too.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-16)
(For more on the Osteen charlatans, please go HERE.)
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[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]
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