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Robbers in Disguise

The Eighth Commandment in the Book of Proverbs

4 min

Before COVID-19, a person could not enter a bank with a mask on. The simple reason? Masks were not normally allowed in banks because a robber often used a mask to disguise his true identity.

The eighth commandment states, “Thou shalt not steal.” In our study of the eighth commandment, we have been on guard against the dangers within our own hearts of robbing God or others. In this final article covering this particular commandment, we will consider not stealing from the perspective of guarding our own genuine treasures from the disguised, subtle robbers that abound, looking to steal and destroy from us.

We are not necessarily regarding only the treasures of physical possessions, although real financial loss will sometimes be at stake in the verses we will consider. But there are other treasures too: the treasure of a good name, the treasure of a Godly seed, the treasure of health, and the treasure of a clear conscience. If we are not careful, these can be taken from us as if by a masked robber.

In the Book of Proverbs, we are warned against several dangerous robbers. They may not look like robbers at first. Indeed, they wear a mask, and we often don’t recognize them for who they really are! But the Bible shows us who they are so that we might be wise to their dangerous lures.

An Angry Man

“Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Proverbs 22:24–25). Scripture instructs us to learn to identify and avoid men who are prone to angry outbursts. A man who will express his anger to you is capable of expressing his anger against you. Oftentimes, a deeper problem is lurking within him. According to these verses in Proverbs, we are warned that such a friendship will be a “snare” to the soul. Friendship with an angry man can rob us of our freedom, our peace, and our health.

The Strange Woman

“Remove thy way far from her [the strange woman], and come not nigh the door of her house: Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed” (Proverbs 5:8–11). Entanglement with immorality in any form can and will rob a man of his family ties, his financial stability, his good name, his clear conscience, and even his health. “The strange woman” may be attractive and her speech alluring, but beware! She is a seductive robber who will devour all that you have.

The Flatterer

“A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet” (Proverbs 29:5). We all tend to like people who speak well of us. For that reason, flattery is often deceptive and very dangerous. Flattery robs a man of his good name because it is not focused on inner character but what another man says of him. A genuine, good name is built up over a lifetime, not merely in a few shallow words that last only for a moment and conceal a hidden snare. Look out for the flatterer who can cause you to stumble or fall through his insincere words and motives.

Strong Drink

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1). In a day when drinking alcohol has become socially acceptable, even in Christian circles, it is wise to take these words to heart. Wine mocks a man by robbing him of his good name and tarnishing his reputation. “At the last it [wine] biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Proverbs 23:32). The mother of Lemuel warned her son that strong drink could pervert his judgment as a leader (Proverbs 31:5). Alcohol has ruined many a man financially and broken his health irreparably. A wise man sees the robber behind the mask and avoids the deception of strong drink.

Debt

“Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler” (Proverbs 6:4–5). This dire warning is given to the man who has cosigned on a loan for a friend. Similar language is used for those who participate in hasty, get-rich-quick schemes or other forms of indebtedness, such as gambling and lotteries. Debt robs a man of his financial independence; many men have lost their marriages, their children, and their health over a debt contracted in a moment of impatience. Moth, rust, and thieves will inevitably work their irreversible havoc. True wealth is often obtained slowly through diligent effort and wise investments. Avoid the subtle robbers of indebtedness and hasty financial decisions to obtain money. Lotteries, gambling, and any form of gaming are sure signs that there is a robber, lurking to take away our riches.

Slothfulness

“How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 6:9–11). If you have surrendered to the lull of slothfulness, you might as well be met by an armed criminal in an act of highway robbery! Robbery takes our wealth immediately, while laziness drains your resources just as surely but very slowly. You will lose your health, your financial inheritance, and the property that you own will fall into disrepair.

If we desire to be wise men, we must be alert and on our guard for these masked robbers that creep up when we are least expecting them. According to the Book of Proverbs, the distinguishing mark of a wise man is that he is able to receive reproof (see Proverbs 15:31). When a friend points out that we are being assailed by a robber, whether debt, anger, immorality, slothfulness, flattery, or alcohol, we should be willing to heed that reproof and recognize the lurking danger. Beware and do not allow the enemy to rob us of our dearest treasures!

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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