Cheating is a complex issue that raises many ethical and moral questions for Christians. As the Bible does not explicitly use the word “cheating,” there is debate around whether acts commonly considered cheating are prohibited or condemned in Scripture. In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine what the Bible says about deceit, unfaithfulness, integrity and related topics to better understand God’s perspective on cheating.
For Christians seeking to lead an upright life, cheating can present a real stumbling block. Cheating is commonly defined as acting dishonestly or unfairly to gain an advantage. It could involve cheating on a test, cheating in a relationship, or cheating in business. Even though the word “cheating” itself is not found in the Bible, Scripture has much to say about matters of honesty, integrity and uprightness that relate to this issue.
To gain a biblical perspective, we will look at what the Bible teaches about deceit, unfaithfulness, integrity and related topics. We will also examine notable stories involving cheating or deception to see how God responds. While the Bible does not provide a direct commandment “thou shalt not cheat,” we will see how cheating violates many ethical principles and spiritual truths found in God’s Word.
- Though the Bible does not use the word “cheating,” it strongly condemns dishonesty, deceit and unfaithfulness.
- Cheating is a form of theft and demonstrates a lack of love for others.
- God expects His followers to demonstrate integrity and uprightness in all areas of life.
- Cheating often stems from greed, lust and coveting – sins directly addressed in the Ten Commandments.
- Stories of cheating and deceit in the Bible highlight God’s displeasure and the damaging consequences.
- Christians should rely on the Holy Spirit to help them resist temptation to cheat.
Biblical Principles Against Cheating
Though there is no specific “thou shalt not cheat” commandment in the Bible, cheating clearly violates many ethical principles and truths found in God’s Word. Here are some of the biblical arguments against cheating:
1. Cheating is a Form of Lying and Deceit
Lying and deceit are strongly condemned throughout Scripture. God explicitly prohibits “bearing false witness against your neighbor” in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16). Proverbs 6:16-19 lists “a lying tongue” as one of the seven things God hates. Likewise, Proverbs 12:22 states that “lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.” Jesus called Satan the “father of lies” (John 8:44) and affirmed that he is “the truth” (John 14:6).
Since cheating inherently involves deception, trickery and dishonesty, it is a form of lying expressly prohibited in the Bible. Those who cheat are bearing false witness and practicing deceit which God despises.
2. Cheating Defrauds and Takes Advantage of Others
The Bible has strong warnings against defrauding others. Leviticus 19:13 states plainly, “You shall not defraud your neighbor or rob him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6 warns believers that “no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.” Cheating intentionally deprives others of what they deserve – whether it’s a good grade, a sports victory, or business profits. As such, cheating is a form of fraud and theft that takes advantage of others.
3. Cheating Shows Disregard for God’s Command to Love Others
One of the two greatest commandments is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Cheating your neighbors – whether classmates, colleagues, customers or competitors – stands opposed to loving them. It places your own selfish interests above concern for their well-being and success. Romans 13:10 explains that “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Cheating the people around you certainly does them harm.
4. God Calls Followers to Lives of Integrity and Uprightness
Scripture frequently emphasizes the importance of integrity and uprightness in God’s eyes. God called David a man after His own heart, who “shepherded them with integrity of heart” (Psalm 78:72). Proverbs 10:9 says that “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” Colossians 3:22 instructs servants to work “with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” In contrast, those who cheat walk in crooked, insincere and unreverent ways.
5. Cheating Often Stems from Greed, Covetousness and Lust
While cheating is not named specifically as a sin, Scripture condemns the heart attitudes that drive most cheating – greed, covetousness and lust. Exodus 20:17 prohibits coveting anything that belongs to your neighbor, including their possessions, relationships, and achievements. Colossians 3:5 instructs believers to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Cheating is often an attempt to satisfy sinful desires for more possessions, relationships or accomplishments at the expense of others.
Bible Stories Involving Cheating & Deception
Several prominent Bible stories involve acts of cheating, deception or dishonest scheming. Looking at how God responds in these situations provides insight into His perspective on cheating:
Jacob Cheats Esau Out of His Birthright
In Genesis 25, Jacob schemes with his mother Rebekah to deceive his father Isaac into bestowing Esau’s birthright blessing on him instead. Jacob lies and disguises himself as Esau to cheat his brother out of what rightfully belonged to him. Although Jacob’s scheme succeeds, it breeds lifelong resentment and conflict with his brother. This story demonstrates the tragic familial consequences of cheating.
Jacob’s Sons Lie and Deceive to Take Revenge on Shechem
In Genesis 34, Dinah, the sister of Jacob’s sons, is raped by a man named Shechem. Jacob’s sons pretend to agree to an alliance with Shechem and his people, but only as a ploy to take revenge. They betray and slaughter all the men of Shechem after deceiving them. Though Jacob’s sons felt justified, their deceit, vengeance and violence clearly went too far.
Joseph’s Brothers Sell Him Into Slavery Out of Envy
Driven by envy and greed in Genesis 37, Joseph’s brothers conspire to sell him into slavery in Egypt. To hide their sin, they deceive their father Jacob into believing his favorite son was killed by an animal. This story illustrates how unchecked covetousness and favoritism can lead to terrible cheating against even family members.
Achan Steals Devoted Treasures at Jericho
In Joshua 7, God commands that treasures from Jericho be set aside for His service. However, Achan gives in to greed and secretly keeps some of the devoted items for himself. This cheating leads to Israel’s defeat at Ai and costs Achan his life. The story underlines the seriousness of cheating even in “small” matters.
David Commits Adultery and Arranges a Man’s Death
Though David is called “a man after God’s own heart,” in 2 Samuel 11 he grievously cheats on his wife Bathsheba by committing adultery with her, then schemes to have her husband Uriah killed to cover up his sin. God harshly judges David for his deceitfulness by taking the child conceived in adultery and plaguing his house with conflict. David’s story reminds us that even the godliest people can fall into terrible cheating sins.
Ananias and Sapphira Lie About Their Offering
In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira sell property and pretend to give the full proceeds to the church to look generous. However, they secretly keep back some of the money for themselves while lying to the apostles about the amount. As judgment for their deception, the Lord immediately strikes them dead. This dramatic story demonstrates how seriously God takes dishonest scheming and cheating in spiritual matters.
Avoiding Temptation to Cheat
Scripture makes it clear that cheating opposes God’s standards of honesty, love and integrity. For Christians seeking to honor the Lord, how can we resist the temptation to cheat in a competitive world? Here are some biblical principles to avoid cheating:
- Pray for God to reveal sinful motives – Examine your heart and ask God to show you any inappropriate desires for recognition, achievement or possessions that could drive you to cheat.
- Remember everything belongs to God – Your gifts and talents are from God (1 Corinthians 4:7). Other’s accomplishments are God’s gifts to them. Coveting what is not yours violates God’s law.
- Seek contentment – The antidote to coveting more is developing contentment in Christ (Philippians 4:10-13, Hebrews 13:5). Cheating often arises from impatience and discontentment with God’s timing and plan.
- Meditate on Scripture – God’s Word exposes sinful thoughts and provides wisdom for righteous living (Psalm 119:11, Romans 12:2). Fill your mind with truth to recognize and resist deception.
- Examine your motives – Why do you feel driven to get ahead? Faithfulness and honesty should motivate you more than recognition and results (Colossians 3:23).
- Look to eternal rewards – This world’s glory soon fades. Keep your eyes on the imperishable heavenly rewards for faithfulness (Matthew 6:19-21, 1 Corinthians 9:25).
- Rely on the Holy Spirit – God’s Spirit produces self-control and righteousness in believers. Walk by the Spirit to overcome fleshly desires (Galatians 5:16-26).
In reviewing key biblical principles about honesty, love, integrity and uprightness, we see that cheating fundamentally violates God’s standards even though the word itself is not used. Scripture contains many warnings against the attitudes and actions involved in cheating. Stories of deception and dishonesty in the Bible also highlight how seriously God takes this issue. For Christians seeking to honor the Lord, relying on the Holy Spirit to maintain integrity and contentment is key to avoiding cheating in all areas of life. Though we may face temptation to cut corners, God calls His people to walk in holiness and purity of heart by upholding biblical principles of ethics and morality.