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“Identity Theft”
INTRO: Welcome
ILLUS: You’re probably not familiar with the name Frank Abagnale Jr.
But you may be familiar with his story.
In 2002, there was a movie made depicting the life of Frank Abagnale and it's pretty remarkable.
It was called “Catch Me If You Can”.
The movie starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.
The movie is about the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., who was, perhaps the greatest con artist in American history.
It is said that before his 19th birthday, Frank had conned hundreds of people out of millions of dollars, before he was even 19 years old.
And what he would do is write fraudulent checks and forge them and pocket the money.
This was before they could authenticate checks and make sure they weren't fake.
Not only did he forge checks but:
Frank was so successful as a con artist and identity thief, that he passed as a pilot.
He flew hundreds of commercial flights for PAN-AM AIRLINES, some of you may remember them.
He flew hundreds of commercial flights for PAN-AM with passengers on them without a legitimate pilots license!
He was so successful as an identity thief that he passed as a doctor and actually performed surgery on someone, without a medical license.
He was so successful as an identity thief that he even became a lawyer.
He had stolen millions of dollars from people and he had stolen people's identities too.
He had no less than eight aliases.
In fact, he was so successive as a con artist and identity thief, that he was able to pose as an airplane pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, and even a college professor* (the truth of his story is questionable.)
It’s just a remarkable story.
Frank was perhaps the greatest con artist and identity thief in American history.
Odds are, none of us; in here today are likely to be the perpetrators of identity theft like Frank Abagnale right?
INTRO: However, in the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus looked out and saw the crowd.
He recognized that there were many identity thieves in the crowd.
And Jesus recognized that this isn’t just a one off deal, but people have a huge problem with identity theft.
It’s been a problem since the very beginning.
It’s been a problem for every generation, for every ethnicity, for every government, and on every continent.
It’s just a huge problem.
In fact, Jesus is gonna teach us that not only is identity theft wrong, but it's dangerous, and not only dangerous but It has deadly consequences.
And Jesus has a powerful message for us today addressing identity theft and how we can get rid of it in our lives today, and I'd like to share that with you today.
So if you’re here today and you are a follower of Jesus, Jesus is gonna teach us there is absolutely no room in our lives for identity theft.
There’s no room for it.
If we’re going to be disciples of Christ then we must rid our lives of all identity theft.
He’s even gonna say, if you’re responsible for identity theft, then there is liability for you even being here at worship today.
Let’s read, this is the word of God.
Read: Matthew 5:21-26
So what do we want to learn from this passage this morning?
The first thing we want to learn today is that:
Anger is to be avoided at all costs.
While most of us can't relate to stealing someone's identity like Frank Abagnale, I think all of us can relate to the feeling of anger when someone has wronged us like a Frank Abagnale.
Jesus roots this prohibition in the sixth commandment, do not murder.
The reason anger is to be avoided at all cost is because anger leads to murder.
In fact, the very first sin outside of the garden of Eden in Genesis 4 was an act of murder.
Cain and Abel.
Cain was angry at his brother and then he murdered him.
And after that event occurred in just a few verses later, things only got worse,
Lamech is going to brag about killing a man: And things are gonna just keep getting worse.
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for injuring me.
24 If Cain is avenged seven times,
then Lamech seventy-seven times.”
Ge 4:23–24.
In Genesis 6, two chapters later it says:
The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.
Ge 6:5-6.
Do you know how bad things must have been that the LORD regretted that He made humans?
And oh, oh how there is nothing new under the sun.
It’s not hard to see that we have the same problems today.
Anger is everywhere, spouses are angry at each other, employees are angry at their bosses, teens are angry at parents and vice versa, citizens are angry at their government, in politics, red is angry at blue, and blue is angry at red.
Some of us are even angry with ourselves.
We’re angry at the dude driving 40 in a 40, go to the airport and cancel someone’s flight and you will see anger in action, turn on the news and a mother is sitting there weeping because her son has been gunned down in an angry violence, and everybody is angry at something!
Jesus says, anger is to be avoided at all costs.
The reason anger is to be avoided at all costs is because anger leads to murder.
Not only that, but this command is rooted in the fact that men and women have been created in the image of God (Gen.
1:26–27; 9:6), that’s what lies behind this prohibition.
It’s that each one of you has God’s image stamped upon you.
You are an image bearer, you have been fearfully and wonderfully made in the likeness of the Creator of the universe!
You are created in the image of God, His fingerprints all over you, down to your bones and your DNA, the likeness of God resides within you.
That's why anger is to be avoided at all costs.
It has been said that Frank Abagnale had no less than 8 aliases and posed as at least 4-5 different professions, as a pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, a college professor, a security guard.
Now, while most of us can't relate to stealing someone's identity like Frank Abagnale, I think all of us can relate to the feeling of being angry at someone.
If you are over the age of 5, you have been angry with another human being at some point in your life.
Now I know we have some angels in here today that don’t get angry very often; like Katie, I can’t imagine her being angry, but we have all been angry at some point in our lives.
I want everyone to hear me when I say this, if you have ever been angry with someone before, Jesus says, you’re just like Frank Abagnale, you’re guilty of identity theft.
Because what happens is that when we are inappropriately angry with people, we attempt to take their identity and value away from them as God’s creature, the ultimate form of which is the physical act of murder.
Murder is the ultimate form of taking someones identity away.
Anger is murder of the heart.
We take their identity away.
That’s why anger is to be avoided at all costs, it’s because it is identity theft!
Remember, everyone of us is created in the image of God, so
When we say “Raca” or “you fool” we are taking someone's identity away, it’s identity theft.
Raca - is an Aramaic term implying “empty-headed.”
It means, Lack of intelligence, it’s like saying you numskull, you airhead, dummy, or stupid.
Fool - The word for fool here is the greek word μωρός it’s where we get our word moron from.
It’s to say you fool, stupid, idiot, moron.
This sort of name-calling is highly insulting, and it’s wrong because a person’s identity is stripped away from them and their identity is substituted for an offensive word.
And in Jesus’ day, the offense is even greater because their names had meaning.
The significance attached to someone’s real name is removed from that person and substituted for a lesser meaning.
So I’m substituting someone's identity as an image bearer for something less than what they truly are.
If I were to call someone Raca or a moron that is taking away their true identity, as an image bearer, as a husband, a wife, a mother, or father, or brother, or sister, as a student, or an athlete, or politician.
Now you might say, fool doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, well it does when you look at Psalms 14:1.
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
Ps 14:1.
The epitome of the slanderous name fool is the idea that you are godless and damned.
The equivalence in this context would be like telling someone to go to hell and mean it, because they are godless.
Obviously the word fool can be used in other contexts but that’s how it is used here and that is a big deal.
When we get angry and name call we strip away that person's identity and wrongfully make them into something they are not, it’s identity theft.
That’s the reason anger is to be avoided at all costs.
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