318. In the spiritual sense stealing means depriving others of the truths they get from their faith; this is the effect of falsities and heretical beliefs. Priests, whose ministry is conducted solely for the sake of profit or to seek honours, and who teach the sort of things which they see, or could see, from the Word not to be true, are spiritual thieves, since they take away from the people their means of salvation, the truths of faith. Such people are called thieves in the following passages of the Word:
He who does not enter into the sheepfold through the gate, but climbs in somewhere else, is a thief and a robber. A thief does not come except to steal, to slaughter and destroy. John 10:1, 10.
Lay up your treasures not upon earth, but in heaven, where thieves do not come and steal. Matt. 6:19, 20.
If thieves come to you, if wreckers come by night, how will you be cut off? Will they not steal enough to satisfy them? Obad. verse 5.
They will run about the city, they will run on the wall, they will climb into houses, they will enter through windows like a thief. Joel 2:9.
They made a lie, and a thief comes, and his troop pours out of doors. Hosea 7:1.