What Does the Bible Say about Stealing?

The Bible tells us many times that stealing is always wrong. The command to not steal was listed as one of the 10 Commandments, alongside the command not to murder, not to commit adultery, and not to give false testimony against your neighbor.

Contributing Writer
Published Jun 27, 2022
What Does the Bible Say about Stealing?

The Bible never presents stealing in a positive light. Stealing is always wrong. The Lord does not want us to steal anything from anyone. Throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, God tells us not to steal. Thus, stealing is always wrong, immoral, and unethical.

What Is the Biblical View of Stealing?

The Bible tells us many times that stealing is always wrong. God told the people of Israel, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). The command to not steal was listed as one of the 10 Commandments, alongside the command not to murder, not to commit adultery, and not to give false testimony against your neighbor (Exodus 20:13-16). 

Many individuals try to discredit the 10 Commandments by saying that we are not under the Mosaic Law. While Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, we are under the law of Christ.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law” (1 Corinthians 9:21).

Therefore, we are still under the moral law, which includes not stealing. It is important that as Christians we do not rationalize the truth that we are still to obey God’s moral law. It is highly destructive to a person’s walk with Christ to live as if they are not obligated to obey God’s moral standards and ethics.

In addition to Exodus 20:15, God tells us many times to not steal in the Old Testament. Leviticus 6:2-5 gives a detailed description of what must be done to the one who stole,

“If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving a neighbor about something entrusted to them or left in their care or about something stolen, or if they cheat their neighbor, or if they find lost property and lie about it, or if they swear falsely about any such sin that people may commit — when they sin in any of these ways and realize their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to them, or the lost property they found, or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day they present their guilt offering.”

As one can see, stealing was not something that God took lightly and in the present day, God still frowns upon stealing. In other words, stealing is always a sin.

Unfortunately, many individuals do not have the proper respect for the Old Testament, or they view it as not being relevant to modern Christian. This is of course a false notion because the Old Testament is important to our walks with Christ.

Nonetheless, the New Testament also tells us stealing is wrong. Ephesians 4:28 says, “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”

As this passage tells us, stealing is wrong and the one who steals needs to steal no longer. Instead of stealing, they must work and use their hands for good. This is true for our own lives too. We should never use our hands to commit sins, such as stealing.

Stealing does not bring glory to God in any way or in any manner. By working hard, we will make enough money to be able to provide for our own lives as well as we will have “something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28b).

In the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to Satan as the “thief.” The Lord says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

In this passage of Scripture, the devil is referred to as a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Stealing is connected with Satan and his sinful nature. When we steal or take things that are not ours, we are following in the footsteps of the devil.

As Christians, we need to be following God and obeying Him. We need to abstain from stealing because it is wrong and it hurts not only the other person but also ourselves and God.

Understanding the Dangers of Stealing

Paul’s discourse in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is often overlooked in a discussion concerning stealing as most people tend to focus on the sin of homosexuality in this passage of Scripture. Paul tells us, “

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

In this passage, Paul lists stealing alongside homosexuality, sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, greed, getting drunk, slandering others, and swindling others. It is remarkable how Christians pick apart this passage to condemn homosexuality, yet they ignore the sin of stealing listed here.

As Christians, we need to be open to the entire passage of Scripture and not to “pick and choose” what we want the verse to say. Stealing is a terrible sin, and it should not be shrugged off or seen as something that is “not a big deal.”

If a Christian stole in the past, they need to repent and turn away from their past life. Instead of stealing, the Christian needs to work and earn their own money and income. When we work for what we own rather than stealing, it brings glory to God.

Stealing only hurts God and causes a rift between us and Him. Living a life of stealing will not bring God glory nor will it make Him happy. Even if you have a past in stealing, you can turn away from that lifestyle today.

As a Christian, you are no longer defined by your past. You are now defined by Jesus Christ, your Lord, and Savior (2 Corinthians 5:17). With the new future, Jesus has given you, try to walk in the Spirit and follow God’s commands.

Galatians 5:16-18 encourages us by saying, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

The sinful flesh wants us to continue to engage in its destructive habits and to continue to sin by stealing, yet if we walk in the Spirit, He can help us walk in obedience to the Lord.

Abstaining from any sin is hard, but God can help us if we ask for His help. God loves to help us, and He is always ready to hear you talk to Him in prayer.

For further reading:

Why Did God Have to Give His People the 10 Commandments?

What Is Greed?

What Is the Biblical View of Christian Wealth?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/1084168456

Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.


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