«Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel» (Proverbs 20:17).
Giovanni de Medici (1475-1521) was the son of a family of business owners and bankers (the Medici) who governed Tuscany (Italy) de facto and had a considerable influence in Italian politics. His father, Lorenzo the Magnificent, made him enter the priesthood when he was seven years old; he was cardinal at thirteen and became Pope Leo X at thirty-seven. During his papacy, he became famous for his peculiar way of «enjoying the papacy God had given him» (in eight years he spent the equivalent of thirty-three million US dollars in banquets, gifts, entertainment and jewelry) and, of course, for his way of raising money, that is, the sale of religious positions and indulgences. Picco della Mirandola (1493-1494) attributes the following phrase to him, «All ages can testify enough how profitable that fable of Christ has been to us.»
But on October 31, 1517, a humble German monk lifted up his voice to question the Roman pope’s attitude. The argument with Rome grabbed the attention of many humanists of that time, as well as members of the German nobility. Luther declared that many Catholic doctrines were contrary to the Bible, such as the doctrine of the purgatory, burning heretics and the idea that the pope is Christ’s vicar. Furious, on June 15, 1520, Pope Leo X published the bull Exsurge Domine [Arise, Oh Lord], which compared Martin Luther to a wild boar who had come out of the forest to destroy the church and condemned him for forty-one supposed doctrinal errors. In addition, it threatened him with excommunication if he didn’t recant. After having threatened him, Leo X finally excommunicated Luther on January 3, 1521. That same year, the pope was poisoned and died on December 1. However, Luther went on preaching the gospel with admirable courage.
Deceit and fraud may bring about temporary benefits but, in the end, they’ll end up destroying the lives of those who follow this path. We can’t deceive God. That’s why, the Bible warns, «Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked» (Exodus 23:7).
Ask God today to keep you far from lies and to give you the courage to call sin by its rightful name.