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Most conmen are experts at exploiting people's greed. When people think they can get something for nothing, they drop their guard in a rush to take advantage of the offer. And that is when the rip-off occurs. Such suckers more or less get what they deserve.

There are some rip-offs that work on other motives, but they are usually wrong motives, including fear, pride, lust, and self-righteousness.

For example, bogus charities (and a lot of legitimate ones as well) usually work on our fear of what people will think of us if we say no. We hesitate to make this point, because if you took away donations made under pressure or out of embarrassment, our society might lose the few masquerades of decency that still exist. But the sad truth is that people wouldn't do much for others if they could get away with being selfish without others thinking poorly of them.

When someone comes along (as we do) giving people the straight truth without trying to hide the cost or trying to exaggerate the benefits, no one is interested. People would rather be pushed around by high-pressure con-men than to get the truth from us. So they end up with exactly what they deserve.

Jude described the religious rip-off artists as "clouds without water" "promising people freedom when they themselves are slaves". (Jude 12)

We look at some of the strange cults and political organisations of the world and wonder how they can con people into giving up everything when we have, without success, scoured the world looking for people who would give up everything to follow God.

But that's the difference. We ask them to do it for God. There is almost no faith in God left on this planet; but there are millions ready to forsake their families, possessions, reputations, even their lives in the hope of becoming rich, gaining power, or proving they are better than other people.

Our gamble is based on the belief that our Creator is a loving God who knows best what will make us happy, and who will give us total satisfaction if we will give him total control of our lives. We find that he is a threat to our pride, our greed, our lust, and our fears. But as he smashes each of these false gods, he gives us true happiness in their place.

The sad part is that we cannot find others who believe this. So we watch them choose to be ripped off by the counterfeits instead.

(See also Total Control and The Social Conscience Part 1.)

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