318. In the spiritual sense, to steal means to deprive others of the truths of their faith, which is done by means of falsities and heresies. Priests, who minister solely for gain or from a lust for honor, and teach what they see or might see from the Word to be untrue, are spiritual thieves, since they take away from the people the means of salvation, which are the truths of faith. Such are called thieves in the Word, in the following passages:
He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. The thief cometh not but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:1, 10).
Lay not up treasures upon earth, but in heaven, where thieves do not come and steal (Matt. 6:19, 20).
If thieves come to thee, if robbers by night, how art thou cut off; will they not steal what is enough for them? (Obad. verse 5).
They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief (Joel 2:9).
They have committed falsehood, and the thief cometh in, and the troop spreadeth itself without (Hos. 7:1).