Question:

I cheated some during college. I regret this wholeheartedly. I have my current job as teacher now because of my degree, which I view as tainted from the cheating. Should I give up the benefits that have come with the possession of my degree? Does simply holding my degree constitute a sin? Is there any examples of people obtaining their position or occupation by unjust means in the Bible and how did they respond upon repentance? Lastly is my money itself tainted that I have received from my occupation? Not to pressure you, but please try to answer this soon as I am fairly stressed over this matter and need guidance. Thank you.


Answer:

Not all sins are reversible. A murderer cannot bring his victim back to life, nor can a slanderer undo the damage caused by his words. What most cheaters don't realize is that typically the cheating was unnecessary. Most likely could have passed, especially with just a little more effort.

Like most occupations, teaching requires some continuing education. You can't undo the past, but you can show that you are able to do the work required. Take a few courses to brush up in your weak areas. Prove to yourself that Satan lied to you. You didn't have to cheat; you were quite capable of passing honestly.

Grades in school are one of the things employers look at decide whether to take a chance on hiring someone. The reason someone keeps their job is because they are proving that they are capable of doing the work each day. This is one of the reasons I believe you could have passed those courses anyway -- you are still working as a teacher -- thus, you have the ability. If you weren't able to teach you would be soon let go.

So apologize to God about the past and start focusing on the future.

I understand that all sins are not reversible deal, but in my mind I am not sure that I am not in a recurring current sin. Obviously I truly repented of the cheating, but the possession of the degree as a result of the cheating, I'm not so sure about. I can see the degree being cleansed, so to speak, by my repentance and at the same time I could see it being like a thief that claims repentance, but keeps the stolen property. I am certain I would have passed, even if I did not cheat because the cheating centered on effort grades like writing papers.

I would like to add a little to my story and fear. This may not sound rational. I have it in my mind that the money that I receive from my job is tainted and, therefore, not acceptable to be given as an offering. To take that to the extreme I have a fear that if I even spend my money, thus putting it into circulation, that it might end up being offered by someone else and that I would be guilty of a horrible sin of allowing some unclean thing to touch the offering plate.

I think I rationally know that this is not correct, but I am not completely there yet. I need some biblical evidence of some sort.

When Zacchaeus repented of his sins, he declared, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold" (Luke 19:8). Zacchaeus was a wealthy man. He is not stating he would be doing this on an on-going basis. But it does indicate that he thought he took more than he should have. He would not be able to undo the improper transactions. There would be no way to track down the people or even to calculate the exact mistakes at this point. Instead, Zacchaeus decided to give half his wealth to the poor. It probably was well over and above what he overcharged, but he desired to show his complete change. After such a gift no one would think that he benefited from overcharging in his tax collections.

In addition, he states that if he had defrauded anyone, he would restore their money four-fold. The law required various fines for different types of theft (Exodus 22:1-4; Numbers 5:7). The amount he set was higher than what the Law of Moses required. This is not an admission that Zacchaeus had purposely defrauded anyone. If he made his wealth by fraud, he would not have enough money to pay all that he had just promised. Instead, he is making a promise that if someone does show him that he used fraud to collect in the past, he would go over and beyond what the law required.

I know you would have been able to past your tests without cheating because you are holding down your job. If you couldn't do the work, you would have been fired. You sinned when you cheated, not when you earned your wages. If you were slacking off as a teacher, not doing your job, but still drawing wages, this would be a different matter. The cheating is not on-going. What you are earning is due to your hard work now, not your cheating in the past.

You've changed. If you wish to prove your change, take a portion of your first year's wages and do something good with it, such as giving it to a scholarship for inner city school children.

The idea that money is tainted is a superstition that has no foundation in the Scriptures. The closest you could get is that God told the Israelites that he would not accept money gained by prostitution or homosexuality as an offering. "You shall not bring the wages of a harlot or the price of a dog to the house of the LORD your God for any vowed offering, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God" (Deuteronomy 23:18). Notice that only two sexual sins are mentioned, though people could profit from numerous other sins. The reason these two were specifically mentioned is that the pagans worshiped their gods with sexual acts. God refused to even be remotely connected to these disgusting practices.