Most people, or at least a lot of people, know that “fleece” is “the wooly covering of a sheep.” Research reveals as far back as the 1570’s the literal sense of “fleecing” was “to strip a sheep of fleece.” Fleecing a sheep leaves it more vulnerable to the elements, in a sense “stealing” the coat off their back. So, it is not difficult to see that the word evolved to include fleecing people! Yes, my friends, there are bad actors out there who make a career out of “fleecing” other people! They seek to “cheat, swindle, and strip [you] of money” and other material treasures. One synonym for these experts in falsehood and fraud is “hoodwink.” Before we make a spiritual application of all this, consider that the word hoodwink” is especially similar to “fleecing” in definition. “Hoodwink” means to “deceive or trick or to swindle by deception.” An article on the etymology of “hoodwink” (@ wayword.radiocom) says: “to hoodwink, or put something on someone, derives from the act of thieves literally throwing a hood on victims before robbing them, thereby making them wink, which has an archaic meaning of ‘to close one’s eyes.’ ” So it is – not only do sheep get “fleeced” but people do, too – and “hoodwinked.” Remember Bernie Madoff, the financier but also fraudulent swindler who, by means of multiple kinds of sophisticated deceit and fraud, “fleeced” and “hoodwinked” his clients of $64.8 billion (some estimates run as high as $80 billion) over a period of possibly 20 years?! But the Bible warns that “God is not mocked” and that eventually, whether good or bad, we reap what we sow” (Galatians 6:6-7). Madoff’s dishonesty and deceit finally caught up with him. He was arrested in 2008, eventually sentenced to 150 years in prison, died on April 14, 2021 at the Federal Medical Center in prison Butner, North Carolina, and so now he is in eternity and will be judged by the all-knowing God who cannot be mocked and can never be fleeced or hoodwinked by even the most skillful swindlers and deceitful deceivers (Hebrews 9:27 * Hebrews 4:12-13).
Jesus warned about religious fleecers and hood-winkers in Matthew 7:15 – “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” He went on to say we can identify these religious frauds by the bad fruit they produce (verses 16-19). Later, the apostle Paul describes false preachers and teachers who are out to “fleece” and “hoodwink” God’s people in 1 Timothy 6:3-5 – “If anyone teaches otherwise [that is, teaches anything other than teaching by inspired men preserved in the Bible] and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife,
reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of great gain. From such withdraw yourself.” Here is moral / spiritual reality most people in the world and even some Christians seem unwilling to admit. There is “wholesome” teaching which comes from “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,” doctrine “which accords with godliness.” But some “teach otherwise and do not consent” to the Lord’s teaching. Read it again – some are “obsessed with” and produce all kinds of bad fruit including but not limited to “disputes and arguments over words.” If we say what God’s word says, we must admit, whether in the pulpit or in the pews, there are bad actors who would use deceit to defraud and fleece
and hoodwink God’s people. Don’t let it happen to you! (1 Thess.5:21 * Acts 17:11). You ought to think about it.