Is cheating on a test a sin?
If you’re a student or have been a student, you know that the temptation to cheat on a test here and there is real.
Especially if you aren’t very concerned about getting in trouble or about truly knowing the subject matter, cheating on a test seems to be the easy way out of a difficult thing. However, is cheating on a test a sin?
How does God look at cheating in school?
What is cheating?
Since the Bible doesn’t explicitly address whether cheating on a test is a sin or not, we need to look a bit deeper to find out how God views this issue.
At its core, what really is cheating when it comes to school?
Well, if the purpose of a test is to see whether you have learned the subject well or not, then cheating on that test is a dishonest representation of what you know.
What I mean is that when you cheat on a test, your score says that you know the subject well, but, in reality, you don’t.
So really, at its core, cheating is dishonesty.
It’s another form of lying; lying about what you actually know or, more accurately, what you don’t know.
So then, if cheating is lying, what does the Bible say about lying?
What does the Bible say about lying?
The Bible is actually very strongly against lying.
Many verses condemn lying as a sin, and in Proverbs 6:16-19, the Bible even labels ‘a lying tongue’ as one of the six things that God hates, according to the writer of Proverbs.
In fact, many of the proverbs speak about lying in a negative light.
Proverbs 12:22 says that lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, while Proverbs 19:9 says that he who ‘breathes out lies’ will perish.
Unsurprisingly, the New Testament isn’t different in its stance on this issue.
Colossians 3:9-10 talks about lying to one another, identifying it as something the old self does, not something the new self should practice.
Clearly, lying is a sin to God, and therefore, cheating on a test is a form of that sin.
Why is the truth so important?
In all fairness, it isn’t really that lying is such a bad sin, but rather that truth is so important that violating that truth is a massive grievance to God.
God values the truth greatly and is a god of truth who upholds the truth in every situation.
Since God honors and values truth, we should also honor and value truth by being honest rather than dishonest, even when it comes to taking various tests.
Truth is greatly upheld in the Bible as one of the most important virtues and is even said to be that which sets us free.
After all, if the truth is that Jesus died for our sins and rose again so that we may have life, then the truth certainly is powerful indeed!
This is why the Bible calls us to not only speak the truth, but also to set our minds upon the truth, love in truth, and walk in the truth.
According to God, everything that we do in our lives should be based on truth.
He even says that we are called to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
The truth is such a big part of our relationship with God that we can’t possibly emphasize it enough.
So, when we cheat on a test, we are violating the truth and dishonoring it for the sake of convenience or personal gain.
This is a sin against God.
READ MORE: Do We Go to Heaven When We Die?
What should we do instead?
The easy answer to the question of, “What should we do instead of cheat?” is to simply tell the truth and take the test without cheating! However, it goes even deeper than that, especially when you consider the Bible.
Why do people generally cheat?
Many times, students cheat because they value getting a grade over actually knowing the relevant information.
Now, not knowing the information could come from a variety of reasons.
Maybe the student genuinely didn’t have enough time to study or missed a section when they were studying. However, many students cheat simply because they didn’t study or put forth effort when it came to knowing what they were supposed to know.
One thing that is promoted not quite as much as truth but still quite frequently in the Bible is hard work.
As people of God, we are called to be hard workers and to do our work well, as that glorifies God.
If you are cheating on a test because you didn’t work hard in the first place to actually learn the information, then you’ve now committed two sins: the sins of lying and of laziness.
Instead, the Bible tells us to work hard at everything we do and to do it with all our hearts as if we are working for the Lord, not for people.
Yes, it is a sin to cheat on a test, but it goes even further than that.
Instead of cheating on a test, you are called to work hard at your schoolwork and to do it well, all to the glory of God.
Just take a moment to consider that you even have the opportunity to learn.
Now, thank God for that opportunity and work hard at it as a show of your appreciation to Him.
He will honor that.
Biblical perspective of the dangers of dishonesty
Although there were no records of tests or examinations in the Bible, the Bible contains stories of individuals who attempted to cheat, deceive, or take dishonest paths in their pursuit of success or personal gain.
Not only did the Bible give an account of these lies and dishonesty, but it also stated the repercussions of these sinful acts.
Jacob’s Deception (Genesis 27)
Jacob, the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham, used deception to secure the blessing of the firstborn from his father, Isaac.
He disguised himself as his brother, Esau, to receive the blessing intended for the older sibling.
When a friend betrays you, it is a painful experience. However, when your blood betrays you, it feels like you are holding on to a hot coal but cannot release it. But in Jacob and Esau’s case, the pain of betrayal cannot be adequately expressed because they were not only siblings but twins.
Jacob lied to Isaac and stole his brother’s rightful blessings.
He caused his brother and father great pain.
It also plunged the family into strife to the point that Jacob had to run away for his life.
The lies and cheating we have done at some point in our lives might seem like we have gained something tangible, like Jacob. But at what cost?
We have broken relationships and lost our peace of mind because we are haunted by our wrong deeds.
Although Jacob and Esau reconciled in the future, they had spent many years apart.
They missed out on a robust relationship that should have been between the two brothers.
Their family was also turned apart as both parents had to pick sides.
Rebekah supported Jacob, while Esau was Isaac’s favorite.
Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)
Among the stories about lies and cheating, that of Ananias and Sapphira is the most tragic.
In the early Christian community, Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, attempted to deceive the apostles and the community by selling a piece of land and presenting only a portion of the proceeds, falsely claiming it was the full amount. Their dishonesty resulted in their deaths as a divine judgment.
Within a few minutes, both husband and wife died prematurely because of an attempt to cheat.
The Bible gave no record that they had kids, but they would have caused their loved ones to mourn over them.
This story shows that the sin of cheating is not a lesser one.
It can lead to death, just as the scripture says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.”
As harmless as it may seem, it might cost you your life or something valuable like a relationship. Some schools suspend or expel students caught cheating, causing them to lose out on valuable years of their lives.
In countries like Nigeria, cheating in a secondary school final exam can attract imprisonment for 3-4 years.
Note that something dies in your life when you cheat. It might be your integrity, time, relationship, or life.
Gehazi’s Greed (2 Kings 4:1-7; 2 Kings 5:20-27)
Gehazi was the servant of the prophet Elisha.
He succumbed to greed and dishonesty when he pursued gifts from Naaman, a Syrian army commander, after Elisha had refused them.
Gehazi later lied to Elisha about his actions.
As a consequence, he was struck with leprosy.
Just as Elisha inherited a double portion of Elijah’s anointing and power, Gehazi was supposed to have been given a mantle by Elisha.
Today, he would have been known as a great prophet of the Lord, doing exploits and incredible miracles. However, because of greed, he lost his place as the successor of Elisha. Instead, he became a leper.
Cheating and lying can cost us God’s plan and purpose for our lives.
Cheating can truncate a person’s destiny, leading them to miss God’s design for their lives.
A person caught cheating in an exam and expelled from school might spend extra years trying to get into another school.
Their reputation would have been ruined, making it difficult to access certain opportunities and collaborate with people who might not want to be associated with them. Cheating is dangerous. Desist from it.
Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24)
Simon, a magician in Samaria, attempted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from the apostles Peter and John.
He sought success through deceit and manipulation. However, he was rebuked for his wickedness and asked to repent.
We must put in the work required to achieve certain blessings and heights in life.
We cannot bribe or pay our way through certain doors or platforms.
We must pay the price for them.
Trying to cut corners is a sign of wickedness and always leads to rebukes and punishments.
Can God forgive those who cheat?
No sin is too grave for God to forgive.
Isaiah 1:18 says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”
All you have to do is acknowledge your sins, confess them, accept Jesus, and turn a new leave. God will accept you. He will wash you clean and make you holy.
The Apostle Paul was once a murderer.
He persecuted Christians.
Paul supervised the killing of Stephen and jailed lots of believers. However, he had an encounter with the Lord, and his life was transformed.
If God can turn a murderous man into a vessel of honor, then a cheat has a chance to become a child of God.
However, you must decide to carry your cross and follow Jesus.
You must abstain from your old lifestyle and intentionally obey God’s Word daily. But you might still have to face the consequences of your actions.
For example, you might be suspended in school for cheating on a test, but that does not mean that God will not forgive you.
As much as God loves you, you might pay for the consequences of your actions before experiencing restoration.
READ MORE: Is It a Sin to Waste Food?
Final Thoughts – Is Cheating on a Test a Sin?
Cheating on a test may be a sin, but the deeper issue is our general desire not to do difficult work.
Instead of cheating or finding a loophole, let us instead appreciate what God has given us and work hard at it to the glory of God.
Let us not take the easy way out, but rather grow through the difficulty and truly learn what it is God is wanting to teach us at all times.
READ THIS NEXT: Can Christians listen to rap music?