As an IT specialist with a background in security, the one thing I’ve come to realize is that nothing is ever truly secure. There never seems to be a shortage of those seeking to prove the point whenever an innovation in technology is released; a parallel I see when looking at the world of counterfeiting and its process of imitating something valuable or important with an intent to deceive or defraud.
Thinking on the issue today, I must admit, there are many instances where imitation has benefited society. All those no name brand items which have made many a necessity affordable for the majority come to mind. Food, clothing, house hold and medication items are just to name a few but coming back to the original definition, the counterfeit or faking issue is something that has plagued society and if I’ve learned anything from watching “Pawn Stars” it’s that if there is something of value, it’s likely to be faked.
This issue of counterfeiting or faking has created an atmosphere of distrust resulting in consumers having to be diligent when being sold something; whatever it may be. One must really do their homework if they are to spot the fake and when it comes to Christianity, it is no different. In warning the believers of his day, as he does us today, Jesus states the following in Matthew 7 v 15:
“Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves”
In his warning to the believers in Ephesus, Paul states the same in Acts 20 v 29 when he says:
“know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.”
In this issue of counterfeits in the faith it is no coincidence that the wolf is used in describing such a person as they truly do prey on the weak and ill-prepared.
In the case of a fake, detection is always key. Wisdom and knowledge were always the context with which the believers of the early church operated. This is emphasized in Peter’s writing to the believers found in 1 Peter 1 v 19:
“We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”
Jesus puts a point on it when stating in John 5 v 39 & John 10 v 37 – 38:
“You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me,”
“Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works,”
Scripture was the baseline for all the believers senses as it should be for us if we are to detect the fraud and deception of our enemy Satan.
When seeking to detect a fake, another useful tool aiding in the pursuit has been the test. Whether it is currency, food, sport, etc., often a test is needed to determine authenticity. For the fraudulent, it is often what they fear most. A fraud will go to great lengths in their efforts to avoid a test but when it comes to Jesus and his gospel, the test is welcomed as we see in 1 Thessalonians 5 v 20 – 21 & 1 John 4 v 1:
“Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
But even with the knowledge, even after the tests, the truth is there are still a few last steps we must take. As is often the case, it is these last few that can be the toughest and Proverbs 3 v 5 – 6 sheds the light on them:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
It is only in the trusting and submitting that Jesus through the Holy Spirit enables us, as the Psalmist says, to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46 v 10); a peace that truly does transcend all understanding (Philippians 4 – 7).
To close, I refer to something seen all too often in the world of buying and selling. If there is an imitation to be sold, there will always be a willing buyer. Sadly, so many settle for the knockoff; the counterfeit; when the real thing was readily available. When it comes to our Savior Jesus Christ, the saying “Often imitated; never duplicated.”, was never truer. In word and deed, He stands above all. For the seeker, the one who searches with all their heart, you can trust and know that he will be found. (Jeremiah 29 v 13)
My prayer is that you are found in Him and Him in you; to settle for less is death and death eternal.
God Bless – Sean Bosse