“Be on the lookout for counterfeits!”
We hear this warning on the news; the shocking news that counterfeit bills are circulating in our community. The authorities tell us what to look for, like how counterfeit bills are sometimes thicker, and the color is not right. We are told that counterfeit bills lack the red and blue fibers embedded in the paper of the bills themselves, since technically real bills are made with a type of linen paper, which is not like typing paper.
If spotting counterfeit bills is important, spotting the counterfeit forms of Christianity that the devil circulates among us is even more important. We are told in 1Thes. 5:21 “Test everything, hold on to the good.” For centuries Satan has been trying to pass off a watered-down version of Christianity that just does not feel right, and which does not stand up to certain tests. Here are just a few warning signs to look out for:
1. If someone promises you that following Jesus is easy, and that your life will be full of nothing but joy and victory, not to mention physical prosperity, it is counterfeit. On more than one occasion Jesus told his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him. We do not earn our salvation by doing that, but we do point people to the real Savior, Jesus, when we bear our crosses. If Christianity is all about an easy life, and never being sick, then St. Paul himself would not be a Christian, because he had an unidentified “thorn” in his flesh that you can read about in 2 Corinthians 12. He said God taught him through his suffering. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Cor.12:9a.
2. If someone says you have to do your part to save yourself, it is a counterfeit form of Christianity. Ask yourself, “Which one of my sins did Jesus NOT pay for on the cross?” If you can think of one, let me know, and I will explain that “It is finished” really means, “It is paid for, in full.” Grace is grace, and St. Paul famously said “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law,” Rom. 3:28. Even faith is a gift, according to Eph. 2:8-9, so we can’t brag if we believe in Jesus!
3. A religion that ignores the cross is a fake religion. With new dollar bills, we are told to look for the correct watermark on each denomination. If it is missing the watermark, reject it. The cross is like a watermark. St. Paul calls it a “stumbling block” for some in 1 Cor. 1: 23, since it hurts our pride to know this is God’s only way of saving us. But still “we preach Christ crucified, …Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God,” I Cor. 1:23a &24.
Bankers learn to spot counterfeits by handling the real thing. You can spot spiritual counterfeits by regularly handling God’s Word. It will give you comfort during daily trials at the same time!
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