Counterfeits are dangerous things. Counterfeit money, counterfeit goods, counterfeit medications – all these things create false security, undermine confidence in what is real, and can endanger those who unwittingly use them.
The most dangerous counterfeits are those that most closely resemble the genuine item. A “good” counterfeit is almost undetectable until placed under close scrutiny or put through rigorous testing. Jesus warned that there would be counterfeits in Christianity. He gave us the parable of the wheat and the tares, and taught that the difference would be imperceptible until time for the harvest. He talked about wolves in sheep’s clothing who would outwardly appear to be just like the sheep, but their inward motivation would be to devour and destroy.
Counterfeit Christians are often difficult to discern. Because they are practiced pretenders and are deliberate deceivers, they are often hard to detect. Judas was this type of person. The other disciples had no idea that Judas was not genuinely one of them. They trusted him. In fact, he was given the responsibility of being the treasurer of the group. Yet, all along, he was stealing. He was deceiving. He was pretending.
Here are some important things to know and understand about “counterfeit Christians”:
1. God knows the truth.
Counterfeit Christians may deceive others, but God knows. “…for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.” (John 6:64b) He knew exactly what Judas was. He knows our hearts as well. We can fake it before others, but if we are counterfeit, God knows the truth and will deal with us in time.
2. Don’t be a counterfeit.
Are you “playing the game”? Many young people raised in Christian homes learn how to “look the part”, “speak the lingo”, and do what is expected, but they aren’t genuinely saved; or if they are, they are not yielded to Christ. They use their guise of “Christianity” to deceive others and reap the benefits; yet many times, not only are they being deceptive, they are also actively undermining the faith and fervency of those who sincerely love God. If you are this person, I want to remind you of the first point – God already knows. Stop being a counterfeit. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
3. Learn to discern. The Bible commands us to try – test, prove, discern – the spirits.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1) Be aware that there are “false” Christians, false teachers, and false “spirits”. Just because someone or something claims to be Christian or spiritual does not make it so. Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Mt. 7:15) Ask God for wisdom. Seek godly counsel. Be willing to examine everyone and everything (starting with yourself) by the Word of God.
4. Don’t be derailed by a counterfeit.
I am sure that the disciples were grieved and discouraged when they found out the real character of Judas. He had stolen their money and betrayed them and their Savior. This happened at a time of great testing and trouble. His betrayal led to the crucifixion of Jesus.
It is very easy to get hurt, discouraged, and disillusioned when those we have trusted fail us. It is painful and heartbreaking! If you are saved for very long, there is no doubt that someone you have trusted will disappoint you. They may even betray you. Remember, that they are not Jesus. Don’t allow the “counterfeit” to undermine your confidence in what is genuine. Jesus will not fail you. Jesus will not betray you. His Word will not deceive you.
There will always be counterfeits in this world, but God will always be true. Keep your heart and mind anchored to Him. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;” (II Tim. 3:13-14)
Mrs. Niki Lott
Christian Mother, Author, composer, and pastor’s wife