Monday, May 6, 2024

Counterfeit Christians

These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:13 NLT)

All too often when we see some inconsistency in the lives of others, we are quick to call them hypocrites or phonies. But maybe they’re just struggling believers.

Even godly people can mess up. Even real Christians can make mistakes and sin against the Lord. The Bible even tells us, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth” (1 John 1:8 NLT). Sometimes we confuse hypocrisy with humanity.

We all will sin. And we all will fall short. But there is a difference between a struggling believer and a phony. Jesus used the term hypocrite, which means “actor,” for the religious leaders of His day.

Now, there is nothing negative attached to the word actor when you’re talking about someone’s profession. But when Jesus used the term, He was referring to people who were pretending to be something they were not. They were putting on a performance. And that is not genuine faith.

Jesus warned, “Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1 NLT). Or, as The Message puts it, “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.”

There are a lot of people who are putting on great performances as Christians, but they aren’t genuine. They are posers. But ultimately, it’s for God to decide who is who and what is what.

But let’s understand that whenever there is the genuine, there also will be the counterfeit. Satan has his fake version of just about everything, including counterfeit Christians.

The apostle Paul wrote, “I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not” (2 Corinthians 11:26 NLT).

Even in Paul’s day there were counterfeit Christians, just as there are today. And there also is a counterfeit gospel.

Just because someone uses the word gospel doesn’t mean they’re referring to the genuine gospel. For the gospel to be genuine, certain things must be in place. And one of those things is the acknowledgement that everyone has sinned.

Secondly, there is only one solution for our sin being removed, and that is the cross. If the cross is not proclaimed, then it is not the gospel. Any proper presentation of the gospel will come back to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Sometimes in our attempts to be relevant, to cross over, we don’t bring the cross over. But our job as believers is not only to lift people up but also to point them to Jesus Christ.

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