Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beware of Counterfeits

Have you heard about how Federal agents are trained to spot counterfeit money? I did some research and verified the story is true: The agents are brought in for several days – even as long as a week – and spend more than 90 percent of the time inspecting…real currency.

Our susceptibility to counterfeits depends on
how well we know the real thing.
They examine elements of the genuine article methodically and meticulously, things like portraits and other artwork, Federal Reserve and Treasury seals, borders, serial numbers and paper quality. Agents pour over real money from every possible angle. They learn its details until it’s as familiar to them as their own hands.

Only then, after many hours of examining and becoming intimately acquainted with bonafide currency, are they introduced to counterfeit money for their consideration.

Knowing the real McCoy so well, the fake cash stands out as if printed on pink paper with red ink. (Of course, in a sense, the Federal government does print paper with red ink – but that’s a topic for some other time.)

Sadly, our world surrounds us with counterfeits. Expensive-looking watches, knock-off purses and shoes, high-end fashions and high-tech devices are often foisted on na├»ve consumers who think they’re getting a bargain. Instead, they’re receiving mere copies, falsified replicas of the real deal. Even romance has its counterfeit these days, with TV and the movies masquerading raging hormones and lustful motives as “true love.”

There’s an important principle to be learned here. To be capable of spotting a counterfeit, it makes sense to know the genuine article very well.

This is as true in the spiritual realm as anywhere. Some make the claim, “All religions are the same.” Others would say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, just as long as you’re sincere.” These views sound reasonable – until we compare counterfeits with the stuff of genuine faith.

Are we to assume Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity and whatever other belief system you want to toss into the discussion are all essentially the same? They are alike in one respect – a shared conviction that even though we live in a material world, it has a very real spiritual dimension. After that, however, comparing them side by side reveals considerable – and irreconcilable – differences.

For the disciple of Christ, it’s helpful to know these differences. But even more important is having a clear understanding of what we believe – and why. The key is being so familiar with the Word of God, the Bible – just as Federal agents are familiar with genuine currency – that pretender belief systems become obvious.

In fact, Jesus assured His followers, If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31-32). He promised we could know THE Truth, not someone’s opinion of what the truth should be.

The book of Acts offers an excellent example of the attitude to have when confronted with new spiritual claims: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Another translation says they “searched the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (New American Standard).

In other words, these fervent truth-seekers from Berea knew the Scriptures extremely well, and as the apostle Paul taught in the synagogues, they would diligently compare what he said with what they knew to be true from the holy writings passed down through the centuries. “Accept no counterfeit!” might have been their motto.

The question is, are we in danger of being seduced by counterfeit teachings? The only way we can avoid this is to spend time studying, examining, meditating on and absorbing the real thing. Then, when faced with the counterfeit, we can recognize it and dismiss it for what it is.

Why are some people seduced by a Coach purse replica, a fake Rolex, or a counterfeit $20 bill? Because these look close enough to the actual item to deceive. But if you know the real thing, you can identify the counterfeit easily.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

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