Matthew 24:24 “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Jesus made it clear that in the last days one of the greatest challenges that believers will face would be discerning the real from the counterfeit. Imposters and counterfeit miracles will be so convincing that if possible, even the elect would be deceived.
Recently I was shown a counterfeit one-dollar bill. At first glance it looked exactly like the real thing. If someone were not paying attention, they would have accepted it as genuine. However, the person who discovered it knew it was counterfeit as soon as it was placed in their hand. Upon closer examination and comparison to a genuine one-dollar bill, it was obvious that it was not real. How did the person detect the counterfeit? They were so familiar with the real and they knew something was different when the fake one was placed in their hand.
It is not always easy to discern a counterfeit. The availability of modern technology has made it increasingly more and more difficult to tell the difference. The U.S. Treasury Department invests a lot of money and training in order to stay one step ahead of the criminals. One of the ways that people are trained to detect counterfeit money is to highly familiarize them with the real thing. They hold it, feel it, and study it over and over again until they know something just isn’t right when they come across a counterfeit. Modern technology has also provided ways to test money right on the spot to determine the real from the phony.
Regarding signs and wonders, can you tell the real from the counterfeit? In light of the many contradictory voices today behind pulpits and on television screens, are you able to discern the truth from a lie? Regarding the many who claim to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers today, are you able to discern the real from the imposter? How will you determine the truth? By your reasoning? By your emotions? By how a message makes you feel? By what sounds right to you? By appearance? By what fits your lifestyle? These are poor ways to test truth.
Those who are the most susceptible to counterfeit money are those who spend little time handling real money. In the same way, those who are the most susceptible to a lie are those who do not take the time to become familiar with the truth of God’s word. Therefore they cannot discern the truth from the lie. Tragically, due to their ignorance, an imposter can come along and place a phony gospel in their lap. They fall for lying signs and wonders. Once they accept these things as real and become familiar with the counterfeit, they can actually believe that the real is a counterfeit! Deception is a terrible delusion.
God did not leave us without a witness. He did not leave us without a tool to test what is set before us. He left us the truth of the Word of God to read and study thoroughly. If you have a copy of God’s word, there is no reason to be deceived. In the Bible we not only have the message of truth with which to compare every message we hear, but we have real life accounts of saints who followed God with which to compare modern day imposters. If you have given your heart to Jesus, are familiar with God’s word, spend time in prayer and fellowship with God, and are sincere in your desire to know the truth, you will know the truth. You will be able to discern the counterfeit and imposter. It may not always be easy, but familiarity with the real thing will give you discernment when something just doesn’t ring true.
Application: We are living in the last days. The Bible tells us much about what to expect and how to be prepared. Unfortunately, not everyone is living with this understanding. It would be wonderful if only the truth was being preached and taught and that every person claiming to be sent from God was legitimate. But such is not the case. Thus comes Jesus’ warning. We need neither to be paranoid nor gullible. We have the sure word of God through which to evaluate every doctrine, miracle, and teacher. No one wants to be fooled by a counterfeit. Get familiar with the real thing.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I look to You to keep me from the evil one and from the deception that is coming upon this world in the last days. I want to thank You for Your word that can help me discern between the real and the counterfeit and between the genuine and the imposter. I thank You for the Holy Spirit that is with me to lead and guide me into all truth. I determine not to be led astray by false doctrine or by false messengers because I have chosen to evaluate all things by the truth of Your word. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”