It has been said that the best way to identify a counterfeit is to really know the real thing. It has been told to me by one who has experience as a teller that banks train them to get the feel for the real paper money, and when a counterfeit passes through their fingers it is almost immediately identified. Do they study the counterfeit? Not at all. They get to know the genuine article.
There is a great illustration, even parable of sorts to that thought for the Christian. I used to spend a lot of time studying different religions; and I find no fault in doing so; but to use great caution, and know the true God and His Son Jesus personally.
My reading today began in the First Epistle of John the apostle; and ended with Revelation chapter 2. The Epistles of John have been called “Love Letters” to the Christians; if they have not been, maybe they should be; because the First one is all about Christian love; first for God and His Son Jesus, and second the Christian’s love one for another.
In the First Epistle John covers much about love, loving one another, and he also deals with discernment in chapter four.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” 1 John 4:1-3 (KJV)
To hear some professing Christian leaders speak today you would think that any belief is alright, and get you to heaven; as long as you have “faith”. John nails it down to what one believes about Jesus Christ. There is strong implication in the above text that John is viewing Jesus as Deity “come in the flesh”. God came down to man in the form of a man. John says anyone teaches that is of God; if not they are not of God. It is sad to say there are some religions, Christian cults who believe that Jesus came in the flesh and is deity; but they add to that by teaching that all of us can become Christ, and be gods. That is a distortion of the truth.
My friends do you know Jesus, the one and only Son of God, who became flesh, dwelt among us, died for our sins, was buried, and bodily rose from the grave; and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father? God has no other sons, but those who are born again through the blood of Jesus Christ.
In Second John he writes of the “doctrine of Jesus Christ”, and most likely is referring to His being God in flesh; warning,
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 2 John 9-11
In Third John he writes of a man in the church who loves dominating others, even prohibiting John even from speaking in said church;
“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” 3 John 9-11
A man name of Diotrephes is the guilty party. Sometimes it is sad to admit but there are folks who call themselves Christian and pastor, bishop or elder who endeavor to dominate other people in the church. Diotrephes was an evil man, keeping even the apostles of Jesus Christ out of the church, and excommunicating all who favored them.
I also read Jude. Jude is believed to have been the half brother of Jesus, though he calls himself, “The servant/slave of Jesus Christ”. In verse 11 he writes,
“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 11
Mentioning three Old Testament personalities in this one verse; Cain the brother of Abel whom he killed and rejecting the way of God; Balaam who led the enemy of Israel to cause them to sin; and Korah who was a rebel along with Dathan and Abiram, against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness journey (Numbers 16). Still we see the need for discernment in the Body of Christ.
In the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapters one and two we see Jesus revealing Himself to John the apostle while he is being held prisoner on the isle of Patmos for his faith in Christ and preaching the gospel of Christ. Oh, if there is ever a truer presentation of who Jesus is it is here. Jesus says to John,
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,’ saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.'” Revelation 1:10-11 (KJV)
And in verse 17 He says again, “Fear not; I am the first and the last”. No one can honestly say that except they be the incarnate Son of God, God in flesh. Know Jesus and you will be able to discern the true from the false. Know the Word of God and you will know the Living Word of God. Remember what John wrote in John 1;
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
God has given us the ability, and power to be discerning; practice it for your life’s sake, for the Church’s sake; mostly for the sake of Jesus Christ Himself, and His glory.
-Tim A. Blankenship