When you think about a simple question like this it become obvious that the only way you know the true from the false is through familiarity. No one who has ever looked at a real $50 bill could ever be tricked into thinking that Monopoly money was the real thing.
The same is true with Christianity. The only thing that will keep you from being taken in by something that, on the surface, might seem “similar” to Christianity–such as Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholicism, and liberal so-called “denominations” that have thrown the Bible out the window–is a deep familiarity with the Bible.
You cannot spot the fake till you know what the REAL should look like.
Have you been fooled into thinking something is Christianity when it’s not, or that someone was a Christian when they aren’t? A friend recently shared some music with me by an artist who claimed to have had a “religious” experience. Curious, I went all over the internet to learn more. In talking about her experience, she was using the name “Jesus” and the word “protestant,” so it was easy to see how that could lead someone down the path of thinking she might be a Christian. But it didn’t take much digging at all to find that this artist approves of and promotes homosexuality.
It is only because I am familiar with the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality that I know that those who engage in it, or give their approval to those who engage in it, are not Christians, but remain enemies of God. Here’s the text:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them…
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error…
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them...
We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
Romans 1:18-19, 26-27, 32; 2:2-5
God’s word gives us a clear view of the signs we will see in those who do not belong to Him. We can use this as a point by point comparison that will save us from being fooled by counterfeits of Christianity:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
God’s word also gives those of us who claim to be Christians a command to “examine” ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). The book of First John tells us, near it’s end, that it has a very important purpose in the midst of God’s word:
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:13
As you read through the book of First John, you will find many tests that you can apply to yourself to see whether or not you are genuinely a Christian. Todd Friel preaches an amazing sermon on this very thing that you can listen to for free. I hope that you will actually listen to it more than once and look inside your own heart to see if you are the real thing, or a piece of paper Monopoly money… because if you are false, you may fool everyone around you, but you cannot fool God.
The scariest passage in the Bible, without a doubt, is the one painted by Jesus of the Day of Judgment. He says there will be a great crowd of people who sincerely believe they are Christians. They will say to Him “Lord, Lord…” But He will reply, “Depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness,” (Matthew 7:22-23).
Make a “New Year’s Resolution” to read one of the gospels this month… you can do it. Try the book of Mark. If you can’t find your dusty Bible anywhere, then listen to it online. Just follow this link and then click on the little “speaker” button to listen to the first chapter.
Become familiar with the REAL so that you can’t be deceived.