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How to Easily Recognize a Counterfeit

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coun∙ter∙feit: copy made to deceive or defraud and passed as genuine

If you were handed a counterfeit dollar bill, would you be able to recognize it as such? How easy would it be to spot what’s false? Do you imagine that you might second-guess yourself when trying to discern the counterfeit bill from the real thing?

Some months ago, I took my children to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for a field trip. The tour proved fascinating as we watched how paper money is made from start to finish. Before the tour through the facility began, there was a short film highlighting much of the processes that go into making the money, from design, to quality-control, to circulation. What stood out to me most about this little film was how much of it was devoted to the work that goes into security measures for counterfeit prevention, and thereby the rigorous training that businesses must also go through in order for their employees to be able to recognize a counterfeit when they see it. Criminals craft deception, pouring their talents into making counterfeit money look so similar to the genuine thing that it is often difficult to distinguish between the fake money and real. However (you have likely heard this before as it’s not a new thought), those who are best able recognize a counterfeit bill when they see it do not train by studying counterfeits, rather, they can recognize a counterfeit immediately when they see it because they have carefully studied the real thing.

If you were told a well-disguised counterfeit about a doctrine in God’s Word, would you be able to recognize it as such? How easy would it be to sniff out what’s false about that half-truth? Do you imagine you might second-guess yourself when trying to discern the false statement from Truth revealed in God’s Word?

The point almost goes without saying. In order to be able to distinguish truth from falsehood we don’t study all the wrong messages that come our way first, instead, we study God’s Word. His Word is Truth. Despite what the world may say, there is such a thing as absolute Truth, and it can only be found in the Word of God. If we are to easily discern truth from error, genuine from counterfeit, we must be diligent to study our bibles so that we can immediately recognize falsehood when we see or hear it. The world bombards us with enticing messages that on the surface seem worthy, but in reality are contrary to righteousness. Satan attacks us with partial lies that cause us to second-guess ourselves or what we’ve been previously taught. Our own evil desires cause us to compromise our integrity and exchange the truth about God for a lie. But also well-meaning teachers, song writers, and brothers and sisters in Christ can cause us to rest on their words because at first hearing they sound, well…”Christianly,” but in reality they are words that miss the mark. The good news is that our gracious heavenly Father has given us a plumb by which we can rightly see how far any message contrary to His perfect Word might be skewed. When we hold up every message against the infallible Word of God, we are able to discern whether that message is genuine or counterfeit. The only way we will be able to quickly recognize a falsehood, which most often come to us disguised as half-truths, is to have carefully studied the Word of Truth first. Because just as the completely false, counterfeit dollar bill looks mostly real, one small deception in a half-truth is what actually proves it to be a total lie.

We as Christians should not content ourselves to enjoy our standing of righteousness before God in Christ Jesus, yet fail to go on to participate in our sanctification through studying the Word of God. When we are lazy to carefully ready His Word, we are ill-equipped to quickly recognize that which is contrary to Truth. May it not be so! Let us handle the Word of God rightly, examining the Scriptures daily as the Bereans of Acts 17, seeking the whole Truth revealed to us by our LORD. May we be diligent in this pursuit, and may the Word of God penetrate our hearts so that when the world, Satan, or our own evil desires come after our minds with cunning and deceiving (and often enticing) ways, or even when misfired words from other believers land in our ears, we can recognize falsehoods and counterfeits immediately because we have already carefully studied the real thing - the genuine Truth revealed in the Word of God.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17