On an early morning last summer, I stepped out onto my front porch to observe the annuals and perennials in my flower garden. Just at that moment, a bird swooped down and hit a butterfly stake that I had placed among a few vibrant impatiens. The sound of its crash into the synthetic glass butterfly was very noticeable. It was like a small rock hitting a glass window. Smack! The bird immediately flew away. I remember thinking to myself how easily the bird was deceived. The glass butterfly was colorful, but it was a bit bulky. I guess it looked appealing and real enough situated among the flowers.
The bird’s episode with the fake insect is much like my experience with counterfeit gospels during my lifetime. It was not until several years ago that I began to consistently read Scripture and meditate on the words of Christ. I encountered new realizations with more intensive study. One of my first reactions was “I’ve been duped!” I felt betrayed by many of the church leaders I had been listening to over the years. This was especially true as I closely examined Scripture and discovered that dreams of the heart are not given by God. My eyes were opened to sacrificial followership.
You see, I had not realized that total surrender is freedom. Even though I had attended a few “conservative churches” over the years, most of them reinforced worship of myself. In referencing Matthew 16:24-26, I remember one megachurch pastor saying, “Jesus did not literally mean that you have to give up your whole life. Each of our crosses means something different. Some people may have difficult in-laws or relatives to deal with. These burdens equate to taking up a cross. Each situation is different.” Yes, he said that.
After God's prompting, I had a lot of time to review my situation. How could I be so naive? Well, to be honest, listening to lies validated my success and my dreams. Turning a blind eye to Scripture enabled my pride to grow...listening to false teachers promoted the "little god of me." In short, I was responsible for the "duping of myself!"
Today, I am in a different place. I am fortunate like the bird. I finally hit the lie with a hard crash, and it became indigestible to me. I thank God for dealing with me. Now, one of my main causes with fellow believers is telling them “reading Scripture is a must.” Without careful study and examination of Scripture, any of us can be led to something false. Prosperity, relativism, and mysticism all reduce Christ's Lordship. They are prevalent ingredients in Satan’s lies. Perhaps most dangerous, though, is the pastor or teacher who skillfully mixes truth with a hint of ungodly elements to “enhance the flavor” for his worldly listeners.
Satan has been producing false gospels and twisting scripture since his fall. He comes in like an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). We should expect lies around every corner. False gospels are so numerous, it makes the real gospel challenging to find. The imitations are appealing to the flesh. They feel good. They feel right. But how do they stand up against the Word of God?
Believers are to test the spirits against Scripture in everything that we hear. Like the Bereans mentioned by Paul in Acts 17: 11, it is an expectation that believers analyze and examine EVERYTHING. Only then can we establish discernment. For myself, I cannot leave it to someone else to seek God for me. However, He will not leave me on my own during my pursuit of HIm. The Holy Spirit speaks through His word.
Our God is marvelous with His love...He is the unimaginable real deal. If we diligently engage Scripture, He enables us to avoid the world's flower garden of counterfeits.
Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.