Thursday, April 26, 2012

Checking For Spiritual Counterfeits

Useless as a counterfeit
A counterfeit is defined as a copy of something made in order to defraud or deceive people. It is also defined as something that pretends in order to deceive somebody. 

We all hate counterfeits. Not to mention, counterfeit money! I mean, just think about what it would be like to receive a bundle of $100 dollar bills and to later on find out that they were all counterfeit money! No matter how REAL they may look like, anything that is counterfeit is USELESS in the end.

Perhaps the worst kind of counterfeit is what we can call the "Spiritual Counterfeit." This here is something that will affect not only your present life on earth, but will affect your eternal destination as well! Who would want to have something that promises them heaven, but in the end will prove to be as useless as that bundle of cash in the after life? Just ponder upon Jesus' own words:
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:22-23)
Spiritual counterfeits are just like their tangible counterparts. They are just a copy of what is real, and they are made in order to defraud or deceive. The Bible cautioned us about these spiritual counterfeits, describing them as wolves in sheep's clothing! (see Matthew 7:15).

Many spiritual counterfeits come looking like the real thing, sounding like the Truth, and acting like they really are the real deal. And just like any good counterfeit money out there, you have got to look closely into the subtleties in order to recognize that what you have in your hand isn't real after all.

Checking things out at ALL times

Counterfeit money can go unnoticed if unchecked. Business owners find dealing with counterfeits a headache. For one, there is no way to be compensated for accepting the fake money and the end scenario is a loss of profit. We are just fortunate today to already have measures to detect the bad bills. 

Today, we see clerks almost always check the cash that come their way for the very reason that even $1 and $5 bills are being faked. One just have to make sure to check everything out nowadays to detect whether it is fake or not. 

Much like the counterfeit money, we ought to also develop that REGULAR HABIT of checking everything spiritual that comes our way. John, the apostle, even made mention about this in his epistle in 1 John 4:1, 

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God

because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (KJV)

Even the apostle Paul warns us about spiritual counterfeits in his letter to the Galatians when he said,

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)

How to spot a counterfeit
So, how exactly do we check to know if something is a counterfeit? More importantly, how do we know how to spot a SPIRITUAL counterfeit?

Well, the answer would be similar to how people detect any kind of counterfeit... STUDY & KNOW THE ORIGINAL TO BE SO FAMILIAR WITH IT THAT ANY SUBTLE DEVIATION FROM IT CAN BE EASILY DETECTED. 

People who are experts on historic documents, paintings, signatures and the like only study and become well-versed with the original. They become so familiar with how the original looks like that any subtle deviation from the original becomes easily apparent to them. 

That is how we spot a spiritual counterfeit as well. We ought to STUDY and become very familiar with the original source of TRUTH, and that is the Word of God. The Bible tells us this:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God
a workman that needeth not to be ashamed
rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

In order for us to know how to spot a spiritual fake, the Bible tells us that we must STUDY the Word of Truth. 

Now many will try to tell us that they have the word of Truth, a revelation from God, or a divine appointed from God. So, we also must know where to get the Word of Truth! Well, here is what the Bible tells us:

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17)

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: 
the words that I speak unto youthey are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD
and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. (Psalm 18:30)

Every word of God is pure
he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. (Proverbs 30:5)
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, 
purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6)
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)

Today, we use a kind of light to check for counterfeit money. It is the quickest way to check for fakes and everything is exposed the moment it is exposed to this light. 

Spiritual counterfeits can also be easily exposed through the Light. And if you wonder what light exposes fake spirits, listen to what the Bible says...

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Beloved, TEST everything against the perfect and pure Word of God. Do not rely on the words of mere man. Study the Word of God always in order to equip yourself with the TRUTH!

Come to the LIGHT of His Word to expose what is not true! Get in the habit of TESTING EVERYTHING as they come your way! 

In the end, if someone comes to you claiming to have authority over things including the "interpretation" of God's Word, keep in mind this one important reminder from the LORD...

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in prices. (Psalm 118:8-9)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

STUDY The Word of God

Isn't it amazing that the Word of God provokes us to STUDY HIS WORD? Many of us go through life thinking that the sermons we listen to on Sundays are enough for us to get by the rest of the week.

We don't even realize that by relying solely on what others teach, we have placed ourselves in the spot of being deceived. The Word of God tells us to TEST EVERYTHING AGAINST SCRIPTURE. How then will we KNOW if something is against God's Word if we DON'T READ GOD'S WORD IN THE FIRST PLACE???

Beloved, God's Word COMMANDS US TO STUDY! The root word used here is spoudazó and it means to "give diligence", to be EAGER and ZEALOUS about it!

Aren't you EAGER and ZEALOUS for TRUTH? I believe most people are! But we seek for the TRUTH in all the WRONG PLACES!!! We run to self-help books, listen to inspirational speakers, seek for it in various experiences in life that may touch the spiritual and mystic areas therein. Oh, but beloved, here is the ONLY PLACE we all can find TRUTH ---> John 17:17 ♥

Scripture says we should STUDY that we may have NO CAUSE TO BE ASHAMED and we study by rightly dividing (or properly and accurately handling) the WORD OF TRUTH! TAKE NOTE, God's Word didn't say by rightly dividing the self-help books and topics we can find out there, or rightly dividing the teachings of whoever is teaching something out there. It says rightly dividing THE WORD OF TRUTH... which is????? (drum roll please...) John 17:17!!! ♥

Lastly, how are we to know exactly HOW to ACCURATELY HANDLE Scripture when we DO decide to study it already? Aaaah, the answer to everything lies in God's Word...

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5, KJV)

"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." (Hebrews 8:10-11, KJV)

Beloved, are you going to listen AND OBEY? Or will you continue to believe in the lies of the devil to KEEP YOU AWAY FROM THE TRUTH IN GOD's WORD? Let me leave you with Joshua's call... "CHOOSE ye this day WHOM YE WILL SERVE..."

Blessings! ♥

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Choices We Make

The options we have in life
Many of us encounter the Lord Jesus Christ in the middle of everything we have going on in life. God has that ability to meet us smack dab in the middle of our busyness in "living" to offer us an invitation that leaves us with only TWO choices to consider. 

We oftentimes see how Jesus offers an individual these choices when one encounters Him. His usual invitation is the simple phrase, "Come follow Me." But such is an invitation that is easier "heard than obeyed." Many of us find it too difficult to choose to follow Christ because of the high cost of following the Savior. But if we truly sit down and consider the options we have, we will soon realize that we have the best chance with what Christ has in store for us!

Option #1: PERFECTION!
The rich young man in Matthew 19 who approached Jesus asking Him about having eternal life was serious with his query. In simpler terms we put it as a query on how to "get to heaven." I totally understand why of all questions he could ask the Lord this was the one he came up with. Who doesn't want to get to heaven, anyway? 

Majority of the people you meet in this life would always want to be in that better place. They would usually want to know HOW to eventually end up in that perfect place of bliss. And so this rich young man had raised up a very important question that we all would like to know the answer to.

Jesus didn't hesitate to uphold God's Law as soon as He replied. He immediately told the young man about following God's commandments. I truly find it impressive, though, that the young man responded by saying he's done everything that was written in the Law since his childhood. I mean, I'm not even close to keeping HALF of them! Now this young man had done it! Listen to what he said, 
"All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" (Matthew 19:20)

I am sure that Jesus, being Omniscient, knew just that. But I believe the Savior deliberately started off with God's commandments in order to present to the young man a Truth that we all must encounter in our lifetime. Jesus wasn't impressed with what "good works" we are able to do in life. It isn't enough to get us eternal life! Jesus stressed the fact that IF indeed we rely on our own good works, we MUST be PERFECT in every way with it! Just listen to what he said in reply,

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:21-22, KJV)

You see, beloved, heaven is a perfect place which requires us to BE PERFECT in order for us to be there! God's ways are perfect. His ways are pure. There is no hint of imperfection anywhere around Him. And so we MUST become perfect, too, if we long to be in that place with Him. 

The young man was a good person, no doubt about that! But he wasn't perfect because HE STILL LACKED something. He needed to be PERFECT in every way in order to get to heaven.

And one thing more, the Word of God has to say this about the Law...

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight
for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20)

Option #2: Follow Jesus
Unfortunately for all of us, nobody is perfect. The Bible clearly tells us that we ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God! (see Romans 3:23) And no matter how much we try to be GOOD and do all the works of righteousness in this lifetime, the taint of sin in our lives makes our good works still stand as FILTHY RAGS before the throne of the PERFECTLY HOLY GOD! (see Isaiah 64:6)

What then is our hope, you ask? Well, the hope we have lies in the very words of Jesus as He replied to the rich young man. "
"Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."
Jesus didn't say to the guy go and sell all that you have and give to the poor in order for you to have eternal life. He said go and sell and give in order for you to have treasure in heaven. The "good works" we do to others doesn't really GET US TO HEAVEN. We may have a reward waiting in heaven BUT it is NEVER the way to have eternal life!!! What is THE WAY? I'm glad you asked...
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: 
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)
Are you seeing this, beloved? Jesus clearly tells us that the only way to get to heaven, to have eternal life is THROUGH HIM. That is why all this time He's been telling people everywhere, "Come follow me!" What will your response be?

Tough choices
The young man found that option too costly for him. He realized he couldn't let go of what he has in life in order to follow the Savior. You see, when we make a choice, we only take ONE option. We can never choose both. 

When we encounter the Truth of the Savior being the ONLY Way to the Father, we have to make a tough decision. Should we go on with what we're so used to, trying hard to do it OUR WAY and be as good as we can be but still come short of perfection? Or should we drop everything we are so accustomed to and leave all that behind in order to follow Jesus Christ?

Tough decision? Yes. Impossible to make the right one? No. 

There's a LOT of people in Jesus' time who encountered him and came to heed His invitation IMMEDIATELY! No questions asked, no bargaining done. And there are some today who, by the Grace of God, are able to SEE the ONLY HOPE we have in Christ and without hesitation drop everything to follow the Savior.

Take the brothers James and John. The sons of Zebedee were among the first disciples called out by Jesus (see Matthew 4:21-22). They were fishermen and on the day that they encountered Jesus, they were with their father mending their nets. I learned that nets only need mending after a great harvest, so this family must have had a good-standing fishing business in Galilee.

Now I truly believe they were a well-off family, too. Why? Because the Bible gives us the impression that they must have owned the boat. When the brothers followed the Lord, their father Zebedee was left with the "hired men" working for them (see Mark 1:20).

Same invitation, same class in life, totally different response. The Bible tells us that they immediately left the ship and their father and followed Jesus (see Matthew 4:22). They dropped their nets, which I bet was pretty much their family's symbol of everything at that time, and followed Jesus. They left their father behind, who I bet was one of the most important people in their lives, and they followed Him. No second thinking. No doubts about the Savior.

What about you, beloved? What do you have in your life that is making it difficult for you to follow Jesus? What is it that you hold dear that is keeping you from following the LORD? Who is it that you treasure the most that you are unwilling to leave behind in order to follow the ONLY way to the Father in heaven?

We all are "rich" with something  just like the young man who approached Jesus. We can be rich with material stuff for one, but we can also be "rich" with the traditions we've been accustomed to, or the teachings of belief systems that we've held dear for so long. We can be "rich" with relationships that we may tend to value more than the relationship we can have with the Savior. 

Just remember, beloved, we only have TWO CHOICES. Don't wait until it's too late. As Joshua said, "Choose ye THIS DAY whom ye will serve..." Tomorrow may already be too late.


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