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Countering Counterfeit Christianity

It is a common misconception that Satan hates religion.  If that were the case, he wouldn’t have been the driving force behind over 4,000 false religions.  Yes, Satan loves religion, particularly when he can use it to counterfeit the truth of God’s Word and manufacture empty ritualistic faiths that are devoid of the soul-saving gospel. 


In his book “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”, C I Scofield warned that the church turned away from its appointed pathway of separation, holiness, heavenliness and testimony and instead appointed itself to the work of civilizing the world, building magnificent temples and acquiring earthly power and wealth.  This was not the commission of the church.  But as Oswald Chambers once aptly pointed out, “Satan’s great aim is to cause us to be devoted to the death to any cause, any enterprise, to anything but the Lord Jesus.” 


You see, many churches congratulate themselves on not being persecuted by the enemy.  Perhaps that is because they are no threat to him.  After all, if you are not in collision with the devil, you may well be in collusion with him.  Satan figured out long ago that he could never destroy the church.  He does more harm by imitation than outright opposition and he achieves much in this world by peddling false doctrine under the banner of counterfeit Christianity.  As Vance Havner used to say, “The devil is not fighting religion; he is too smart for that.  He is producing a counterfeit Christianity so much like the real one that good Christians are afraid to speak out against it.”  Part of that strategy involves planting counterfeit preachers in the pulpits.  Adrian Rogers once said, “When you look for the devil, never fail to look in the pulpit.”  That is a sobering thought.  All of us would love to think that every church was led by a godly man who has been called by God into that position and has consecrated himself to the Lord’s service.  However, I think it is apparent to all of us that there are many counterfeits who parade as godly men.   


In Satan’s counterfeit Christianity, he has promoted opulence instead of obedience; money instead of a message; grandeur instead of grace; popularity instead of passion.  A W Tozer used to say that he would rather preach to empty seats than betray the sheep of God.  False teachers have no such conscience.  As a result, every Sunday people are piling into centres of worship not to receive the tranquility of God’s grace and mercy but to be tranquilized by false doctrine.  It is in counterfeit Christianity where you can expect to be comfortable instead of convicted, soothed instead of sanctified and pampered instead of pricked.


Charles Spurgeon once said, “We shall not get back a strong race of Christians till we get back such a sturdy band of outspoken men as dare their reputation, if not their lives, upon the unvarnished testimony they give to the Truth they know, the Truth as it is in Jesus, the Truth as it burns in their own hearts and fires their tongues, the Truth as it commends itself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”  Notice the emphasis on truth!  Great heroes of the faith in the past have died for the cause of it.  But in our modern day, many believers don’t want to be inconvenienced by defending it. 


A soldier who jumped behind enemy lines in Germany was told to be careful.  “You are surrounded by Germans”, he was told.  His response was, “We’re paratroopers behind enemy lines – we’re supposed to be surrounded.”  The paratroopers had battlefield situational awareness – they knew their mission, they knew the danger and they weren’t surprised when they had contact with the enemy.  The Bible is very clear about what we can expect in the Christian life.  Yet, many are surprised when they suffer the onslaught of the spiritual battle, thinking that Christianity is supposed to promise a stable life, good home, nice family and few problems.  That may be the focus of counterfeit Christianity, but the real deal requires sacrifice and our engagement in spiritual warfare.


C T Studd, who wrote “The Chocolate Soldier” said that God’s people ought to be soldiers, but many are chocolate soldiers: sweet but not strong and when the fire comes, they melt away.  Compare their disposition to that of Alexander the Great.  During an intense battle, he was told there were hundreds of thousands of Persians.  He replied, “But one butcher doesn’t fear hundreds of sheep.”  “But,” said one of his officers, “when the Persians draw their bows, their arrows are so numerous they darken the sun.”  “Well, it will be nice to fight in the shade,” said Alexander.  


To the outside world, counterfeit Christians are difficult to identify.  However, to the remnant church, they are as plain as the day.  Most notably, they are unwilling to suffer for Jesus.  How different their attitude is to those who gave their reputations and even their lives for their Saviour. 


May I end by saying this.  Counterfeit Christians often use Jesus Christ for personal gain.  But in Biblical Christianity we gladly suffer loss in order to glorify Christ. 

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