North Santa Rosa

Living with Purpose

There’s an old saying I find to hold truth: “The expert in anything was once a beginner.” You have to start somewhere and any knowledge learned along the way can help when getting to the bottom of things. Our new insights to truth often come by way of our mistakes, misfortunes, and believing in something that really wasn’t real in the first place.

After a presentation on the U.S. Secret Service, one of my criminology professors at F.S.U. was asked by a student: “Sir, what would you advise us to study in order to be able to distinguish the real thing from a counterfeit?” To the surprise of my classmate the professor replied, “Study the real thing. When a man or woman is being trained as a counterfeit expert, he/she concentrates only on the real currency. They familiarize themselves with the minutest details. By doing this their eye is sensitive to the slightest deviation. Ask any secret service agent who investigates counterfeiting. The weight of the paper, the fibers of the paper, the way the ink bleeds into the bill; all these things and more give its unique characteristics. These things will stand-out to the one who really is familiar with the real thing.” Twenty years later I realize how this relates to spiritual matters and counterfeit Christianity.

It’s important to understand the devil counterfeits the real. A person can spend their whole life studying counterfeit religions; looking at every cult, “ism”, secret society, and false religion that poses as an authentic faith. The same time spent studying the truth of the Bible will pay vastly greater dividends and make you an expert counterfeit spotter. In so doing, the most subtle flaws will be apparent to you. Your trained mind, being illuminated by the Holy Spirit, will react like a Geiger counter or an alarm. The occult and other various religious sects have very obvious and apparent ideas and beliefs that are contrary to God’s Word. False teaching leaders are very good at selling their propaganda. A distorted truth can be very convincing when it is portrayed by a tool of the devil. Many people are used by Satan to fulfill his work. Some are unaware of their position in Satan’s plan while others know exactly what they’re doing and they lead others astray by convincing words and outward signs of power. The devil doesn’t want you to know the “real thing”; God and His Word. He’ll keep you busy so you’ll have many, many excuses for not going to church and reading your Bible.

The Bible says in Revelation 12:9, “So the great dragon was cast out of heaven…called the devil and Satan, who deceives the world.” Satan tries to deceive all of us. He plays upon our desires; he uses our weaknesses, and tries to take advantage. Satan has not given up in his effort to spread a false Christianity, a false gospel, and a false Christ. It’s always been this way. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 says, “Eve was fooled by the snake in the Garden of Eden. In the same way, I am afraid that you will be fooled and led away…you listen when someone comes and preaches a different Jesus than the One we preached. You believe what you hear about a different spirit and different Good News that we peached.” The devil masquerades as an “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). He is the god of this world, and he is the father of lies. But thanks be to God, the Lord would not have it that any of His children would fall prey to the convincing, twisted-truth of false teachers. The Christians who take their faith serious and are discerning will recognize the one who speaks a different gospel other than Christ. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of daily Bible reading and your involvement in personal Bible study at home and in a New Testament church.

Bible missionaries Paul and Silas went to Berea and the Bible says they found a group of people that were glad to hear the Word of God, and the people looked into the Holy Writings to see if those things were true (Acts 17:10-11). Be like the Bereans. Read the Bible. Hear what it says. Be hungry for the truth. Test all things according to the Scriptures (1 Thess. 5:21). Examine yourselves; why do you believe what you do? Whose interpretation is it— a friends, your teachers, your professors, or a preacher? God warns us against following after those that pervert the truth of God’s Word. The Bible says, “There are those who would like to lead you in the wrong way. They want to change the Good News about Christ to fit their agenda” (Gal. 1:6-7).

Some keys to discovering false teaching: 1) False teachers are lawless. Their schemes are for their own gain. They live a lie; always leaving some partial truth in what they say and do just enough to make it sound good. They make things seem right and they can deceive even a true believer at times, but not forever. When a false teacher comes in the name of the Lord, in the end, his/her true self will be revealed and exposed and those who follow will suffer the consequences. 2) Be on guard. A false teacher hides their intent and shifts blame. It maybe months; it may take years of deceit, but it will come out. You may fool some people some of the time, but not everybody all the time. Some people can spot a false teacher before others. 3) A false teacher lacks discipline and takes shortcuts. He will find a way to push-through an obstacle no matter what the cost. This kind of person is driven by power and greed. This characteristic involves a need to always go higher, to get bigger, to do something new and different and he plays on the sentiment of others. God does not intend for us to stay on a high emotional ride. The low times, the common ordinary days, the valleys are where our faith and convictions are tested and put into action.

In the final analysis, it is the truth of God’s Word that will convict and convince any honest seeker. I trust you have committed yourself to the Lord. I trust you will make yourself aware that false teachers are real and that we must filter all things through God’s grid system and not those that claim to know all the truth and say all the things we want to hear. Be faithful and trust God.

This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on May 5 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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