Beware a Spiritual Counterfeit! (7-2-17)

Piracy has long been an illegal, lucrative business that thrives from counterfeit merchandise. The success of the pirate’s con depends heavily on how accurate he is able to imitate the genuine article he seeks to sell. The con artist will only escape with his deceit if he has a detailed eye and a steady patience when creating the copy from the original. Although it is undisputed that this crime is wrong and sinful, one can learn from their ability to keenly observe the original pattern that they intend to replicate. Needless to say that this due diligence must be exercised in a godly manner, bearing forth good fruit. Observe that the success of the con artist is measured by how well his lie is perceived as truth. It is a wonderful virtue to be able to emulate good habits with such an astounding accuracy, but when this virtue is applied to deceive a person due to selfish gain, the virtue is corrupted by the user. Inexorably, those who master the art of lying are children of “your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do…for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). From the very beginning, Satan has made several attempts of usurping the sovereignty of God. The prophet Isaiah provides a glimpse of the tragic fall of Lucifer in his prophecy against the king of Babylon. In his allegoric allusion, the Divinely inspired prophet illuminates that Lucifer’s downward spiral began when he foolishly proclaimed “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14). If we use our proverbial magnifying glass, we will make the astonishing discovery that Satan became the father of lies by deceiving himself first. Observe how confident he was in his triumph over God. Five times we read Lucifer saying “I will,” arrogantly guaranteeing his victory in his conquest of becoming God. Sadly, Holy Writ reveals that his delusion became contagious among heaven’s angels “and war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought” (Revelation 12:7). In political science, there is a cardinal rule that has been very effective by the politicians who utilize it. The rule is, “say it enough times, and it shall become true.” Undeniably, this strategy was created and implemented first by the fallen angel himself. Once more, it is wise not to ignore the audacity with which he convinced himself and those angles who followed him that he would be victorious against the Almighty. Hence, the logic behind Christ’s wisdom in revealing that he who avidly and voluntarily practices lying is an offspring of the devil. Satan’s insatiable thirst for God’s throne did not end after his utter defeat in heaven. Still today, the devil seeks to supplant God’s sovereignty for his. Since he was unsuccessful in heaven, however, he now strives to do so here on earth. In the first recorded encounter between Jesus and Satan here on earth, Scripture manifests Satan’s insatiability once more. In his attempt to lure Jesus into sin via temptation, “the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-9). The cruelty of Satan’s ambition is visible in two aspects presented by this inspired pericope of Scripture. First, his implication that the world belonged to him and that he could do with it as he so desired. He was well aware of the purpose for Jesus descending to earth, therefore he mockingly “dangled” that which Christ came to redeem as his prized, stolen possession. Secondly, he openly reveals his strong desire to be worshiped by God Himself and his bitter motivation of wanting to humiliate Him. Notice that for Satan, the Master worshiping him was not enough. Instead, he tells the Lord to “fall down and worship me.” He wanted the Redeemer to bow to him; an action that was taken by a conquered king who relinquished his authority over to the triumphant king and pledged his loyalty and submission to him. This again displays Satan’s premature proclamation of victory against Jesus as he did so the first time he was defeated by God in heaven. The devil was assuring Jesus that He would not be able to defeat him on earth as He did so in heaven, since the world (according to him) was already his. Woefully, the devil once more became entangled in his own web of lies. Returning our attention to the devil’s offspring, it is wise to acknowledge these similar traits in them. Remember that the Serpent is the father of lies, and the best in creating an illusion to appear as reality. Although the Savior has once again defeated Satan here on earth (Hebrews 2:14-15), he persists in his quest of being accepted as a god. Because this is so, Satan has become his own false idol. Those cataloged by Jesus as children of the devil are also revealed by Paul as one “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2nd Thessalonians 2:4). Similar to the Master’s revelation, Paul substantiates that this attitude of self-worship “is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders and with unrighteous deception among those who perish” (2nd Thessalonians 2:9-10). It is important to realize that in this passage, the apostle is describing the Antichrists, also known as false teachers. Like their father, they deceive the world with their doctrines that has an appearance of godliness, but are poisonous in nature. This is what makes these men and women highly dangerous if left unchecked. We must not forget that Lucifer was able to trick a multitude of angles who were with God already in heaven by assuring them that he could win. These spiritual pirates, too, have counterfeited the Gospel of Christ skillfully. Because this has been so from the very beginning, God commands all men to “test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1st Thessalonians 5:21-22). The surest way to know if a product is genuine or fake, is to compare it with the original. The most intricate counterfeits will always give themselves away in the subtle changes from the original. This is especially true when it pertains to God’s worship. Thus, it is imperative to make sure that it is truly God we are worshiping, and not the devil. After all, the devil is in the details.

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