Why are there so many fake/counterfeit Christians?
A Christian can be defined as a person who has, by faith, received and fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only savior from sin (John 3:16-18; Acts 4:10-12; 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). And in the heart of the Christian resides the Spirit of Christ (Ephesians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 8:11).” Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he/she does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9), and this person, then, is not a Christian. So in reality, the terms fake/counterfeit Christian is a misnomer. You are a Christian or you are not a Christian; one is either with God or against God (Matthew 12:30).
This question is certainly a legitimate one. And this is due to the behavior of some true Christians, and because of the behavior of many who think they are Christians or profess to be Christians, but who are not. The reasons many believe they are true Christians when they are not are many and varied. The false teaching from the different gospel that is so prevalent these days is certainly the one major reason.
The gospel in the western world has gradually been changed over the past 50 (or more) years so that what is believed to be the gospel today is no longer the true gospel but a false gospel which differs substantially and dramatically from the true gospel. But because the changes have been brought in gradually (incremental progression), no one seems to have noticed.
So, how does the modern gospel differ from the gospel of Jesus Christ? It differs in that Christ is no longer the center and object of the message but MAN is. It is no longer the gospel of Christ, it is the gospel of SELF, and it is another gospel entirely. Just think about how the gospel is communicated. Those who preach the modern gospel talk about YOU, God’s plan for YOU, how much He loves YOU, how YOU can be happy and fulfilled. How He wants to bless and prosper YOU, and cause YOU to fulfill YOUR destiny. While many of these things are true, the emphasis is in the wrong place. These preachers feel the need to sell people the benefits of salvation and so it becomes a man – centered message.
Right through the book of Acts we find that the early church preached “Jesus the Christ’. That was their message beginning at Pentecost (Acts 2:22-24) and ending at the last verse (Acts 28:31). There are different gospels that each present a different Jesus. Paul warned the church at Corinth that there would be another gospel (2 Corinthians 11:1-4; cf. Galatians 1:6-10). On the surface this other gospel and Jesus appear very much like the real gospel and the real Jesus, but they are counterfeits empowered by a very different spirit – “the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:1, 3; James 3:13-17; 1 Timothy 4:1).
The gospel of Christ and the gospel of SELF have different messages: the object of the first is Jesus Christ, His person, His work and His glory. The object of the second message is SELF , this message concentrates on what MAN can get from God and how everything Christ has done and does, revolves around blessing MAN. Responses to these gospels produce dramatically different results. The gospel of Christ is unpopular and few respond to it while the gospel of SELF is popular and many flock to it (Matthew 7:13-15).
They also produce very different attitudes in their followers. Those who obey the Gospel of Christ worship Him, and their lives and doctrine revolve around Him – they are Christ – centered. Those who choose the gospel of SELF worship themselves and their lives revolve around themselves – they are self-centered. “Not only do these messages produce very different followers, but they produce entire congregations that are either SELF-centered or Christ-centered”.
These differences are more than a slight difference in emphasis. They are complete opposites. The true gospel produces repentance and faith in Christ alone. The gospel of SELF produces spiritual arrogance and SELF-righteousness. The gospel of Christ leads to eternal life. While the gospel of SELF leads to eternal damnation. The majority of those who have been attracted by the gospel of SELF are not saved – they have put their trust in a false message with a false savior, and not in the Christ of the bible. When churches fail to teach sound doctrine, the end result will be members who do not know the truth of God’s Word (as it is written and correctly interpreted). How can they keep in step with the Spirit, when the truth is not in them? (Galatians 5:24; 2 Timothy 4:1-4)
The clear teaching of the bible is that when someone is saved his/her life will most definitely change as he/she is a new creation (a Christ creation), the old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 8:28-29; Ephesians 4:24). A true born again believer will strive to bring glory and honor to Christ by living a life that is pleasing to God (1 Peter 1:15-16, 4:1-4). The natural out-growth of true saving faith will be fruit produced by the Spirit of God that will result in good works in the life of the believer (Galatians 5:22; James 2:17, 26). Thus if there is no fruit of the spirit in one’s life a careful self examination is certainly called for (2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Peter 1:1-12). Any profession of faith that does not result in a changed life and the fruit of the Spirit of Christ is a false profession and such a person is not a true Christian.
The scriptures also speak about people who call Jesus Lord, appear to have the credentials of a Christian, but are told by Jesus. “I never knew you, depart from me (Matthew 7:21-23). And in the book of James we are told about a dead faith that is unable to save (James 2:14).
Throughout the New Testament there is a recurring pattern that Jesus and the apostles lay down for differentiating a true believer from a fake/counterfeit believer: examine the quality and consistency of fruit that a life displays.Examine the back and forth contrasts made in these three example passages that speak to the evidences of true saving faith and that which is fake/counterfeit: (Matthew 7:16-20; Luke 3:8-9; John 15:1-6, 16).
You’ll find the same things stated many more times in the gospels. Jesus talks of four soils, only one of which produces fruit (Matthew 13:23); Jesus tells the religious leaders that the kingdom would be taken from them and given to a people who are producing the fruit of it (Matthew 21:43); Christ speaks in a parable of the a fig tree that would be cut down if it did not produce fruit (John 15:16).
The rest of the New Testament contains similar statements. For example, Paul says we are saved in order to bear fruit for God (Romans 7:4), the writer of Hebrews tells us that a good ground that brings forth a useful harvest “receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and ends up being burned” (Hebrews 6:7-8), and Jude speaks about fake believers who are “autumn tress without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted”(Jude 12).
Time and time again the bible describes the primary difference between genuine and counterfeit believers being the fruit seen in the life of the person. Is it the fruit of the CHRIST life or the fruit of the SELF life?