Counterfeit Caution: Clothed vs. Costumed
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them…" Matthew 7:15-16a
As Fall festivals, trunk or treat events, and Halloween approaches we see people dressed up in costumes pretending to be superheroes, animals, movie, television, and other famous people and characters. There may be many that you easily recognize and a few that you might have to ask, “Who are you?” It can be cute to see young children play dress up and pretend to be someone or something they are not, but it is a completely different experience when we encounter adults in the workplace, relationships, or even ministry who are not really who they appear to be on the surface.
Jesus warned His followers of wolves in sheep’s clothing giving the discerning sign of their “fruit,” their actions, attitudes, and motivations that spring up in their character, conduct and conversations. Paul further equips us in Ephesians 4:1-3 by describing the worthy manner of one called by Christ.
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Romans 13:14 also helps us spot someone dressed to serve, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh."
Scripture reveals Satan’s playbook acting “like” God but out to steal, kill and destroy. Remember that the enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1Peter 5:8) is far inferior to the Lion of Judah who has given us victory and delivered us from the enemy. Be alert! Listen carefully to the words that people use as they describe themselves, their organization, opportunity, or even ministry. Are they speaking peace, strengthening unity, and walking in humility, or do you get whiffs of language that sounds more divisive or destructive? Carefully consider what they want to accomplish and how they want to accomplish it. Are they prayerful or prideful? Are they asking you to leave something or someone you know God led you to?
Be cautious and spend much time in prayer asking the Lord to reveal their hearts, and if He is calling you to yoke yourself with them in business, relationship, or ministry. Wait on the Lord and listen, do not be hurried or manipulated no matter how good the opportunity might look like on the surface; listen in the spirit. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 warns us, for “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
Satan specializes in counterfeits; looking and saying something “like” truth or a treat but discerning eyes and ears will pick up the trick. Like those who work to recognize counterfeit money; they spend a majority of their time handling real bills, becoming so familiar with the real thing that when a fake passes through their hands they recognize it immediately, or at least stop to take a closer look if anything feels or looks “off.” Know the character of someone clothed with Christ; what Christ said and the warning He gave before you get caught up with a counterfeit in a cleaver costume. Don’t get tricked by anything that at first glance might seem like a treat.
Lord, I seek Your will and only Your will for my life. I praise You and know Your attributes and authority. The enemy is not Your equal in any way but seeks to steal, kill, and destroy all that are Yours. Help me to clearly know the character and conduct of those who are clothed in You. Guard my heart and give me eyes to see and ears to catch the tricks of the enemy. Holy Spirit equip me to discern the schemes of Satan and to pray for those being used and held captive by him, but not to get entangled in their tricks. In Your victorious, trustworthy, unifying, Name we pray, Amen!
Serving Him with gladness,
President, National Day of Prayer Task Force