Examine yourself and see if you are in faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – 2 Corinthians 13:5
Self examination and contemplating our own standing in Christ is one of the most difficult thing for a believer to do. We often are led by our fleshly nature to contemplate and examine others and end up judging them wrongly or at the most rightly with a right intent. It is very rare, if not never, that we would like to examine our own faith through the life that we live. The litmus test for a true progress, or even to know our standing in Christ, is only the word of God.
Many times Christians rely on their feelings or emotions in different situations to know whether they are in Christ or growing in Christ. But feeling and emotions can be from the flesh and deceptive. I have noticed when people from other faiths go for a pilgrimage journey or spend time in the temple or mosque, they too return with an emotional feeling of peace and satisfaction as if they were in the presence of God. They feel peace and calm in their soul, though for a time or season. The experience they share about what they feel during such scenarios, is as good as when a Christian goes through a similar emotional feeling. Its sad to notice that many Christians too go through similar superficial, induced feelings, mostly on Sundays. I don’t mean to disregard or confuse it with the true encouragement that the Holy Spirit gives but a sure sign that it may not be from the Holy Spirit is to look into our lives the rest of the week, the way we live and conduct ourselves.
Thus it becomes important that we test or examine our faith with the scriptures as a litmus test to know whether we are in Christ and growing. Bible testifies of itself in, 2 Tim 3: 16-17 that, “16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Bible is not only the source but it is also our standard by which we should examine our lives.
Why should we examine ourselves?
Firstly, examining ourselves is not a one time act but a life time process. In 2 Cor 13: 5, you will notice that Apostle Paul is putting a question to the believers, “Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” Here Paul is asking about the continuous indwelling of Jesus Christ in a believer, which is a sure sign of true and living faith. Paul is not asking here do you not realize that Jesus Christ came into your heart once upon a time. This is very important for us to understand, as many in Christendom believes that inviting Jesus Christ into your life once in your life time is enough for you as a believer.
Secondly, Its a commandment given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. How do we know that its a commandment? Paul is giving double emphasize to the word examine, that is examine and test. Which could mean to contemplate with your mind/discern and test through your actions, the choices we make in our life’s situations, in light of the scriptures really tests our faith. Paul was surely expressing its importance and urgency, in a believer’s life, to the church of Corinthians. Though Paul addresses this to the believers at Corinthians, but it is still as important and urgent for the Christians in this generation to take heed and comply, so was it in all the generations gone by. I believe Paul was inspired by James, from the epistle written to the church at Jerusalem and especially the verse, James ch 1: 3-4, which states that, “3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Not only was it urgent and important when James took the leadership of the Church at Jerusalem but also was it important and urgent when Paul wrote the epistle of 2nd Corinthians.
Counterfeit faiths in Bible
Therefore, it is very important for us to Examine and Test ourselves, as to whether or not we are actually in the faith. This should not come as a surprise to us, because according to scriptures, there are at least 7 types of Counterfeit or fake “Faith”. In this article I am going to try and explain you these 7 Counterfeit faiths given in the Bible, which can be used for us to understand what true faith is and what true faith is not. It helps us a great deal to understand something better when we also understands what it is not. It clears the confusion, I hope these counterfeit faiths given in Bible will be an eye opener for you and you will be able to compare and contemplate your own faith with these to check if you have a genuine faith. Here are the 7 counterfeit faiths for you. We will also look into what genuine or true faith is in the next article, which is a continuation of this article.
1) Betrayer/Judas Faith
As the name suggests, betrayer faith is faith of Judas when he followed Lord Jesus Christ as one of the chosen 12 disciples of Jesus Christ. Though he followed Jesus Christ in His ministries, but Judas never understood why messiah had come to the world. Judas never believed Jesus Christ as the Lord and he was also in the circle of disciples with selfish and ulterior motives, so much so that he betrayed Jesus Christ with 30 silver coins. Jesus knew that Judas will betray Him, as Jesus states in John Ch 13: 10-11. Jesus knew that Judas’ faith was not a true faith. Jesus also knew apart from Judas there are others too who followed and had faith in Jesus as the way Judas had, mentioned in John Ch 6:64. This is as good as betrayal nature of Judas.
2) Dead Faith
James, half brother of Jesus talks or addresses about this particular faith in his epistle, in James Ch 2: 14-26. Here James is stating that true faith should be active producing fruits of obedience to God’s work. Thus the only evidence of true faith in a professing Christians life is their work. In verse, 18 James writes, But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. James was implying here that it is impossible for a believer to show his faith without or apart from his works. Thus, James goes further to write “I will show you my faith by my works.” In conclusion to this chapter James ends it by writing in verse, 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James implies here that a true faith is living and produces fruit of good works in a believer’s life. He compares it with body and the spirit and how a body is dead without spirit. A living body moves, walks, responds and has its all senses active, which gives us the evidence of the life/spirit in that body, external evidence of the internal substance. So anyone who doesn’t obey and follow Christ in his/her life must examine if the faith they are claiming to have is living and active or a dead faith. We see scriptures also saying in Hebrews 5: 9, note here that the Hebrew writer says that Jesus has become source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. True faith or belief in Jesus Christ produces loyalty and obedience to Him. Jesus also said, in John 14: 15, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. How is it possible then that, we love someone but doesn’t do what he says.
3) Demon Faith
Bible tells us that demons also believes Jesus Christ as the Son of God, not only believes but also trembles. But the demons faith is a faith that knows the truth of God but has no personal reliance on God nor do they believe in God. There is a huge difference to believe that God is, and to believe in Him. Believing in Him calls for you to fully trust in Him, trusting yourself to God’s hand. James, in James Ch 2:19 , in context of explaining true faith gives example of demons that, demons also believes that not only God is one but Jesus is the son of God as mentioned in Matthew ch 8:29. Thus Bible is revealing us that such faith is a counterfeit faith. Christians need to examine their lives and check if they really believe in God with genuine faith or believes God just like demons (the fallen angels who has rebelled against God) believe.
4) Miracle/Sign Faith
This is the type of counterfeit faith that is selfish and shallow. Many word of faith ministers and their followers are trapped and deceived by this kind of false faith. In Bible we see plenty of miracles, which is done by God through men of God both in OT & NT. However, these miracles has certain character and pattern. The miracles and signs that God shows in Bible are radical, instant and powerful. Thus it is important for Christians to be able to discern true miracles from false show of miracles.
However, important thing to notice is, that Bible never focuses on miracle or signs as a litmus test for one’s true faith. We can see from scriptures that Jesus often kept Himself away from those who was following Him because of miracles and wonders and not following because He is God in flesh. We see in John Ch 2: 23-25, Jesus name was spreading across Israel because of the signs and wonders He was showing to people. But notice here the verse says that, Jesus knew very well what is in the heart of man and did not entrust Himself to them. Its quite stark or contrast when we see that Jesus Himself approaches and welcomes those who genuinely believed in Him, as the Messiah and wanted to glorify His name because He is their King, like the example of Lazarus who was called friend of Jesus. We see another example of one who believed, in order that he may acquire power to be able to perform signs and miracles, was Simon the magician in Act ch 8: 9-23.
We as Christians especially those who believe that one who has true faith must be able to perform the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit like speaking in tongue, heal or prophesy should be careful and examine their faith, whether they are having a genuine faith that seeks to glorify God than emphasize on miracles and wonders.
5) Professing But Not Possessing Faith
As the name suggests, this is a counterfeit faith in which the professing Christian merely professes his faith in Christ but he/she really doesn’t possess the faith they profess about. Its quite difficult for a person to examine other and say whether one has been deceived to just have a professing faith but not possessing faith.
Bible gives example of such faith and warns us, a person can examine his/her own life to check if they are the one who falls in this category of counterfeit faith. Warning against such faith comes out of the mouth of our Lord Himself, in Matthew ch 7: 21-23, you will notice in the verse the Jesus was talking about people who professed to be Christians and believing in Lord Jesus Christ, they had also performed miracles and wonders in the name of Jesus Christ, but to such Jesus says ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquities.’ Notice in this portion that Jesus declares who is the one who had true faith in verse 21, the one who believes not only Jesus Christ as Lord but also does the will of His Father who is in heaven shall enter the kingdom of God and not one who says or profess with their mouth Jesus as Lord but their heart is far away from the Father and His precepts. Similar expression we find in Luke 13: 23-27, a second warning from our Lord.
Apostle Paul reiterates the same thing that Jesus spoke in Titus ch 1:16, where he is so clear that there are people who are having such counterfeit faiths in Christian churches, Paul writes about such that, they profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. Thus it is important that the faith that we profess to have should also abide in our hearts, which produces fruits of good works as we saw earlier.
6) Rootless/Temporary Faith
An alternate word for us to understand this kind of counterfeit faith is a shallow faith, which is not deep. A shallow water puddle will dry up within few minutes when the sun comes out. Likewise for a tree to be stronger and for it to produce good fruits, its root must reach to the deepest parts of the earth to find and absorb the required nutrients for the tree to grow. If you notice the stronger a tree is, deeper and wider is its roots, so much so that if we measure the length of the roots, it will be longer than the tree itself.
In Scriptures, Jesus gives us the illustration of this counterfeit faith with an example of the seed that falls on the rocky ground, in Luke ch 8:13. Such are the people who shows the sign of believing in Jesus Christ, with joy the receive the truth, but they just believe for a while and in the time when their faith is tested, they fall away.
Jesus also claims, that such plants which has no root or is temporary will be rooted up, in Matthew ch 15:13, in times of testing. We need to examine our lives and check if we are one of them, who is rootless, who has no deeper desire for God, for knowing Him and His word.
7) Taster Faith
This is a faith in which a person becomes an apostate, such people were once enlightened by the word of God, or that’s what was appeared through their lives. They had experienced the heavenly gifts and goodness of the word of God but have fallen away. They publicly renounced their faith and rebels against the God that he/she believed, Hebrews ch 6: 4-6.
Such people Bible says, came out of the church but were never part of the church in the first place. There experience of salvation were false experience. They are like the gall which was mixed with wine, which was given to Jesus Christ when He was on the cross thirsting, but when He tasted it, He did not drink, Matthew ch 27:34.
Even apostle Paul write in 1 Cor ch 12:13, For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. But such people though were part of all these experience through the visible church, he ends up rebelling against God. For such there is no repentance, who openly renounces God’s Grace over once own life.
In Conclusion we need to understand that Bible has laid enough and more examples of people who professed or showed they believed and were saved but end up miserably in their life. This has been given for us to see, learn and know what lies ahead for us.
I hope this article will help you greatly to get yourself back to Christ and live a life with True and living faith.