Knowing the Counterfeit
2 Peter 2:1-11
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. [2 Peter 2:1]
The best way to spot a counterfeit is to know the real. This is a principle that the Christian should apply to every wind of doctrine that comes through the church. Know and handle the real [every day] so that you can spot the counterfeit.
This is what 2 Peter 1 described. The key theme is knowledge: Spirit-filled knowledge of God, and knowing God. It is from the Scriptures that we come to “know of” God and then the Spirit comes upon us to “know Him” intimately. These are two powerful aspects of knowledge that help us identify false teaching.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you,…” These are Peter’s last words in the cannon of Scripture, and note that they are warnings against “destructive heresies.” In fact the rest of the New Testament through Jude will be dominated by this topic. False teachers and false doctrines will escalate before Christ’s Return, and we see it more than ever before today.
Remember that a counterfeit looks like the real. He walks and talks like a real shepherd. He may come with 90 percent truth, yet that 10 percent is what leads to destruction. Notice, though, that Peter identifies their great flaw: “By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words” [v.3]. They are covetous; they are driven by their own desires, exploiting others while using deception to fulfill their goals.
Here is a test that can be applied. Observe their motives. Are they rooted in God or self? Applying some Spirit-filled observation on this level will make it clear.
Beware of those who think highly of themselves; their verbiage is “what I’ve done for God.” That is backwards. Beware of those who like to be up front and visible; the center of attention. Those are seeds of counterfeit. They are the markings of a false servant.
John the Baptist said it best, “He [Christ] must increase, but I must decrease.” [Jn 3:30] This is the true DNA of a servant, one who preaches, teaches, and leads with humility.