Summary: What is Genuine Christianity and what does it look like? Is there such a thing as Counterfeit Christianity? And how can we recognize the difference, in our own life and for our own protection in the lives of those who try to influence and lead us?
Discerning Genuine from Counterfeit Christianity
Genuine Christianity produces Courage
Counterfeit Christianity produces Insecurity
Genuine Christians are focused on Christ
Counterfeit Christians are focused on Self
Genuine Christianity results in Joy
Counterfeit Christianity results in Bitterness
Have you ever met someone who claimed to be a Christian, but their conduct made you wonder what it was that they truly believed?
One of the biggest turn offs for myself, and I am sure for many, is the apparent hypocrisy of those who claim to be Christians, but their lifestyle does not match their profession.
Now the reality is that we are all hypocrites to some degree because none of us are without sin.
But also true is that when a person puts their trust in Jesus as Savior, they are changed, and those changes WILL be evident in a persons’ life over the course of time.
It is impossible to come to Christ and not be changed.
So while we all can have areas where Christ is not done with us yet and continues to grow us and mature us, we will be different than we were.
And those differences will be visible over time.
The Bible tells us that Genuine Christians bear fruit and Jesus tells a parable that teaches us that we will be able to recognize false teachers by their fruit or their lack thereof.
So, today, we are going to learn how to discern the difference between Genuine Christianity and Counterfeit Christianity as we continue in our series in Acts called “The Church Unleashed.”
We are going to be reading in Acts 8:2-25 and see 2 men who claim the name of Christ with one of them being a Genuine Christian while the other is a Counterfeit Christian, at least at the time this story occurred. We will learn some things that are true about the Genuine and the counterfeit that will help us recognize where we are at in our own lives as well as in the lives of others.
So let’s see what we can learn as we read God’s word.
A quick background
Stephen has just been stoned to death by the Jews in Jerusalem and it goes on to say in
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.
4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is the divine power known as the Great Power." 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money 19 and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."
20 Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."