Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be one of those “A-list” celebrities whose every personal preference seems to be cataloged and marketed? Cameras capture every aspect of their lives, and it seems like everybody wants to be them. In case you tend to worry whether you’d be able to handle all that, let me put your mind at ease. Very few people in the world will ever know or care how you and I were dressed on our last public outing, or what kind of hair products we use, or whether we do “goat yoga.” In spite of that, let me assure you that lots of people out there want to be us.
A Different Objective ~
Even if we’re basically average and think we’re not all that special, somebody out there wants to be us so badly that they’re willing to break the law to do it. The difference in our case is that these folks have no desire to look like us physically or to be stuck with our set of natural talents and abilities. What they want is to claim that all those things that make us identifiably unique really belong to them. They want to use our name, our birthdate, any identifying numbers that relate to us, our financial and medical records, our social media profile, and anything else they can find. They basically want to claim to be us.
There’s a new victim of identity theft every two seconds, making it one of the most prevalent forms of larceny being perpetrated in today’s culture. Multiplied millions of attempts are made every day to access and retrieve almost any category of personal information about any of us. That information is then either used directly or sold to other people and used in every kind of unethical, deceptive, immoral and illegal means imaginable. In a culture becoming increasingly characterized by deceptive practices, misrepresentation, and fraudulent claims, protecting personal information and ensuring the identity of others is becoming more and more vital.
Vital Questions ~
We work to protect our information by using ever more complex passwords and encrypting our data. When I open my laptop, it’s my way of asking for access and in human terms, the computer’s response would sound something like this, “The data and capabilities in this machine are reserved for the owner. How do I know for sure that you are that person?” I unlock it with my fingerprint or by typing in a password. As intruders and pretenders increase, resolving the identity question is becoming ever more vital.
Identity issues on a human level are challenging enough, but what about those claiming to represent God–or even to “be” Him? In addition to uncounted thousands of religions around the world, there are myriads of people claiming to be one of God’s authorized representatives. All of them want to establish a connection, either directly or indirectly, with people like you and me. They want to get past our protective “firewalls” and gain unfettered access to our sensitive spiritual data. Many of them are simply “spiritual identity thieves”. God was the target of would-be identity thieves long before the age of computers and digital communication. From the earliest days, there have been imposters and spiritual “hackers” presenting themselves as God’s special representatives. The Apostle Paul reminded us of that in the early days of the Church:
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 (NKJV)
Primary Protective Checkpoints ~
Thankfully, God has put some protective checkpoints and shields in place to help us ensure that He is the One being represented. At least four come to mind, and in essence, they are . . .
- The Word of God
- The Son of God
- The Spirit of God
- The way of God
When there is concern about whether an idea, or behavior, or prevailing heart attitude is something God would find acceptable, the question to ask is whether it is consistent with what He has said. In both the Old and New Testaments, unmasking imposters was accomplished by comparing their message and with what God has revealed about Himself.
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine [Word of God] which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. Romans 16:17-18 (NKJV)
The Greatest Verification of All ~
But to further substantiate and validate His Word, God sent His Son as a living definition of the truth it was intended to convey. Jesus was, and is, the very Word of God in human flesh. If the way to God being presented doesn’t entirely depend on the sinless life, vicarious death, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is fraudulent. As John clearly testified, Jesus declared, and the Apostle Paul reinforced:
- And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (NKJV)
- Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6 (NKJV)
- Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 (NKJV)
One More Protective Consideration ~
Finally, there’s yet another protective comparison that God has given us. Belief systems always define and interpret themselves in the context of observable behavior. If the lifestyle demonstrated and advocated by those who purport to represent Him blatantly and consistently contradicts the definition of human righteousness that His Word affirms, then their claims are not to be believed and their behaviors are not to be reproduced.
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things. Philippians 3:17-19 (NKJV)
In the digital world, we take special care to ensure that our earthly treasures aren’t stolen by larcenous pretenders, but there are far greater treasures at stake in the spiritual realm. Identity thieves abound in that arena, too, but God has not left our soul unprotected. There’s no need to live another day with eternity at risk when we can have a defense that the cleverest of thieves cannot penetrate. The encryption code is activated when faith in Jesus is applied, but establishing that relationship is left up to us.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly back to this article through Twitter.
- “God sent His Son as a living definition of the truth it was intended to convey.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to tweet)
- “Jesus was, and is, the very Word of God. If the way to God being presented doesn’t entirely depend on the sinless life, vicarious death, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is fraudulent.”@GallaghersPen (Click here to tweet)
- “If the lifestyle advocated by those who purport to represent God blatantly and consistently contradicts the definition of human righteousness that His Word affirms, then their claims are not to be believed nor their behaviors reproduced.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to tweet)
- “God has not left our souls unprotected. There’s no need to live another day with eternity at risk when we can have a defense that the cleverest of thieves cannot penetrate.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to tweet)
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© 2019 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
Thank you Pastor Ron. I always look so forward to your writing. You have opened my eyes in many ways thru GODS WORD. Thank you again. Love y’all!!!
Thank you so much, Joan– We are both so encouraged by your faithful comments and for the courageous stand you and Larry take for God’s truth. We hope the remainder of your Thanksgiving weekend is relaxing and uplifting. We look forward to seeing you guys again soon.
Absolutely love this analogy, Ron! When someone professes to be a Christian, but their actions don’t reflect God’s way of living, we need to run fast in the opposite direction. There definitely are some malicious spiritual thieves in our midst. May we hold fast to God’s Word and cling to Jesus for all we are worth.
Thank you for the Thanksgiving weekend blessing, Martha. And you are so right re. running away from those who proclaim and practice doctrinal perversions. Praise God for the presence of His Spirit and the power of His truth to protect us in this oppositional culture. May the Lord richly bless you and your family in the rest of your Thanksgiving holiday.
Well said my friend. The imposters are increasing in number each day; as was prophesied. As you so aptly pointed out, there is but one foolproof defense. His name is Jesus. Thank you for this timely an poignant post sir. God’s blessings.
Thanks, J.D.– always very grateful for the affirmation and encouragement. May we never be found victims of the enemy’s deceptions and/or distractions. God bless you for steadfastly fighting the good fight.