I want to talk about The Counterfeit - not counterfeiting in general - but the one being who is the great counterfeit. That being would be Satan. He is a liar, and he has made it his goal throughout history to create lies about God - and offer false imitations of God to mankind. Why? Think about it, if I were to go up to someone and flat out ask them, "Do you want to follow God or Satan?" - what would nearly everyone say? Most people aren't going to go and pick Satan - "Hmm, purity and goodness or evil, what to choose, what to choose." So Satan had to cheat - and lie - and come up with all kinds of lies about God.
It began in the Garden of Eden. He came up to Eve and questioned three things about God. He questioned His Message, His Meaning, and His Motives. First, he said, "Did God really say you couldn't eat of every tree?" He twisted God's words, and that led Eve to rethink what God actually said. Then he asked, "Did God really mean that you would die?" Now he was urging Eve to question whether or not she had understood God correctly. Finally, he flat out called God a liar and said that God only wanted to stop the fruit-eating because He didn't want humans to be wise like Him. And the whole process worked so well, he has been doing the same song and dance ever since.
I think I came up with an idea for an extremely interesting Bible study. Go through the Bible and take everything that God ever called Himself. (I supposed you could go through one of those Names of God type books and save a step.) After you have compiled the list, go back through and look at what lie Satan fabricated to counteract that characteristic. Let's just take four of the biggies -from the New Testament, no less. First, look at John 14:6. Jesus says, "I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life. No man comes to the Father but by me." Here we find three of the huge characteristics of God - ones that we all must accept.
THE WAY - Jesus was saying that He was the only road, only door to the Father. It is a straightforward statement, but one that has caused so much trouble. If there is one thing that people do not like, it is being told that there is only one way to do things. (That's why I hated Geometry - I wanted to do things my own way in proofs.) Look at the trouble Mel Gibson got into by leaving this verse in The Passion of the Christ. That was the line that everyone harped on during his interviews. So Satan has convinced us that there is more than one way to God. On State Road 50 in Orlando, on the way to downtown from UCF, there is a huge billboard claiming that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism is all the same thing. "Many different paths, one God. Let's get together and talk about peace." In the world of Postmodernism, which drives most people, this is a cornerstone philosophy. Everyone who is passionate and good gets to Heaven. What an effective lie.
THE TRUTH - Numerous times, we are told that God is Truth. And we, as Christians are told to wield this weapon. The Word of God (The Truth) is as sharp as a two-edged sword, able to separate soul and spirit. In Isaiah 61:1, we are told that this Truth is what will free captives and heal the brokenhearted. But Satan has created the lie that there is no such thing as The Truth. Absolute truth does not exist. We have no right to tell anyone else that what they believe is wrong. If the last lie was one of the foundational points of Postmodernism, this one is the banner it flies. Everyone is okay; what everyone believes is right. (Ignoring the massive philosophical and logical problems that statement causes.) As a result, if we meet someone who is passionate and educated, they must be right. Why has The Da Vinci Code been such a resounding hit and such a troublesome thorn to the Church? It sounds true, it claims to be true, and Dan Brown did such a good job in writing it that most people are sure it is true. Again, quite an effective approach by Satan.
THE LIFE - Ah, life the most precious of commodities. Jesus' claim to be The Life resonated in verses like John 10:10, where He said He wanted to give us abundant life. Also, He is the resurrection and life, so even if we are dead we will live. Death and public speaking are the two greatest fears in America. Jesus' claim takes care of the first one. We don't need to fear death or life. How could Satan fight this? By teaching people that life is not important or to be valued. Instead of a sanctity of life, there is a focus on quality of life. If your life is not quality (Who judges that? Is there a scale?), then you don't need to live. With that lie, we see an explosion in the beliefs for abortion, and cloning, and euthanasia, and assisted suicide, and genocide, and ethnicide. Instead of merely offering a counterfeit of The Life (which he also did by pushing the epicurean lifestyle), Satan also tried to just remove the importance of all life.
The last biggie I want to look at is found in 1 John. It is here that God claims to be Love. What a powerful concept and image. Love - it is what every human wants and needs. As dcTalk once sang, "We all want to be loved." Love is what set God apart from all the gods of the world. They didn't love their people. The Ancient Greek and Roman gods saw people as playthings and creatures to be tormented and used. The gods of the ancient world were harsh - requiring sacrifice of children, cutting of flesh, homicide of virgins. The one true God offered love - not torment. And this love was free of anything we could do. How would Satan fight this most powerful and attractive of God's characteristics? Let's look at the three Greek words for love and how Satan attacked those.
EROS - Sensual love - It is weird to discuss this facet in light of God, but He is the one who created marriage and this aspect of love. And Satan has done a doozy on it. He has offered lust instead. Lust is not caring about the concerns and needs of the other person. It is selfish. It is about meeting YOUR needs and YOUR desires. It is seeing other people are tools to bring yourself satisfaction. That is lust. We see it in movies, magazines, websites. Little boys are trained to look lustfully at women by their fathers, big brothers, and neighbors. Girls are taught that to get a boy's attention they need to dress provocatively and flaunt their bodies. And the entire world becomes a sphere of shattered people - wounded by perhaps the fastest growing and most destructive lie of Satan.
PHILOS - Brotherly love - This is friendship love. It is what we see as Aaron holds Moses' arms up. It is described as iron sharpening iron. We find this as we study David and Jonathan - two men whose hearts were linked for life. How has this been poisoned? Satan offers us the love of contacts and networks instead of true friendship. It's not what you know, it's who you know - and who you can use to advance yourself. He also offers us homosexuality. It is funny, people do not talk about David and Jonathan very often in church any more because it has been so often pushed as biblical "proof" of gay relationships. How tragic. And how many men are standing alone in the world because they don't want to open up to another guy for fear of being labeled gay? The lion loves to find the isolated animal to pick off.
AGAPE - Unconditional love - This is the Love God portrays. What a wonderful and heartwarming thought. He loves us - period. The End. Thanks for coming, tip your waiters and waitresses. There is not something we need to do to get it, or anything we could do to lose it. So Satan gives us raging egomania - unconditional self-love. We love ourselves and everyone else becomes a way to get what we want. There is no service, no ministry. Even those people in charge of ministry use it as a way to get ahead and get a raise or promotion - a book or speaking gig. As a result, this love is such a foreign concept to us, we wouldn't recognize it if we saw it - and don't have any clue how to do it.
So, Satan has given us counterfeits. And we fell for them. I know I have - especially in the realm of love. I don't love people. I am very self-centered. And I have to break that - and so do you. How do you do it? We've all heard how the U.S Treasury Department learns how to spot a counterfeit - they know the genuine article so well that anything false jumps out. So we need to know God in an intimate way - and learn about Him - and grow so close to Him that any deviation from Him pops out at us. That's my challenge that I must now face. My journey of self-discovery has ended with me here. It is like I worked through a gigantic video game, beat the last level boss, and walked into a gigantic cipher. Instead of hearing some midi go "Bwoo, bwoo, bwoo" - a whole new challenge opened up. I just beat the console game only to enter a massive one without an ending. I now have to begin the long process of undoing 18 years of doing it wrong. I have to discipline my mind and bring every thought captive and learn to take my eyes off myself and put them on God. And instead of thinking everyone circles around me, I have to realize I'm here to touch their lives and show them Jesus. I guess I finally learned how to see. So instead of the journey ending, all I did was finish the prologue. The book just started.