Avoiding the Fake
How can we tell the difference between what is real and what is fake? What about the deepfake videos that we might see online? How can we tell if it is the real person or it was faked with a powerful computer?
And what about the AI-generated people we see in videos now? Sometimes just an AI voice, sometimes there appears to be a real person there talking to us, but it was generated by AI.
In the past, we did not have to be concerned with those things, although there were fake videos being made by clever people.
And there has for a long time been fake banknotes and coins, which people get tricked into accepting as if they were real, but when trying to spend a forged note or coin, the person is told it is not real money at all.
The Bank of England has now made banknotes harder to forge. They are made out of plastic, with a window, with holograms and metal strips in them. Previously you could have been fooled by a fake banknote in the UK. Other countries might have easily-forgable notes, so you have to know what a real one looks like. Coins are usually easier to counterfeit, and it is good to know how to spot a fake one.
Some people make copies of other things of value, such as famous paintings. But if you saw a good copy of the Mona Lisa next to the original, would you be able to tell the difference? What about fake antiques? People often fake things to make money. They spend a little to make a lot from unsuspecting gullible or uneducated people.
Some years ago, someone faked some diaries, supposedly being that of Adolf Hitler. But it turned out he had created them himself, they were not Hitler’s diaries, and he was shown up to be a liar and deceiver.
In recent years, the term “fake news” has become popular. Sometimes because people are promoting something that is not real as if it were real news or facts, but sometimes truthful things get marked as fake news by social media sites in an attempt to suppress information they do not wish people to know, regardless of whether it was true or false.
So can you spot the real from the fake? Not just in money, or works of art, not just in news headlines, but in other important things, like spiritual things?
Can you spot the fake holidays? Every year the world celebrates Christmas, claiming it was the day that Jesus Christ was born. Yet they celebrate it with many pagan customs, and when you study into it, you find that Christ could not have been born in the Winter, but most likely in early Autumn, probably at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Yet many churches, claiming to be Christian, will celebrate a false holiday, ignoring the pagan origins, but still putting up a Christmas tree, decorations, giving presents, and celebrating the day as if it were the most important Christian holiday. But where is it in the Bible? There is no command to celebrate any birthday, including that of Jesus Christ, in the Bible. And no exact date is given anyway.
God gave a warning to His people about false worship through Jeremiah. Look at Jeremiah 10:1–5 (NET):
“1 You people of Israel, listen to what the LORD has to say to you. 2 The LORD says, ‘Do not start following pagan religious practices. Do not be in awe of signs that occur in the sky even though the nations hold them in awe. 3 For the religion of these people is worthless. They cut down a tree in the forest, and a craftsman makes it into an idol with his tools. 4 He decorates it with overlays of silver and gold. He uses hammer and nails to fasten it together so that it will not fall over.
5 Such idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field. They cannot talk. They must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them because they cannot hurt you. And they do not have any power to help you.’ ”
This is saying that people were cutting down trees and decorating them to worship them. But this was not pleasing to God. God told the people not to do that, because it was worshipping fake gods. It also mentions not be in awe of the signs in the sky, probably a reference to astrology and horoscopes. These things are not pleasing to God, they are part of false worship.
There are other so-called Christian holidays which are also fake. New Year’s Day occurs on 1st of January, even though God told Israel that the new year was to start in the Spring, in the month of Abib, which is about 3 months later.
The other fake holidays include things like Valentine’s Day, St. Joseph’s Day, also known as Father’s Day and the Summer Solstice, All Saints Day, which follows Halloween, and of course, Easter.
Where do these holidays come from? Are they in the Bible? Did God command such days? No. They are all fake holidays from the Catholic Church, which is a fake church. The Catholic Church, and its daughters, do not observe any of God’s Holy Days or Feasts, except perhaps Pentecost.
There are many Protestant churches out there, all with slightly different beliefs, but all are the daughters of the great harlot, the Catholic Church, which is referred to in Revelation 17 as a harlot and also as the mother of harlots.
The fake churches all preach a mixture of truth and error, some things from the Bible, and some things from ancient Babylon or other pagan sources. They preach a fake gospel. They even preach a fake Jesus.
We might wonder what Jesus looked like, but we can be sure that the images promoted in society, especially by churches, are based on a false Jesus. The Bible says that men should not have long hair (1 Corinthians 11:14). Jesus was a Jew in the first century AD when it was the custom for men to have short hair. And, being a carpenter and maybe involved in building work, his body would have been quite athletic and muscular, not slim like the popular images.
Fake churches are full of people who are fake Christians. Even if you find a good church, there could be fake people there pretending to be Christians.
Look at what Christ said in Matthew 7:15–17 (NKJV):
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”
And later on Christ mentioned them again in Matthew 24:24 (NKJV):
“24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Or as the Message translation puts it:
“24 Fake Messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere.”
It means that fake teachers, teaching a fake Christ, and proclaiming fake prophecies, will grow more numerous as we approach the end time. They will even produce great fake miracles to deceive people, even trying to deceive people in God’s Church.
As part of God’s elect, it is important that we are not taken in by these fake miracle workers. You only have to watch YouTube to see many so-called miraculous healings by so-called healers. Some do it in their mega churches, some on the streets.
The mega churches are not God’s churches. They have hundreds or even thousands in their congregations.
We know they are fake because they don’t follow the Bible. They preach a false Jesus, a fake Messiah, whom they claim had long hair, and only wants you to just accept him in your heart, and then you will be saved. And don’t forget to leave a generous donation in the offering before you leave, of course. The pastors of those churches get very rich, some even have private jets, and live in big mansions.
It is not wrong to have a lot of money, but if your wealth is obtained through deception, and fake teachings, then God is not pleased with that.
The fake preachers tell people the sweet things they want to hear, instead of the truth. Instead of telling people their sins, they tell them that everything will be alright, just so long as you accept Jesus in your heart, you live a generally good life, and donate money to their church. They teach that such people will go to Heaven when they die, and that they will be blessed if they keep attending that particular church.
But what did Jesus Christ say about such fake preachers? Look at Matthew 15:9 (NKJV):
“9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
The fake churches teach the doctrines of men, instead of the commandments of God. Christ did not come to do away with God’s laws.
Look at what Christ said in Matthew 5:17 (ESV):
“17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.”
Most people only get as far as the first three words and stop.
That is, they read “Do not think” and then they let a fake preacher do their thinking for them. They listen to their false prophets in the fake churches, and believe whatever they are told, with no effort made to study the Bible to find out for themselves what is true and what is fake.
What will you do? Will you just accept what someone tells you, or will you go and prove it for yourself?
There are even false prophets running Church of God organisations, who make false predictions and teach false teachings. They might sound convincing in some aspects of their teaching, but then they add in various speculations and false prophecies.
Back in the early 2000s, one false prophet said that the Great Tribulation would start in 2008, and Christ would return in 2012 on the day of Pentecost. When that did not happen, he said that God had changed his mind and Jesus would return in 2013 instead. Of course, that did not happen either. And then he went to prison for tax evasion for 3½ years. God ws not with him at all.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:21 in the Living Bible (TLB):
“21 But test everything that is said to be sure it is true, and if it is, then accept it.”
If someone tells you that the Bible says such and such, go and check if it’s true or not for yourself.
For example, the Bible tells us to avoid eating unclean animals such as pigs and crabs. But don’t just take my word for it, go and find out for yourself, by studying the Bible and seeing if it is true.
Or do you prefer to go to another church where they teach that you can eat whatever you want? And then you eat some ham, or prawns, or snails, or whatever, and the next day you feel sick. That’s another way to test things, to observe what happens when people follow the Bible, or what happens when people don’t follow the Bible.
If you listen to a fake teacher, or go to a fake church, what does Jesus Christ say about them? Or about any false or fake religion? That is, anyone who does not follow the teachings of the Bible?
Look at John 8:44 (NKJV):
“44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
All the lies, all the fake news, all the fake teachings, all the fake churches, fake religions, fake holidays, fake miracles, and fake beliefs, all come from Satan the Devil. And the fake teachers and so on want to do their own desires, which are the desires of Satan. They desire to disobey God, to follow the commandments of men, rather than the commandments of God.
They want to keep Christmas, New Year’s Day, Easter, and so on, rather than God’s Festivals. The Bible tells us which days to keep, things like Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Tabernacles.
The fake Christians want to keep following their father, the Devil, rather than be at one with God. They do not believe what the Bible says, but will listen to the fake teachers and their own imaginations, and whatever feels right to them.
We must therefore ask, how we do tell though if a person is a false prophet?
Can you be deceived by a false prophet, or does God tell us what to look out for, to discern whether a person is true or false?
Look at Deuteronomy 13:1–3 (NLT):
“1 Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, 2 and the predicted signs or miracles occur. If they then say, ‘Come, let us worship other gods’ — gods you have not known before — 3 do not listen to them. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul.”
Someone can make a prediction, and it could come true, but if they teach falsehood, then you do not have to listen to anything they say.
The other test is in Deuteronomy 18:22 (ESV):
“22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.”
So we do not have to listen to anyone who makes a prophecy which does not come true. False prophets have made predictions about prophetic events, none of which came true. Some have claimed special insight and can tell you when Christ will return, but when it does not happen according to their timetable, you know that was a false prophet.
In the end times we see the Bible warns us of a great False Prophet, in Revelation. We read in Revelation 13 of two beasts, the second of which is described at verses 11 to 14 (ESV):
“11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.”
It is like a lamb, i.e. appears to be like Christ or a Christian, but speaks like a dragon, i.e. its words are from Satan the Devil. But this False Prophet will be destroyed at the return of Jesus Christ, as we read in Revelation 19:20 (NET):
“20 Now the beast was seized, and along with him the false prophet who had performed the signs on his behalf — signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire burning with sulfur.”
As Christians we must be careful not to be deceived by any false prophets, and especially not by the final False Prophet of Revelation.
We must believe what the Bible says, and test what any Christian teacher says against the Word of God. A true Christian will seek to know the truth, with humility, knowing that no one is perfect.
A true Christian does not know everything, but a true Christian will constantly seek to know God better, to know the Bible better, and to have that important relationship with God and with Jesus Christ that will lead to salvation.
An expert in banknotes, coins, or fine art, will study that real thing thoroughly so that they will spot a fake when a fake comes along. They will know all the intimate details of a banknote, or a famous painting, or a gold coin.
A true Christian will study and know the Word of God thoroughly so that when a false doctrine, a fake church, a fake teacher, or a false prophet comes along, it will be obvious they are false.
So, can you tell the difference between the real and the fake?