1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
The devil knows Scripture if you weren’t aware. He has studied part of this verse carefully which says “man looks at the outward appearance” and has employed this in his deception.
It is 100% true, in every respect in our fallen nature, and even a saved sinner in our unglorified state, looks first at externals. We can be easily fooled and deceived because of this trait. I wrote this in my book called “Exposing False Teachers” but it is much like a fake fruit basket used as a mantle. The manufacturer of these baskets can make plastic fruit look identical to the smallest detail, actual fruit to eat. If you passed a basket on a table without studying it further by handling the fake fruit, you would believe it was real fruit.
The fiery televangelist or megachurch pastor on TV sound like the real authentic Christian person, but are they? The church with a steeple and a bell with hundreds each week attending Sunday service looks like a Christian church, but is it? The church with boasting talking points such as “we are the church Jesus founded”, “our church is the pillar and foundation”, “our church is 2,000 years old”, but are these claims true or window dressing? The friend or stranger who says “I am a Christian, I believe in Jesus, I am born-again”, but are they really? The social media post in which many say “I will pray for you and your family”, are they really praying to God?
We can be fooled by externals pretty easily. Again, this is part of our nature. We don’t check the fruit out carefully, it looks pretty good on the outside so we pass on any further discernment possibly for fear of offending the fake. Satan knows this, and uses it against the church. Many religions have been planted by him to deceive man based on our external looking nature. He knows what we see as attractive as well, what we want to hear, and uses this in his deception.
Look, if we couldn’t be deceived, Satan would be out of business! So to be naive and pass on the fake fruit baskets so to speak in your discernment, you are playing right into his hands hook, line, and sinker. He sees you as a buyer of the fake and will do everything possible so that you do buy the fake.
So what is the ultimate disinfectant to the fakes? Scripture and the Gospel! It does not error and exposes the fake pretty easily. The fruit can be exposed as fake or bad fruit pretty easily by the test of Scripture. Another disinfectant is by looking at the heart as God does. We are limited, we cannot look in depth at the heart, but we can discern certain things. Jesus gives us a clue in this when He said “out of the heart, the mouth speaks”. If one is a profane liar for example while calling themselves a Christian, we can discern pretty easily the person has not been born-again. If one is boasting in a world religion without a testimony and witness in Jesus Christ while claiming Christianity, we can discern the heart as not being regenerated.
DISCERN DISCERN DISCERN. Don’t trust the window dressing! Look carefully at the fruits, discern the heart through Scripture. Don’t take vain claims as absolute truth, study the growth and maturity of a sinner through Scripture, are they a Christian or not? Don’t buy the act as there are MANY Christian play actors. An actress or actor can mirror the part of how they see a Christian acts and play it closely, but there are certain things you can spot easily just by asking questions of the faith of this actor. One discernment point of the play actor is they are often seasonal in their duties, coming and going from the act, living the part inside the church walls and front of church members and living the life of debauchery outside of this.
The enemy of the Gospel is at war with the church. He has not let up, he has used everything in his arsenal including propaganda, deception, and man’s sense outward looking. The analogy of a duped man seeing only the externals of a woman, only to find out the woman is a vile nasty narcissist. Or the woman seeing only the externals of a man, only to find out they are habitual adulterer and abuser.
We must always be discerning, with Scripture as the light exposing the darkness! The fake will always be shone clear as day. Get into the habit of digging deeper, get past the externals and discipline yourself at looking internally, using Scripture and the Gospel which saved you as the weapon which cannot be defeated.