December 18, 2017

Genuine or Counterfeit?

Marion Fast

In 1 Samuel 16:7 we read, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

During nearly a half century of being a pastor, I have often been called upon to introduce another pastor or evangelist or perhaps a godly laymen to my congregation. Often I tell something of this person’s ministry and then I say something like this: “This person is genuine through and through.” By that I mean that he does not profess or preach one thing and then live a life that does not back it up. He practices what he preaches. He genuinely loves the Lord, and his life demonstrates it.

The next time you have occasion to look at a string of pearls in a store, look at the tag to see whether it says cultured pearls. Those may be genuine pearls, but they got to be pearls by cheating. I’ll tell you what I mean.

Years ago genuine pearls were extremely expensive. Why? Because divers had to examine thousands of oysters to find just a few pearls large enough for any use. Then, all of a sudden the market became flooded with pearls, and pearl merchants wondered what had happened. They thought that perhaps they were being deceived into accepting imitations. They began to check, and they found that the pearls they were buying were actually made by oysters—but that the Japanese had found a way to make almost every oyster produce a pearl.

God so made oysters that they have a system that heals their wounds by producing a pearl. If some substance lodges in their flesh, a protective fluid forms around the place that has been irritated, and it keeps forming coat after coat until finally there is a perfectly round pearl.

The Japanese discovered this and began to use artificial irritants. They would get thousands of oysters and insert tiny beads or bits of buckshot into their flesh. Then they would let them down into the ocean in nets and wait. When they lifted them out, nearly every oyster contained a pearl! Eventually the people who bought them became suspicious and demanded that the pearls be x-rayed. They found that inside were false hearts of lead or glass—that they were not entirely genuine.

There is a spiritual lesson here that we must not miss. This is a picture of a great many people. Many seem outwardly sound and moral. They appear outwardly to be good Christians. Perhaps they attend church fairly regularly and fool everyone else, but deep down inside they have “false hearts.” They do a fairly good job of fooling men, but they never fool God, for He sees their hearts. Hebrews 4:13 declares, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” In Malachi God calls His saints His jewels (3:17), but there will be many people who have fooled men whom God will leave behind when He comes to collect his jewels—because they are actually counterfeits. They have put on a good outward appearance; nevertheless, their hearts have never been genuinely born again, and they are eternally lost.

For many years as a boy I told everyone that I was a Christian. I could put on a good outward show. I was never arrested or in trouble with the law. I was a member of a church and president of my church’s youth fellowship and an officer in my state denominational youth organization. But it was all outward because I had never been saved. While many folk were fooled, I never fooled God. He knew that I was a counterfeit Christian, not the genuine article. It was not until I was already enrolled in a Christian college that I came to understand my lost condition before God and trusted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.

Friend, God doesn’t judge by outward appearances as men do; He looks on the heart. How is it with you today? Are you just putting on an outward religious show, or have you been genuinely saved? God knows. If you have any doubt, why not bow your head right now and call upon the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your sin and make you a genuine child of God? If you mean business, God has promised that He will make you one of His genuine jewels.

Dr. Marion Fast was Pastor Emeritus at Faith Baptist Church in Longmont, Colorado.

(Originally published in FrontLine • July/August 2004. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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