A couple of years ago I remember reading that thousands of dollars worth of UPS uniforms had been stolen by terrorists. We were warned that if someone in a UPS uniform looked suspicious then we were to ask for identification and call UPS to verify their employment. There is another story where someone was following a UPS truck - picking up delivered packages left at doorsteps and returning later to deliver them again. They were apparently trying to case the homes for possible theft or looking for women alone to assault. I also read of another scam where criminals were trying to disguise themselves as official UPS agents in an Ebay scam (read article here). This is certainly not the first time people have impersonated professionals in order to gain the trust of their victims. Identity theft is prevalent in Internet fraud and scams and we are all susceptible to the deception of these criminals. We should always use discretion and wisdom before we are willing to trust just anyone or anything that seems appealing. In Acts 20 we read where the apostle Paul fervently warned the Church about the reality of false teachers residing within it:
Acts 20:29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. NIV
Jesus certainly warned against false doctrines and those who teach them and in every New Testament epistle there is some warning about this very thing. It is important to recognize that the Bible says these false teachers could even come from within the church. Impersonators masquerading as Christians, are most certainly a reality in the world we live in today.
2 Cor 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. NIV
The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians stating that they were being deceived by false apostles, who were not apostles at all. They claimed to be “super apostles” and they were teaching false doctrines. What was more disturbing is that these Corinthians were paying for this false teaching. The Bible is telling us in clear language that there would be deceitful men who only masquerade as apostles of Christ, or servants of righteousness. Even Satan himself appears to be an angel of light. Just because it may feel right or seem right, does not make it right. We should test everything against the Word of God in context – with much study. Surely these false apostles used Scripture to somehow deceive those who were falling prey to their teachings. To use the example of the UPS impersonators, obviously anyone could put on the familiar uniform and trick people into believing that they were an actual UPS agent. If someone were to impersonate a UPS employee, we certainly could not condemn the president of UPS for the actions of the impersonator. It is not the fault of UPS that there are criminals who use their identity to con others. Even if there were actual UPS employees who mis-represented the company, this again would not be the fault of the company itself, rather it is the individual who should be examined and prosecuted. Yet, so many people who are looking at Christianity only view Christianity as those who are falsely representing it. Worse yet, those who profess to be Christians are blindly following these deceitful impersonators as their leaders. As easy as it is to put on the UPS uniform, it is just as easy to impersonate Christians. How can we tell the difference?
We have to be familiar with what Christianity is before we can recognize what it is not. Bankers can identify counterfeit money quickly because they handle real money often enough. Those who truly study the Bible and understand it within it's true context can identify the phony impersonators with little effort. By seriously getting into the Word of God, it will teach and guide us by truth. The Word will shed light on the false teachers and teachings.
I am confident that the president of any company would seek justice on those who falsely impersonated their identity, especially to commit a crime. Peter writes about false teachers in 2 Peter 2 using language that is harsh, and extremely deserving. God will judge the false teachers. They will not get away with their crimes. He will prosecute, and the punishment will be severe.
The good thing about the story of the stolen UPS uniforms is that it was a hoax (read here). The irony is that someone used deceit to tell a story about people being deceitful. The sad thing about false teachers is that they are real, and they are teaching under the guise of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They are bringing damnable teachings into the Churches and they are becoming stronger in number. Their organizations are growing and people are following them in the masses. People think that there is safety in numbers, but the truth is there is only safety in the Word of God alone. May we read and study it diligently so that we can easily identify those who among us who are masquerading as servants of righteousness.