2 Timothy 3:5
These teachers oppose the truth. . . . They have
depraved minds and a counterfeit faith (v.8).
After waiting in line at a local store, it was finally my
turn to pay. The clerk took my money, held the bill
up to the light and then disappeared to confer
with her manager. When she returned, she explained that
the store had recently received several counterfeit bills.
Then she looked at me and added, “You don’t look like
a counterfeiter.” She was right; I wasn’t passing funny
money. But, I wondered what would make me look like a
counterfeiter—shifty eyes, sweaty palms, ink-stained fingers?
During Paul’s day, some spiritual con men were
spreading a “counterfeit faith” (2 Timothy 3:8). Paul
described these guys in detail so that his protégé,
Timothy, could tell the true teachers from the phonies.
These faux Christian leaders were weaseling their way
into the homes of vulnerable people. In some cases, they
targeted women burdened with sin and “controlled by
various desires” (v.6). The false teachers preyed on people
who were least able to defend themselves—the kind of
people who were “forever following new teachings, but
. . . never able to understand the truth” (v.7).
With followers who lacked spiritual discernment, the
bad guys were free to “oppose the truth” at will (v.8). In
fact, Paul compared them to the ancient sorcerers, Jannes
and Jambres, the magicians who tried to duplicate Moses’
miracles (Exodus 7:11). And, just like that devilish duo, Paul
promised that someday everyone would recognize the false
teachers as fools (2 Timothy 3:9).
Until that day, we have to look out for spiritual swindlers who infiltrate our
homes through television, books, and the Web. The best defense against them is
to know the truth. We need to mimic the Bereans, who “searched the Scriptures
day after day” (Acts 17:11), refusing to accept the false teaching of a counterfeit
faith. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt
Read 2 Peter 2:12-19 to
learn why following false
teachers can’t provide
the way to freedom from
sin. Read Jude 10-16
for a description of false
How can you guard your
life against counterfeit
teachings? What would
you say to someone
who is following a false