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I've been approached on the streets of New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo and other cities by smooth talking street peddlers offering to sell me an expensive-looking "name brand" watch or a "genuine" diamond ring for only a few dollars. There are a lot of flim-flam

fakers selling their phony selves and peddling their counterfeit wares today; not just in the secular world, but in the religious world too. I call them "knock-off merchants."

We live in a day when the term “knock off” is familiar to most people. We hear the term used in reference to clothing, jewelry and other things. There are “knock off Rolex watches, Knock off Gucci shoes, knock off designer dresses and suits, etc. A “knock off” is an imitation of an original. It looks and feels like the real thing to one degree or another, but it isn’t real. It appears to have the same value as the real thing, but it doesn't. Today, there are people and religious organizations passing themselves off, and being accepted, as Christians and churches. But they aren't. They're cheap counterfeits of the real thing.

There are "knock-off" preachers today such as those in Jeremiah's day of whom God said, "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied" (Jer. 23:23). There are men like this today, who were never divinely sent into the ministry, but they went into it any way.

There are knock-off Christians whose artificiality will be revealed some day just as surly as the green coloration on a piece of "real" gold jewelry eventually appears to indicate how unreal it really is. Jesus spoke of these false professors in His Sermon on the Mount: "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them ... And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you" (Matt. 7:20,23).

There are knock-off churches galore today. These are very popular today. Why? Because so many people aren't interested in the real thing where church is concerned. They're "in on the game" in this respect. They don't care how unreal it is.They are in the market for a knock-off church. The fact that there is are real, genuine, churches of Jesus Christ is an inconvenient truth for them. They're happier with the knock-off, and will begin to insist that the knock-off church they have is no different than, or even better than, the real thing.

“Knock-offs” carry, without lawful authorization, the brand names and labels of what they are imitating. False claims of authenticity are made for “knock-offs” that sound very convincing. Knock-offs are popular because (1) people like to give the impression, and enjoy the illusion, that they have the real thing when they know they don't, and (2) because a “knock off” is easy to throw away if you get tired of it. If a person finds something they don't like about their knock-off Rolex or their Gucci shoes, they can just toss them in the trashcan and then get on the Internet and find a new knock-off. This is how “knock off” Christians approach the Christian life, and why they are drawn to “knock off” churches one after another.

Tragically, American Christianity is glutted today with people who profess to have something in terms of genuine salvation, who in fact know that they have nothing. They have nothing but a cheap imitation and their "say so" to validate its authenticity. Spiritually speaking, they may have the outward look of a Rolex but the plastic inward parts of a Mickey Mouse watch.

Gullible people are fooled by “knock-offs.” They take everything they hear as the truth. They don’t look close enough for signs of authenticity. And sometimes they don't want to look. They are too fond of their illusions to face up to a reality. Sometimes people sincerely think that the knock-off they have is the real thing. But this doesn’t change the fact that that it isn't.

Ignorance of, or indifference to. what is legitimate and what isn’t doesn’t change the reality or worth of what is at issue, and it doesn’t change the fact that compromise and/or subterfuge always involves the sacrifice of a principle of truth. This is certainly the case where doctrinal teaching or practice is concerned. The Lord God is not pleased with knock-offs in these areas, however much they may resemble the real thing.

Unfortunately there has never been more disingenuousness, deceitfulness and disconnect in play where Christianity is concerned than there is today. Undoubtedly we have reached an all time high for false professors, false preachers and false churches. So make sure your profession go salvation is genuine, the church you are in and the preacher you have are genuine, and be extremely thankful if they are.

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