"Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival"
August 24, 2013
John 17:3; 1 John 2:3-6; Matthew 23:27, 28; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Last week a giant international counterfeit goods conspiracy was uncovered by FBI agents in Newark, New Jersey. Three men from the People's Republic of China and two men from New York City pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking counterfeit goods and money laundering. Over 26 in all have been indicted in a ring that tried to smuggle $325 million in counterfeit goods.
"From August 2008 through February 2012, the defendants ran an international counterfeit goods smuggling and distribution conspiracy. The defendants and others imported more than 35 containers of counterfeit goods-primarily cigarettes, handbags, and sneakers-into the United States from China in furtherance of the conspiracy. These goods, if legitimate, would have had a retail value of more than $300 million."1
Law enforcement agents actually set up a front company acting as an importer to snag the illegal ring. The conspirators filled out fraudulent customs paperwork, controlled the importation of counterfeit goods, worked with connections to distribute the goods and, unknown to them, paid undercover law enforcement agents more than $900,000 to do all this work ... until they were caught.
Dozens of phone calls were recorded and many in-person meetings were held with undercover special agents. These cops pretended to have "connections" at the port so that containers of goods could bypass regular channels and avoid import fees. The front worked and the criminals were trapped. Some of the guilty men may receive up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million each.
In this week's Sabbath school lesson we are studying the counterfeit revivals that Satan is seeking to "import" into the church as "genuine goods." He presents what appears to be a real spiritual awakening, but is fraudulent. Like FBI agents, we must be discerning in order to determine the difference between true and false revival. Signs and wonders stamped on the outside containers of these trends do not guarantee the real deal inside.
There are some simple tests to check out fake religious experiences. One is by spotting an emphasis on an emotional experience that underplays obedience to God. We can recognize movements which sidetrack us from Scripture when they avoid self-denial and commitment to follow the Lord. Feelings can lead us to believe our worship and spiritual conclusions are truth-based, but when the Bible shines light into the deeper layers of our practices, we might find ourselves convicted that what we thought was genuine is really counterfeit.