As a child, I loved the comic strip hero Superman. By this, I mean the truly Superman of old, rather than the current one whom I hear is filled with uncertainty, angst, and the questioning of his moral authority to do the things he does.
I often stuck a towel in the back of my shirt, pretending it to be my cape. I then “flew” around the house or yard as Superman, searching for bad guys to thwart, or catastrophes to prevent. Occasionally, a piece of kryptonite would weaken me. As with the comic strip Superman, however, I’d always find a way to overcome and escape the challenge. I loved pretending to be the invincible hero to whom everyone looked for help and rescue.
Only I wasn’t Superman. I was merely a pretender. This was fine for a child, but it leads me to think of far more serious issues, namely, how easy it is for adults to deceive themselves into believing they’re something other than what they actually are. Most importantly, it is more than possible for people to tuck a cape into their shirt spiritually, as it were, acting as born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ without truly knowing Him.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5).
One can profess faith, pray, read the Bible, live a moral life, attend church, and even witness to others without actually having a genuine relationship with God. A person can even serve as a pastor or preacher, but actually be merely a pretender. The New Testament plainly declares this challenging truth, and while God would never seek to cause doubt in a genuine believer, He does include warnings in His Word about those who dress the part without actually being the real item.
Those truly born of the Spirit know. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16). The sons and daughters of God in Christ must also know, however, that pretenders exist in Christendom who exhibit characteristics of godliness without experiencing true relationship with God. A cape and simulated flying do not always indicate that Superman is at hand. Nor do the trappings of spirituality assure that a heart of spirituality exists in the practicer. Scripture calls us to such awareness, and we do well to recognize the difficult, but necessary truth.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves… having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
(II Timothy 3:1-2; 5)
“Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”