Are YOU the real deal? Do you give evidence of a lively faith in your worship, your rejoicing, and your God-based confidence?

Sure Fire Signs to Help You Spot the Real Deal

(And Be the Real Deal)

Sunday Scripture

Because we have been friends since we were teens, and because we were teens during the Cold War, my friend Judy and I have a long standing tradition of greeting one another with, “Hail, Comrade,” and making frequent references to Soviet-era spy terminology that are funny only to us. Even so, recent politically-motivated poisonings in the news remind me that spies were and still are a real thing, and government officials dealing with foreign representatives must spend a fair amount of time verifying identities and checking credentials on their contacts.

Paul warns Philippian believers of a similar danger–not political, but far more crucial:

Steer clear of the barking dogs, those religious busybodies, all bark and no bite. All they’re interested in is appearances—knife-happy circumcisers, I call them.”

Philippians 3:2 (The Message)

Beware!

Paul had put his finger on the difference between real faith in Christ and the inauthentic version: an emphasis on ritual as an end in itself. For the Philippian church, it was circumcision, but think of all the religious trappings we cling to in our day, the activities, programs, traditions, and rules that can obscure the real thing if they become an end in themselves.

It’s dangerous to emphasize ritual over reality, and we fall into that trap so easily. Fortunately, Paul anticipated our stumbling feet and provided three sure fire signs for spotting the real thing:

  1. Real believers worship God in the Spirit
  2. Real believers rejoice in Christ Jesus
  3. Real believers have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3)

“This is who we are!” shouts Paul. “We are in touch with who God is so we fall on our faces. We know that Christ is our real treasure, so we have every reason to rejoice no matter what our circumstances. We embrace the hope of his righteousness, so we quit depending on our own.” This is reality, and the trappings of our faith, the rituals, are there to remind us of our authentic relationship with the living God.

So, Comrade, have you ever been tricked by an impostor, posing as a Christ-follower, but lost and leading others astray? Are you becoming skilled at spotting the real deal?

But more important than this, may I ask, gently…
Are YOU the real deal? Do you give evidence of a lively faith in your worship, your rejoicing, and your God-based confidence? I’d love to have a conversation about this with you over tea and maple scones… Can we employ the comments section below as a distant second best option?

Worshiping, Rejoicing, and Trusting,

Michele Morin

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44 thoughts on “Sure Fire Signs to Help You Spot the Real Deal”

  1. During my husband’s forty years of ministry in six different churches we encountered a few Christians whose faith I would not question but who were led astray by sideline issues and allowed those issues to become their focus. They tried to lead others astray as well. Now my husband is retired, and we are acutely conscious of supporting the pastor and elders of our current church. And we often pray God would use us as examples of staying the course to all the younger couples of this congregation. He has been incredibly faithful to us all these years (of course!), and encouraging others on their faith journeys is actually a source of delight.

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    1. Currently living through a situation in the church that we pastor with someone we would never have thought would be led astray or would be used to hurt us and the church. I relate fully to Nancy’s comment.

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    2. I have a feeling every church could use a couple like you–Pastors and PW’s need loving support as well as a pair of veterans who demonstrate that there is REALLY life after the parsonage!
      Always so blessed by your thoughts here, Nancy.

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      1. To be honest the transition was more challenging than I expected, compounded by a 1000-mile move. (But it wouldn’t be fair to the incoming pastor to remain in the community of our last church anyway.) God has blessed us over and over again, providing new avenues to serve Him–different but meaningful, and fulfilling just the same.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I do ask that question of myself, and I pray that I am and that God knows that I am. Some days are doubting Thomas days, truthfully. I pray often for discernment; especially in today’s world. There is no certain black and white at times so just go to prayer is what I’d choose. Great food for thought in your post this morning. Happy Sunday.

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  3. I try, daily, to be the real deal. I think I might be more of the real deal than some who say they are and less of the real deal than some who say they aren’t. Does that make sense? Some folks speak loudly about their religion but don’t follow the way of God. Some people rarely speak of their religion at all but walk in the footsteps of Jesus. I figure I’m someplace in the middle trying as hard as I can to be more like the latter kind of people.

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    1. Oh, I love that continuum you describe and the place you position yourself on it. I think we’re similar. 🙂 It’s always a balancing act to bring our lives into alignment with our confession.

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  4. This is very informativew. And timely!
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    Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
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  5. Hi, Michelle! Great question you posed for us.
    It’s so important to be aware of the subtle differences between what people say and what is Bible truth. If you’re not in tune with the Scriptures, it is easy to be led astray.
    Thank you for this reminder from Philippians 3:2 and how we ought to be.
    Blessings and a happy birthday to you!

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  6. We need to be so familiar with the real deal that we can’t be fooled. And you make a really good point that we need to examine ourselves and make sure that we are the real deal. Sometimes we’re tempted to love the ritual and find it so comforting that we lose sight of why we began that ritual in the first place. Lord, keep our eyes on you and you alone!

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  7. Friend, this is a powerful challenge! Praying that God removes anything that isn’t Him and opens my eyes to all taht is!

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  8. I get distressed when I see Christian people lap up false teaching because it comes packaged as spiritual while all the while questioning or twisting Scripture. We forget that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. How we need to be grounded in God’s truth to distinguish false from true.

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  9. Oh! Maple scones sound heavenly. But in all seriousness, I wonder if this verse has somehow influenced me to resist all things overly formal in church? Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of scoffing at people who take themselves too seriously at church and focus too much on form and function (and that isn’t nice, either). How do we help the falsies become real deals? What if it’s a pastor…

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  10. Oh Michele you know I’m there for a cuppa & maple scones! Gluten free please 😀
    Yes, in my younger years in walking with the Lord I was taken in but have grown a little wiser. Especially in listening to the Holy Spirit’s prompts of discernment.
    To join the discussion, I can confidently say with all assurance in my Savoir, Jesus…am I a child of God, a joint heir with Christ? A resounding yes! Being perfected by Him daily, as I’m definitely a work in progress!
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

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  11. Michele, yes, we have been among those who aren’t the real deal. My husband and I were in a small “worship” discussion group led by his seminary professor who was insulted when we shared Scripture, including the one you alluded to, worshiping in “Spirit and truth.” Hard lesson: not everyone is who they say they are.

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    1. Whoa! That must have been a jarring experience! Sadly, it’s more and more common that we offend people when we bring the word of God to bear upon a conversation. I’m glad you persevere in being “offensive!” 🙂

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  12. As a bible enthusiast who is often prevailed upon to teach, I take very seriously studying the Word and doing my best to present truth backed up with scripture. Like Barbara said in an earlier comment – we have to be grounded in the truth to be able to discern false teaching.
    My aim is to be authentic – I try to share my geeky normal enthusiastic self, but still point the way to Christ.

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  13. Great questions, Michele. A discerning eye (and ear) is certainly necessary in today’s “Christian” culture, but I need to cast that same eye toward myself. I think I might do OK with the first two points in your real-deal analysis, but not putting confidence in the flesh is a regular challenge.

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  14. Conversations about this topic over tea and maple scones sound so appealing! You ask some wonderful (and tough) questions, Michele. I must admit, our church leans heavily on ritual, but I don’t think the rituals are an end in themselves. Sometimes rituals can get us in the proper frame of mind for authentic worship. Familiar rituals can be comforting. When they become the focus of our worship, that is a problem. I am still looking at myself in light of your questions. #1 and #2 are no problem. I often have an inordinate and completely unwarranted amount of faith in MYSELF, that I stumble with #3.

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    1. I think all churches lean pretty hard on ritual, truth be told. Even “flexibility” can become a ritual if we commit to it hard enough. 🙂
      And like you, I really think rituals can guide us into worship because we know the steps to the “dance” and can focus on the “music.”

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  15. My husband and I were just talking about this subject over our Saturday morning coffee!!!

    Such a good thing for all of us to be thinking about. It can be hard to spot if someone else is the real deal but the Bible says you will know them by their fruits and the same goes for us. It’s good to be discerning and look at what kind of fruit someone is producing to see if they are the real deal. And it’s good for us to examine our own hearts and see what kind of fruit we are producing.

    Thank you for this!

    Love,
    Annie
    (Your neighbor on the Grace and Truth Link-Up.)

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    1. How wise! Yes, and I’m being reminded of overtones from Matthew 7 in which we are warned about snooping around for specks in other peoples’ eyes while we’re suffering from a log in our own eye…

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