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How To Spot A Phony

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat.
–Matthew 13:24-25

Jesus said the world is filled with phony Christians–people who talk like Christians, who profess to be believers, who come to church, who serve as Sunday school teachers and even pastors. But though they appear to be Christians, in the final judgment, they will be separated from true believers, and they will spend eternity in hell alongside the most vile and hardened criminals.

Do you find that difficult to believe? If so, consider the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13. Remember that a parable takes divine truth and lays it alongside everyday experiences. And beginning in verse 24, Jesus shared this truth about the kingdom of God: not everyone who appears to be a Christian is a genuine believer.

Look at verses 24-25: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat.” In Jesus’s day, if someone wanted to get even with somebody else, they would go into their field and plant tares. The word that is translated “tares” refers to the darnel seed. It is a poisonous ryegrass that looks like wheat and grows alongside wheat, but when it finally comes to fruition, it has no fruit in it. Not only that, but the weeds of the darnel seed strangle out the growth of genuine wheat. Jesus said this is what happened to this particular man’s field.

Jesus continued, “When the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘. . . Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.’” (vv. 26-29). If the slaves tried to pull up the fake wheat, they could accidentally pull up that which was genuine instead. So in verse 30, the master said, “Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’” He was saying, “Wait to separate them until you can easily distinguish between the two.”

This story reminds us that you may be able to fool other people or even yourself about your relationship with God, but you cannot fool God. There is a time of judgment coming when genuine believers will be separated from phony believers.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How To Spot A Phony” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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