Thomas Parkin was recently charged with forgery, grand larceny, conspiracy, criminal impersonation and perjury for pretending to be his dead mother Irene. For the past 6 years, Thomas has been dressed up in sunglasses, nail polish, wig and old fashioned clothing to collect Social Security benefits and rental subsidies totaling over $140, 000. Seems like you can't always judge a book by its cover, or an old women by her/his clothes.
Of course, Jesus warns his disciples not to judge by appearances. In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus tells his disciples to "watch out for false prophets." These false prophets look like the real deal on the outside, but really they are wolves in sheep's clothing. So how do you tell a false prophet from a true prophet? You look at their fruit. You look at their life, their godliness and you make sure that what they teach is really from the Bible. So we need to be careful who we listen to. Don't go following a Christian leader because they are super confident, super cool or super clever. Check out that they teach and how they live.
But Jesus goes on in Matthew 7:21-23 and puts the spotlight on us. He says,
"Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"
Now on the scary scale, these words are right up there. Jesus is saying that there will be some people who claim to be Christians, who even look like Christians and do some "Christian" type things, but aren't really Christians.
So what does a real Christian look like? A real Christian is someone who hears Jesus' words, believes Jesus' words and obeys Jesus' words. That's what Jesus goes on to talk about in the story of the wise and foolish men who built their houses on the rock and the sand. What made the wise man wise, was that he heard Jesus' words and put them into practice (Matt 7:24). What made the foolish man foolish, was that he heard Jesus' words but didn't put them into practice (Matt 7:26).
So the question is, are you wise or foolish, geniune or fake? Do you hear Jesus' words in the Bible? Do you believe Jesus' words in the Bible? An do you obey Jesus' words in the Bible? You, like Thomas Parkin, might be able to fool some of the people some of the time. But you can never fool God. Are you ready to stand before Him as your great judge?