“Red on yellow, kill a fellow; “Red on black, friend of Jack””
The coral snake, genus Calliophis and Hemibungarus, are one of the most venomous snakes. They are a dangerous bunch though they would always almost avoid human beings, their venom can really kill. They are known by their distinctive red, yellow/white and black color bands. On the other hand, the kingsnakes, genus Lampropeltis, have almost the same color banding that they are mistaken for coral snakes. However, the kingsnakes have no venom at all. In fact, they are constrictors wherein they choke their victims to death. They are called king snakes because they are also know to eat other snakes and are almost immune to other snakes’ venom. Imagine, other animals fear the king snake because they look exactly like their venomous look a likes while their fellow snakes are afraid of them because they eat other snakes. Talk about deception.
This is called mimicry, where one animal copies some traits of another animal for its benefits. This is one interesting example wherein a weaker and non-venomous snake copies the coloration of a well known venomous snake for protection. This is not only limited to snakes but to butterflies, bats, and other animals as well.
We have to admit that when it comes to copying traits, human beings are the most effective if not rampant mimics. We copy almost everything our fellow humans do. Look around and you’ll see imitation clothes, pirated DVDs, China-made gadgets, plagiarized works, and cover songs among others. These things look exactly similar to the original, they are cheaper and lesser in quality than the original. While most of us take advantage of these, we need to beware that the most dangerous and most destructive forms of mimicry are those that could not be seen by the eyes. We may not see it, but imitation faith, plagiarized truths and counterfeit Christianity also have become dangerously rampant.
Like coral snakes and king snakes, we can never tell the difference of one from the other. We cannot tell who the real Christian from the false Christian is by our own naked eye. In the same way, we cannot judge one person’s actions from another based on what we have seen or heard. We cannot say what motives they have for doing things. We cannot separate the wheat from the tares by our own hands. Yet we need to prepare ourselves. We need to know who is who because the time of the end is near. We need to know who is with us and who is against us; who is for Christ and who is anti-Christ.
So, how can we know that we are not actually against Christ? How can we tell if we are the real thing or the copycats?
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20
To the law and to the testimony. Simply put, if the words, actions and thoughts of someone are not in accordance to the law and the testimony, it is counterfeit. The book the Great Controversy tells us
“The people of God are directed to the Scriptures as their safeguard against the influence of false teachers and the delusive power of spirits of darkness. Satan employs every possible device to prevent men from obtaining a knowledge of the Bible; for its plain utterances reveal his deceptions. At every revival of God’s work, the prince of evil is aroused to more intense activity; he is now putting forth his utmost efforts for a final struggle against Christ and His followers. The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true, that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.”
For us to differentiate between the poisonous and the non venomous snakes, we need to consider the facts. We need to read the studies on snakes. We need to compare the pictures. We have to remember the coloring of the coral snakes, the habitat, the behavior and many others.
In the same manner, we need to study the Scriptures to distinguish the truth from the counterfeit. We need to know Jesus, apply His teachings and lead others to Him. And this shouldn’t just be a glance or a scanning of the Bible. Studying the Bible takes a lifetime. Ask any person, pastor or elder, who professed to have read the whole Bible, they’ll tell you that they still commit sin, they still fall into error because the Bible is not just a book you’d read for a year, it’s a book you’d study and apply for a lifetime.
Furthermore, Ellen G White also warns us to guard ourselves from following people, guard ourselves from ignoring the faith and the law, and finally to guard ourselves from studying the Bible without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
She tells us that “Satan is constantly endeavoring to attract attention to man in the place of God. He leads the people to look to bishops, to pastors, to professors of theology, as their guides, instead of searching the Scriptures to learn their duty for themselves. Then, by controlling the minds of these leaders, he can influence the multitudes according to his will.” Leaders are not super heroes, they do not know everything. They are as capable of committing error as the next person beside them.
“The truth and the glory of God are inseparable; it is impossible for us, with the Bible within our reach, to honor God by erroneous opinions. Many claim that it matters not what one believes, if his life is only right. But the life is moulded by the faith. If light and truth is within our reach, and we neglect to improve the privilege of hearing and seeing it, we virtually reject it; we are choosing darkness rather than light.” Living on our own good and totally ignoring the importance of God is actually dangerous. Sure, we may not cause other people any harm, we may have the best motives when dealing with our friends, but we still neglected to guard our hearts from the temptation posed by the enemy. Ignoring is as good as disobeying.
Finally, we are told that “The Bible should never be studied without prayer. The Holy Spirit alone can cause us to feel the importance of those things easy to be understood, or prevent us from wresting truths difficult of comprehension. It is the office of heavenly angels to prepare the heart so to comprehend God’s word that we shall be charmed with its beauty, admonished by its warnings, or animated and strengthened by its promises.”