Counterfeit Christianity, How to Avoid: Matthew 7:21—29

Counterfeit Christianity might have an outward appearance of the real thing, but it is really just appearance or form theology. Counterfeit Christianity lacks the depth of a relationship with Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. In this passage is the essential difference between religion and Christianity. Religious people stand before Jesus and point at the things they have done as reasons for justification. Jesus warned me earlier that this wasn’t acceptable in verse 5:20. Counterfeit Christianity is basically religious practice and outward appearance without the essential relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the source of salvation and justification. I cannot be saved by what I do, either good works or by trusting in external religious practices. If I call myself a Christian, and I trust in my good works, I am practicing counterfeit Christianity.

Signs I may be suffering from the practice of counterfeit Christianity:

  1. Obsession with worship style and format.
  2. Judgmental attitudes toward others.
  3. An obsession with making sure I keep the rules.
  4. An obsession with making sure people know I am keeping the rules.
  5. A sense that I am better because I keep the rules better than others.
  6. A frenzy of religious activity.
  7. Little peace or joy.
  8. A limited prayer life or prayers mostly devoted to having my way.
  9. No sense of Jesus’ burden being easy or light.
  10. For a longer list see ‘ We might be Pharisees if…’

A further indication of counterfeit Christianity is the expectation that life will be easy. This passage does not promise ease but promises us that if I will put what Jesus has said into practice, I will be able to withstand the difficulties of life.

If I have suffered from counterfeit Christianity, Jesus is always available and willing to help me trade it in for the genuine relationship he offers.

Read Matthew 7:21—29

Questions to Ponder About Counterfeit Christianity

  1. What in my life is causing the greatest stress right now? Have I been praying about it?
  2. If I have been praying about it, what limitations and qualifiers have I imposed on God’s answer? In other words, am I trying to control how God answers my prayer?
  3. Have I been mostly concerned about my religion or about my relationship with God?
  4. What is my concept of God? How does it compare with the nature of God demonstrated in Christ?
  5. Am I willing to let go of the benefits my religion brings to me—usually related to pride—in order to have a real relationship with Christ?

Passage for Meditation Not everyone who says to me, ‘ Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven.’ Matthew 7:21


Father I confess that I sometimes obsess over appearances and then compare myself to others and then desperately think that this somehow makes me worthy of you. I am not worthy. I need you. Help me to remember that only by trusting in you and being obedient to you can I live with you in eternity. May I  only boast in that you gave your life for me that I might have a relationship with you. Help me to always rejoice in this relationship. Thank you for the peace and joy that you promise.

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