During the pandemic I read this hilarious true story about a woman in California who had been watering a beautiful succulent for two years that she loved and took great care of. She was so proud of it: gave it the right amount of water and sunlight, washed its leaves and probably even talked to it. It was absolutely beautiful and truly the perfect plant. She pointed it out to people who visited her home and even her friends said how lovely it was. But, it wasn’t until she tried to transplant it from its original pot, that she realized it was a 100% fake plastic plant stuck in Styrofoam and sand. This 24 year-old stay-at-home mom concluded, “I feel like these last two years have been a lie.” Even though this was a humorous story, it got me thinking about something I’ve been seeing for far too long in the church.
When you hear the word, fake, what words come to mind? Fake, phony, hypocrite, man-made, impostor, artificial, counterfeit, fraud, disguised, imitation, synthetic, faux, con, sham, pretender, prosthetic, manufactured, and baloney.
Just as there are many types of fake plants, there are also many different fake Christians. They come in all different shapes and styles. Some are obviously fake, where others — as in this story — are very life-like. Sometimes it is really difficult to spot a fake, and the prettiest ones are the hardest to spot. Just like a fake plant is pretending to be a real plant; a fake Christian is pretending to be a real Christian.
Fake Christians Have No Roots
It wasn’t until Ms. Wilkes exposed the roots of her plant that she realized it had none. All there was Styrofoam and sand. It is the same with fake Christians.
The heart is a person’s root system. This same root system is the roots in which nourishment feeds a person’s soul. That nourishment comes from God’s Word, and like plants, true Christians crave desire the Bible as a newborn baby desires milk (1 Peter 2:2) or a deer pants for fresh water (Psalm 42:1-2). The Christian craves reading the Bible and desiring to know more.
Not only does roots provide nourishment, they also keep plants grounded and from falling over. Jesus explains that the seeds of the gospel cannot live on stony ground.
"But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; "yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. (Matthew 13:20-21 NKJV)
Christians are rooted in Christ. As the roots of a plant keeps them from falling over when the wind blows or the rains melt the ground, so does Jesus keep us from falling over when tribulations, persecutions, and the things of this world want to knock us over (Matthew 7:24–29).
Fake Christians Have No Life In Them
Just as fake plants have no life in them, the same is true of fake Christians. Since fake Christians are not saved, that means they are still dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:13). They are not dead to the world, but dead to Christ and the things of God.
As the sun gives life to plants, so does the Son give life to Christians. Jesus said, in John 1:4, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” In Jesus was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4).
Not only is the light the life of the Christian, but the blood of Christ is what gives us life, because life is in the blood. In John 6, Jesus used symbolism to show that life comes from Christ. We need to partake of Him every day by reading His Word and allowing it to change us that we receive life.
Fake Christians Cannot Bear Fruit
Because fake plants are not living organisms, they cannot bear fruit. Plastic is toxic to humans, and if a fake apple or bannana is eaten, it would send a person to the hospital — if they can get it past their mouths. Like fake plants, fake Christians cannot bear fruit either, or at least good edible fruit.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "Therefore by their fruits you will know them. [Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV]
Even though Jesus is speaking about false prophets, we can also use this to spot out fake Christians. What is the fruit of their lives? Is it good or bad? Sometimes like plants, you can’t just look from afar at a tree and see its fruit; you have to pull it off, examine it, cut it open and take a look. Maybe even taking a bite. One way to examine the roots of a Christian is to see what he or she talks about. Jesus warns us in a few chapters later,
"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." [Matthew 12:33-37 NKJV]
Fake Christians Don’t Feel Remorse Over Their Sin
Fake plants are easy to take care of, and impossible to damage. You can’t kill them, damage them, or mistreat them.
Fake Christians feel no remorse or hurt from their sin. They do what they want, how they want and when they want. It is all about them; their conscience is seared, or dulled to the point of feeling.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, [1 Timothy 4:1-2 NKJV]
Fake Christians Are Not Changed by God’s Word
Fake plants are pretty rigid; some are difficult to bend and even move to stay the way you want them. Fake plants look the same, and no need to prune. Fake Christians are pretty rigid too — in their beliefs, their thinking, and how they feel. The pruning of a fake Christian’s life doesn’t matter to them. In many ways it would make them look worse. Pruning is done so that it would allow for more growth; but if the plant cannot grow anything, it would eventually look as full as a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
Fake Christians Cannot Absorb Nutrients That Real Christians Can
Just as fake plants cannot absorb sunlight, fake Christians cannot absorb the Son, the Light of the World.
Like fake plants, no matter how you care for them, it does them no good, or you for that matter. You can feed a fake Christian with the Word, pray for them, spend time talking to them, and they will still stay the same. No matter what you do, they will not grow or produce any fruit. They may be pretty on the outside, but there is no life in them. If you leave a fake plant by itself it will not change or die. At the very least it will collect dust. Same as a fake Christian.
Fake Christians Cannot Give Nourishment, But Are Toxic to Others
There is no nourishment in a fake plant, and if someone would be able to consume a fake pear or bananna, the plastic and toxins in that would, at the very least, send a person to the hospital. Worst — it would kill them.
Fake Christians cannot give nourishment either, and can be quite toxic. From the outside, their fruit would seem ok. They may be wise with philosophy, worldly wisdom, and scholarly intellect. But when it comes to the live giving nourishment of God’s Word, it is completely missing; thus people starve and perish (Hosea 4:6).
Fake Christians Cannot Convert
Real plants are here not only for our enjoyment, nourishment, and health; but also to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. It is an amazing thing that the toxins we breathe out as humans are food for plants, and vice versa.
As in fake plants, fake Christians cannot convert anything or even reproduce. Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel; to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). Fake Christians don’t see the value in converting or sharing Christ with others let alone advancing the Kingdom of God. They always remain the same never adding to the value of a field.
Can a fake plant change?
Even though a fake plant cannot change, God is in the business of making miracles out of people and giving them life. We seen this imagery when Aaron’s rod turned into a serpent (Exodus 7:10) and later produced buds (Numbers 17:8). Not to mention giving life to dead bones (2 Kings 13:21) and raising the dead in various ways throughout the New Testament.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)
As the text says, anyone means anyone. It doesn’t matter what class, race, nationality, language, or level of intelligence. Anyone can be a new creation in Christ Jesus made for His glory. As long as we have breath in our lungs and a heartbeat…there is a chance.
Being a new creation doesn’t mean that we are perfect either. It means that we are changed and are continually being changed into the His likeness so that others may see Christ in us. To continually being pruned to produce more fruit for the Vinedresser and His glory for His purposes.