Generic (or “off-brand”) products have been on the shelves as long as their name-brand counterparts. They provide a low cost alternative to the name brand products we know and love. Normally, the only discernible difference is in appearance. Occasionally, though, you’ll see a difference in performance.
Not long ago we ran into this problem with the store brand laundry pods we bought. They all stuck together in the container and broke apart when we tried to get them out, leaving a soapy mess all over the other pods. In theory, these pods do the same work as the name brand. In practice, they just aren’t the same. In fact, they create a mess for the people who use them!
When we buy an off-brand product, we justify it by saying, “Oh it’s just as good!” But the level of expectancy is low. We all know that to be true – we just don’t admit it! Just think of eating a name brand Reese’s verses eating a Dollar Store peanut butter cup. There’s a difference.
There is a difference between name brand faith and generic faith. There is a difference between faith built on the Word of God and faith built on the doctrine of men. I’m noticing that it’s getting harder for people to distinguish between the two. Even seasoned Christians are getting fooled. The trick that Satan pulls is to mix Truth with lies. He will also come at us with Scripture taken so out of context that it can be construed to mean anything we want it to mean.
Satan came to Eve in the Garden of Eden and said to her, “Did God really say you would die if you ate that fruit? He didn’t mean that.” Eve believed the serpent, took the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, ate it, and shared it with her husband (see Genesis 3). Satan came to Jesus in the desert and confronted Him with Scripture (see Matthew 4).Jesus shut the devil down with Scripture.
Satan is still doing this today. And there are two very key things we can learn from each above instance. While Eve may not have had the written Word of God to pull from, she had the actual voice of God tell her not to do something. Her and Adam lived in a perfect paradise. God had provided everything that they needed. He walked with them. He was with them. There was no brokenness; no sin. They had no reason to believe that God would lie to them. But Satan made it look good. He made it seem logical. “Of course God would tell you that you would die. He doesn’t want you to be like Him.” Eve didn’t bank on what God had said and we have suffered the consequences of that treason since then.
When Satan confronted Jesus, He came back with Scripture. Satan quoted from the Psalms (specifically from Psalm 91, otherwise known as “The Protection Psalm”). Psalm 91 is absolutely true. We can test that and see it. But the way that it was used was out of the plans and purposes of God. Jesus knew that because He knew the Father; He knew the Word. So when Satan brought this to Him, He was able to say, “Yes, it does say that. But the Scripture also says this about you’re saying to me.” Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16 back to Satan and the devil couldn’t argue.
When we are confronted with non-biblical or “off-brand” theologies, we can’t just take them at face value; even if they look good. This Sloppy Grace or Hyper Grace theology that’s been working its way around is a prime example. Yes, grace is real. Yes, grace is afforded to us for every situation. And it may seem logical to think that because grace covered you once, it will always cover you. So why keep asking for forgiveness if God has already forgiven you? Because grace does not negate the need for forgiveness. The grace of God does not negate what Christ did on the cross. It was because of grace that He died. Without forgiveness, repentance, and without making Jesus the Lord of our lives – we will not see Heaven. Sorry to all of the “once-saved-always-saved” folks, but Scripture tells us that our names can be blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life. That means that asking for forgiveness once does not cover future sins. Grace and sanctification work hand-in-hand. We must always continue to strive for a holy life, but a holy life is not a byproduct of God’s grace; the grace of God enables us to live a holy life.
So how can we tell the difference between genuine and generic? By knowing the product. In this case, it’s knowing the Father. It’s knowing the Word of God. The only way to know them both is to spend quality time with them. We go into the Secret Place and spend time with God. We read our Bibles and meditate on Scripture. When something comes along that doesn’t quite sit right in your spirit, ask God for uncommon discernment and wisdom. He will give it to you. He never wants His children to be led astray. The world may be confusing right now and the Church may not exactly be helping to make things clear, but the Word of God is the anchor in the storm. It will hold us steady during these rough times.