There are not many things in life that annoy us more than being duped by a charlatan. It happens to people everyday. Someone seems honest and sincere and we trust them and wind up buying something that doesn’t work, something that isn’t what it claims to be, or even get robbed flat out. Scam artists can sell anything to anybody it seems.
The church is not free from these types of problems. All the way back in the first century there were charlatans who were pretending that they were apostles and slandering the real apostles. Paul warned the Corinthians about them: (2 Cor 11:13) “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” The Corinthian church and possibly others had taken in these pretenders and had listened to them and had been led astray by them. We might think that since we have the word of God we are not so easily deceived. We need to be careful of arrogance in this area or we will be easy prey for charlatanism. Peter warned us that there are some who twist the scriptures to their own destruction. (2 Pet 3:16) “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” So in regards to our being safe from it today let me just point out: (1 Cor 10:12) “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
As for ourselves, let us be sure that we are not putting up false fronts and thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought. There have always been charlatans and there will be until Christ returns, but we need to protect ourselves from them through study of the Word, and we need to avoid being with them by looking into the mirror of the perfect law of liberty and making corrections as they become apparent. We must realize that we are imperfect and not look down our noses at others for their imperfections with a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. Remember that it only took one sin in our lives to separate us from God, and whether we only sinned that one or sinned a thousand more before coming to Christ we were no further or closer to him. The person who told a ‘little white lie’ is just as lost without Christ as the mass murderer. John says being a charlatan is worse than being a sinner. (1 John 1:8) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” We may deceive ourselves, our friends and neighbors, and even the whole world; but we will never deceive God. If we try we will be found out just like Ananias and Sapphira, so let us be honest with ourselves, others and God by acknowledging our weaknesses and limitations.