It happens every day. A “spam” message slips through your anti-virus program and launches an attack. It harvests all the addresses in your contact list, and silently mails itself. Recipients think the message came from you. But the message does not appear in your “Sent Items” folder. It is surreptitious. You may not even know your information was stolen unless a message recipient tells you, or you receive “Undeliverable Mail” warnings sent back to your e-mail account.
Of course, nobody wants his or her name used to send e-mail hawking products or Web sites of which we would never approve. And we especially do not want the people on our personal contact lists to think we are trying to “spam” them, or to sell them merchandise, or to induce them to visit a sleazy Web site, or to send us money in some foreign country where we supposedly lost our wallet.
Even celebrities—movie stars and political figures—have been targets. These are trophies in the hacker world. And these public figures do not like the invasion of their privacy any more than we do. Even if you are a public figure, your e-mail account is your private property, and it hurts to have it stolen and deceitfully used by a thief masquerading as the one whose identity was stolen.
You might be surprised to consider that “identity theft” is an age-old problem. Your Bible records the example of the brothers Jacob and Esau, sons of Isaac. Isaac sought to give a blessing to Esau, but Jacob succeeded in impersonating his brother and receiving that blessing (Genesis 27:1-29).
Even Jesus Christ Himself has been—and will continue to be—a target of identity theft. When His disciples came to Him privately, asking what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of this present age. Christ warned: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:3-4).
Scripture warns us: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Such deceivers pretend to be something they are not, and thus they mislead people.
So, how can we determine the true identity of these deceivers? We must investigate their “fruits”—not just their words, but also the deeds that follow. Merely saying a few “Christian-sounding” words does not make someone a genuine follower of Christ. As Jesus warned, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Not only will we continue to see boasters claiming to be Christ; we will see many who profess Christ (who claim to acknowledge Him as their Lord) promoting a message that Jesus Himself never taught!
Who is behind this identity theft and deceitful impersonation? Satan! The Apostle Paul contended with false apostles who preached a false Jesus and a false gospel. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Might you have been deceived by one of Satan’s ministers—someone who claims to be Christian, but who preaches a false Christ and a false gospel? Do not let yourself be deceived. Read our powerful booklets, Do You Believe the True Gospel? and Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity.