The Victoria and Albert Museum of Art and Design in London is a globally known and respected art museum. In fact, it’s one of the best. But tucked among the famous works both old and new is a very unique gallery. It’s the forgers’ gallery— a collection of fakes so expertly created that they are considered “museum worthy” knockoffs.
These works fooled all but the most expert connoisseurs of art. Yet, despite their believability, they weren’t genuine works of art. They were imposters. They were in and of themselves nothing. Because they were not real, original or inspired, they were worthless. Although many of these worthless knockoffs produced great price because they fooled the eye, in the end the legitimacy of each (or lack thereof) was discovered.
In Galatians 4, Paul talks about the danger of spiritual forgery. He stresses to the Galatian church the true goal of the message of Christianity: that Christ is formed in us. (Galatians 4:19) The Galatian church was receiving a different message from others about the true goal of the Christian message, and it was deceiving them. It looked similar to them, but when scrutinized by Paul, it was shown to be a fake. Paul said, “They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them.” The goal of these spiritual forgers was to have the Galatians buy into their message. The problem was that their message was not true.
Forgeries have long existed in art and in church. Our goal is to become knowledgeable enough about our faith to spot imposters. We do this by studying the Word of God, and by allowing Christ to be formed in us as we understand and act on His words and ways. The more Christ becomes part of who we are, or is “formed in us,” the more we will be able to spot a fake. We become who we follow, so spotting a spiritual forgery can be a matter of life and death.
How can memorizing scripture help us spot a fake?
What are some current or past forgeries that have caught you off guard?
What are the implications of 2 Timothy 4:1–4 both, on the reality of forgeries and the responsibility of believers?