The colorful exterior drew our eyes. We had stopped next door and so we decided to walk into the colorful building, which was full of candy. Lots and lots of candy. Everywhere you looked was candy — Gummy candy, hard candy, jelly beans, Pez, vintage candy, ice cream…you name it, it was there.
We wandered a bit and let the grandkids each pick out a Pez. I didn’t see anything that really struck me in the expensive candy shop so I was prepared to walk out without anything—until I spotted the wall of jelly bellies. I don’t actually love regular jelly beans but these always tempt me. I don’t know how they make those jelly bellies so flavorful but somehow they do. I looked at the big red containers holding those beans. They were surrounded by jelly belly advertisements and jelly belly pre-made containers.
What struck my eye were the new flavors. I had never seen jelly bellies such as these before. Oh, these would be fun to try! I grabbed a small plastic bag and grabbed a few beans from each of the containers that struck my fancy.
We paid for our candy and left the store. In the truck, I eagerly opened my plastic bag and pulled out a bean and stuck it in my mouth.
Ohhh…yuck! Just yuck!
“These are not genuine jelly bellies,” I said with disappointed disgust.
“Really?” Asked my husband.
“Nope, definitely not,” I tried a couple more just to make sure.
Where had I gone wrong? What should have warned me?
Well, the unusual flavors were a definite warning sign. Why would that store have flavors I’ve never seen before in even the 49 flavor bags of these famous jelly bellies? How dumb of me not to have thought of that.
And then as I thought of the red containers, I remembered that nowhere on them had they claimed to be jelly bellies. They were just surrounded by the words “jelly bellies” to lead people to believe that what the large containers held was genuine.
I had been deceived.
I was out of a few dollars and given a dose of humility. It was what it was. Not a big deal in the scope of life.
But as I was thinking about this yesterday, it came to me that this is a great example of how we get fooled spiritually, too.
False teachers like to surround themselves with those who appear genuine and many times probably are genuine (which is probably a good part of the reason why Paul and John are so adamant that we can never be friends and conference partners with false teachers. See Romans 16:17 and 2 John 1:9-11).
False teachers also like to look just like the genuine. They appear so similar that it is hard to see the difference.
You realize they are offering different flavors. They are offering interpretations of scripture that veer from the traditional interpretation. They change the meaning of a word or they change the definition of a long held doctrine.
It is easy to get duped by false teachers these days. They are everywhere. They look real on the surface. And they are so often surrounded by those we would call “Solid Bible Teachers”, who give them credence.
They are like that candy that looks genuine. Smells genuine. Is surrounded by the genuine. But this is not candy. And we have much more to lose.
So may we all be smarter spiritually than I was in that candy store. May we pray for discernment and wisdom as we navigate the veritable smorgasbord of false teachers who twist scripture and change the truth of God’s Word; teachers that are nowhere close to genuine Christianity despite their label of “Christian.”