Point: It has become somewhat of a cliche sermon illustration about how the United States Secret Service train their agents and the public to spot counterfeits bills by exculsively studying the details of real currencies as opposed to counterfeits ones. This illustration is often given to make the point that as believers if we only just focus on knowing the truth thoroughly this will make it unnecessary to study or be familiar with falsehood out there. While I do think it is important for Christians to know God’s truth adequately, this does not mean that there is no place for addressing specific falsehood by critically studying it and warning others about them. I’m convinced that as a pastor, one must connect the dot between God’s truth with godly application and practice since people often need the extra help of knowing what the application looks like. Similarly teaching on the area of worldview and theological discernment sometimes require identifying, alerting and refuting specific false views our culture, friends, families and opponents are espousing. It’s important to show what is true while at the same time show examples of falsehood that believers ought to watch out for since Scripture itself does this (ex: Matthew 23, 1 Timothy 4, Jude, etc). And contrary to the popular illustration, the Secret Service does give attention to the details of what counterfeit looks like (but always in light of what is real).
The following illustrates the truth that resources the Secret Service provide for banks and the public in identifying counterfeit currency at times does take into account what counterfeits looks like.
Illustration: Note this old video by the Treasury Department in conjunction with the United States Secret Service:
You will notice that there is a comparison between counterfeit bills with real ones, counterfeit money making devices with actual ones.
This was not only true then, but it’s also true today. The Secret Service devotes a portion of their website to the public education of knowing your money. If you look at the pages here, here and here, you will note images of details between real money–and counterfeit ones.
One can imagine that training for Secret Service agents who are professionals will be more indepth concerning details of real currency–and the latest developments and trends in false counterfeits.