Summary: Paul presents several pictures of how we can be deceived by false teaching. Just as Eve was deceived, so may we be deceived. Don’t expect to see Satan as some hideous monster, he and his servants may fool you with their masquerade, stay connected to those
We all know sometimes people don’t always get along together in church. A man was shipwrecked on a deserted island for several years. He was finally rescued and as he was leaving, one of the rescuers asked him about the three grass huts he had built. He said, “The first one is my house, the second is my church.” His rescuer said, “What about that third building?” The man said, “Oh ... that’s the church I USED to go to!”
Even though Paul founded the church in Corinth there were several factions, and some of them were vocal critics of Paul. Some of the teachers were contradicting what Paul taught and were making claims that they were the “true apostles” and that Paul didn’t qualify as an apostle. Paul was off starting other churches so had some strong words to write about these teachers. That’s why I’m calling this message “Straight Talk about Crooked Teachers.” The key insight about these dangerous teachers can be found in verse 13. The Message paraphrase it: “They’re a sorry bunch—pseudo-apostles, lying preachers, crooked workers—posing as Christ’s agents but sham to the core.” (2 Corinthians 11:13 The Message) That’s definitely straight talk!
Some of the words Paul wrote in this chapter seem a little strange. He begins by confessing he is engaging in a little foolishness. He’s going to claim tongue-in-cheek he was a know-it-all and that he even robbed other churches! This might not make sense unless you understand Paul is employing literary irony. Irony is like sarcasm—but it’s not quite as biting. So as we read 2 Corinthians 11:1-15, see if you can find the irony.
“I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those ‘super-apostles.’ I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
I love going to art galleries. As we walk through this word picture gallery today, there are three interesting pictures of truth the Apostle has painted for us. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe we can save three thousand words by examining these pictures. As we look at each picture, I also want to give you some personal truth to take home with you. The first picture is of:
(1) A JEALOUS FATHER OF THE BRIDE: The Church is a bride promised to Christ
In verse 2 we read, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”
Every father should be jealous for his children, and especially his daughters. We hear a lot about jealousy being bad, and it does say in 1 Corinthians 13 that “love is not jealous.” But there’s a big difference between being jealous OF someone and being jealous FOR someone. If someone wins an award and you’re miffed because you wish you had won it, that’s being jealous OF them—and that’s sinful. Jealousy has been called the “green eyed monster” and people speak of being green with envy. That’s not love. However, if you truly love someone, you will be jealous FOR them—that means you want to protect them. Paul identifies his as being a “godly jealousy.” In the Old Testament God introduces Himself as being a jealous God. In Exodus 20:5 we read, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” Paul portrayed himself as a jealous father who is protective of the church he started in Corinth.