The devil's scariest deceptions are the ones that look the best.
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2 Corinthians 11 (ESV)
1 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!
2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since
I betrothed you to one husband,
to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning,
your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed,
or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received,
or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted,
you put up with it readily enough.
I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.
6 Even if
I am unskilled in speaking,
I am not so in knowledge;
indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because
I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?
8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you.
9 And when I was with you and was in need,
I did not burden anyone,
for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need.
So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.
10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia.
11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12 And what I am doing I will continue to do,
in order to undermine the claim
of those who would like to claim
that in their boasted mission
they work on the same terms as we do.
13 For such men are
false apostles, deceitful workmen,
disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.
Their end will correspond to their deeds.
16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish.
But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.
17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not
as the Lord would
but as a fool.
18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast.
19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves!
20 For you bear it
if someone makes slaves of you,
or devours you,
or takes advantage of you,
or puts on airs,
or strikes you in the face.
21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!
But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—
I am speaking as a fool—
I also dare to boast of that.
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I.
Are they Israelites? So am I.
Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I.
23 Are they servants of Christ?
I am a better one—
I am talking like a madman— with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.
24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods.
Once I was stoned.
Three times I was shipwrecked;
a night and a day I was adrift at sea;
26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;
27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
30 If I must boast,
I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus,
he who is blessed forever,
knows that I am not lying.
32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me,
33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall
and escaped his hands.
2 Corinthians 11 Summary
This isn't the first time we've seen Paul list the reasons he has apostolic authority over the Corinthian church, but one of the reasons he needs to remind us of this so often is that his credentials are so different from what we might expect. There is nothing attractive about the things Paul boasts about in himself: he's an unskilled speaker (the Greek word he uses in v6 is literally idiot), he hasn't made a penny as a preacher, rather he's had to do menial labor to pay for his room and board, and everywhere he goes ends in some sort of disaster: beatings, imprisonments or shipwrecks.
The 'super apostles (v5)' that were coming into churches Paul had planted after Paul left offered a much better looking product to these brand new Christians, but most of the time they diverted attention from the true gospel and focused on themselves instead.
Just like the Corinthians, we are attracted to successful, polished, slick people who seem to have it all put together. Many churches have experienced massive growth not because of the gospel message they preach, but because of their awesome programs and high energy, well produced services housed in state of the art auditoriums. It is critically important that you are part of a church that preaches the pure gospel, and that you continually keep it accountable to what you read in scripture.
Currently 'diversity' seems to be the theme of the day, and certainly it's a good thing to seek to inject new opinions, ideas and thoughts into how we do things in society. But one place that has absolutely no room for diversity is the doctrines of grace that the Bible teaches. Yet Satan, who is described in v14 not as a scary devilish monster, but rather as one camouflaged as an attractive beacon of light, is constantly working to derail people by changing the meaning of the gospel. Sometimes he does this with outright attacks on what the Bible teaches, but most of the time he does this very subtly and over a long enough period of time that a person doesn't even realize they've let go of the true gospel.
You need to constantly be testing what people say about Jesus and salvation by comparing it with God's Word yourself, which means you need to be reading God's Word yourself often.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever (v31)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will remain loyal to the one true gospel, no matter how attractive the alternatives may seem
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: