An extremely stirring section of Scripture is 2 Cor. 11:1-15. You can feel Paul's godly concerns and the dangers associated with those false teachers (and teachings) he was battling. It was an intense and stressful time for him, as a faithful shepherd. Both Christian beliefs and souls were in jeopardy.
Dangerous Doctrine Is A Very Real Problem Among Christians!I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. (2 Cor 11:1)Paul's so-called foolishness refers back to his own mention of his sacrifice, sufferings, etc. to spread the message of God. You would think it should not be like that with a servant of God like him, but it was. The battle for souls is hard.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. (2 Cor 11:2)This is a good kind of jealousy and opposed to the jealousy of the sinful nature so closely connected with malice and hate that will drag people to hell (Gal. 5:19-21), unless they get forgiven and overcome it.
Paul knew the false doctrines taught by those false teachers would lead the Christians so deceived by them into sin, just as Eve sinned after getting misled, which destroyed her spiritual purity.
NOTE: The term virgin is used in v. 2. The same term is found in Mt. 25:1-12, referring to the Lord's teaching about the 10 virgins. Those 10 virgins were all saved at first, but only 5 remained saved. The other 5 were not known by the Lord when he arrived. Jesus did not say to those 5, I never knew you, but instead I don't know you. They were his virgin bride at first and he was to be their husband, but he no longer knew them at a later point! (The same tragedy could happen to the Corinthians through those false teachings.)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. (2 Cor 11:3)
Paul had a godly fear for their salvation and knew they could be lethally deceived just as Eve was. (Paul believed in a literal Eve.)
There Is Real Danger In Listening To False Teachers!
False teachers are dangerous to the sheep and therefore the sheep must be guarded, as much as possible. Paul was being a good shepherd, especially since he was their spiritual father (1 Cor. 4:15). He wasn't trying to get along with those false teachers. They were serving the devil and were the enemy. The devil is crafty and tricky and will spread his spiritual poison through false teachers to the harm of many, if possible. See 1 Peter 5:8,9. Doctrines formulated by demons (1 Tim. 4:1) are spread among Christians by religious people.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. (2 Cor 11:4)The Corinthians had already accepted the true gospel, true Lord Jesus and true Spirit. Afterwards, false teachers came to them with different teachings. NOTE: false teachers are aggressive and will take their doctrines to the Christians. They are being led by the devil, even though they don't know it.
The Command to Keep Away From False TeachersThe danger is stated. The Corinthians were putting up with those dangerous false teachers (who appeared godly) when they should not have been. To allow the false teachers to speak would endanger Christians' souls to their lies and possible spiritual death. Putting up with false teachers and/or tolerating false teachers is also condemned in Rev. 2:14, 15 and 20. False teachers in a Christian congregation must be silenced either by them changing to the truth or with them leaving. If not, their adverse influence will spread to others. This is clear proof that no Christian should stay in a congregation where eternal security, the prosperity message or Catholicism (just to mention three rampant heresies) are being taught. It is also dangerous to support (financially or with your bodily presence) the spread of false teachings like eternal security.
Their doctrinal errors centered around preaching a false Jesus, a false gospel and a false Spirit. (Groups in our days under these doctrinal headings would be the eternal security proponents (Calvinists, Reformed, almost all Baptists and others), Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, SDA, Moonies, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, the Prosperity message people and many others.)But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those 'super-apostles.' (2 Cor 11:5)Those false teachers (plural) claimed to be apostles just like Paul was and were not going to submit to his teachings! They claimed the same equal authority for themselves, but in reality didn't have it!I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge.We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. (2 Cor 11:6)
Apparently, those false teachers were polished and trained speakers. Paul wasn't such, but he was the one with the truth of God. He was the real servant of God, not the good speakers!
The devil often uses good speakers to convey his spiritual poison. (The Lord Jesus also chose Peter and John, who were fishermen and who reeked with no formal education [Acts 4:13] to be of the Twelve Apostles and to teach his truths. God's choice is based on the heart. Many don't recognize this and the problems keep getting worse.)Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? (2 Cor 11:7)
Paul would not take money from the Corinthians. Seemingly, the false teachers wanted their money.I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. (2 Cor 11:8) 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. (2 Cor 11:9)
At this point in time, Paul was financially supported by other plural churches. (At an earlier time, only the church at Philippi financially supported Paul.) Christian brothers from Macedonia, where at least one of those support churches was, brought supplies and/or money to Paul for him to continue on with his work. They were actually laboring with Paul and will share in his fruit, since their help was vital for him to continue on to that degree.As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. (2 Cor 11:10) Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! (2 Cor 11:11) 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. (2 Cor 11:12)The reason why Paul received absolutely nothing from the Corinthians is stated here - he wanted to use this as an advantage so the Corinthians would believe God's truth and not the false teachers, who were getting money from them.For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. (2 Cor 11:13)
Paul could identify those teachers as unsaved people by their doctrines, just as he knew Elymas was a child of the devil (Acts 13:9,10) by his behavior. (We can know if another is a child of God or a child of the devil [1 John 3:10], unlike what the eternal security teachers declare.)And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Cor 11:14) It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (2 Cor 11:15)
It is important to remember these verses about Satan and his servants. The devil can appear as an angel of light, that is, as one of God's holy angels serving God. This is vital information regarding visions. Religious people are basically oblivious to this truth and are, therefore, open to deception. This is rampant among Catholics with Marian visions and visions in Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventism, the Moonies, etc.
Departing From The Christian Faith Is A Definite RealityThe devil and his servants can both appear to be godly and humble! We must evaluate people by their teachings and behavior and not merely by their quoting Scripture or profession of faith. Remember, even the devil can quote Scripture (Mt. 4:6) and not everyone who says, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 7:21).
Finally, Paul implied those false teachers' end will be in hell, where they deserve to go, because of their preaching. See also Gal. 1:8,9. Their doctrine caused much harm.
Text Sermons (Expository and Topical) by Dan Corner of Evangelical Outreach
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