“…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. For 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.”
(2Corinthians 11:3 ESV)
Paul expresses to the church at Corinth that he feels a divine jealousy for them. What he meant by this is that he’s jealous for God. He desired that the people would belong to Christ, and to Christ alone. And, for this reason, he says that he betrothed them to one husband…to Christ.
He feared for the people that they would be led astray from a sincere devotion to Christ. Just as Eve was deceived by the serpent, Paul feared that they too would be deceived. And, when we see what was going on, his fear was not unfounded.
He tells them that, if someone proclaimed to them another Jesus, if they received or accepted a different spirit or gospel, they put up with it. So we find that, even though Paul had brought to them the message of Jesus, even though he’d brought to them the true gospel, the people were open to other teachings to which they were introduced. Even if they contradicted the truth, the people received it without question.
This is a danger that’s clearly seen in the American Church today. We have the Word of God readily available to us. Yet, even if we profess faith in Jesus, and even if we are regular at worship, we are open to other teachings. We are open to messages that directly contradict the message of Christ.
We encounter the stories of those who’ve had a near-death experience. They tell us of seeing God and talking with him. However, the message is one that contradicts Scripture. They present to us a message of universalism. They tell us that all people, regardless of their faith, will be saved.
When this happens, so many of us are quick to jump on the bandwagon. Our excitement about something that seems to confirm the reality of heaven trumps the fact that the message is wrong. And, in this way, we open ourselves to false teaching.
Many of us latch onto the thoughts of prominent personalities, simply because they profess a faith in God. We listen to people like Oprah, who speaks so passionately on these matters. We listen to the Dalai Lama, because he seems to spiritual. And, again, even though their message contradicts Scripture, we accept it. We accept it because it appeals to us emotionally.
Many of us love to listen to television evangelists. And, because they talk of Christ, because they talk of the gospel, we blindly accept everything they say. However, we never seem to notice that the message brought by some of them is very different from the one we find in the Word of God.
Just as Paul was jealous for the church, so must we be jealous for one another. We must desire one another for Christ and for him alone. We must desire that no one in the body of Christ would be drawn away from the true faith to a generic substitute.
Let us, then, be careful and discerning as we listen to talk of God. Let us hold firmly to Scripture as our source of truth. And, when something or someone contradicts the truth, let’s recognize it for what it is.
Let us also encourage one another in this way. Let’s faithfully share with one another the true gospel. Let’s faithfully share with one another the true Word of God. And let us lovingly address the false teachings and beliefs that we encounter in the body of Christ.