I am afraid that your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ
2 Corinthians 11:1-15 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. 4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. 5 For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. 6 But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things.
7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? 8 I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; 9 and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12 But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
What is this gospel that Paul says the Corinthians bear beautifully? The text says: But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul describes the gospel which he preached: When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. When Jesus commissioned the disciples He said: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16: 15-18) Those signs did accompany Paul as a demonstration of the Spirit and the power of God as he preached the simple message of Christ and Him crucified.
In 2 Timothy 4:1-4, when Paul is raising up Timothy to carry on the work and the ministry of the gospel, he says: I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. Surely we have seen that time come when many people no longer endure sound doctrine. The gospel preached in many churches is more like a motivational seminar than the simple gospel of Christ and Him crucified. The cross is considered offensive by many so it is rarely mentioned. The idea that people are sinners by nature and need to repent, to change the way they think and act, is even more offensive. Paul said: reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. Often now the first two are left completely out and the exhortation is to be better, accomplish more in the eyes of man, not to repent and be redeemed in the eyes of God. The gospel of grace is emphasized as if sin has been eliminated and no longer matters. In Romans 6:1-2;10-14, speaking of grace, Paul says: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?... the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
On the other hand, Paul did not promote a gospel of judgment and condemnation. In Galatians 5:1-13 Paul says: It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves. For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh. In the same way there are those today who promote a gospel of bondage to rules and regulations, as if people by their own righteousness can earn or obtain salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
So the simplicity of the gospel is not grace with no regard for sin, but rather it is grace through the cross, freedom from sin, paid for by the sacrifice and suffering of Christ on the cross. It is not adherence to rules and regulations, but devotion to Jesus and the finished work of the cross, the demonstration of God’s love. Jesus Himself says: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) He says: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) The narrow way that leads to life is not the way of grace with no regard for sin, nor is it found on the way of the law or the rules and regulation of man and religion. The narrow way of Christ is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Jesus says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:16-21) He says: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit for the simplicity of the gospel. Thank You that I am no longer bound by sin, but rather I am yoked to You. Thank You for Your love and Your grace, not that You had no regard for my sin, but rather You demonstrated Your love for me that while I was a sinner, Jesus died for me. Thank You for the revelation of the simple gospel and the narrow way to life, yoked to You, through the cross. Amen.