2 Corinthians 11:1-4. 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. 4 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.
Why is Paul defending himself against the arguments of the false teachers, the so called “Super Apostles” that are calling him too weak and too foolish? Why is he “boasting” about both his suffering and his accomplishments in Christ? Is it just a big waste of ink and parchment? Nope. Because it’s for the church.
Notice what Paul says, but I am afraid that … you will be led astray. They are receiving a fake Jesus, a fake gospel, a fake spirit. The imagery he uses is one we’ve seen before – the bride who changes her mind at the last second and runs away.
The Christians at Corinth are being led astray. The accusations here are the harshest they’ve been. This isn’t just about the other “apostles” being showy, or divisive. They are actually liars (later in this chapter he’ll call them Satan – ouch).
What is Paul so afraid of?
Deception. These teachers proclaimed the glory of Jesus (maybe his miracles or ascension) without his suffering, selflessness, and dying. They are proclaiming a Jesus, a spirit, and a gospel that was very close to Paul’s but it lacked the most important part – THE CROSS.
And by this we mean Jesus’ literal death on the cross, our co-crucifixion with him, and our daily living of the crucified life. The false teachers didn’t talk about these things.
Sound familiar? Are we in danger of this same deception? Are we pursuing a Christianity without the cross? A Jesus without the dying? Glory without death and resurrection first? How often is the crucified life at the center of the sermons you here? How often is it a “try harder” or “do more” message that you are believing? How often is it glory without grace? I can think of one of the best selling Christian books in America and one of the largest, most famous churches in America that are both devoid of the cross.
Any message, no matter how cool, slick, or powerful the messenger, if it is devoid of the cross, must be rejected. We are betrothed to Jesus. The Jesus who became weak. The Jesus that took on flesh. The Jesus who entered into our pain and suffering. The Jesus that had to rely on grace, and not his own power, to escape the crucifixion. The Jesus that gave up his life for us. Is this the Jesus you are walking down the aisle to? Is this your lover?
“To live is Christ” unites you to this Jesus. The one who shares glory by means of the crucified life. Not the morality Jesus, or the miracle Jesus. The Jesus of grace.
Ask God to reveal any ways that you may be being deceived about who Christ is. Is the cross at the center of your gospel? How does union with Christ connect you spiritually to the crucified life? Why is it foolish to seek a life that avoids the cross?