2 Corinthians 11:1-11 (ESV)
Paul and the False Apostles
11 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. 5 Indeed, 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!
“I am afraid that…your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Paul was afraid that the Corinthians’ faith – their conviction about Jesus and his salvation – was being watered down by his opponents. By calling into question Paul’s integrity, these opponents also cast doubts on Paul’s message. And by casting doubt on Paul’s message, they were chipping away at his call for purity, honesty, and righteousness.
Not much has changed, has it? Let’s face it. It’s hard to live the Christian life! Not only do we struggle with our own internal weaknesses and sins but we also fact a barrage of temptations from the devil and from the world around us. If our appetites aren’t being attacked with temptations toward gluttony or lust, you can be sure that our intellects are being weakened through fuzzy logic or questionable philosophies, and dare I add, theologies.
So what should we do? Protect ourselves by living like hermits closed off from the world? Stick our fingers in our ears and cover our eyes whenever we go out?
Not at all! Giving up like that is almost as bad as giving in to temptation. Why? Because when we try to hide from the world, we are telling ourselves that Jesus isn’t big enough to handle our challenges. Not to mention, it’s next to impossible to silence all these opposing voices, since so many of them originate in our own hearts.
Rather than trying to wall yourself off from the world, go on the offensive. In faith and confidence, stand up to all these voices and tell them that Christ is in you and that you are in Christ. Tell them that they are only shadows, weak whispers when compared to the power of the Holy Spirit and the divine life that he has placed in your heart.
It really is possible to live a life of “sincere and pure commitment to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). You may not be perfect at it, but daily practice – and daily surrender to Jesus – can go a long way in building up your faith. So stand tall and stay close to Jesus. Then watch as the devil flees!
Jesus, I know that without you I am nothing. But I also know that with you I have everything. Give me confidence to fight the good fight of faith today.