Saturday, March 27, 2021

Saturday Devotion: Do Not Be Deceived !

2 Corinthians 11:7–15 includes Paul's unmasking of the false apostles in Corinth. They disguise themselves as servants of righteousness as Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Paul is a spiritual father who wants to protect the Corinthians from deceptions. Paul doubles down on his commitment not to take funds from the Corinthians for his own needs, simply to prove how he is different from the false apostles. Paul may have been mocked by the false apostles in Corinth for this principle. Or, for doing the manual labor of making tents to support himself when he first came to Corinth. Some of the Corinthians themselves may have resented Paul's stubborn refusal to take money from them when he was willing to take it from less wealthy churches. His motivation was important, though: to never cloud the message that God's grace and forgiveness were free gifts to those who trusted in Christ.

The point of Paul's speaking and teaching, though, was not to make a living for himself. It was to do God's work in leading unbelievers to faith in Christ. He wanted to be simple and straightforward. Paul’s boasting in his weakness and unimpressive image was an embarrassment to the Corinthian Christians. But He embarrassed them this way, because he loved them and would find a way to bring them back from their worldly thinking. Paul never wanted to use a florid language, nor did Jesus. Look at the sharp language he employed on occasion with the Pharisees. He said they were like "dead men's tombs full of rotting bones" (Matthew 23:27).

This should be our motivation too. To speak the truth when we have to and have no selfish motives when working for the Lord.

Paul then says, the most dangerous form in which Satan comes to us is as an angel of light (Vs 14). If the devil knocked on your door and took off his top hat and said, "Hello, I'm the devil. I've come to ruin your life and I'm about to do it today," you would not have any trouble handling him, would you? But he wouldn’t, he will come up with something so alluring and so fulfilling that you wouldn’t want to miss it.

The Devil's greatest weapon has always been deception. The most effective deception is to convince people that what is evil is actually good, that what is dark is actually light. By coating lies in a veneer of truth, it's much easier to fool people into accepting what is false. Paul had already compared the work of these false apostles to Satan's deception of Eve in the garden (2 Corinthians 11:3, Genesis 3:1–8). Paul takes that even further in the following verse.

2 Corinthians 11:15, “So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve." These false teachers, like the Devil, pretend to be servants of righteousness. They pretend to preach Christ and His gospel, but instead preach a false version of both. You can be deceived by their words of prosperity. They make immorality look pleasurable. they make popularity enticing. Jesus came to rescue us from this terrible grip and said, “Take heed that no one deceives you” (Matthew 24:4). Subtly, even contemporary Christian music can leaven with wrong theology. Be watchful always, and discerning the times in which we live. Paul pleads in Philippians 3:18-19 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction.

The way to avoid being trapped, in a world filled with delusion today, is simply this: Keep close to the Shepherd. Retain the simplicity that is in Christ. God is faithful who has called us into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us say as David did, I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. (Psalm 101:3)

Recommended prayer

We thank you, dear Father, for your word that brings to light mistakes, pride and hypocrisy. Teach us to walk in your ways, without being deceived by the evil one. Thank you that, though, we live in a dangerous world we are kept by a faithful God and Saviour. Grant that we may walk close to You, not let anything take us away from that day-by-day, moment-by-moment companionship of your holy presence. In Jesus' name, Amen.