Subtlety of Temptation: Half-Truths
Read 2 Corinthians 11:1–15
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals that the Lord God made.Genesis 3:1
Last October a church janitor opened fire on the Atlanta congregation where he was once employed, killing the man who was leading the prayer service. In December, a gunman killed Kimberly Scott as she decorated for a children’s Christmas party at her church near Altoona, Pennsylvania.
We don’t usually suspect the motives or intentions of those sitting right next to us in the pew. The place where we worship feels like it should be the safest place. It’s where we can let our guard down—or can we? The apostle Paul talks today about the subtle maneuvering of the “false apostles” in Corinth in the very context of “church.”
In the book of 2 Corinthians, which was probably the third or fourth letter Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, Paul was on the defensive. A strong, vocal group of dissenters publicly criticized Paul’s apostolic qualifications and the methods of his ministry. They commended themselves as superior to Paul and sought to win the loyal following of the Corinthian church.
Paul makes clear that it is not only his ministry that is at stake: it’s the faith and devotion of the Corinthian church. Paul is bold and unequivocal, branding the false apostles as servants of Satan. He exposes their game as a charade: they’ve sought not to replace the gospel but to counterfeit it. They haven’t done away with Jesus, but the Jesus they proclaim is not the Jesus of Nazareth whom Paul met on the road to Damascus.
Paul warns the Corinthians of Satan’s deceptive tactics. He reminds them how Eve fell prey to this same subtle strategy of distorting God’s Word.
Apply the Word
There are enemies within the church, and they aren’t usually as easy to recognize as someone waving a loaded gun. Satan does not want anyone devoted to Jesus and the gospel. Our charge is to be like the Bereans, who studied the Scriptures diligently and tested the truthfulness of every teaching against God’s revelation (Acts 17).
Pray with Us
Continuing our prayers for the Worship department, let’s ask the Lord to strengthen them.