Gullible, Tolerant, and Undiscerning.
2 Corinthians 11:1-15
You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you believed. – 2 Corinthians 11:4 NLT
We live in the age of tolerance. The clear lines of distinction are becoming increasingly blurred. Right and wrong are subjective opinions, not objective realities. Truth is left up to the individual. Rules are restrictive and confining. Morals are old-fashioned and puritanistic. Everyone with access to the Internet has a ready-made platform for disseminating their version of the truth and demanding that their views be accepted, regardless of how indefensible or even reprehensible they may be. The general population is easily persuaded, and willingly duped into believing just about anything. This is a difficult age in which to live as a believer. Our views about Christ and the exclusive nature of the gospel message are deemed intolerant and inexcusable for this “enlightened” age in which we live. We are constantly being pressured to accept any and all opinions regarding everything from faith to the definition of the family. We are demanded to place human rights over what we believe the Bible teaches to be right. Even within the realm of Christianity, there are those who would have us accept their version of the gospel. They want to cherry-pick the Word of God and build a system of belief based on a few isolated passages that seem to support their own opinion. And if we speak out against them, we are labeled as unloving and intolerant.
Paul faced similar circumstances in the early days of the church. It had not taken long for Christianity to spread and for others to seize upon its growing popularity. Teachers and so-called “experts” were popping up everywhere, most of them teaching a version of the truth that contradicted what Paul had been teaching. They questioned his authority and tried to undermine his influence among the Corinthian believers. These men were persuasive, eloquent, and tended to teach a version of the “truth” that was more palatable and user-friendly. Paul, who had a vested interest in the spiritual well-being of the Corinthian church, had to watch from a distance as these “super apostles” wreaked havoc among the gullible and unsuspecting believers in Corinth. As far as Paul was concerned, the Christians in Corinth were eagerly and happily tolerating just about anything anyone wanted to teach them. Their ability to discern right from wrong and truth from fiction was negligible. He saw happening in Corinth exactly what he had warned Timothy about. “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NLT).
Paul made it painfully clear – these people were false apostles and “deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13 NLT). He compared them to Satan himself, who entraps people by disguising himself as an angel of light. These people were disguising themselves as servants of righteousness, but were really teaching unrighteousness, because their gospel was different from that which Christ came to bring. They had taken the message regarding Jesus and altered it to fit their own agenda. They sounded good. Their message was persuasive. Their content made sense. But it was false and, ultimately, dangerous. That’s why Paul warned Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT). The Word of God is to be our criteria for truth. And not just certain portions of the Word of God. ALL Scripture is inspired by God. We must take the Bible as a whole and not divide it into convenient parts that support our presuppositions or opinions. It is not up to us to define truth, then use the Scriptures to validate it. Our opinions must be influenced by the Word of God and not the other way around. Otherwise, we will end up as easy prey for those who would deceive and mislead us, telling us what we long to hear, while neglecting to tell us the truth that God has provided for us in His Word.
Father, protect us from our own gullibility and pride. We tend to listen for what we want to hear, rather than for what we need to hear. We prefer our version of the truth over Yours. We can be easily swayed to accept falsehood if it sounds plausible and pleasant. But You have called us to live according to Your Word and in keeping with Your truth. Make us students of Your Word and faithful defenders of Your truth, even if it brings us suffering and rejection. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men