Monday, 23 November 2015
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3
Following Paul’s words to the Corinthians that he had “betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ,” come almost anguished words. He begins with, “But I fear…” It is a future fear, meaning that what he is afraid of has not happened yet, but it looks like things are heading in that direction.
The words “lest somehow” give the idea that any possible means would be used to effect what Paul worries might come about. It may be a direct attack, or it might be a subtle flanking maneuver, or by some other means. However, what he is fearful about could come to pass. And the fear is that “as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted.”
This is Paul’s only direct allusion to the story of the serpent in Eden. It comes from Genesis 3 and he undoubtedly understood the serpent to be the devil, just as John so poignantly reveals in his writings. There in the garden, the serpent deceived Eve. She was prepared as a bride for Adam and yet she was corrupted through the devil’s guile.
The analogy then is that the church is prepared as a bride for Christ, the last Adam (see 1 Corinthians 15:45). But just as Eve was corrupted by the serpent, so the church could be “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Adam and Eve were given one command, and yet through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, they were drawn away into disobedience. In Christ we have also been given a means of remaining faithful which is simplicity itself. We are to believe the gospel. We are, in fact, saved by grace through faith in Jesus.
However, that simple message is so easily corrupted through the same three pressure points – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. Any of these, or a combination of them, will draw us away from the truth. Paul will continue to explain this in the verses ahead. He also explains it in a myriad of ways in his other letters. We are not to add to the gospel in any way. Instead, we are to understand that salvation is by grace through faith.
How easily our minds can be corrupted from this message though! Faith becomes a stumbling block because it seems too easy. And so we add in works, we add in precepts, we add in a false Jesus…. whatever! The devil deceives us and pulls us away from Christ Jesus, misdirecting us to a false gospel, which is no gospel at all.
Life application: How silly we are to add to what being a true Christian is! Some say that if we don’t support the nation of Israel, we are false Christians. That may be a point of sound doctrine, but it is not a point of salvation. Some say that we must observe the Sabbath or we are false Christians. That is reintroducing the law which was fulfilled in Christ. Thus it sets aside the work of Christ. Whatever someone adds in to the gospel, reject it. We are saved by grace through faith in the completed work of Christ – period!
Glorious God, Almighty Father, help us to be sound in our understanding of the gospel. Your word tells us that we are saved by grace through faith without any works added. Help us to trust this and not to get sidetracked by silly arguments which can only corrupt our minds and draw us away from the simplicity of the gospel that is in Christ. Right doctrine is important, but it is a follow-up to salvation by grace through faith. Help us to understand this. To Your glory we pray. Amen.