I’ve had a Scripture going on in my head now for a few days. I’m sure (because I didn’t immediately look it up), that it was a paraphrase in my mind’s eye and ear for the longest time.
But that’s ok!
The more we read the Word… the more we study… the more the Word becomes hidden in our hearts. And the more we understand the true meaning even if the precise words fail us.
The good news is, since that study leads, eventually, to understanding, it’s worth every time we have to turn around and look it up. Even a dozen times or more. It’s so worth it!
Anyway, here’s the Scripture:
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.2 Corinthians 11:3
The Gospel is simple. What Paul was saying here, and went on to elaborate in greater detail, was that the original Gospel message was just plain simple.
He says he is “rude in speech, yet not in knowledge”. You can find other similar statements in the New Testament about other disciples and apostles who preached that FIRST Gospel message.
Take a look at this Scripture, concerning Peter and John:
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.Acts 4:13
Wow, right? They were “unlearned and ignorant men”, the Word says. But they took knowledge of them, that they were with Jesus.
Man. That’s one of the most amazing Scriptures ever, don’t you think?
I’m sure in the cases of all three men, there was a common thread.
Paul was probably the most educated of the three. With an impressive lineage, many qualifications, and a very zealous demeanor, his destiny would have put him on a far different path prior to meeting Jesus on the road.
We know Peter was also zealous, but his zealousness often led him to be impulsive, without thinking things through. Why, even after Jesus told him about the rock on which He would build the church, He still called out, “Get thee behind me satan,” immediately after.
John didn’t have the same rabble-rousing personality that Peter and Paul did. He was an apostle of love, often quiet. He probably spent a lot more time thinking than speaking. But from passages like this one, we know he really fits right in with the others.
It was their boldness that set them apart. Their fierce loyalty to God-made-flesh, their Friend, their Brother… their Savior. They were willing to (and eventually did) die for Him.
And yet, it was a simple message. One so simple, in fact, that Paul feared the worst for some of his listeners. He was afraid that they would fall prey to the same subtilty that Even fell prey to.
And Paul, always ready to defend the Word, said it plainly: If anyone preaches another Jesus, or if you receive another spirit… you “might well bear with him”.
What did he mean? He meant that if you sit under preaching that dares preach another Jesus than the One the Apostles preached… or if you received another spirit… you might just fall right in line with what satan was trying to get you to believe.
And if that can happen to EVE… and Adam… how much more could it happen to US?
I mean, it’s not like we ever walked with God, or spoke with Him in person, the way that they did.
But satan came and, without any violence at all, simply spoke to Eve. He told (taught) her things that were “good” and “pleasant” and “desirable”. He even told her that God had lied to her by saying she would die!
Why she wouldn’t die, he said. No, “what God really meant” (he said, in a manner of speaking), was that you’d actually be like gods yourselves. You’ll know good and evil! he said.
So, as she got on board with all his candy-coated talk, forsaking the simplicity of the commandment, she forever sealed their doom. With a single bite of that “good, and pleasant, and desirable” fruit, she laid aside the simplest of instructions. She preferred the intriguing speech that Paul called “beguiling” and “subtil”.
“Beguile”, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, means ONE THING and ONE THING only: to deceive.
So satan deceived Eve, and he did it through subtilty, which simply means cunning false wisdom, according to the same reference book.
Back to what Paul was saying… that even satan transformed himself into an angel of light. So it was no surprise then that his (satan’s) ministers would come off as “righteous”, but in the end, they would fall to their works.
Again (because I’ve said it a million times before, but you might not have read those posts), we ARE NOT SAVED BY WORKS!!
If we truly seek to serve Him, we WILL work to adhere to His ways, His commandments, and His doctrine. That’s both the long and short of it! No one, “saved” or not, will enter the Kingdom with sin on his or her back. Nor will they enter without fulfilling the required steps in the salvation plan.
Jesus preached it. The disciples preached it. Paul preached it. How dare we think otherwise?
Paul says if we listen to beguiling and subtil preaching (a doctrine OTHER than what the disciples and apostles preached), we might go the way of Eve as well.
And it wasn’t like he was simply “preaching in passing”. He goes on to speak of all that he went through in order to boast Jesus to all that would listen.
He was beaten with rods, whipped, stoned, and shipwrecked. There were treacherous journeys, dangerous waters, robbers, hunger, thirst, exhaustion, pain, fasting, and even nakedness. Why in the world would he go through all that simply to preach a different Gospel than Jesus and the disciples had taught? If that were the case, it wouldn’t be Truth.
And that’s just a taste of what he went through. He wasn’t complaining. He was just trying to make plain the fact that he wasn’t just saying these things to be saying them! That he went through all of that so that those who listened to his preaching might know the truth.
After all… the Truth really does make us free.