So I’m continuing on the train of thought I drifted onto yesterday. Today my heart rests on 2 Corinthians 10-11. These two chapters speak directly to issues that I have wrestled with of late. As someone who loves the Word, and loves the church, I read with interest, and sometimes dismay about things that occur in the larger Church world. There is no doubt that the terrain can be treacherous. But as one who takes seriously the term “faith seeking understanding”, it is a journey I must make.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on such matters by any stretch. But I just need to vent for a few minutes…
Paul used the phrase “super apostles” to describe the leaders he is speaking about in this passage. He called these men false apostles and deceitful workmen. They denied Paul his legitimate claim of apostleship because he refused to “burden” the Corinthians while with them and instead sought assistance from other sources or from the work of his own hands. They “boast[ed] the way the world does” and “enslave[d] and [took] advantage of” the Corinthians. They asserted their authority to take from the Corinthians and proclaimed themselves worthy by commending themselves to Christ.
How applicable to ourselves today! Paul reminds us that the enemy can masquerade as “an angel of light”. Deception is so deceptive because it is so subtle. The enemy never shows his hand until he has robbed you blind. He is a master of trickery and sleight of hand. Why do we expect him to raise a banner announcing his arrival?
In Colossians 2:2-4, Paul prayed that the believers in Colossae would “reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.” His desire was that no one delude them with “plausible arguments”. This is an important phrase. Plausible means they sound reasonable on their face and therefore can be accepted by those who do not discern and dig. There is always a sliver of truth that makes the argument attractive enough to be considered. An outright lie would be found out to quickly. The enemy has used subtly since the beginning…his tactics never change.
As I stated yesterday, false teachers and the teaching they promote is not something we only have to concern ourselves with from outside sources – the problem will also come from within. Paul called on the Ephesian elders he addressed in Acts 20 to protect the flock; he charged Titus and Timothy to do the same; and he himself did likewise. Paul had no patience – and no kind words – for those who preached “another Christ” to the churches. And he exhorted the elders of the churches to have the same mind as he.
This is no less true today. We are still assaulted by “plausible arguments” that are just as lethal and worthy of disdain as did the early church. How many times are we warned in the New Testament that this would be the case – and yet we shrink back from holding any firm stand on issues of doctrine? Those who decry debates about doctrine as unnecessary, unloving or divisive have in my view underestimated the power of the enemy as he seeks to dilute the Gospel message. It’s all about unity – and indeed it should be. But how can we be unified in anything other than truth? If false teaching proliferates unchecked for the sake of unity, that is not true unity. We are sanctified and unified by the truth. Jesus is that truth; but we must be clear about what we mean when we say that. Otherwise, we will be tossed back and forth by every wind of doctrine.
I just had to get that off my chest…