2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 41
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|What is the heart of a true teacher in the danger of deception? In the midst of it, what’s the heart of a true teacher when deception is on every corner? To get you into this, let’s talk about some things for a moment.|
The Heart of a true teacher – Part 2 (2 Cor 11:4-6)
Let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 11:4-6 today. I really thought I’d be moving quicker, but there’s just so much here you just don’t want to skim over it. We’re talking about “The Danger of Spiritual Deception,” and this is really the same message as last week, it just continues on. “The Heart of a True Teacher – Part 2.” It’s completing the message we began this past week.
What is the heart of a true teacher in the danger of deception? In the midst of it, what’s the heart of a true teacher when deception is on every corner? To get you into this, let’s talk about some things for a moment. The desire to protect those who are precious to you is a beautiful thing. It’s a built-in characteristic in Moms and Dads to protect their children. You’ve never seen anything like it. My wife is so quiet and so humble unless you mess with me or mess with our kids, and it’s amazing how she just comes out of her corner. It’s just built in to do that.
You see it even in the animal world. You know, that’s what interests me for a lot of reasons. But in the animal world, anybody that knows anything about animals knows that you don’t mess with, for instance, a cow moose when they have a young calf. You don’t mess with them. Now, they might be a beautiful picture to take out on a field, but you don’t mess with one when they’ve got that calf, because they’re going to protect it at all costs. You’ve read the article several years ago on a university campus in Alaska; they’d been throwing snowballs at a cow moose with her calf all day long. It aggravated her and frustrated her and a man very innocently came over to work out in the gym and without realizing what was going on, got between the cow moose and the calf, and the cow moose trampled him to death. Because what was it doing? It was protecting its calf.
You see, that’s just built in. When it refers to a Christian teacher who loves God’s Word and wants to protect his flock from false doctrine, pardon the phrase, but “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet” about that protective ability to do something to protect the flock from false doctrine. God creates within a teacher’s heart a desire to do whatever it takes to protect God’s sheep from false doctrine. And that desire to protect is God’s heart in a teacher loving the people who love His Word.
Now Paul shows us that, in order to protect the flock at Corinth from the false teachers in their midst, he risks embarrassing himself with what he calls foolishness as he begins chapter 11. He says in verse 1, “I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me.” Now, you can just hear the consternation in Paul’s voice because Paul is one who never wanted to commend himself. He had just said in chapter 10 that a person is never approved unless he’s commended by God. Men can approve him all they want, but God has to make the approval. God’s the One who commends us.
So Paul never tried to commend himself, but wanted only God to commend him. But now he’s about to talk about himself and it makes him very uncomfortable. Paul is a teacher who desperately wanted the flock at Corinth to be protected from the false teachers who called themselves apostles and they were teaching all kinds of heresy to that church. His fear was that as Eve was deceived by the craftiness of the serpent, that the believers in Corinth would be deceived by the false teachers. Verse 3, “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, you minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
Now, we need to understand that statement. A believer’s simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ is the secret to enjoying the grace that a believer already has in Christ Jesus. Now, make sure you hear what I’m saying. Once a person receives Christ into his life, he has already at that moment been given every spiritual blessing in him, and we know that from Ephesians 1:3. All of the promises in Scripture are ours in Christ Jesus it says in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him, Jesus is our Amen to the glory of God through us.”
I want to make a side note here. These are promises, they’re not promissory notes. Do you know what I’m talking about: promissory notes? We have been forgiven. I quoted from 1 John 1:9 last week and make sure you understand that verse. It says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “If we continue to confess” is present tense, “he will forgive us” aorist tense, He’s already forgiven us, “and he will continue to cleanse us,” present tense again. And what it’s saying is that you don’t have to make installment payments in order to get the forgiveness. You already have the forgiveness. And if you have the forgiveness you have a sensitivity in your heart toward sin, therefore you will continue to confess. Therefore you will enjoy all the benefits of that forgiveness which is a cleansing to the point that you’ll enjoy fellowship with God.
Now that’s a promise from God that we already have these things. Whether or not we’re enjoying Him, however, hinges on the simplicity and the purity of our devotion to Christ. That word “simplicity,” haplotes, which means “single mindedness.” The word for “purity” is the word that could be translated “sincerity” and compliments the word simplicity. False doctrine and wrong thinking leads a person off of the track from his single minded focus upon Jesus and Christ alone. And when that gets off track you don’t begin to experience what you really already have.
As we saw in the book of Joshua; the same principle. The word “led astray” is one Greek word, which is the word phtheiro, which means to “violate, to subvert with wrong information.” Wrong information is so dangerous because it controls the way you think and the way you make your choices. The word for “mind” as we saw last week is noema, and it has to do with one’s ability to understand and to perceive what is right.
So what Paul is worried about is that the Corinthian church is going to get off track. It’s so simple: when you get saved, the same way you get saved, the same way you walk in it, you can continue to keep your focus upon Jesus, depending upon Him to do what you know you cannot do, but when wrong doctrine gets in here, it sidetracks you like two trains running opposite of each other and one of them gets sidetracked and they hit head on. It brings destructive things in your life.
You see, it doesn’t have to be false doctrine. There are a lot of things that can get you off track. Ministry can get you off track. Some people are more in love with ministry than they are with Christ. And what happens is that whatever your cause is, you become judgmental of others because they don’t have your cause, because that’s become the focus of your life. And as a result of it, you’re not walking in the fullness of what God said is yours in Him.
Well, Paul was afraid for the church of Corinth because he knew what was going on there. That’s why he was afraid. As a true teacher then we need to look and see what that true teacher of Paul is in the midst of deception that’s all around him. What’s going on here? What can we see from him that we can glean this morning?
A true teacher cares about who and what the flock listens to
Well, not only does he want to protect the flock from false doctrine, but a true teacher who wants to protect the flock cares about who and what they listen to. Now this is so critical. The false apostles were preaching deceitful things about the Lord Jesus and the problem was not so much that, yes that’s bad in itself, but the problem was the people, the believers of Corinth were listening to them. That’s the problem. And the more you listen to them; the best way to stop false doctrine is just stop listening to it. That’s the best way in the world to do it and focus on what is right.
Look at 11:4, “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached,” and he has someone in mind. Paul preached the One, true Lord Jesus Christ, the only One through whom we might be saved. Now Paul preached Him; the Jesus of the Bible. The Corinthians had heard his message and many of them had received it and were saved; it was the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul uses the word “Jesus” 44 times at least in 1 and 2 Corinthians. And I’ve just chosen a few to show you the Jesus that he preached: the biblical Jesus.
He preached the Jesus who sets us apart, which is the word “sanctified” or the word “saint” in 1 Corinthians 1:2. He’s the Jesus who gives us grace and peace, 1 Corinthians 1:3-4. He’s the Jesus who will confirm us to the end as blameless in him, 1 Corinthians 1:8. He’s the Jesus in whom we find fellowship in 1 Corinthians 1:9. He’s our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification and our redemption in 1 Corinthians 1:30. He’s the One in whom we have victory in 1 Corinthians 15:57. He’s the One who enables us to love one another in 1 Corinthians 16:24. He’s the One who lives His life through us in 2 Corinthians 4:10-11, and He’s the One who laid His life down for us in 2 Corinthians 8:9.
He is the Jesus of Scripture. Now that’s who Paul preached, that’s who they heard, that’s who they received. I’ve read this once or twice since I’ve been here but it really fits right now. Someone else has talked about this Jesus, this biblical Jesus and he did it in such a beautiful way. He says,
“Jesus is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is the keeper of creation and the Creator of all. He’s the architect of the universe and the manager of all times. He always was, He always is and He always will be. Unmoved, unchanged, undefeated, and never undone. He was bruised and brought healing. He was pierced and eased pain. He was persecuted and brought freedom. He was dead and brought life. He is risen and brings power. He reigns and brings peace. The world can’t understand Him, the armies can’t defeat Him, the schools can’t explain Him, the leaders can’t ignore Him, Herod couldn’t kill Him, the Pharisees couldn’t confuse Him, the people couldn’t hold Him, Nero couldn’t crush Him, Hitler couldn’t silence Him, the new age can’t replace Him, and the talk show hosts can’t explain Him away.
“He is light, love, longevity, and Lord. He is goodness, kindness, gentleness, and God. He is holy, righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure. His ways are pure; His Word is eternal. His will is unchanging and His mind is on me. He is my Redeemer, He is my Savior. He is my Guide, and He is my Peace. He is my Joy, He is my Comfort, He is my Lord, and He rules my life. I serve Him because His bond is love, His burden is light, and His goal for me is abundant life. I follow Him because He’s the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the ancient of days, the Ruler of rulers, the Leader of leaders, the Overseer of the over comers, and the sovereign Lord of all that was, all that is, and all that is to come.
“And if that seems impressive to you, try this one on for size: His goal is a relationship with me. He’ll never leave me, He’ll never forsake me. He’ll never mislead me, He’ll never forget me. He’ll never overlook me; He’ll never cancel my appointment in His appointment book. When I fall, He lifts me up. When I fail, He forgives. When I’m weak, He is strong. When I’m lost, He is the way. When I’m afraid, He is my courage. When I stumble, He steadies me. When I’m hurt, He heals me. When I’m broken, He mends me. When I’m blind, He leads me. When I’m hungry, He feeds me. When I face trails, He is with me. When I face persecution, He shields me. When I face problems, He comforts me. When I face loss, He provides for me. When I face death, He carries me home.
“He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time, and every day. He is God. He is faithful. I am His and He is mine. My Father in heaven can whip the father of this world. So if you are wondering why I feel so secure, understand this: He said it and that settles it. God is in control. I’m on His side, and that means all is well with my soul. Every day is a blessing for God is.”
Now, this is the Jesus that Paul preached, the biblical Jesus. Paul could have written that because He knew Him intimately and the people had received Him into their heart. But what’s the problem? There were those in Corinth who were deceiving the people, deliberately misrepresenting the Lord Jesus Christ. If you’ve never studied 1 Corinthians you don’t know that. But in 1 Corinthians 12:3 he said some people are saying that Jesus is accursed. You know what that means? Jesus is still under the curse. In other words, He’s not God, He’s only a mere man. And that was going on right there in Corinth.
And Paul is fearing this because they’re listening to it. He says, “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached.” Now the word “another” is the word allos—this is an impossibility—which is the word that means “another of exactly the same kind.” There is no other Jesus of the same kind. In other words, metaphorically you can say they were preaching another way of salvation. The whole message was foreign to anything that Paul and his team had ever preached. The message of these false teachers brought an entirely different spirit than the Holy Spirit that had come into their lives when they received the biblical Jesus.
It says in verse 4, “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received.” Now that word “different” is heteros, which means “another of a totally different kind.” It sometimes is translated “another.” Here’s what it would say then, “or you receive a different spirit of a totally different kind which you have not received.” You see, instead of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit of God who brings freedom and light and produces love in our hearts, they received from a false message a different spirit; the spirit of bondage, the spirit of fear, the spirit of being judgmental of everybody else. There’s only One Holy Spirit who comes to live in us when we receive the biblical Lord Jesus Christ.
First Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” Ephesians 4:4-5, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one lord, one faith, one baptism. You see, when the biblical Jesus is received, when the gospel is preached, then the Holy Spirit comes to live in them. But it’s also the Spirit of Christ. This is the Holy Spirit that He promised in John 14:16-18. Right when He was going back to His Father He said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
So, again, the Holy Spirit, the One that comes when we receive Christ effectually, is the Spirit of Christ. He says in Romans 8:9, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” So the problem here is that they are listening to a different message, a different Jesus, and the result is a different spirit that comes from what they’re listening to. These false teachers were preaching a false Jesus and, as a result, a different spirit. Verse 4 again, “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received,” they were listening to the false teachers preach a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different message which brought no life whatsoever.
Well, that’s part of verse 4, “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted.” You see a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different message. But here’s what was causing Paul to fear. That’s going to go on until Jesus comes back. We know the false teachers are everywhere, trying to lure people off the track of following Jesus Christ. What was causing him to fear was that they so easily welcomed these people and they listened to them. They had no discernment whatsoever. They were actually paying attention to what these people were saying. Paul says, “you bear this beautifully.” That’s the last part of verse 4.
The word “bear” is the Greek word anechomai, and it means “to endure something, to admit it by listening to it.” You admit it, you endure it. Why? Because you’re listening to it. The word “beautifully,” “you bear this beautifully,” is the word kalos, and it means “good, in a good way.” In other words, you do well, you listen to these people. It’s sort of an ironic idea that he’s bringing out here. “How ironic it is;” Paul says, “you won’t listen to me and I’m telling you the biblical Jesus, the One and true Holy Spirit and the gospel message, you won’t listen to me, but you turn right around and listen to these people and they’ve got a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different message.”
Isn’t it ironic how quickly some believers will turn to anything but Jesus? Now, that blows me away. How people can listen to some of the stuff that they’re listening to. I was watching “Larry King Live” several months ago and Larry King was talking to this guy, and you would know who he was, a famous person, and he said, “How do you attract so many people on a Sunday morning and on a weekend?” And he said, “Oh, listen, we just tell them what they want to hear. We don’t tell them anything that they don’t want to hear.”
I want to tell you something, folks. If you’ve ever seen this and seen the crowds that follow that, it’ll take you back. It’s exactly what Paul is saying right here. Why do you flock to somebody who’s not telling you what you need to hear? Why are you flocking to somebody who talks about your self-esteem instead of your identity being found in Christ? You see, here’s “A” and here’s “B,” and in between A and B there’s a cross, and nobody seems to want to tell people about the cross.
It’s like that friend of mine who said that lady walked up to him and said, “You’re preaching the Jesus that wants to hurt us.” He said, “No, no, you misunderstand. He wants to kill you, because until you learn to die to yourself, you’ll never have what you’re looking for in Him.” There’s a cross in between and nobody wants to hear it. And so Paul says, “Why is it that you’ll listen to them and you won’t listen to the biblical Jesus, the One and true Spirit, and the gospel message that comes straight from His Word?
See, Paul cares about this church. He cares about who they listen to. He cares about what they’re listening to. Why? Because he wanted to protect them from being seduced by false doctrine just like Eve was seduced. Remember he starts the verse 4 with verse 3. He wants to protect the people. A true teacher in the midst of the danger of deceptions all around him wants to protect the flock from false doctrine. And so therefore he cares about what they hear and listen to and who they listen to. He cares about that.
A true teacher has an intimate knowledge of the Jesus that he preaches
But then thirdly, a true teacher has an intimate knowledge of the Jesus that he preaches. Look at verse 5: “For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.” “For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.” Now, I want you to know straight out that Paul has no respect for these false apostles. None whatsoever. When he uses the term “eminent apostles” he uses it more of a tongue in cheek kind of way.
The false apostles were proud and arrogant and Paul was not impressed at all. The word “eminent” comes from two words; the word hyper, which means “above,” and phaino, which means “to shine, to shine over and above.” But it’s a term used, and particularly in this context, to describe outright arrogance and pride. That’s what it’s used for here. When added to the word “apostles” it just serves to point to the cocky, self-centered people who call themselves apostles. When Paul compared himself with them, there was no comparison. That’s what he’s telling them.
The word “consider,” from the phrase “when I consider,” the word is logizomai, which means “to put all the facts together.” Paul says, “When I put all the facts that you’re telling me about these people, and what I know about them, and I put them over here and then you put the other facts over here and you draw a line and you sum it up, man, they don’t even show up on the scale. I’m not going to compare myself with them. That’s pitiful.” The phrase “not in the least inferior” is the word hustereo, and it means literally “the last.” In other words, to be the back of the line behind those who are up front.
Well, the translation he has here, “inferior,” is an awesome translation, because that’s exactly what he’s saying. Paul says, “no way am I ever way back here and they’re way up there. There’s no possible way you can make that kind of comparison.” You know why? Many reasons, but he brings out one. And that’s because he knew the Jesus that he preached. He had an intimate knowledge with the Jesus that he preached and they didn’t have a clue.
Verse 6, “But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things.” That’s a powerful verse. The false apostles ran their mouth about the way Paul talked. We saw that back in verse 10 of chapter 10. They said his speech is contemptible. Now, why did they say that? It wasn’t because he was uneducated. It was because he wasn’t polished and the way he spoke was as if he wasn’t educated. Let me explain that.
This is one of the ways they tore him down to build themselves up. “But even if I am unskilled.” That word “unskilled” is the word idiotes, which means “unskilled” but it also can be translated “plain speaking.” Now, does that bring something home to you? The apostle Paul, when you study him you have to see it; the apostle Paul was not a politician. The apostle Paul was not about making people feel good or gaining friends by what he said. The apostle Paul got right to the point. He was plain speaking, whether it hurt them or whether it didn’t hurt them. He had a love in his heart but he told them the tough things. Got right to the point instead of masking everything with clever clichés to keep people from being offended in any way.
So to the polished people, the politicians, the apostles who were trying to gain superiority in the church, that was a sign of being uneducated. But how far off they were. Paul was the most educated man you could find in the New Testament other than Jesus Himself. He could stand on Mars Hill in Athens and stand on the big rock—I’ve been there, stood up on it—and he could stand there and take on the philosophers of Greece and these people were good and he could hold his own. He was a very educated man. Gamaliel had taught him the law, the greatest teacher of the law in all of Jerusalem. This was a man who was extremely intelligent. Peter said of Paul, “Boy, our friend Paul, he writes some tough things that we have to struggle to understand.” And yet, because he was plain-spoken, because he got right to the point, they thought that would be uneducated.
Paul got to the point. He didn’t mess around. He wasn’t trying to gain an audience and he wasn’t trying to get people to like him. He got right to the point. That’s what that word means: plain-spoken. And so these polished politicians, they’re wanting to be apostles and they said he wasn’t even educated.
In verse 6, “But even if I am unskilled in speech in their opinion,” and again, that’s tongue-in-cheek, “yet I am not so in knowledge;” now this is powerful, more than just biblical truth that he knew, Paul had an intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ that he preached. The word for “knowledge” is the word gnosis, and the word gnosis comes from ginosko, which is a deeper and experiential knowledge. It’s something more than a fact that you can take and twist and do whatever you want to do with it. It’s knowing a person; it’s experiencing that which he preached. Paul not only knew what he was talking about, Paul knew Who he was talking about, and he knew Him intimately. But the Corinthian believers knew this. This would really grate on the heart of a person who loves the people that he teaches. They knew he knew God. They knew he walked with Him. They had seen this in his life.
He said, “But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things.” And that word “evident” is the word phaneroo, which means “plain so that everybody has already seen this; I don’t have to tell you something you don’t know.” “Now, put me beside him,” he says. “Listen, they’re preaching a different Jesus, a different Spirit, a different message.” And I know that’s going to be around but he says to the church of Corinth, “My goodness, you know this in me. You know the fact that I’m a true apostle and yet you give them an audience?”
I want to bring it home for us today. Who are you listening to and what are you listening to? I have a hard time reading every book that comes to me. Everybody is giving me books and I so appreciate it, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes to sit down and read every book that comes across my desk. Three people gave me this one particular book and I’ll leave the title out. I don’t want to fight anybody. I read two pages and I thought, “What in the world is anybody doing reading this book?” And I continually hear it everywhere I go. “Have you read this book?” And I want to go, “Is there any discernment in the body of Christ?” That’s the thing that grated on the heart of Paul. Why would you read something that you know is off track?
Well, who and what are you listening to today? You see, the heart of a true teacher, there’s deception everywhere on every corner. How does he handle it? Well, he doesn’t go fight it but what he does is he tries to stand for truth. And he says he’s the one who wants to protect the flock from the false doctrine. He cares about who and what they’re listening to, deeply, deeply. And he has an intimate knowledge with the Jesus of whom he preaches.
It may not be polished, but he’s plain-spoken and he gets right to the point whether it hurts or not because he loves the people, and only the people that love you will tell you the truth, and even if it hurts. My wife and I were in a meeting once and she leaned over to me, and she’s never done this. I was laughing and she said, “Shut your mouth.” She’s said to be quiet before but she said, “Shut your mouth.” I looked at her and she could tell I couldn’t understand what she was saying and she said, “There’s something green hanging between your two teeth. Shut your mouth.”
You know, everybody else saw that hanging from my teeth. Nobody else would tell me. But she loved me and would tell me what I didn’t want to hear. And that’s what a true teacher will do when there’s deception on every corner. He’s not a politician; he’s not trying to get an audience to like him. He’s trying to tell people what will spare them because truth will set them free. Who are you listening to?
Eve was deceived—and maybe I haven’t made this point real clear and I want to close with it—Eve was deceived by the devil who was a craftsman at doing that. She was deceived by what appealed to her flesh. Now, think about what I’m saying. Think about it long and hard. What appealed to her flesh is what got her off track and caused the sin really, later on, of Adam which all of us were affected by. She saw the tree, the tree that God said, “Don’t you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” She saw first of all that it was good for food. It was the lust of the flesh; it would satisfy the flesh.
Secondly she saw that it was a delight to the eyes: the lust of the eyes. And thirdly, it’s desirable to make one wise: the pride of life. Let me just read it for you. I mentioned it last week. Let me read it for you. God warns us about this. And what is it that is deceiving people today? What appeals to their flesh? Why, it makes me feel good and I’m entertained and you just look at churches and how they’re trying to present a false picture, good to the eyes. The way they do things are so appealing to the eye and it really makes me wiser than I would have been otherwise.
First John 2:15 “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” If anyone loves and continues to love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” Not perfection, but predictability. The one who loves the Word of God which contains the will of God, lives forever.
I don’t know if you’re making the connection or not between A and B, but if you’re not single-mindedly focused on Christ, you’ve already fallen into the same trap the church of Corinth fell into. Something gets us off track. That’s why the truth of God’s Word is so important in days when deception is on every corner. Truth will set you free. Anything other is a false Jesus, a false spirit and it’s a false message. Again I say the problem was not that it was there, the problem was that they were listening to it. What are you listening to? Who are you listening to?