Reading Time: 6 Minutes
One of the jobs of a shepherd is to protect the sheep against wolves. As shepherd of the church in Corinth, Paul’s job was to keep the sheep safe against wolves that had entered the church.
His job was a tricky one, because some of the congregation had been deceived by the wolves, who were called by Paul “super-apostles” and at other times “false apostles.”
Chapters 10, 11 and part of 12 are devoted to Paul’s defense of his ministry. In actuality, he was defending the good news of Jesus Christ.
Married to Christ
Like the best man in a wedding Paul could say, “I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11.2).
The Letter to the Ephesians describes God’s plan for the church.
“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word,
“So as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind — yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5.25-27).
Paul knew that Satan’s plan for the bride of Christ was for her to be “led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11.3).
Satan often uses deception to turn God’s people away from his best for their lives.
In Corinth Satan’s deception was delivered so-called “super-apostles,” who were dishonest traveling preachers. They used three means of deception.
— Verse 4 – A wrong and dishonest picture of the person and work of Jesus.
— Verse 5 – An attack on Paul’s character.
— Verse 6 – An attack on Paul’s abilities.
It is easy to be deceived by clever and persuasive communicators. Here are some ways we can protect ourselves and the people we serve.
The best way to understand Jesus is to read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) on a regular basis.
If someone’s idea seems strange to the attitudes and actions of Jesus in the Gospels, it should be critically examined.
An old, but very dishonest, debate technique is when you don’t have the facts to back up your claim, attack the other person’s character or abilities.
When we see this technique being used, we will be wise to examine the motives and message of the person who uses it.
After Paul defended his ministry to the church in verses 7-11, he exposed the deceivers for who they were.
He described the “wolves” with these words: “For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11.13).
There are times when very persuasive but dishonest people must be exposed. Paul knew they were dishonest, deceitful and false because the result of their effort was to draw the church away from devotion to Jesus Christ.
Paul strongly put them in the same category as Satan and wrote, “And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
“So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11.14-15).
Without a doubt, Paul leveled very serious charges. How can we protect ourselves against similar sorts of deceptive people. Here are questions we can ask.
(1) What do they teach about Jesus? Is their teaching consistent the attitudes and actions of Jesus in the Gospels?
(2) Does their message make me want to live a more devoted life to Jesus? Or, does their message make me want to be devoted to their cause or their person?
(3) Do they attack the character or abilities of others as a means of persuasion?
Shut Up and Show Me
One of the strongest men I know was also a very nice man (thankfully). He worked as a personal trainer and provided his trainees a t-shirt with the slogan, “Shut Up and Show Me!”
I never trained with him and neither did I have a t-shirt, but the slogan is quite appropriate for Paul’s challenge to the “wolves” who were deceiving the church.
Verses 21-33 are too long to include in this article. If you take time to read these verses, you will agree with me that no one should have criticized Paul’s character or devotion to Christ.
Paul was the ultimate “Shut Up and Show Me” guy, but not in a strong man way. He demonstrated his devotion to Jesus like the old Timex watch commercials. “He took a licking and kept on ticking.”
I hope you are never confronted by a deceptive false leader in your Christian journey. However, if you are pay attention to what they say. Then, by all means pay attention to what they do.
Above all, let’s strive to be the bride of Christ that Jesus is worthy to have – devoted, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind — yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.”
May We Pray for You?
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