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Posts Tagged ‘false teaching’

confront

In 2 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul brought to light the spiritual nature of all the conflict happening in the Corinthian Church in an effort to point to the solution.  The solution he gave was the divine power of God to destroy strongholds, in other words, our spiritual weapons.  He began to defend himself in the face of much slander and personal attacks.

In chapters 11 and 12, we find Paul dealing with specific reasons why he personally was being maligned and the truth of what was going on in this corrupt church.  He begins seeking to unmask the dark realities by stating facts and asking questions that point to the truth of who he had been to them and who he was.  He calls it foolish because he is humble.  Humble men don’t usually go around listing their qualifications, but here we find that sometimes just that is necessary for the sake of the gospel.

Paul fears that the Corinthians were being deceived to believe in a different Jesus and a different gospel.  He is showing the foolishness of their willingness to accept false brothers and false teaching but not him and his truth!  His argument is that they would put up with falsehood and not say a word in opposition or correction.  They were embracing these false men as brothers while at the very same time refusing to accept and embrace Paul.  Against Paul, they railed.  Why?

The accusation made against Paul was that he did not speak right.  Unskilled speech.  He looks wrong.  Frivolous, differing preferences was all they could come up with against Paul.

If you want to avoid the truth someone is telling, personal attacks are all you have.

Paul answers those dumb objections and reasons to refuse him saying: “Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. “ 2 Corinthians 11:6

In verses 7-11 Paul states the facts that he had taken nothing from them and that he had given much to them.  He had gotten his needs met elsewhere and found a way to meet their needs without asking for payment.  He assures them that he was not going to be quiet about what he was about to say.  He knows they are going to claim that he is saying it because he does not love them so he puts that accusation to rest from the get-go.  He professes his great, enduring, long-suffering love and offers the proof as the fact that he preached to them for free, always.  He preached out of love and without asking for any return save their souls.  He wanted them to be saved and that was his only motivation.  Others wanted pay and position for what he did for them for free out of love.

Paul makes it clear that he is going to keep doing exactly what he had been doing in order to prove the false claims of the false followers who were maligning him false.

He says, these men boast of being servants of Christ!  Even if they truly were or are, so am I!  Why, then do you so despise and abuse me?  That is a question that begs an answer.  Christ’s ministers do not abuse and malign one another no matter how different they are.  Like mama said, it takes all kinds.  There is room for all in Christ.

So these guys are seeking to divide and Paul is seeking to unify – even though the opposite is being said of him and of them.

“I repeat, let no one think me foolish.  But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.” 2 Corinthians 11:16

He’s like, “Hey! you let other fools come in here and talk all the nonsense they want.  Can I have a turn?!”

“He gives a good reason why they should suffer him to boast a little; namely, because they suffered others to do so who had less reason…Or these words, ‘You suffer fools gladly, seeing you yourselves are wise,’ may be ironical, and then the meaning is this: ‘Notwithstanding all your wisdom, you willingly suffer yourselves to be brought into bondage under the Jewish yoke, or suffer others to tyrannize over you; nay, to devour you, or make a prey of you, and take of you hire for their own advantage, and to exalt themselves above you, and lord it over you; nay, even to smite you on the face, or impose upon you to your very faces, upbraiding you while they reproach me, as if you had been very weak in showing regard to me.’  Seeing this was the case, that the Corinthians, or some among them, could so easily bear all this from the false apostles, it was reasonable for the apostle to desire, and expect, they should bear with what might seem to them an indiscretion in him, seeking the circumstances of the case were such as made it needful that whereinsoever any were bold he should be bold also.” ~Matthew Henry

Paul goes on to say exactly who he is beginning in verse 21.  They say they come from Abraham?  So do I!  They say serve Christ?  So do I!  They say they suffered for the gospel?  So have I!  Even more so no doubt!  Consider the facts, friends.

“He chiefly insists upon this, that he had been an extraordinary sufferer for Christ.  Note, When the apostle would prove himself an extraordinary minister, he proves that he had been an extraordinary sufferer.” Matthew Henry

Paul had suffered greatly for the Lord and no one could deny him that boast.  There was not a weak or scandalized Christian alive whom Paul could not sympathize with.

In chapter 12, Paul goes on to share of his visitations from God.  One would think with such great visions and revelations he would have been focusing constantly and speaking always of these things, but no.  Paul is humble and only speaks of them for their betterment in this case.  He speaks more so of his suffering so that the power of Christ may rest upon him.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)  From this we glean that speaking of our own weaknesses candidly causes the power of Christ to rest upon us.

Lastly, he states his concern.  He’s like, “Hey!  I’m not inferior to these boasting “apostles.”  God gave signs and wonders and works through me even though I am nothing.  Yet you fail to trust and love me while loving those who deceive you and malign both me and the gospel.  Listen to his plea of love toward them:

“Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?” 2 Corinthians 12:14-18

I can hear his desperation saying, “I love you!!!  I don’t want your money!  But because of my generosity you distrust me?  Because I love you so much you love me less that those who do seek to rule and deceive and take from you?”

“He blames them for what was faulty in them; namely, that they had not stood up in his defense as they ought to have done, and so made it more needful for him to insist so much on his own vindication.  They in manner compelled him to commend himself…Note, it is a debt we owe to good men to stand up in defense of their reputation; and we are under special obligations to those we have received benefit by, especially spiritual benefit, to own them as instruments in God’s hand of good to us, and to vindicate them when they are calumniated by others…so far he was from seeking praise from men, though he tells them their duty to vindicate his reputation – so far was he from applauding himself, when he was forced to insist upon his own necessary self-defense.” Matthew Henry

Paul indicts them on the charge that they should have been sticking up for him.  For the truth he was teaching.  But they were not.  He makes it clear that he is not defending himself, rather trying to teach them for their own good and for the edification of the whole body.  He is begging them to listen.

 

 

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It had been quite a while since Paul had been to Jerusalem.  Fourteen years, to be exact.  In Galatians 2, he writes telling the Galatians he had gone back.  He told them who he went with, why he went, and what he taught there.  He does so to lay a foundation for what he wants the Galatians to understand.  Here’s what he shares:

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. ~Galatians 2:1-5

Why, after fourteen years, did Paul go back to Jerusalem?  The text says he had a revelation.  This trip was God’s doing, not his own.  He wanted the Galatian leaders to understand that important fact, firstly.  So Paul took Barnabas and…Titus.  Titus was a Gentile believer who had not been circumcised.  Neither he nor the other leaders in Jerusalem saw any issue with Titus not being circumcised after coming to faith and even becoming a minister of the gospel.  Circumcision is not gospel.  Stop teaching that it, among many other things, is necessary for salvation, guys.  

Notice who he taught there.  He taught leaders and the most influential people, privately.  Why?  Why not everyone and why not publicly?

Paul knew the stronghold these age-old Jewish customs and beliefs had.  He knew if he went in swingin’ there was bound to be trouble.  So instead, he teaches the leaders who were already fully functioning in the church.  He trusts them to share the truth of pure Christianity apart from works faithfully, patiently, and gently with the rest of the followers who were still entrapped in some Jewish mix.  He knew it wasn’t going to be a one sermon subject.  He knew it wouldn’t be an overnight change for most like it so miraculously was for him.  If it were, God wouldn’t have sent him, he wouldn’t have had the revelation, and they wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.  But God did, he did, and they were.  So he, in his God-given wisdom, goes to the leaders privately and makes certain that they are all on level ground regarding a pure gospel.  

Paul mentions “false brothers.”  These were men who had somehow found their way into the church and were skilled in the craft of espionage.  Spies.  Watchers.  Informants.  Inauthentic probers.  Their main mission was to feel out every believer and gather information they could and would use against them.  Ultimately, their goal was to imprison the believers through falsehood, setups, intimidation, and half-truths.  They wanted slaves, not sisters and brothers.

Paul wasn’t buying.  He refused to submit to their unorthodox practices even for a moment.  (Galatians 2:4-5)  It was for freedom that Christ set us free.  The gospel is not about secrecy and spying on our counterparts.  The gospel is about loving one another truly and living free in Christ.

Paul adds that, though their gospel missions were different, all the apostles and leaders loved and accepted one another without prejudice.  Rather, they agreed to work together for the good of those in real need. (Galatians 2:7-10)

It is clear that Paul allowed no hybrid mix of the cultural practices and pressures to infiltrate and taint the purity of the truth he was so tirelessly teaching.  For that evil, he could neither stand nor submit.  The gospel is simply too important to toy with.  Notice, he had absolutely no fear in teaching the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth despite the strong cultural and congregational pressure to do otherwise.  

A pure, unadulterated gospel is as unfavorable now as it was then.  Whether spies sneak in to overemphasize works in exchange for faith or de-emphasize holiness in exchange for grace, do not fear.  Long-held, improper, imprisoning beliefs are bound to belabor any true disciple.  When you witness secrecy, spies, or slave drivers, do not fear.  Instead, follow your Father to freedom in Christ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jotNbcFelX4

 

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As I (excitedly!!!) open the short book of Galatians, I find the apostle Paul defending himself, defending the gospel, and defending his brothers and sisters.  I get the idea that he wasn’t someone who was going to look the other way and whistle when he witnessed harmful practices or foolish false teaching – especially not within his beloved churches. 

Here, it seems that some sought to discredit everything Paul said and did.  Wouldn’t want the truth to get out about their lies and injury towards the people of God, right?  So Paul comes on the scene, firstly, in his own defense.

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. ~Galatians 1:1-10

  Here’s my humble paraphrase:

“Paul – an apostle.  This is who I am.  This is who God made me.  I did not make myself.  I do not preach because I need a hobby.  I do not write these letters because I have nothing better to do.  I have been called by God and he has given me this task.  Like I always say, woe to me if I do not do it.  

Grace.  Oh, hearers, it is only by his grace that I am what I am.  His grace was not ineffective!  The grace that changed me – an undeserving, prideful murderer to a faithful teacher and encourager of the church – let that same grace be upon you.  Grace and peace to you who are none other than my beloved brothers and sisters.

Oh, and by the way, you’ll need it.  We live in an incredibly evil time.  Just ask your very innocent, very crucified leader.  But don’t worry, friends.  I’m here to help you.  Jesus died for both you and me.  He died to deliver us from every dark day; every preying evil.  And prey it does.  That is why I’m praying for all of you.

Now, about that heresy you’re accepting.  Can we talk?  Cause I’m surprised you don’t see any problem with it.  Wait, no, I’m astonished.  Yeah, it’s that bad.  It is extremely false.  It is not gospel truth.  In fact, it’s the antithesis of the true gospel.  The culture you are being so easily influenced by is lying to you and you’re buying in. It is distorting the very gospel you must believe in order to be saved!  Distorted gospel = no gospel.  No gospel = no salvation.  You get me?  I’m reeeeal-ly worried about you.

If I preach untruth to you, curse me.  If an angel teaches untruth to you, curse them.  No one gets away with heresy.  Do not let them.  Yes, it’s that serious.  Do not believe the lies you are being fed by popular cultural authorities.  Though none go with you and no one approves, stand firm in the one true faith.  Even if everyone approves and applauds, if it contradicts Christ, hurl it into the theological trash heap of untruth.  Turn away from these heresies and stand up to these bullies who seek to intimidate, dominate, and silence the only hope you have of heaven.  

No, they will not be happy that I’m telling you this.  They will be infuriated, in fact.  But I care nothing for the opinions of those who hate me for telling the truth for one simple reason – because I care everything for the true gospel and for all of you.  But I do pray that they, too, would listen.  I serve Christ, not men.  I preach for the approval of only one.  

Please listen to me.  You are in great danger.  The world and it’s barbs seek to break your beliefs and boil you for breakfast.  Yeah, it’s that severe.”

Notice Paul’s tone.  He’s firm but humble.  He wasn’t flexing his apostleship muscles and ordering his brothers around.  No.  He wasn’t mad at his brothers and sisters for being deceived.  How could he be?  Paul was simply seriously concerned.  He was begging them, albeit boldly, not to buy into the bull.  How could he be true to them, true to God, and true to his task apart from expressing his severe uneasiness and vexation at what he knew they were entertaining?  

He could not.  He would not.  Therefore, he writes unashamed in full view of all who may be deceived as well as the antagonists who seek to deceive them.  Paul does not waver in order to people please or prove popular.  He values his friends and his Father far to fondly for anything that foolish.  

Likewise, our culture, too, begs us to imbibe in that which bemoans basic biblical beliefs. Whether they urge us to err either by being in bondage to the law or by believing living under grace gives us a green light to grieve the Holy Ghost without guilt, we, too, can certainly be easily bewitched.  

Therefore, be on guard.  Beware.  Believe Jesus’ blood is the only banner upon which we can bank.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4voBgiCEjU

 

 

 

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