We saw recently that the church faces the perennial danger of deception (3, 4), therefore we need to walk around with our spiritual ‘antennae’ activated, so as to be able to detect it. (At the same time, it is also good to be alert to the possibility of becoming obsessed with error, and of seeing heresy everywhere because you are always looking for it! There is an appropriate balance to maintain.) The church at Corinth was being influenced by some men Paul referred to as ”super-apostles” (maybe that is what they called themselves. It is how they saw themselves.) Paul has no hesitation in calling them out. He says that they are false leaders(13) preaching a false gospel (4) and he knew it came from a false place.
There is a personal devil and he is a master of disguise and deception (14, 15). If the devil can transform himself into ”an angel of light’’ just think what he can do with the people whose strings he manipulates. There are modern day preachers whose message is a Jesus of their own imagining and whose gospel is one of their own invention. But ultimately all the bad stuff they are rabbiting comes from Hell (even though they probably don’t realise it.) As someone said, it is possible to be sincere, yet sincerely wrong. Paul gives a dire warning about the ”end” of such ministers (15b). We should not be surprised (although we will always be saddened) by clergy who do not preach ”the truth of Christ” (10). Let the Bible always be the plumb-line by which we test everything. If their messages do not line up with Scripture then we must smell the danger and avoid it.
One mark of a false teacher is that he (or she) fleeces the flock. They are in it to make as much money for themselves as possible, and they do it off the backs of their ‘fan base’ that idolise them, flocking to their meetings and conferences, and buying their books and C.D.’s etc. Paul believed in the right of the minister of the gospel to live off the gospel. However it was a right he regularly did not insist on if he thought it might become a hindrance to his ministry. In Corinth, other churches supported him so that he could freely serve the Corinthians. However, some of them were being won over by the false teachers whose ministry was costing them ‘an arm and a leg.’ ”And I’m not changing my position on this. I’d die before taking your money. I’m giving nobody grounds for lumping me in with those money-grubbing ”preachers,” vaunting themselves as something special.” (12) The Message.
They should have been able to tell the difference between the true and the false, but they couldn’t. So let us take warning from this and stay on guard.
Prayer: Lord God, I want to know your Word so well that I can detect when something is false and avoid it.