CONFIDENT IN GOD: The Basis of Real Ministry
Serving Christ from a Pure Heart
2 Corinthians 11:1-12
Jerry A Collins
• Should we ever defend ourselves?
• Is money to be a motive for ministry?
• What does God want us to do with false teachers?
We cannot escape the fact that we operate on the basis of motives. What makes this process so difficult for us is that we often do not have any idea what a person’s motives are. We guess at them. We gossip about them. They beguile us. We make judgments based on them. And we are usually wrong about them. We cannot even be decisive about our own motives. The best we can do is try to deliberately operate in such a way that we can be as clear as we can about why we are doing something. Even then, we may not know. Here is a section of scripture managing the concept of motives. Paul has some. The false apostles have some. The Corinthians have some. What we can know is a persons actions. We may or may not learn their motive but we can see an action. Our actions do demonstrate the direction we are going. In this case that direction must be serving Christ from a pure heart. That is, having actions that are consistent with this intent and desire.
1 Intent by design
The apostle’s foolishness is not foolish. The point is that it is by design. He is arguing like this on purpose, in this case, because he is driven to it as a defense from the attacks of the ‘false apostle’ team. He is using the same tactic as his opponents but their tactic is faulty—it is really foolishness and not wise. But Paul will use it to make a point. The wisdom of the world, even the way it argues its case, is flawed because both the argument and the strategy to support it come from the wisdom of the world and not God. Both, then, are not but foolishness from God’s point of view—devoid of the truth!
2 Pure and undefiled
The analogy of marriage is portrayed in the OT between God and Israel. In the NT it is between Christ and the church. The ‘betrothal’ is being united to Christ and to no other. It is exclusive. This is the purpose of ministry—even apostle Paul’s—that they mite become as a pure virgin not defiled by any ungodliness. Now the church today is in danger since she flirts with influences form other sources like eastern mysticism, psychology, sociology, humanities, political sciences, religious tolerance, pride, and worldviews. Since we are to be pure, undefiled by anything, then we must be dedicated to serving Christ alone!
3 Too easily corrupted
Here is a comparison of the Corinthians believers with Eve in the garden. Instead of resisting Satan, as Eve listened to him and was enticed thru cunning and trickery, so the Corinthians tolerated Satan’s representatives as extrapolated in vs 14-15. The point is Satan is crafty, skilled at deceit. His objective is to deceive you and you need to understand that strategy. We do not get a free pass form him. Because he is experienced in observing mankind for thousands of years, he can repeat his strategies and shape them to become even more effective over time over more people. He does so in such a way that ‘your minds will be led astray’. The idea is of a corrupting influence leading to ruin by a seduction form what is right and pure. And this happens in your mind as was clarified in 10:5. What you think is your mind controls your emotions and will. All of this to take you ‘from the simplicity’—that is, from the singleness and only devotion to Christ. The simplest way to live your life is to live for an audience of One. “And purty’ is the other attack. Add anything or take it away as long as your devotion to Christ is twisted or diminished making it no longer pure. ‘Your devotion to Christ’ is your wholehearted commitment to Christ. That is what is under attack and Satan’s is sabotaging it amongst the Corinthians as they question Paul. His objective, then, is to move you away from a single, pure commitment to Christ.
4 A false gospel
Someone was coming with this stuff. What he came with was ‘preaching another Jesus’—one ‘whom we have not preached’. A rival Jesus. People may say they believe in Jesus and you must always have them clarify ‘Jesus who?’ We only have a Jesus who ransomed his life, God incarnate, calling people to righteousness. There are so many Jesus’ out there today that Satan has distracted people from the true Christ and they are deceived. ‘Receive a different spirit’ an attitude of Christian living in contradiction to the teaching Paul gave—in this case, on weakness not strength, not shoving your weight around or handing out your credentials to everyone. So these false teachers were promoting, and self-serving. “A different gospel’ a false gospel is one with works attached. So ‘they bear this beautifully’ not as a complement from him, for they were already warned not to be yoked with unbelievers 6:14ff but anything to get us away from pure devotion to Jesus Christ. Competing agendas!
5 Making claims
The false scoundrels apparently made claims to connections with the apostles possibly in Jerusalem—which would be hard for the Corinthians to verify so far away, but maybe they did have some relationship and just used it to their advantage. Paul claimed an equal rank with the true apostles and his credentials, his ministry and message.
6 Knowledge not rhetoric
No orator, important to the Corinthians 10:10, Paul used plain speech emphasizing meaning of words instead of showy, manipulative, reasoning. That may have been missing but the truth was not! What he said was more important how he said it! ‘..evident to you in all things’ so the C/s could not deny the transforming message of the gospel given to them. So watch out, since being impressed by speaking style void of biblical content is very real.
7 Free of charge
Jesus sent out the twelve and told them to find support to those they served. But Paul usually supported himself without getting financial support form those he was serving, in this case, the Corinthians.
8 Taking wages
The idea is sometimes he did receive money and financial support from other groups of believers he served. But it was from people who made real sacrifices to give and it felt like the apostle was robbing them as they made these sacrifices to support his ministry—such as the believers in Philippi 4:15-16.
9 Fully supplied
When first in Corinth Paul made tents Acts 18:3-5. Then a gift came form Macedonian believers that fully supplied his need—he got to determine that just as we do for ourselves and the catch is that you are accountable for how you determine that even tho each of us will do that differently. He could then devote completely to his ministry. He did not take money form the C’s and this kept him separate form these false teachers who were. Money usually clouds motives (giving overseas in Albania and India).
10-11 Proper boasting
On an oath he says his boasting, that is, his defense of his right to serve in this region is not limited. The reason—possibly his love for the C’s questioned by not taking support from them but from the others. They misunderstood his action and attached wrong motive—a sign he was not pleased with them. He says otherwise.
12 Getting to the point
So he will continue not taking their money so he can starkly amputate these false apostles from further influence over the C’s. ‘…about what they are boasting’ they have no right to be in Corinth infiltrating and influencing and inciting believers.
A. We have an obligation to confront falsehood and not just let it exist. The truth is at stake.
B. Make your case forcefully, reasonably, decisively to persuade.
C. The point is to expose the deceit, put it on display and call for change.