A WARNING TO THE CHURCH

2 Corinthians 11:3

 

I.Intro.

A.no servant of Christ has left such a mark for good on this world as the Apostle Paul

1.when he was born, the whole Roman Empire was sunk in the darkest heathenism

2.when he died the mighty fabric of heathenism was shaken to its very center and ready to fall

3.none of the agents whom God used to produce this marvelous change did more than Paul, after his conversion

4.even in the midst of his successes and usefulness we find him crying out, “I fear”

B.these words demands our attention; they show a man of many cares and anxieties

1.those who think that Paul lived a life of ease, because he was a chosen Apostle have much to learn

2.the great Apostle of the Gentiles was like his Master:  "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief"

C.of all the burdens which Paul carried, none seemed to have weighed him down as much as that which he refers to in 2 Corinthians 11:28 [the care of all the churches]

1.the sparse knowledge of many early Christians, their weak faith, their shallow experience, their low standard of holiness

2.all these things made them more likely to be led astray by false teachers, and to depart from the faith

3.like exotic plants in a hothouse, they had to be watched with never-ending care

D.our text contains some important lessons for our times, as they were in Paul’s day

II.there is a spiritual disease which we ought to fear [your minds should be corrupted]

A.”corrupted” means injury of our minds by the reception of false and unscriptural doctrines in religion

1.Paul was afraid that their minds would partake of erroneous and unsound views of Christianity

2.Paul was afraid that they would receive as truths, principles that were not the truth

3.Paul was afraid that they would depart from the faith once delivered to the saints, and embrace views which are destructive to the Gospel of Christ

B.the fear expressed by Paul is painfully instructive, and at first sight surprising

1.who would have thought that while the disciples were still present, the blood of Calvary barely dry, the age of miracles not yet gone, that there was any danger of Christians departing from the faith

2.nothing is more certain than that " the mystery of iniquity” was already working before the Apostles were dead - 2 Thessalonians 2:7

3.John said, " even now are there many antichrists " - 1 John 2:18

4.no fact in Church history is more clearly proved than this:  that false doctrine has always been a plague to Christendom

5.Paul was not only afraid of the corruption of their morals, but of their minds

a)the plain truth is that "false doctrine" has been the chosen device of Satan in every age, to stop the progress of the Gospel of Christ

b)since Satan is unable to prevent the Fountain of Life from being opened, he has labored incessantly to poison the streams which flow from it

c)if he could not destroy it, he has often neutralized its usefulness by addition, subtraction, or substitution

C.false doctrine, in our own day and under our own eyes, is eating out the heart of the Church and endangering her existence

1.there are those that boldly proclaim that the Bible is not inspired; denying miracles and even creation

2.others proclaims liberty to every shade and form of religious opinion, and tells us that all teachers are equally deserving our confidence, no matter how varied and contradictory their opinions

3.these all illustrate the corruption of men's minds

D.never has there been such a need for Christians to stand on their guard; never has there been such a need for faithful ministers to proclaim a loud warning

1.the Church has to open its eyes to the peril in which it stands, and to beware lest it is damaged through apathy and a morbid love of peace

2.controversy is an odious thing; but there are days when it is a good thing

3.peace is an excellent thing; but like gold, it may be considered too dear

4.unity is a mighty blessing; but it is worthless if it is purchased at the cost of truth

5.unity is not of more importance than sound doctrine and peace; nor more valuable than truth

E.the nation that is satisfied with its commercial prosperity, and neglects its national defenses, because they are troublesome or expensive, is likely to become a prey to the first Napoleon, who chooses to attack it

1.the Church which is rich; may think it does not need a thing, because of its traditions, and endowments

2.it may cry "Peace, peace," and flatter itself that it sees no evil; but if it is not careful about the maintenance of sound doctrine, it will be surprised someday when its light is taken away

III.there is an example we ought to remember [as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety]

A.Paul is referring to the story of the fall in the third chapter of Genesis, as a simple historical fact

1.he does not give any credibility to the modern notion that the book of Genesis is only a collection of myths and fables

2.he does not imply that there is no such being as the devil, or that there was not a forbidden fruit that was eaten, or that it was not the way in which sin entered the world

3.on the contrary, he recites the story of Genesis as a truthful history, as a thing that really took place

B.it is a noteworthy fact that several of the most remarkable histories and miracles of the OT are mentioned in the NT, and always as historical facts

1.Cain and Abel, Noah's ark, the destruction of Sodom, Esau selling his birthright, the destruction of the first-born in Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the brazen serpent, the manna, the water flowing from the rock, Balaam's donkey speaking

2.all these things are named by the writers of the NT, and named as matters of fact and not as fables

3.those who are fond of pouring contempt on OT miracles, and making light of its authority, would do well to consider whether they know better than our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles

4.to talk of Genesis as a collection of myths and fables, is unreasonable and profane

5.was Paul mistaken, when he narrated the story of the temptation and the fall

a)if he was, he was a weak-minded person, and may have been mistaken on fifty other subjects

b)if this be the case, then he has lost all his authority as a writer, and the Bible is wholly unreliable

C.the point which Paul would have us notice in the history of Eve's fall, is the "subtlety" with which the devil led her into sin

1.”subtlety” means trickery, cunning, or craftiness

2.Satan did not tell Eve flatly that he wished to deceive her and do her harm

3.he told her that the thing forbidden was a thing that "was good” - Genesis 3:6

4.he did not hesitate to declare that she could eat of the forbidden fruit and "not die"

5.he blinded her eyes to the sinfulness and danger of sin

6.he persuaded her to believe that to depart from God's plain command was for her benefit, and not for her ruin

D.this subtlety of the devil is precisely what we have to fear in false doctrine

1.we should not expect false doctrine to approach our minds in the garment of error, but in the form of truth

2.counterfeit money would never become currency if it did not appear like the real thing

3.the wolf would seldom get into the fold, if he did not enter it in sheep's clothing

4.Satan is far too wise a general to manage a campaign in such a fashion as this

a)he employs fine words and high-sounding phrases, such as "unity, open mindedness, and liberty”

b)by this he finds a lodging place in unsuspecting minds, and this is precisely what Paul refers to

E.such is the simplicity and inexperience of many Christians today

1.they actually expect false doctrine to look false, and do not understand that its mischievousness is found in its resemblance to God's truth

2.many Christians expect unsound teachers to be open vendors of poison, and do not realize that they often appear as "angels of light" - 2 Corinthians 11:14-15

3.as Eve was deceived by the serpent's subtlety, so Satan charms unwary souls by approaching them under the banner of truth

IV.it shows us what we ought to be especially on our guard about losing [the simplicity that is in Christ]

A.”simplicity” means single and unmixed, in contradistinction to that which is mixed and double

1.the expression means the simple, unmixed, unaltered doctrine of Christ; without addition, subtraction, or substitution

2.departure from the simple prescription of the Gospel, either by leaving out any part or adding any part, was the thing Paul feared – 2 Corinthians 11:4

3.we are to be jealously on our guard, lest we depart from and corrupt the simple Gospel which was once delivered to the saints

B.this principle is of unspeakable importance

1.if we love our souls and would keep them in a healthy state, we must endeavor to adhere to the simple doctrine of Christ, in every jot and tittle

2.once we add to it, or take away anything from it, we spoil the Divine medicine, and turn it into poison

C.let us arm our minds with a thorough knowledge of God's Word

1.let us read our Bibles from beginning to end, with daily diligence and constant prayer

2.ignorance of the Bible is the root of all error, and a superficial acquaintance with it accounts for many of the sad perversions and defections of the present day

3.people knew their Bibles better 200 years ago than they do now

a)the consequence is that they are tossed to and fro, with every wind of doctrine, - Ephesians 4:14

b)they fall an easy prey to the first clever teacher of error, who tries to influence their minds

4.the person who is well versed in the text of the Bible, and adheres strictly to, has the best safeguards against error

5.familiarity with Scriptures is what gave Christ His victory over Satan

6.without diligence and pains, no one ever becomes mighty in the Scriptures