Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SIMPLICITY (2 Corinthians Chapter 11)

2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

Represented to us, is this beautiful phrase, “a sincere and pure devotion to Christ,” is a statement of divine objective for every born-again child of God.  Inscribe it above your “mind-gate” as that which should govern your innermost longings and aspirations.  Count the matter to be a treasured aspiration which is to be protected and defended at all costs.  Take note that there are forces (i.e. the world, the flesh, and the devil) ever-working to deceive and lead one astray from it.

Paul was concerned for members of the church in Corinth.  He loved them and was constantly concerned for their spiritual well-being (Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:28).  His goal in ministry was to “present (the church) as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2; Cf. Colossians 1:28).  He labored in ministry towards that end (Cf. Colossians 1:29).  But false teachers had infiltrated the church in Corinth and some were being led astray by them.  The deceptively introduced false teachings which spoke of “another Jesus,” “a different gospel,” and “a different spirit” than that of which Paul had taught (Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4).  Tragically, some had readily accepted these teachings. 

The phrase, “a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” is translated more simply “the simplicity that is in Christ” in the King James Version.  The word “simplicity” translates a Greek term meaning “simplicity, sincerity, unaffectedness” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).  According to Webster’s Dictionary, simplicity means, amongst other things, “freedom from pretense or guile.”  Paul’s fear was that his readers might be somehow moved from their sincere devotion to Jesus.

John MacArthur has said, “The Christian life is simple.  It is loving Jesus Christ supremely and only as Savior and Lord.”  Christianity is rightly defined as being rightly related to Jesus Christ.  But it involves more than simply knowing of Him or knowing about Him as one might know of the details of some historical figure.  It is knowing Him by way of personal relationship and experience.  It involves more than simply giving Jesus in a place in one’s life (as one might add a hobby) and even more than having Him in a prominent place (as one thing amongst many to which a greater degree of devotion is rendered), it is loving Him preeminently (as the unrivaled object of one’s affection).

It is not a simple thing to simplify, but there is a need for it.  Forces are at work to complicate our lives with lesser concerns that compete against what should matter most to us.  Deceptive forces tirelessly work to cloud minds with contrary thoughts and pursuits (Cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).  “A sincere and pure devotion to Christ” is the object of the Spirit’s work in us (Cf. John 16:13-15; Philippians 3:3).  It is the Spirit of God who applies the Word of God to our hearts always directing us to the glory of the person of Jesus Christ. 

There are some great examples in Scripture of those who possessed “a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”  Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching” while Martha “was distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:39-40).  Jesus responded to Martha’s request for help by saying, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).  Paul’s testimony was one of single-mindedness of heart and purpose: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”…”but one thing I do” (Philippians 3:8, 13).  The early church was Spirit-born into a single-minded devotion to Christ which was characterized by devotion to His Word and His people (Cf. Acts 2:42).  In fellowship they experienced both mutual encouragement and some degree of spiritual protection.  Simply put, there is nothing more important in life than knowing Jesus Christ and no greater aspiration that we can possess than to know Him better as the preeminent object of our affection.  Paul yearned for that for his readers.  God has the same simple goal for all of us.

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