Be Discerning or Be Deceived
2 Corinthians 11:3-4 - But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
No, Not “That” Jesus
These words on discernment, (or the lack thereof) from the Apostle Paul are familiar. His letter to the Galatian church, for example, is almost completely devoted to this line of thought. Jesus himself had much to say on this topic as well. Therefore, we probably ought to pay attention here.
Without an intentional effort on our part to be discerning in this world, we can become easily deceived. False teachers endeavor to tempt and seduce us with “Jesus-shaped” words that, in reality, are only perversions of the genuine article.
If It Could Happen to Them
Interestingly, Paul is not addressing a lukewarm congregation or group of pagans here. He is writing to those he doesn’t want to see led astray from their “sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” This is frightening because it reminds us that if we are not on our guard, we too can be easily led astray by smooth-talkers who bring a “Jesus,” who is actually no Jesus at all. The undiscerning can be mesmerized by pleas for tolerance, relevance, peace, unity, or many other paths that would take them off the straight and narrow.
The path to destruction is wide, comfortable, and is well beaten by many who have gone before us. The road to true life is narrow and fraught with trials and temptations and few there are who walk it (Matthew 7:13-14).
But God’s grace is sufficient. And his power is made perfect in and through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). We don’t have to fall prey to deception. We can trust God uncompromisingly, even in the fiery furnace of this world. If we keep our eyes open to the glorious vision of our Lord, listen for his voice calling to us in and through his Word, we would see he has already walked the narrow path before us, and if it was wide enough for him, it will be wide enough for us.
· What are some practical ways you can discern the true Jesus from the imposters?
· In your experience, how is the Bible’s view of Jesus distorted by those who water it down?
· If you were sharing Christ with a friend, what three or four essentials would you share with them about the Person and Work of Christ? Why?
Heavenly Father, in the face of the distractions and deceptions of this world, please help me keep my focus on you. There are many idols in this world competing for my devotion. Without your Spirit, I will bow to them. May that never be! Please renew my mind and never take your Holy Spirit from me. I pray that the daily living of my life will bring glory to you and exalt my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Rule and reign in my life and let me continually abide in your truth. Help me represent you well in this world, that others might come to know you and begin their own pilgrimage down the narrow road to life. In Christ I pray. Amen.
This Week’s Prayer Guide
[You can use this prayer guide in your own personal prayer time. However, I encourage you to use it with a group of Christian men. Each week you should spend time praising God for who he is, confessing your sin to him (be specific) as well as expressing gratitude to him for his gracious forgiveness. Also, don’t forget to thank God for the many ways he has poured out his goodness in your life. Then, focus on the following areas of supplication, which will change from week to week.]
Petitions – prayers for yourself
· Help me to grow in wisdom and become who you created and redeemed me to be.
· Renew my mind and enable me to cultivate a godly perspective and attitude regarding the various spheres and circumstances of my life.
· Today’s events and interactions with others, planned and unplanned
· Other needs
Intercession – prayers for others
· My family, immediate and extended
· Those struggling with sin, illness, or relational difficulties
· Other needs
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