“If you accept a different gospel”

We are now nearing the climax of Paul’s 2 Corinthians. He becomes increasingly blunt in the way he expresses his thoughts: having carefully reasoned out the true gospel and the need to live a Christ-like life he now bluntly challenges them; he says, “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a pure and sincere devotion to Christ” (11:3).

Our awareness of that which is “pure and sincere” is only obtained by our ‘sincere devotion’ to God’s word, leading us to make every effort in keeping our thinking “pure” – as a foundation to maintaining true belief and behaviour.

In the next verse Paul rebukes them for their lack of diligence in remaining true to their convictions of belief at their conversion – “for if someone”, writes Paul, “comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough”.

Paul’s rebuke to them has had its parallels ever since his day. There are those who “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” but, says Paul, “Their end will correspond to their deeds” (verse 15).

We can see in these verses that it is both “deeds” and believing a “different gospel” that were a problem in Corinth – and this has continued to be a critical problem ever since. Our constant and diligent reading of God’s word is the best way for us to ensure we are “not led astray” and that we maintain, as with Paul, “the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (10:1).