ENDURE | Courage in Weakness PART XVII | Enduring Devotion | 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

May 23, 2021 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: ENDURE: Courage in Weakness | 2 Corinthians

Topic: New Testament Passage: 2 Corinthians 11:1–15

Christopher Rich – May 23, 2021

ENDURE | Courage in Weakness

PART XVII| Enduring Devotion | 2 Corinthians 11:1-15


Introduction |How do we take the “news”?

Good Morning! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series ENDURE: Courage in Weakness.

What robs us of the truth and endurance? Last week we said if you want to lose your joy simply get Jesus wrong because when you get Jesus wrong you’ll get everything else wrong. This was in the context of Paul talking to the Corinthian church about their individual joy and their church culture. Ending foolish comparison, holding every thought captive, searching for your approval in yourself or others are all part of the internal struggle for joy and peace impacting our lives and shaping our church culture. These matter as we seek to make Disciples of Jesus Christ who Love God and Love People. We want individual transformation and a transformative culture in our church recognizing the two are interrelated. Additionally we, individually and corporately, do not exist in a perfect Christian bubble, nor should we. As we are called to go into the world who needs the hope and mercy of Christ, we have to be aware of the river we’re diving into or really having been swimming in. We need to understand it’s currents and destination if we are going to navigate it well.  

Not all news is “Good News”. We also need to look at how we engage with a world around us full of false narratives. Not all leaders prophets, or pundits are worthy of following listening to, or emulating. Wisdom and discernment are essential to effectively evaluate what we hear and who we respond to. We need help cultivating pure desire with sincere discipline. When desire and discipline meet it creates enduring devotion.


PART I | Devoted to the Gospel | 2 Cor 11:1-6

2 Cor 11:1-6 | I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 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. For if someone 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. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.


Defining Devine Jealousy – There is a lot of strong and direct language in this section. This is necessary to address how the Corinthians are acting. Clarity is kindness as we consider the nature of our identity and idolatry (worshiping what is false or less than God). We struggle with the word jealousy because it has a near universal negative connotation in our minds. When we’ve been jealous of others, or others have been jealous of us we have experienced the pain and destruction it can cause. Oprah famously said she stopped following the God of the Bible because she read “God is a jealous God” and thought “God is jealous of me?”. There is big difference between jealous OF someone and jealous FOR someone. To be jealous FOR someone is to deeply desire what is BEST for their flourishing and relationship. In its purest form it is an attitude of love. You’d worry if your spouse cheated on you, or a child fell to addiction, and you weren’t jealous.  


“For God is said to be jealous, not in a human way but so that everyone may know that He claims sovereign rights over those whom He loves and does what He does for their exclusive benefit. Human jealousy is basically selfish, but divine jealousy is both intense and pure.” – John Chrysostom

Married to the Truth - The jealousy Paul has for this church is a Godly jealousy where it hurts his soul when he considers the path they’re on. He sees himself like a dad presenting a bride (the church in Corinth) to the groom (Christ) this is who you are for, forsaking all others. Instead, he is concerned they are trading something great and pure for something less than. Not in simply rejecting Jesus but in being seduced or deceived by a real enemy “satan” who seek to lead away from the truth with a false narrative opposed to what is true.


The Gospel is the “Good News” that God saves sinners through the work, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ. The world was created by God Good. Sin entered world through humanity trading the truth about God for a lie and spread like a disease infecting everyone and everything. God graciously and patiently pursues His people in their sin for the purpose of redemption and relationship. Redemption comes in Jesus, God the Son arriving into history from heaven, living the perfect life we have all failed to live, dying the death we deserve for our sin as our substitute, and rising again so we can have new life now and forever. Jesus promises His return will being full restoration of creation where God is with His people forever.  Jesus Christ saves us by grace through faith in Him. We have been saved from our sin and made new by Jesus Christ. We are part of a new family, citizens of His kingdom. Until we die or He returns we proclaim this good news, we pray and work for justice and righteousness on earth as it is in Heaven. Yet a real enemy seeks to draw us away from freedom and back into the bondage of slavery through false “gospels” or another “Jesus”. Like a faithful marriage we are to remain devoted to Christ. We are being persuaded from a “pure devotion” to a perversion of the gospel.  Sometimes it’s subtle but subversive as we “put up” with different.

Different Jesus proclaimed – SaviorHow we see and answer the problem of sin and suffering in the world.

Different spirit received – Power & PurposeHow we are equipped and empowered to live in the world.

Different ‘gospel’ accepted – Metanarrative – How we understand the world and ourselves in it.

To remain devoted to THE Gospel we should be able to effectively dissect the false gospels of our day. What are some of the different saviors, spirits, and stories prevalent? Here are a few in no particular order:


#1: Critical Race Theory/Wokeism/Cultural Marxism

Define the “gospel”: It is a metanarrative that views the world through the lens of power. Power has been expressed by groups over other groups usually around race, gender, class. Your identity is based on which group you are in and your “lived experiences”.  You are either someone who is oppressed in need of liberation, or you are an oppressor who needs to be overthrown.

What does it get right? Racism is real, Oppression happens. Individual and systemic oppression have been and at times are part of the fabric of the societies both past and present. People and groups with power have abused their power or failed to see how their influence and actions impact others.

What does it get wrong? By exclusively categorizing us by our horizontal relationships based race, class, etc in the spectrum of oppressed vs liberated it ignores our vertical relationship with our Creator that we are all image bearers worthy of dignity and that all have sinned against God.

Why is it appealing? Because of our desire for justice and our compassion for those who have suffered and are at times marginalized.

What is the cardinal sin and/or enemy? Racism and white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormative culture.

Who is salvation achieved? Through dismantling perceived structures of oppression and silencing dissent.

What does it promise? It promises equity where those with the greatest power have divested themselves of it and those who’s lived experiences are traumatic to experience validation and healing.

What does it deliver? False sainthood or villain status based not on the content of character but of immutable characteristic such as race and gender. Deeper division and acrimony as one form of racism is traded a new form of racism, segregation, oppression to ‘correct’ previous oppression. New wounds are caused.

How has the church addressed this or feed into this? Ignoring or not addressing racism and oppression, engaging with race poorly. “Color Blind” does not recognize the value and beauty of diversity. “Color Only” doesn’t respect the breath and depth of our God given dignity.

How does the Gospel Answer this? Jesus brings together the tax collector and the zealot into a new community/class/group with their identity found as sinners saved by grace. Jesus overturns tables of oppression AND dividing walls of hostility while establishing right worship of the God of justice. There is neither Jew, Greek, slave, free, men or women but all are one in Christ AND the story ends not with a color blind melting pot, but with members of every tribe tongue and nation singing “worthy is the lamb.”  


#2: Christian Nationalism-America First

Define the “gospel”: ““an understanding of American identity and significance held by Christians wherein the nation is a central actor in the world-historical purposes of the Christian God.” - Matthew McCullough America is the great shining city on the hill a beacon of freedom to the rest of the world. When we focus on America First, we benefit AND the world benefits.

What does it get right? Patriotism can be a virtue as we seek the welfare of where God has us. Our country was founded on some godly principals and values. America isn’t the great satan of the west. The US has been used at time as force to fight back evil and oppression. A society is more likely to flourish when it is based on Biblical values and it’s leadership exhibits moral virtue, and it’s citizens have more individual liberty.

What does it get wrong? It over exaggerates our nation’s role in God’s plan for the world. It can deify the founders of our nation while denying or ignoring their flaws. Believes we are a “Christian Nation” confuses God’s promises to His people, (Israel in the OT/Church in the NT) with the US as a new Israel.

Why is it appealing? We desire significance and want to be part of a great nation and promised land of prosperity, and posterity. We like winning and we fear the evil of other godless regimes in the world.

What is it’s cardinal sin? Being Anti-American Who is the enemy? Communism, Islamic Terror, ANTIFA

Where/who/How is salvation given/achieved/receive? Through the continued propagation of the United States as the dominate economic, military, and cultural force in the world. MAGA

What does it promise? Power, prosperity, protection, and influence.

What does it deliver? Misplacing our identity and hope in America’s flourishing. Confusion between citizenship of the US and The Kingdom of God for both Christians and non-believers. Patriotism perverted to idolatry.

How has the church addressed this or feed into this? Marrying itself to political parties or candidates for the purpose of securing or maintaining power/influence. Compromising character for policies. Disengaging from politics as if that will help our neighbors. Or demonizing our country as completely ill redeemable.

How does the Gospel Answer this? Jesus is the King of Kings seated on the throne. The story ends with all other nations over and one Kingdom reigning. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness AND Love your Neighbor by seeking the welfare of your city and country. Remember your dual citizenship while staying rooted in your primary citizenship. Engage politically with the proper perspective and goal.


#3: Sexuality/Gender Identity

Define the “gospel”: You are primarily a sexual being made to seek and find pleasure, your identity is found in your sexual attraction, activity and/or gender expression based on your internal desires.

What does it get right? Sexual activity can be very enjoyable. Gender distinctions have cultural implications and norms that at times need to be challenged. Male and Female possess both power and beauty.

What does it get wrong? Sex is a great gift but a terrible god to worship. Disregards God’s design for complementary life giving and life producing sexuality and even denies objective biological reality.

Why is it appealing? We desire pleasure. We crave intimacy. We seek affirmation and belonging from the world around us. We can be confused with how who we are “fits” in line with the world around us.

What is it’s cardinal sin? Denying yourself anything you find pleasurable or how you perceived yourself.

Who is it’s enemy? Any person or worldview that would seek to limit your pursuit of sexual pleasure or does not full affirm your chosen or preferred identity. Where/who/How is salvation given/achieved/receive? Pursuing any and all pleasure without shame, or becoming your “authentic self” based solely on you feelings.

What does it promise? Enduring pleasure, deep intimacy, and settled identity based on who you “authentically’ are. What does it deliver? Empty short-term enjoyment, shallow utilitarian relationships based on using others, greater confusion and disconnect between your internal perception and objective reality. Self-mutilation.

How has the church addressed or feed into this? Been fearful of addressing the topic of sex/sexuality and allowed the world to set the narrative, failed to lift up the goodness and joy of God’s design. Treated those engaged sexual sin, same sex attraction, or gender confusing like spiritual lepers rather than people to be pursued. Mistaken love and compassion for affirmation and celebration failing to uphold how God is clear.

How does the Gospel Answer this? Sin complicates what God designed to be simple. Sex is a gift from God to be experienced and enjoyed with intimacy and protection in the God given covenant of Marriage between one man and one woman. Men and Women are both equal in dignity and value while both distinct in design. Our identity and worth are derived from our status as image bearers of God, and known and loved by Christ. Where there is sin and struggle God is present to forgive and make new.  We are more than our biology, but we have more joy when we embrace who and how we are made rather than attempting to becoming someone we are not.


# 4: Self/You’re Enough

Define the “gospel”: The world is made for you and you are entitled to enjoyment and success in the world.

What does it get right? You are made unique as an individual for a purpose. You have been equipped and gifted for the purpose of flourishing. You are likely capable of more than you realize.

What does it get wrong? You don’t need anyone else, you are sufficient and strong enough for all things.

Why is it appealing? We want to succeed! We want to be seen as valuable.

What is it’s cardinal sin? Self-doubt, not being all you can be, or worse being unremarkable. Who is it’s enemy? Haters, anyone holding you down, negative self talk.

Where/who/How is salvation given/achieved/receive? Progressive self-improvement you will self-actualize.

What does it promise? Your best life now! What does it deliver? Exhaustion, pride, despair.

How has the church addressed this? Become the vehicle for your self- improvement/actualization made the gospel about you rather than about Jesus. Never call us to deny ourselves to follow Christ Or denied we are made as unique individuals.  That should all simply “be like Jesus” by confusing unity in Christ with uniformity

How does the Gospel Answer this? You are uniquely and wonderfully made in the image of God. You have great purpose and value AND you are not perfect or sufficient to overcome your sin on our own. Flourishing comes when we are reliant and dependent rather than independent. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.


#5: Religious Legalism

Define the “gospel”: You need to make yourself worthy of God’s favor, or make God give you favor based on your religious performance or moral standing.

What does it get right? God’s demands for holiness and purity. We are sinners in need of salvation.

Why is it appealing? Our desire to perform or understanding of our imperfection.

What is it’s cardinal sin? Failing to meet God’s standard or your own. Who is it’s enemy? You, or other sinners.

Where/who/How is salvation given/achieved/receive? Consistent pursuit of moral or religious perfection.

What does it promise? Closeness with God, self-salvation.  What does it deliver? Self-Righteousness or failure.

How has the church addressed this? Given us teaching on how to live a better/pure life based on our own efforts, added rules and fear to keep us from sin. OR Preached obedience in the Christian life isn’t necessary.

How does the Gospel Answer this? We are known and accepted based on Jesus performance and perfection not our own. All of our Good Work measure up to filthy rags before God. Jesus is our example of perfection, AND Jesus is our perfect substitute dying for our sin. We have His positional perfection before God and we live new lives empowered to walk in obedience as we change and grow to look more like Jesus.


PART II |Devoted to the Fellowship | 2 Corinthians 11:7-11

2 Cor 11:7-11 | Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!


Devoted to the Fellowship (11:6-11) – We are not meant to endure alone. We have been saved as individuals into the church. We are devoted to faithful partnership for the gospel by tangibly supporting the church and one another. As we journey together, we are bound by our love for one another in Christ. So we look around the river we’re swimming in and tie our rafts up together so we are not alone on the journey. This is a grace.


PART III |Devoted to the Truth | 2 Cor 11:12-15

2 Cor 11:12-15 | 12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.


Devoted to the Truth– Disguising what is false with some of the truth does not make lies any less damaging. Being clear about what is true and what is false is a kindness to help us endure through confusion. If we are in a river and it’s flowing towards destruction, then tying our rafts together (having community) isn’t enough because then we’re just all floating down together. Following lies about God leads to death. Our word for the year is REMAIN specifically: REMAIN Steadfast – That we would be deeply rooted in the truth & beauty of the mercy & grace of Jesus Christ regardless of the shifting circumstances and changing climate of our community & world. We need to be anchored in the truth of the Gospel with God’s word. Paul says he’s simply going to keep preaching and teaching the truth. He’s going to stay anchored in the Gospel. When we do this we will face resistance in a world flowing away from God. Those who are not anchored, even if they’re not swimming with the current will look at us with confusion as they’re flowing and we’re remaining and wonder “why we keep moving father away.” When we are unmoved and rooted and they are flowing.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Those who trust Him do not face destruction but enjoy abundant life.


“Their end will correspond to their deeds.” In the end our responsibility to false gospels might not always be to confront and combat but to continue to be clear about what is true. The truth doesn’t need a strong defense because it has the advantage of being the truth. There is justice and God will sort out and sift out false teachers and false teaching so we can remain focused and rest in what is true. God’s pursuit of you and Holy Spirit in you is stronger than that which seeks to pull you away from the truth. Stay anchored as you Trust Jesus.