Good morning my friends. It is taking me a bit of adjusting to get use to the early hour again. After a straight six year period of waking at 5 am I still find it insanely early. Mind you, it would help if I went to bed before 11 pm. This is something I have to work on before it kills me. Sleep is the number one factor in all health issues. We are moving on to 2 Corinthians 11.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. vs. 13-15
We live in an age of deceit. It is normal practice for advertisers to stretch the truth to the point of unbelievability. We even have to spend time in school now making the students aware of this, teaching them to question everything they see and hear. Yet on the other hand the government curriculum would have us teach the students that there are acceptable moments to misrepresent the truth. We are raising a generation of kids who no longer trust and who believe there are times when it is good to lie.
Even I find this hard because of what I allowed to develop as my sense of humour. Don't listen to my students when they tell you I don't have one, I do, but it is odd. I misrepresent the truth (lie) about silly things, with a straight face. Children believe what I am saying and then the joke is on them when someone says to them, "He's joking". I've actually had people tell me, "I never know when you are serious". For a comedian this may work, but for a pastor, a position of honesty and truth, it doesn't really fit. Yet, it is a habit that is hard to break.
Due to the laziness of the Church these days it is even easier for liars to take on the authority of one of the five-fold ministers. People no longer look for the manifestation of the Spirit, the power of God. Before you would know who the anointed ministers were by that authority, the miracles, the anointed Word, the power of change, the healings. Now people only look for a good speaker, someone who shouts and entertains. Tons of liars and fakers have taken on a position that does not belong to them, and no one is teaching the people what to look for.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
How can you tell? Well take Paul as an example. He died every day in his service to the Church. He loved and he sacrificed. He did more than work hard; he paid a penalty in his body and in his heart. He says to the Corinthians:
I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 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. vs. 2-3
These people were so important to Paul that he was constantly wanting to protect them. He was afraid they would be drawn away from the One he loved more than any other. He wanted people to fall in love with Jesus as much as he had. And Paul sacrificed to see this happen:
Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. vs. 7-9
Rarely will a deceiver make such sacrifices. Normally a deceiver looks to gain something for himself because in the end they are always revealed by their selfish nature. Our life with Jesus goes against the nature of a deceiver because we are givers. We give of our resources, our time, our energy. We do not think of ourselves but only of what Jesus is doing through us for other people. This is why Paul referred to it as being poured out on the altar as a drink offering. We actually feel strongest when we are living our lives this way.
This is not the only sign of authenticity, there are others which we will consider tomorrow. For today, ask the Spirit to give you eyes that see beyond the flesh so that you will be sensitive to the authentic and the deceiver. We need to pray for discernment in this world of shadows, that we will not be deceived and drawn away from the truth of Jesus Christ. I encourage you, test the spirit as Paul instructed us to do.