“But I fear that somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, your minds may be mislead from the integrity that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Chapter eleven of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church deals predominantly with the dangerous subtlety of Satan’s deception of God’s people. Paul refers in verse 4 to “another Jesus”, who is received under a “different spirit” which in turn, results in a ”different gospel”.
This other Jesus prevails in Christianity today. He is the New Testament personality that is portrayed in the gospels as a good man exhibiting a carefully edited selection of the qualities attributed to Him in the scriptures; the perfect man, filled with goodness, kindness, mercy, love and generosity towards all those calling themselves Christians. He invites all people to come to him, pleading with them with an apologetic stance and a kindly smile on his face, offering everything and demanding nothing. This other Jesus just wants to do everything He can for people, to give them anything they want and ask for; all they have to do is join a church and support the Ministry; this other Jesus is a servant, not a Lord.
Paul tells us that this other Jesus is received by a “different spirit”, that is, not the Holy Spirit, but “the spirit of the world” (1 Corinthians 2:12). Inevitably, this “different spirit” comes through a man, and what he is saying often seems like light, but it is not the “true light” (John 1:9). In fact, what this “different spirit” brings is false light, which Jesus referred to as “darkness”, warning that;
“If the light that is in you is darkness, how great the darkness!” (Matthew 6:23).
These men, who unknowingly function under the influence of this “different spirit”, were described by Paul as “false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13). Jesus also referred to them in the gospel of Matthew, saying; “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’’ (Matthew 7:22-24).
Paul went on to say that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light so that it is not surprising that his demons disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
The “different gospel” brought by those under the influence of this “different spirit”, who are preaching “another Jesus”, is a sort of smorgasbord from which you may take what you will, a bit of this and some of that; whatever catches your fancy; it has all been paid for. There is no cost to you, it is all free; no demands are made, come as you are, or “Just as I am”, as the great hymn goes.
In this “different gospel”, the subtlety and guile of the serpent is demonstrated because it can all be justified, and is justified, on the basis of the scriptures; it is all true, but selected truth, carefully circumscribed to support the purpose for which men bring it. It demonstrates the maxim that a text, taken out of context, becomes a pretext for a false gospel.
There is no doubt that, as this “different gospel” asserts, we come just as we are; there is nothing we can do to deserve forgiveness or earn reconciliation with God. Unless God does it, we are without hope. But, and it is a big BUT, what is missing from this “different gospel”, of course, is that we are not meant to stay “just as we are”; Christ did not go to the cross so that we can carry on as before, or even be better than before, but to show us the way we are to go, and what we have to do, which is to “take up your cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Daily, or continually.
We come “Just as I am”, surely, but having come, we are meant to take up our cross and follow Him, else “we are not worthy of Him” (Mathew 10:38). Just as He died, so must we; that’s what it means to take up our cross. When the innocent Jesus carried His cross up the hill to Golgotha, He knew He wasn’t coming back; it was a one-way journey for Him. So it must be for we who are the guilty ones; our cross brings about death too; the death of the self, the ego; only thus can we be worthy of Him. We are not taking up our cross to be “improved”, or to be made “better”, or to become “Christians”; we are taking it up to end the life of the natural man, to put him off, so that the new man, the one being created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Ephesians 4:22-24), can live.
Only then, after we have first “come” and learned to “follow”, can we “abide”, which is why we are called in the first place and what we are called to do. In the fifteenth chapter of John’s gospel, verses 1 to 10, Jesus talks of abiding in Him. “Abide in Me” He said (John 15:4) and the verb “abide” is in the imperative voice, meaning it is a command. If we abide in Him, we are His branches able therefore to bear fruit, and it is His fruit, not our own; and only by abiding in Him can we bear His fruit. There is also a warning in Jesus’ words that the preachers of the “different gospel” under the “different spirit” conveniently ignore:
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and he is dried up; and they gather then together and cast them into the fire; And they are burned” (John 15:6).
The One we are to abide in is Jesus, Who describes Himself as the “True Vine” (John 15:1), and this informs us that there are vines that are not true, but false; and it is these false vines in which you will find the false teachers and preachers who are bringing a “different gospel” under the influence of a “different spirit”. These are those who Paul described as “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18).
What all of this demonstrates is the absolute folly of relying on what men tell you; it is the Holy Spirit Who is the teacher, not men. Nowhere in the scriptures does Jesus tell us to rely on men. If you rely on men, you will be deceived. Everything a man teaches must be checked against the Word and by the Spirit by all those hearing him.
The other Jesus of the “different gospel” is a mild mannered fellow, eager to persuade you to believe what he says; he is no hard taskmaster, all is free and without the slightest inconvenience to yourself.
Compare this Jesus with the true Jesus seen by John in the Revelation;
“And His head and His hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and His voice as the voice of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shining in His strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, ‘Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades” (Revelation 1:14-18).