I asked this question in the last post, “Why do false teachers (here false apostles) gain so much ground in the church?” In part, I believe chapter eleven answers that when Paul says this, “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” (2 Cor. 11:3). The ESV made a good choice in their use of “cunning” instead of “craftiness.” Pinterest and the likes use “craftiness” in a way that the Bible doesn’t mean.
Let’s think more about how that which is false gains so much ground in the church. We hear in verse 3 these words “deceived” and “cunning.” You know the serpent didn’t come to Eve and say, “Hey, I’m about to trick you so get ready.” No, by definition, to be deceived is not to know it. That’s why Paul says this, “…Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Satan doesn’t come dressed in all red with his horns showing and carrying a pitchfork. Oh, no! He comes in beauty and sweet talk.
I chose this picture above because I think Lewis helps us understand the secret ways of Satan. If you have read the stories, you will know the woman in the photo is the White Witch of Narnia. You must pick up on the obvious. Lewis intends for you to stop and say, “Wait, witches do not dress in white!!!” And you would be correct. But this one does because Lewis would have you think that the White Witch is a type of Satan who disguises himself as an angel of light. White or light is supposed to be reserved for that which is pure and holy! But behind the mask is black and darkness in these characters.
Lewis is very helpful in describing how the White Witch deceives. In the picture above, she is in full form working her scheme and she goes after the kid Edmund. You will have to read the story (particularly ch. 4 “Turkish Delight”) for all the details, which are great by the way, but I will briefly quote enough to help us see her craftiness.
At last the Turkish Delight was all finished and Edmund was looking very hard at the empty box (which had contained several pounds) and wishing that she would ask him whether he would like some more. Probably the Queen knew quite well what he was thinking; for she knew, though Edmund did not, that this was enchanted Turkish Delight and that anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves. But she did not offer him any more. Instead, she said to him, “Son of Adam, I should so much like to see your brother and your two sisters. Will you bring them to see me?” “I’ll try,” said Edmund, still looking at the empty box. “Because, if you did come again–bringing them with you of course–I’d be able to give you some more Turkish Delight. I can’t do it now, the magic will only work once. In my own house it would be another matter.”The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
I hope I’ve piqued your interest to read this book! But do you get a feel of how the angel of light works by seeing the White Witch at work to lure in the whole family? The Turkish Delight was the bait and that delight will cause Edmund to lead his brother and sisters into a trap because he wants more candy. Can you believe it? He would do this just to get some more candy? Yep!
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.(2 Cor. 11:13-15)
So how does the angel of light recruit people to work for him? I’m not sure what “Turkish Delight” was used at Corinth but notice how these false apostles–deceitful workmen treat the members of the church. “For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face” (2 Cor. 11:19-20). How did they not notice? Lewis does the same thing in the “Turkish Delight” chapter. She yells at him, calls him an idiot, demands answers, speaks openly in front of Edmund about how easy it will be to deal with him and then does this “My poor child,” she said in quite a different voice, “how cold you look! Come and sit with me here on the sledge and I will put my mantle round you and we will talk.”
Does this not scare you? I hope it will cause us all to be discerning and attentive. How did the church at Corinth get to this point? Notice: “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” (2 Cor. 11:4).
1. You need to know Jesus.
2. You need to know the Spirit.
3. You need to know the gospel.
4. You should NEVER tolerate a different Jesus, a different Spirit or a different gospel.
You might say that you already know all these things. You are the one in danger. How might we guard ourselves from these deceptions? Be in the Word regularly–reading and meditating on it. Pray earnestly that you would know the depths of these things and that the Lord would protect you. Gather regularly with a faithful body of believers and participate…talk…discuss…wrestle…seek…study the Bible with each other. Be sure your church is has a confession of faith. Good confessions of faith put up fences to protect the sheep from wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.
Some other clues if these aren’t self evident. Be very cautious of believers who boast in their strengths and not their weaknesses (though they could do this too in order to deceive you). Be very cautious of believers who never suffer on account of Jesus and the gospel (though they will often claim they are the victims when really they are the attackers). And good grief, if one of your leaders hits you in the face you should know that’s a problem. Listen to leaders who were beaten with rods because of the gospel.
What hope do we have? I don’t want to lead you to despair. Well, in Edmund’s case Aslan came to his rescue. In fact, though Edmund had violated the law and the law demanded death, justice was upheld because Aslan (the type of Jesus figure in the story) takes his sentence of death in his place. Aslan is slain on the Stone Table! Oh, by the way, Aslan is a lion!
Our hope is the same. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah was slain for us and he was raised! He is alive. He will protect us. He will destroy the angel of light someday soon. Trust in your Savior and King! You will not be disappointed!
Share your thoughts in the comments about how you guard yourself from being deceived.
Who in your life needs to hear this? Go talk with them about how to be on guard.