SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul continues the defense of himself he started in Chapter 10.
- Paul views himself as a kind of "spiritual father" to the Corinthians, feeling like it's his job to watch out for them. And he fears that they are being led astray, comparing them to an unfaithful bride.
- He also compares them to Eve from the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden when she disobeys God and eats the forbidden fruit. (see Genesis 3) Just like Eve they have been deceived and were following false teachers. They cared more about credentials, power, and eloquence than they did the real truth of God.
- So, Paul "lowers" himself to boasting about his own credentials to make a point. He boasts about how he is full of knowledge, he has never taken a penny from them, and his suffering and weakness are proof that his life is lived only for God. Paul is forced to match his opponents to prove that he is more a servant of Christ than they.
- Why did Paul resort to boasting? Because the Corinthians were being diverted from their sincere devotion to Christ and he was willing to do anything to stop it. These "super apostles" were taking pride in what is seen rather than what is in the heart.
- He makes a statement about Satan, stating that he “masquerades as an angel of light.” What Paul means is that the enemy is often masked as a messenger from God -- a wolf in sheep's clothing. This is why we must closely examine what God is telling us and whatever messages we hear preached, to make sure they align with God's Word as given to us in the Bible.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- We need to know God's Word well enough that we recognize it when someone is trying to deceive from the truth.
- The good news of God is that we get to live life relying on His grace. His grace isn't only what gets us into Heaven in the future; it's what we rely on to get through everyday. That means instead of being ashamed of our weaknesses, or trying to hide or compensate for our weaknesses, we can be proud of and boast in them. Why? Because they force us to rely on God all the more.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- God cares about our heart's devotion to him more than eloquent words or fancy resumes. Satan will constantly try to distract us like Eve to shinier, prettier things, but we need to simply hold onto the Word of God and stay strong.
- The fact that you're doing this Bible study today shows that you are committed to growing in your knowledge of God's Word. Way to go! This will help you to recognize what is not true, and to build your life on what is true. Keep reading the Bible every day!
- Take joy in the fact that you have a God who loves you perfectly, and who is strong. His strength can come into your weaknesses, and so you can boast in your weaknesses. More on this thought tomorrow!