There’s a statement I often say that sometimes offends people… that the Gospel is simple, and there is great simplicity in Christ. This sometimes offends people because they are thinking of the word “simple” to mean stupid. This sometimes also offends people because they have spent their entire lives working hard and studying the scriptures, yet the Gospel is so simple that even a child can understand. So with one single statement I have managed to offend a wide audience. Yet in no way am I suggesting that the Gospel of Christ or Christ Himself are stupid, nor am I suggesting that studying the Gospel is of no value. It may in-fact surprise you to learn that my statement does not originate with me, but it is from the scriptures themselves.
The simplicity of the Gospel of Christ has been largely corrupted in modern Christianity today; replaced by something complicated, convoluted and full of mans efforts… not at all what Jesus intended. This is what we will be studying today. We will be taking a look at what the true simplicity of the Gospel is, and by seeing this we will also be able to see some of the ways man has complicated what God has made simple.
Let’s begin today by reading 2nd Corinthians 11:2-4:
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him.”
Right in verse 2 of our text here, we see something very interesting and profound… that spiritually-speaking, we are actually married to God. Jesus is our Husband This spiritual marriage concept is echoed several places throughout scripture, and the point of it is this; just as the first half of Romans 7 suggests, at one time we were married to the Law… it was our husband. Yet we died to the Law through Christ Jesus and now we are married to Him, and no longer to the Law of Moses.
This is yet another reason why those who try to mix the Law of Moses with the Grace of Christ do not even realize what they are doing – they are committing spiritual adultery, trying to have two husbands.
Now verses 3 and 4 here have been used by preachers for many years now, usually against the Gospel of Grace, by saying that Grace is a false doctrine and that Grace presents a different Jesus than the one of the Bible, and I am sure that most of us have heard all of that before. However the scriptures do not leave us guessing as to what exactly is being referred to in this text as a “different Jesus” and a “different spirit” and “another Gospel”.
Take a good look at verse 2, and see that it explains precisely what it means. If you pay attention and learn this, it is going to spare you a lot of confusion and pain in the future, because it is going to help you be able to discern good spiritual truth from a lot of the spiritual falsehood that is in the world today. Verse 2 says But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. So the specific detail here is “as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety” so also your minds be corrupted from the simplicity of Christ. So there is simplicity in Christ. The Gospel of Christ is at its core, a simple thing. It is not mystical, it is not complicated. We are to come to Christ as little children, with childlike faith. Do you tell a child that they have to sing for their supper, or work to earn your affections? Look back at the example cited in the scripture… just what situation was Eve in? Both Adam and Eve were placed in a fully completed work. They were placed in a finished and thriving garden paradise. They were told in Genesis 2:15-17 to care for and keep the finished work of God. He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit says there. They were also told that they may freely eat of every tree, now this is not a God who is stingy… this is not a God who is limiting… He didn’t say Now you need to be careful not to overeat, lest you be sick or fat. You also need to watch out not to waste the resources here. None of that. God told them that they can freely eat as much as they want from whatever tree they wanted… save one.
In Genesis 2:17 they are told to leave one single tree. And it’s very interesting the name of this tree, is the knowledge of Good and Evil. Notice that it is not just the knowledge of evil, the knowledge of good is there too. The knowledge of Good can kill you just as much as the knowledge of evil can.
Now back to our text in 2nd Corinthians 11:3, just how did Satan trick Eve? Well, we know that Eve already had everything that she needed. All things were already provided for her. Yet in Genesis 3:1 when Satan questions Eve regarding what God has said, he twists it three different ways (three is the number of man)
1. Satan removes the covenant name of God (YHVH) and addresses God as Elohim instead, which Eve then mimics when she responds. This is placing artificial separation between her and God in her mind.
2. Satan removes the word “freely” when referring to eating of the fruit of the trees. This sabotages God’s generosity, which Eve again mimics when she responds.
3. Satan reconstructs the entire phrase in the negative, which is actually a neuro-linguistic technique used in hypnosis. It is used to cause people to think negatively without realizing it.
All of this is designed to give Eve a negative view of God. To change her perceptions of Him, and to cause her to believe that God was stingy and a withholder rather than generous. To cause her to think that she was lacking something that she already had… and this is the key, because as our text from 2nd Corinthians 11 says, the very same trick is being used today. Verse 3 of our text says that in the very same way your minds can be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Just as Satan caused Eve to think that she was lacking something she already had; just as he caused her to seek another means to be as God, even though she was already made in His image and likeness, we see the very some thing happening today. Again consider the tree which she reached out to and ate from. It was the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. God wanted that tree to remain uneaten from. Some people say that today God is a God of rules and regulations – but let us remember that He was the One who wanted us to leave that knowledge of good and evil to Him and simply rest in His finished work right from the start!
Eve saw the tree of knowledge of good and evil as the tree that was in the midst of the garden; she saw that tree as the center focus. However in Genesis 2:9, we can read quite clearly how it was actually the tree of Life that was in the midst… Just as Jesus always appeared in the midst of people. She exchanged the simplicity of the finished work of God, for knowledge of good and evil. And we see that today… tell me what’s good, tell me what’s evil, so that I may perform, and through my performance, be more like God. Does that sound familiar? That’s the attitude of many so-called believers today… but what are they really believing in? They aren’t really exalting Christ with that attitude, they are instead exalting themselves and their own knowledge and their own ability to perform to try and be more like God through their own self-effort. Satan is using the exact same trick that he used in the Garden of Eden, and people are still being snared by it today. This is precisely what Paul is warning us about in 2nd Corinthians 11:3:
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
He’s saying don’t leave the simplicity of the Grace of Christ! Don’t be seduced by self-effort to try and be like God on your own or through your knowledge and performance! Far from the cry against Grace that legalistic preachers have made it to be, it is actually a plea to remain in the Grace of Jesus Christ!
Then in verse 4 we see this:
“For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him.”
There are many who preach a different Jesus today. There are many who preach a Jesus of Laws and of works. They may use the term Grace, but as you peel back the layers of their message you find that it is still the same foundation of the Old Covenant, trying to place the new wine of Christ into old wineskins all over again. They preach a Jesus that is demanding and who must be satisfied. A Jesus who is not personal and cannot be known intimately. One whose will is a mystery, and who cannot be relied upon.
They say “Oh, you can’t be blessed, until you do this first…” which is just another way of trying to get you to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Or they say “God’s will is unknowable, he is sovereign and can do whatever he wants. You can pray and ask, but don’t rely too much on it!” which is just another way of saying did God really say? It’s still the same bag of tricks from way back in the Garden, and people today are buying it hook, line and sinker!
The truth my dear friend, is that the Jesus of the Bible bore the punishment for your sins so that you would be able to receive all the benefits of God’s limitless Grace simply by believing on and accepting Christ. This is the simplicity of the Gospel. It’s nothing mystical, though it is profound and life-changing! It is simple enough for a child to grab hold of, and power enough to raise the dead!
This is the simplicity of Christ for you to remain in. This is the simple truth of the Gospel. It is all about Jesus. Amen.