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PAUL’S GODLY JEALOUSY

2 Cor.11:1-21

Last week we talked about God’s jealousy for those who belong to Him. Jealousy is a trait that we generally think of as negative and harmful to relationships because it tends to be motivated by selfishness, insecurity and fear. But that’s not what God’s jealousy is about. His jealousy doesn’t grow out of any sense of insecurity… He doesn’t get anxious when we put someone or something ahead of Him on our priority list… it doesn’t hurt His pride. Those are the things that spawn our kind of jealousy but with God, His jealousy is aroused, first of all, when those who owe their very existence to Him fail to love Him as He desires. Secondly, God is jealous for us because we slight ourselves when we don’t love Him the way we should We miss out on the very best God has for us.

You see, His jealousy is the natural and necessary by-product of His absolute sovereignty and infinite holiness. He must demand from us what His glory requires… our faithfulness to Him… our sincere worship… and our love that puts Him above and before anything and anyone else. When we don’t, not only do we fail to give Him the glory He rightfully deserves… but we lose out on the tremendous blessing we can receive when He has first place in our lives.

The first time God’s jealousy is mentioned in Scripture was when it was demonstrated in the Old Testament in the relationship He so longed for with the people of Israel. God told them when He had given Moses the Law, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Ex.20:3-5) Ironically, the very first sin of the people was when they worshipped the golden calf that was fashioned by Aaron… and that began a pattern of habitually provoking God’s jealousy by their constant unfaithfulness to Him.

In the New Testament we see it expressed by the Lord Jesus when He drove out the moneychangers from the Temple and His disciples remembered the words of the Psalmist who wrote, “Zeal for Your house has eaten me up and the reproaches that fall on You have fallen on me.” (Ps.69:9; John 2:13-17) He zealously acted on behalf of His Father’s honor. Jealousy was incited by His passion to see God glorified by His people, arousing His anger to drive out the offenders. Remember the words translated “zealous” and “jealous” are the same in the original languages… both Hebrew and Greek, so they can be used interchangeably.

In Christ’s action you can see the difference between sinful jealousy and godly jealousy. Sinful jealousy is when we act out of our own self interest… godly jealousy is when we act on God’s behalf or on behalf of another.

God’s jealousy is perfectly appropriate… in fact, remember in Ex.34:14 He said, , “the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God…”Deut.24:4 says, “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God”.”. God is jealous or zealous because He loves His people intensely and longs to bless them. And if God is jealous, then it is also possible for us to have a godly jealousy and we find in our text that Paul is expressing this godly jealousy to the Corinthians. Remember godly jealousy is when we are protective of God’s honor and the welfare of another… it’s not about us. So let’s look at our rather lengthy text this morning and see what has stirred this godly jealousy in Paul. 2 Cor.11:1-21

1 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly–and indeed you do bear with me.

2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity* that is in Christ.

5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles.

6 Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested* among you in all things.

7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?

8 I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.

9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.

10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!

12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast.

13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.

14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

16 I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little.

17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.

18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast.

19 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise!

20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.

21 To our shame, I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold–I speak foolishly–I am bold also.
Remember Paul detests boasting but in order to make his point about the danger of these false apostles who had infiltrated this church and persuaded some of the believers there that it was Paul who was the deceiver, he is saying, “Alright… since you’ve been listening to their foolish boasting let me indulge in a little foolishness myself for a few moments.”

He says, “I am jealous for you with godly jealousy”. Literally it could read, “I am jealous with the jealousy of God” and he compares himself to a father who is jealously protecting his daughter’s purity as an expectant bride. There is an emotional outpouring from this spiritual father’s heart because he cares deeply about them and thinks of them as his spiritual family. The Corinthians were born again through Paul’s ministry and in 1 Corinthians 4:15 he told them, “For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you.”

In 1 Corinthians 9:1, he says that they are his work in the Lord so we see that Paul has a strong claim to spiritual authority over these people… something none of his detractors could rightfully claim. They were usurpers and pretenders… they were the hirelings… the false shepherds that Jesus warned His followers about. They were more interested in making a name for themselves than with helping the Corinthians in their relationship with God. They were leading them astray but Paul was like a jealous father who had a selfless concern for the safety and welfare of his children… and he passionately wants these people to understand that.

In our text I see four reasons why Paul was consumed with a godly jealousy. The first we have already briefly referred to:

1. Paul was jealous for the Church’s purity (vs.2)

Paul uses the marriage analogy as the perfect picture to make his point. He sees himself as a loving father and this church as his daughter who has been promised to Christ… and he views it as his responsibility to protect her purity so that when she is presented to Christ she will be what he calls “a chaste virgin”. He is concerned that the church remains faithful to Christ until He returns to claim His bride.

In the Jewish culture when a young woman was given to a young man for marriage, there was a betrothal… it was like an engagement but it was a contractually binding agreement that was made that could only be broken by death or divorce. It was legally binding and it was for life. Then usually about a year would pass and during that time the virgin bride would prove her loyalty to her husband by her purity and her faithfulness. Meanwhile the husband would prepare the home to receive his bride when it was time for the marriage to be consummated. By the way, that’s the picture Jesus was portraying in John 14 when He told His disciples He was going to prepare a place for them. He was like a betrothed bridegroom who was leaving the bride to go get the home ready and He said, “Some day I’ll come back to get you.”

This picture applies to us as well. At the moment, we’re still in the engagement stage… but we’re betrothed… we’re promised to the Lord and we’re obligated to remain faithful to Him. And like Paul as a father who jealous guards the purity of the Corinthian church, a genuine leader of God’s people will be concerned that the people God has entrusted to him will remain faithful to Christ. As a pastor, one of my main concerns is that you remain faithful to Christ in every way… spiritually, morally and doctrinally.

So Paul paints a beautiful picture when he says in effect, “I betrothed you to Christ and I want to present you to Christ in the end as a pure virgin. I want you to be pure until you meet the Savior, whether He comes for you or whether you die and enter into His presence; I want you to be pure until that very moment.”

Secondly,

2. Paul was jealous over the corruption of truth (vs.3,4)

Paul claimed that the false teachers were preaching another Jesus and they were being deceived, citing Satan’s deception of Eve in the garden which led to her disobedience and Adam’s rebellious choice. Paul is warning them that if they begin to believe the lies these false teachers were teaching then they would be guilty of being unfaithful to Jesus just like Adam and Eve were unfaithful to God after Eve was deceived by Satan.

What they were being fooled about was the “simplicity that is in Christ.” What the Bible teaches about Jesus and the Gospel is incredibly simple and yet Satan has made major inroads in making men think that we’re still missing something… that we need more than just Jesus. A.W. Tozer made an observation years ago that is still relative today in his book, “Following Hard After God,” Tozer writes:

Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention, but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and the servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we in this day know God imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.”
The simplicity that is in Christ is an extremely important concept for us to grasp… because just like in Paul’s day, false doctrines, particularly about the person of Christ are being taught and many Christians are oblivious to it. The word “simplicity” means “singleness of devotion” for Christ and it issues from their minds! What one thinks about Jesus… how you understand or envision him… your Christology, is absolutely key to your Christian life and devotion to Him.

Satan is forever applying his “craftiness” on the minds of God’s people to lead them astray. The battle for faithfulness to the Lord begins in the mind and if Satan can convince us that Jesus is not enough and that there is something more you need then your loyalty has been divided. MacArthur notes

To not love Him supremely as Savior and Lord is an act of disloyalty. The danger false teachers pose is that they shift the focus off Jesus Christ and onto rituals, ceremonies, good works, miracles, emotional experiences, psychology, entertainment, political and social causes, and anything else that will distract people.

Loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ is nonnegotiable in the Christian life… so much so that the Scripture declares, “If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed.” (1 Cor.16: 22)
Paul points out that his opponents were doing three things. They were preaching preaching “another Jesus.” One of the hallmarks of false teachers is that they have a corrupt Christology. Some think He is just a good moral teacher. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe He is the archangel Michael. Muslims believe He is just a prophet. Mormons believe He was a man who became a god and that so can we, which implies that Jesus is something less than the one true God incarnate. One of the prosperity preachers, Kenneth Copleland, made a declaration years ago that Jesus never claimed to be God. Anything short of the true God… the second Person of the Trinity in human flesh who gave His life as a sacrifice to pay for our sins is a defective view of Jesus and is “another Jesus”.

They also came in the power of a “different spirit”. It wasn’t the Holy Spirit but a demonic spirit. All false teachings ultimately come from Satan. His workers may appear to be “an angel of light” as he says in verse 14 but they are energized by Satan and are called “deceitful spirits” (1 Tim.4:1)

Thirdly, if you have “another Jesus” being taught in the power of a “different spirit”.consequently you’re going to end up with a “different Gospel”. Paul doesn’t specify the difference but I am quite sure that it denied that salvation is by grace through faith alone because that is the gospel… and they added works to make it a different gospel. Paul wrote about this to the Galatians and said,

6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,

7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.

8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
Be careful what you listen to friends and don’t be gullible… know the truth… be discerning. Paul complimented the Bereans because they made sure that what he was teaching was in accordance with the Old Testament Scriptures. Paul’s jealousy was stirred because the Corinthians were being deceived with false teaching. They were corrupting the truth of God’s Word and he says they were putting up with it when they should have been standing for the truth and rejecting these fake apostles.

Thirdly,

3. Paul was jealous for his integrity as an apostle (vs.5-12,16-18, 21)

Paul says, “For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.”

Paul’s jealousy for his integrity though wasn’t out his own interests but it was because if his integrity is lost, so will their willingness to listen to the truth. He was jealousy guarding his integrity because he was afraid they would stop listening to him and turn to the deceivers.

These false teachers had elevated themselves above Paul. They prided themselves in their oratorical skills… being much more eloquent than Paul but they didn’t have the knowledge Paul had because He received revelation directly from the Lord. They couldn’t boast of that.

He also boasts about not taking money from them but received his support from other churches. Kent Hughes sheds some light on this when he writes,

Traveling speakers and professional philosophers in Paul’s day were accorded status by the fees they charged. In fact, a cheap fee was thought to imply that the message wasn’t important. Therefore Paul’s refusal to accept money for his ministry in Corinth was negatively interpreted to mean either 1)an admission that his teaching was of low caliber, 2) that his message wasn’t worth much, 3) that he gave the gospel away because nobody would pay for it, or 4) that he was not really an apostle. Add to this the fact that the “super apostles” charged for their renditions of the gospel and you have the picture.
Because Paul was more concerned for them he chose not to burden them with his financial needs. He had other resources that supported him in ministry. He says in verse 10-12 that he was boasting in the fact that he was preaching the gospel free of charge to undermine the impact and the false gospel and everything else they were bragging about.

In verses 16-18 Paul goes back to foolish boasting after making his case. But he says simply, “Because they are boasting in the flesh, I will boast also.” But he adds rather sarcastically, “For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise!” (vs.19)

In his first letter he claimed, “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” (1 Cor.4:10) Paul is speaking this way because he desperately wants to win them back to the real Jesus and the true gospel.

Then the last thing we see in this passage is that

4. Paul was jealous to see Satan’s ministers exposed for what they really were (vs.13-15, 19-20)

Now he’s calling a spade a spade.

13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.

14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
He is saying, “This is why they are so dangerous,” They’re fakes… they can sound good… they can look good… but they are enemies of Christ and His gospel… and they will pull you away from a pure devotion to Christ.

In verse 20 he outlines some of the things they were doing to them. He said they, ”put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.” So why in the world would they want to subject themselves to these fools? You know, that’s a good question that I’m not sure I have an answer for. When you see some of the foolishness that is going on today and you see people listening and supporting it, you have to wonder what’s going on. Why are people so gullible.

I guess the best answer I can come up with is that men are more interested in a man-centered Christianity rather than a God centered faith. There’s enough of God to make it sound spiritual and right… but the truth is that we’re so self absorbed with our own needs that we’ll fall for just about anything.

God gives us the eyes to believe the truth… and the courage to reject what is false… and the heart to embrace Christ as the only true need. To learn that we are “complete in Him” (Col.2:10) so that “in all things He might have the preeminence.” (Col.1:18)

Hughes writes, “If the Corinthians church (and the false apostles) have at all engaged what Paul is saying, they will engage in his foolish boasting, which is meant to authenticate his apostleship and ultimately save their souls. Let us beware when some smiling, well-dressed preacher tells us “we can have it all now” without taking up the cross. Let us beware of another Jesus, a different spirit, and another gospel.”

Paul had good reason to be jealous because their souls were in danger. There have been times when some of you will tell me of the preachers you’re listening to on the radio or TV… some even supporting them. I have graciously voiced my objections because I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I want for Christ to be loved and glorified for the great God and Savior that He is… and I want more than anything for us to discover all that a full devotion to Him will bring.