By Allan Jenks
How eternally tragic to stand at God's judgment, and discover you had been worshipping the wrong “Jesus”! Exactly that dread possibility caused Paul to give a sharp warning to the church at Corinth. Following a false “Jesus” is following a false God and a false saviour. Many think it is their faith that saves them, but faith does NOT save. JESUS does. But faith in a false “Jesus”, doesn't seem to matter to them, and so any claim at the Judgment of a total sincerity in following the wrong “Jesus”, will not suffice. It will simply prove that they were never Christ's at all. He said, regarding His own “sheep”;
….a stranger, they will not follow, but will flee from him: for they do not know the voice of strangers - John 10:5.
The Holy Spirit of God issues a warning through Paul, designed to preserve the right mind in the true sheep meanwhile confirming the guilt of the rest in their stubborn love of the false. Paul says to the Corinthian saints:
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. 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. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit, which you have not received, or a different gospel, which you have not accepted - you may well put up with it! - 2 Corinthians 11:2-4
Paul here warns of a situation analogous to Eve's disastrous deception by the Serpent, in the Garden of Eden. The deceiving Serpent's voice was then coming through false preachers, whom the Corinthian saints were receiving—and so it is even today. The dire result would be a corrupting of their minds. We note in passing just how vital is the mind to any genuine relationship with the Saviour! Their minds were in danger of being corrupted from the simplicity of their person-to-person relationship with Jesus their Saviour. The same Garden of Eden scenario is being played out.
Paul's words: 'As the Serpent beguiled Eve' take us right back to Genesis chapter 3:
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent; "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'" Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit, and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked…. Genesis 3:1-7.
The serpent's method was as follows:
Firstly, make Eve feel that she was missing out in her spiritual growth, and could have so much more, as and when she chose to have it. Having succeeded in convincing Eve that God's present provision for her was an unwelcome limitation, all he then had to do, was offer her a self-initiated D.I.Y. spiritual-growth programme, accompanied by an assurance that if she simply practiced the programme, it would work for her, and she would gain that which she was now convinced she lacked.
It was that easy – and so the perfect world God had given her was lost. She lost a present paradise for a falsely promised spiritual growth. Thus was bequeathed to us, this sin-blighted world of woe, with all its sinful horrors, all because of the sin nature within her and within Adam, and so within us, that has condemned and will condemn so many millions to Hell. All because Eve wanted to grow spiritually! All because Eve was made discontented with her existing personal relationship with God Himself!
We might draw the analogy that the perfect provision made available to Eve in the garden, and particularly through the Tree of Life at its centre, was CHRIST. That although she might not have yet partaken fully of all that had been provided, she already HAD ALL SHE REQUIRED! And just so today, from church and television pulpits, and in professedly Christian bookstores and at skilfully marketed seminars, the serpent continues to offer just as many and various spiritual growth programmes as the illicitly stirred-up spiritual ambitions of men and women might desire. Satan is the great packager and marketer! Thus he offers a 'Secret' here, a 'Key' there, some 'steps' here, some 'principles' there, or some higher spiritual 'levels' to attain, all for our promised ascent into our very own god- hood!The serpent's, 'You shall be as gods' has always been the ultimate satanic incitement, as Lucifer encourages souls to ambitiously ascend to a pseudo-heaven, via self-built towers of Babel. Such independent spiritual ambition was Lucifer's own downfall, and he ever seeks to replicate his own fall in humanity, by inciting in man that very same rebellious ambition that would supplant God's throne for one's own.
Note Paul's Spirit-inspired terminology regarding the danger: 'jealous', 'jealousy', 'espoused', 'chaste virgin', 'one husband'. This is the language of the closest human intimacy! And by it Paul reminds the Corinthians that they already enjoy in Christ the most intimate relationship possible between humans and God and that they will all the more and forever continue to enjoy it!
Their much fuller enjoyment is yet ahead, as it is with the chaste espoused virgin, of Paul's analogy i.e. the Church. The full experience of love's communion between Christ and His Bride, is yet to be realised, but the mutual commitment to this future event by them both has been made, and has been sealed with the espousal promise.
It is just at this personal historical juncture, between the sealing of our marriage pact with Christ as our promised 'one husband', and the future full consummation that Satan seeks to seduce the soul with the promise of a no-waiting, self-generated spiritual self-consummation. Thus it was that national Israel's running after other gods and spiritual experiences was characterized by His prophets as 'fornication' and 'adultery'! Thus James, the apostle wrote to a church consorting with the world-spirit:
Adulterers and adulteresses! Don't you know that the friendship of the world, is enmity with God? Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God! - James 4:4.
All illicit spiritual experience then, is a spiritual immorality against Christ
the salient features of the Garden of Eden seduction, as is being offered today will usually be:
(1) A desirable spiritual experience or state, promising much to the senses, rather than the biblical exhortation to growth in the self-denying obedience and faithful living, described as our bearing His cross, which is the only path to true spiritual growth.
(2) A flattering guarantee of great personal advancement, appealing to an independent self-ambition that looks inward, to one's self-gain, instead of outward, to the gain of our Beloved and His Church.
(3) Something that may be put immediately into practice as entirely within the person's control, and requiring no character pre-conditions, nor involving the self-denial and preferring of another that is always involved in all loving two-way relationships.
(4) An offer which will require the ignoring of God's written Word, in an implicit rejecting of all His commands and warnings. The Serpent's blatant misuse of Scripture to support his offer will also need to be ignored if noticed at all.
(5) Uncritical acceptance will mostly come from those who are willingly without the benefit of biblical ministry oversight, as Eve apparently was, in view of Adam's non-involvement in her seduction.(Of course this should not be misconstrued as a commendation of any cultic, overbearing, lords-over-your-faith 'heavy-shepherding'. Rather this concerns those who deliberately put themselves outside the reach of the God-given authority of the faithful Church, i.e. the Shepherds who are charged by God with watching for our souls, by a feeding with the true Word of God, and by a biblical Church discipline.)
These then were the features of the satanic temptation that destroyed Eve. The vital question every one of us must ask is:
Have I also fallen for the Serpent's “Garden of Eden” strategy through supposedly “Christian” books, videos, or sermons? Have I been offered some D.I.Y. 'spiritual Secret', or 'Key', or given a certain number of 'steps' to follow, or some 'principles' to put into action, or any other sort of procedural spiritual programme, activity, prayer-method, or ritual, guaranteed to get sure results if I simply put it into practice? A programme I was told would work, if I just work the programme? Have I been incited to climb an entirely self- constructed stairway to where a false 'god' is? If your answer is “yes”, I put it to you that you have been listening to the same serpent voice that Eve heard, and disastrously obeyed, in the Garden of Eden.Relationship with God is two-way between the parties. It is not you doing your own thing, to attain spiritual self-improvement like some self-obsessed and narcissistic spiritual body-builder!
A truly successful relationship, as any married couple will attest, is each always doing the other's good, not merely one's own! Each seeking the OTHER'S gain, not one's own self- advancement! Spiritual seducers will lay out their devilish enticements before the people's eyes, and like a spouse who unfaithfully spends all the mutually dedicated household budget on his or her own personal pleasure or hobby, so will the wilful destruction of precious relationship with our heavenly espoused Husband be perpetrated by our spiritual self-indulgence.
The coming to your ears of the seductive voice of the serpent of Eden, will, as with Eve, ALWAYS BE ALL ABOUT YOU! It will NOT be all about your Heavenly Master and Lord, to whose redeeming love and eternal commitment, you ought to be joyfully submitted by your daily glad obedience. No, the satanic voice will not speak about your daily submission to God's will in whatever situation you find yourself, which situation has been lovingly designed by Him for your sanctification, and your final glorification with Him. His Word is true:And we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose - Romans 8:28.
It is in these God-appointed situations that spiritual growth takes place, not in working some cunningly packaged and marketed 'spiritual' programme.These false teachers will inflate your sense of self-importance by describing the great things you can achieve, and the great person you can become. They will allure you with self-vaunting visions of what you can achieve by your own efforts along with their programme.
(They will NOT tell you how rich THEY are getting, by peddling their product to you and others like you!) And just as with Eve, offering you all, they will make you lose everything! Satan made an offer of a quick “cross-less” greatness to the man Christ Jesus in the wilderness, but even if had been true, it was paltry dross compared to the glory that was to be the outcome of Christ's Father-chosen path via the cross (cf. Luke 4:5-7).
Jesus refused the satanic lure, and –for the joy set before Him, endured the cross…..and is sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2.As the result of such an amazing grace, we will share His throne i.e. His rulership, if we don't sell our inheritance by accepting the lying satanic promise of a self-realised self- exaltation by means of our operation of the proffered techniques.
All the promises of God are 'Yes and amen' in the Person of Jesus Christ. We will inherit all the glorious promises of God by walking with Him just as Jesus did with the Father, by dying to self in humble joyful service, and so be raised at last, to the promised glory.