•  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
We may be quite sure that the enemy of souls is ever seeking to turn aside God's people from the truth; and we need to be constantly on the alert lest he should catch us and hinder our joy and communion as well as our usefulness.
The fear of this filled the Apostle Paul's heart in respect of the saints at Corinth; and his words to them in his second epistle (chap. 11:3), when he speaks of this, furnish instruction of the very greatest importance. May the Spirit of God, as we meditate upon it, awaken us both to the danger and to the remedy provided against it.
What the Apostle feared was that their minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. Another translation renders this latter part, "simplicity as to the Christ," which, I think, helps us to see that there is a simplicity connected with the doctrine concerning Christ (that is, the truth generally), the loss of which is infinitely serious. The Apostle's words tell us how serious when he speaks of their being corrupted from this simplicity; for it shows us that the moment a child of God is turned aside from this simplicity, corruption has set in. All will admit that this is serious indeed.
Let us then inquire what this simplicity consists of, for it is evident that a right understanding of that is most necessary. The Apostle himself furnishes us the clue when he illustrates his point by a reference to the beguiling of Eve. The illustration is most apt, for he has just said that like as a bride is prepared for the bridegroom, so he had espoused them to one husband, that he might present them as a chaste virgin to Christ; and his fear is that they should be corrupted like as the first bride was.
If we turn to the story of this first beguiling, we shall easily see what this simplicity consisted of. When the serpent first approached Eve with his subtle suggestions, she answered him promptly, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." [The preceding italicized words seem to have been unwarranted, and if so, her adding to God's word gave the enemy an opening.] Now it is in this very answer that the simplicity is seen. God's mind had been communicated to Eve in words which presented no difficulty, and they had been received without question and up to that moment, obeyed. Could anything be simpler than that? No, for it is precisely the same principle upon which we deal with the tiniest child that has any understanding at all. We leave a little one alone in a room for a while, but before going we give some simple instruction that it shall not touch a certain article before our return. Does the child understand? Certainly! And what remains? Only that it shall obey. It may not yet understand why the command was given. That is not always necessary. The authority of the parent answers for that.
And in the same way Eve's attitude toward God's communications was, at the moment the serpent approached, characterized by the greatest simplicity. God had spoken, and she had without question believed and obeyed; and the effect of this was complete happiness. Now note what the serpent suggested- that God did not mean quite what His words seemed to convey-. And here is the critical point of the whole question. It is what has been suggested thousands of times since, and what is being pressed with increased energy in our own day, but it is false. It cannot be too strongly pressed and pressed again that God's words mean exactly what they say. We may not always understand why He commands this and that, but (and I would appeal especially to the young believer, although it is equally applicable to the old) let us plainly understand that every word means just what it says, and nothing else. And in the putting down of our foot firmly upon this, lies all our happiness.
Brethren, I appeal to you, do not be robbed of your treasure. Cling to the Lord's precious legacy, and your happiness and welfare will be intact.
Eve was corrupted. She had enjoyed perfect bliss as a consequence of simple unquestioning obedience, but she surrendered her simplicity and immediately reaped its terrible consequences.
Friends! God always speaks in language we can understand. We do not grasp everything at once. We grow in knowledge. But we grow most when we simply take God's Word as it stands, whether we understand it or not.
Look again at what the Apostle says, "I fear, lest... your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
Ponder it well, for once the believer starts upon this corrupt path, there is no knowing how far he may depart from the truth; while, on the other hand, the simple clinging through all to the Word as it is given, although entailing suffering for the truth's sake, as it assuredly will, brings a happiness and peace that nothing else can. May you and I be preserved, dear reader!