The Simplicity That Is in Christ

2 Corinthians 11:3  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 11
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It is very observable that a man of ordinary capacity, persevering in the pursuit of a single object, generally succeeds; while a much more talented person, pursuing several objects, succeeds in none. The time and bent of the mind when given to one object distracts from another, so as to render success impossible. Now, God has set before the soul a single object, even Christ. He is presented to us as the object of present and everlasting confidence, the object of hope, the object of desire, so that to know Him is eternal life already begun; and the most gifted and advanced disciple cannot breathe a higher prayer than " That I may know him." The one comprehensive commandment of God, is, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear him"-"look to him"-"delight in him." And the work of God is that we " believe in him whom he hath sent." Other objects, however good in themselves, must have a disturbing and distracting effect on the soul, unless duly subordinate to Christ. He Himself has ruled that we cannot serve God and Mammon, and has laid down the rule for the guidance of His disciples, " Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness."
A believer in Christ is a man of a single object, and if, by the grace of God, he has a single eye to that object his "whole body will be full of light." A single object and a single eye are the two thoughts blended together in the expression, "The simplicity that is in Christ." From such "simplicity" the Corinthians were in danger of having their minds corrupted. In that high yet inexplicable sentiment or impulse of our nature, where affection and respect is mutually drawn forth between a man and woman, so that a single object becomes to each the engrossing center of all the thoughts, we have an illustration of what the Apostle means by the simplicity that is in Christ, and to which he refers: "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." But the Apostle turns from this to a very intelligible reference. " But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
" The serpent beguiled me," was Eve's only excuse to the challenge of the Lord God, " What is this that thou halt done?" Whilst the principles of all sin are to be found in the one great original sin, the pattern sin, as it were, in that comprehensive word, "disobedience" the beguiling power of Satan, which led to the act, was the desire of knowledge and wisdom. After the serpent insinuated the lie, " Ye shall not surely die," he goes on with the seducing subtlety: " For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." The serpent beguiled Eve from the happy knowledge of God in nearness to him, into distance from God, and unwillingness as well as inability to come near Him. The subtlety which prevailed with Eve was that she would be happier if she exalted herself, that she would be wiser by disobeying than by fearing God; that there was something more desirable "in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil," than in " the tree of life."
Again, was the Tree of Life, in the person and work of Jesus, opened to men " to see, taste, eat, and handle," not in Paradise, but in the very world in which man was an outcast from Paradise. But, again, also hard by this tree of life, was presented another tree, " pleasant to the eyes, and desirable to make one wise," in " the wisdom of this world." Again there was room for the subtlety of the old serpent to beguile; by persuading those who had tasted that the Lord is gracious, that they could be higher, happier, and wiser, by means of the wisdom of this world, than they were as believers in Christ, and disciples of Christ. It appeared as a privation to them, and a degradation to call no one "Master" but Jesus, to know no wisdom but Jesus, " the wisdom of God," to look to Him as " the light," and for light, as well as " the salvation of God," and for salvation. " Surely the wise man and the disputer of this world may be helpful to us," might the Christian say in answer to any subtle whisper of the serpent. " Engraft the knowledge of
Christ on the rudiments of philosophy, and what a system will be produced!" The introduction of the wisdom of this world, corrupted the faith instead of helping it, destroyed the temple of God instead of rearing it. (1 Cor. 3:1717If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1 Corinthians 3:17).) Human wisdom and disputation had resulted in undermining the fundamental truth of the gospel, the resurrection of the body. The Corinthians were in danger of losing the rich blessings of the gospel, by that which, through the subtlety of Satan, appeared an advantage to them. The philosophical teachers, who were really " false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into Apostles of Christ," under the subtle guidance of " Satan, transformed into an angel of light," dared not, directly, " preach another Jesus," or pretend to give another Spirit, or to have another gospel-that would be too open and undisguised. But to draw off the heart from allegiance to Jesus, by other objects, to substitute human wisdom for the Spirit of God, and to make the gospel itself a subject of debate and speculation, served the serpent's purpose better than open hostility. He knows that there is but one Jesus, and he knows who He is, the Holy One of God. He cannot deny this, but he can lead men to speculate on His person, till he has undermined all the doctrines of grace which result from the glory of His person. The serpent knows well his power over the conscience, for he is "the accuser of the brethren," and he knows also the only power by which he can be resisted successfully, even by the power of the cross, and to undermine that, has ever been his object; and, for this purpose, he finds no readier a tool than the wisdom of man. " For the preaching of the cross is, to them that perish, foolishness, but to us who are saved, the power and wisdom of God." The serpent knows also the value of the Scripture, and that it " cannot be broken;" by this weapon, wielded by Jesus Himself, at the season of His temptation, was the serpent defeated. He could mutilate Scripture, but he could not stand against it. "It is written," foiled him in his subtleties. Glad would the serpent be to wrest this weapon, the sword of the Spirit, out of the hand of believers; and early did he begin through his philosophical ministers to corrupt that word, the authority of which he could not deny. "We," says the Apostle, " are not as many, which corrupt the word of God." It is easily corrupted by taking from it, or adding to it, or setting up anything as of like authority. The old serpent-the accuser of the brethren-is only overcome by them, by "the word of their testimony, and by the blood of the Lamb, and by loving not their lives even unto the death."
"There is but one name under heaven given amongst men whereby we must be saved, even the name of Jesus." The serpent would beguile us, by adding something as supplementary to Jesus, in order to salvation, or by making Jesus one among many other objects; but whatever these objects are, they will assuredly displace Jesus-He must have the supreme place, or none at all -He must be all, or nothing.
There is but "one Spirit," and the presence of that Spirit can be tested by the witness that He bears to the Son of God, in the great facts of the incarnation, cross, resurrection, and ascension, and coming glory of Jesus. There is but one gospel, even that of the grace of God, in present and everlasting remission of sins through the blood of Jesus, present and everlasting righteousness to him that believeth in Jesus. "Another gospel," if it pretends to be one, is "no gospel" at all, it troubles instead of comforts, and unsettles the soul instead of establishing it. The only wise God has alone devised a plan to secure His own glory, and the eternal blessedness of which a sinner is capable. He can alone announce Himself as a just God and a Savior, and the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, because in it is revealed the only method of righteousness by which a sinner can stand before God-the righteousness of God by faith.
The Corinthians were in danger, as we ever are, of being "corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ;" and we are so corrupted whenever the highest object of human attainment is, in our estimation, more desirable than what Christ is of God made unto us and what we are of God made in Him.
The gospel announces to us the wondrous means of God's "possibility" to do that which is equally "impossible" for man's wisdom or even the law of God to achieve, even the making a sinner perfectly righteous in the sight of God. Until we realize that faith in Christ has at once set us in a position unattainable by the highest human wisdom or the most perfect human righteousness, we are in constant danger of being corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ. Satan knows how to ply the " highly esteemed" things among men to the subversion of the gospel of the grace of God. He will use unto this end the religion of man or the wisdom of man. The early Judaizing tendency is an instance of the former danger now fully manifested; the subtle disputations of the Greek of the latter, now also fearfully prevalent. God. has drawn the line between that which man can attain unto and that which He reveals. He hides, such is his good pleasure, from the wise and prudent that which he reveals to the babes. Now human wisdom has ever thought to obliterate the line which God has drawn between human investigation and divine revelation, by pretending to reach, by reasoning, that which can only be received by faith. Speculations on the person of Christ soon corrupted the simplicity of faith in Him; again men became vain in their imaginations. Men speedily became wise above that which is written, and thus superseded the authority of Scripture. Human intellect pretended to explain what God had been pleased to reveal, and thus the Holy Ghost was virtually superseded as " the guide into all truth." Thus faith, instead of resting in the power of God, was made to rest in the wisdom of man; for such indeed is the boasted authority of the false church in its traditions, equally as false philosophy, to which in appearance it is so much opposed.
To recognize the Scriptures as the only and sole rule, and the Holy Ghost the only infallible guide into the understanding of that which He has dictated, and as the glorifier of Jesus, are our greatest safeguards from being corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ. Whatever draws away the soul from Him must be regarded by us as an idol.
" We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."