In this passage, we find a very poignant truth. When people tell us they represent Jesus, that they have the Holy Spirit within them, and that they’re presenting the gospel, we cannot simply take them at face value. Why not? Because of what Paul told the Corinthians. What did he say?
I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
Here Paul expresses his concern for the Corinthians, that they like Eve might fall into deception and fall away from Christ. How could that happen?
By falling for another Jesus, another gospel, and another Holy Spirit.
“Wait a minute,” you might say. “I thought there was only one Jesus Christ, only one Holy Spirit, and only one gospel.”
That’s quite true, but there are a number of counterfeits Jesuses, counterfeit Holy Spirits, and counterfeit gospels. And they were being presented by, “false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.” (13)
And Paul says we shouldn’t be surprised by this.
For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (14)
Paul was already seeing this in his day. There were people coming to the Corinthians speaking out against the things Paul had taught them and against Paul himself, throwing the whole church into turmoil.
And throughout the New Testament, we see these counterfeit teachers bringing their counterfeit teaching.
They brought another Jesus saying that he hadn’t truly come to this earth as a man. (II John 1:7).
They brought false spirits which made it utterly important to test everyone who claimed to be speaking by the Spirit of God. (I John 4:1)
And they brought a different gospel, saying for example that people needed to follow Jewish laws in order to be truly Christian (see Galatians).
To this day, there are false Jesuses. The Mormons say that he is the spirit brother of Lucifer and one of many gods. The Jehovah’s Witnesses say he is the archangel Michael and a created being.
There are false Holy Spirits. The Holy Spirit of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is an impersonal force. The Holy Spirit of the Mormons is again one of many gods.
There are false gospels. Both Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons preach a gospel of works in addition to faith as did many in Paul’s day.
The thing is, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are very nice people. They are very sincere. They may even appear to be more godly than we ourselves are. But in presenting a different Jesus, a different gospel, and a different Holy Spirit, they prove themselves to be false teachers and false believers. But because they sound so good, many people are deceived by them.
Let me be clear. In the case of most Mormon’s and Jehovah’s Witnesses or other cultists, they are not purposely leading others into deception. They themselves are deceived. But if we are to avoid their fate, we cannot simply believe people because they say they believe in Jesus and the gospel. We must test all things by what the Bible teaches, for it alone is truth.
Let us not be children. Let us not be naive. Rather, let us test all things, holding fast to that which is good. (I Thessalonians 5:21)