What does Satan use to draw people away from Jesus? False teaching. Lies about God. It’s what Satan used in the Garden of Eden, and it’s what he continues to use today. Notice what Paul says about the serpent: he uses cunning or trickery. He’s very good at getting us to believe things that are false about God. He’s good at getting us to believe half-truths and lies. Sinclair Ferguson calls this Edenic poison. We drink it, thinking it will be good, and it kills us.
I love Toronto, but one of the things that drives me crazy is discovering good churches that are no longer churches — or even worse, that have drifted from Christianity.
Take Avenue Road Presbyterian Church. It was obviously on Avenue Road, just north of Davenport. It sat vacant until 1941 when Charles Templeton took possession. He started to rent it for $100 a month, even without a congregation. Just a side note: That’s about $1700 in today’s dollars. If anyone has a lead on a building like that for that price, please let me know!
Under his leadership, the church grew. Templeton went into debt to pay for the construction of balconies to accommodate the growth. When it caught on fire, donations poured in from all over North America. It eventually joined the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and moved to north Toronto to become Bayview Glenn Church.
But two sad things happened.
First: in 1957, Charles Templeton declared himself an agnostic. The guy who started this church left the faith completely. Fifty years later he admitted that he missed Jesus. The man who was one of the greatest preachers in North America at that time left the faith completely.
Second: in the 1970s, the church was sold to a buyer who represented the Hare Krishna group, and the church is now a Hare Krishna temple.
I hate this! I hate whenever I hear that someone who once professed the faith has left it, or that a church that once proclaimed the gospel is no longer there, either because it’s moved or it’s died.
The Pastor’s Job, and Two Dangers
And that’s the danger that Paul addresses in this passage, and the danger we face today. The heart of Paul’s concern is in verses 2 to 4:
For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
There’s so much to unpack here.
First, here’s the goal of any pastor worth his salt. “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.”