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2 Corinthians 11:12-15 • Seeing through the Disguise

"But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds."
    —2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (NASB)

One of the things I've noticed which differentiates a true leader of Christ from a false one is their speech about themselves. Where false believers are concerned it's a variation of the axiom, "Tell a lie often enough and they'll begin to believe it." They feel compelled to tell everyone over and over again why they're an apostle, or a prophet, or whatever title of power they're after. Whereas the true leader of Christ is described in Scripture as a shepherd tending the Master's flock, they are someone who rarely speaks of themselves and instead let their actions speak for them.

In Corinth the false apostles of the day had spoken so much that Paul finally had to break down and talk about himself not so much to protect his reputation but to teach the people how to differentiate between the true and the false. Just as it's been with all those who falsely claim the title of apostle even to this day, their chief identifying characteristic is "boasting". It's quite a contrast when you compare the things Paul "boasts" about versus those by the false apostles. Paul established that true leaders boast of Christ's greater works and message through them in spite of their inadequacies, whereas false leaders are betrayed by their boasting of claims of power and authority over everyone else and their own self-sufficiency.

But the thing we can't get suckered into is judging by appearances. Not every false leader comes across as completely whack-o, not every true leader is perfect in appearance and presentation. That's why it's so important to listen to what's actually being said and carefully compare it to Scripture. Yes, I'm perplexed why people don't see through Benny Hinn because of his over-the-top physical appearance, but then again I'm not surprised at how accepting people are of Rick Warren because of how exceptionally "normal" he looks. Yet each is betrayed by their own words contradicting Christ's Word. It's an application of what Christ repeatedly said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 11:15) The responsibility to discern is incumbent on us.

I have often stated that so many are failing the smaller tests leading up to the final one. What I mean is that when people can't see through the hundreds of charlatans with us today, how will they stand up against the ultimate deceiver in the coming of the Antichrist himself? If we're not successfully identifying these amateurs, what chance do we have against the ultimate professional?