2 Corinthians 11:3
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety…
Satan was once, in deed and in truth, an angel of light. He became an angel of darkness, and he is now transformed into an angel of light again; not into the reality, but into the form and semblance.
I. SATAN APPEARS IN THE GUISE OF AN ANGEL OF LIGHT. In such a guise it was that he presented himself to our first mother, Eve, in Paradise (Genesis 3:4, 5). In such a guise it was that he assaulted the Son of Man in the wilderness. To this encounter he brought with him the Word of God. Fancy not that every one who has a Bible in his hand, and a text in his mouth, is therefore taught of God. The devil will quote scripture with any one of you. Satan transforms himself into an angel of light and becomes a great preacher of —
1. Philosophy. And so contrives to mysticise the Word of God. He can so confound principle with speculation, and argument with assumption, as to leave you in doubt between the simplest elements of fact or truth, and the wildest theories of imagination.
2. Morality. And so he labours to degrade the Scriptures: to take away the spirit, and leave nothing but the letter; a formal code of decency, without life.
3. Expediency. This is his grand bulwark of defiance against the efficacy of the Word of God. Here the world can find a reply to any appeal, however urgent; an evasion of any duty, however solemn. There is always something to be urged, in answer to the commands of God; some plea of necessity, convenience, etc.
4. Rites and ceremonies. The world is always pleased to rest in outward observances, and to substitute the form of godliness for the spirit. The devil knows that and gives them, in his gospel, a full supply.
5. Austerities. This, however, is one of those refinements in the gospel of Satan which he promulgates not to the world at large, but reserves, as a special boon, for those of a more morbid temperament.
6. Superstitions. To make the services of religion irksome is one of his devices; to make them ludicrous is another.
II. THE MARKS WHICH DENOTE THE MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
1. He hesitates not to declare the whole counsel of God. There may be much he cannot understand, much he cannot reconcile; still he believes all, proclaims all.
2. Beyond all things and above all things, he manifests a concern for souls (2 Timothy 4:2).
3. In the midst of all his labours he casts off the confidence of the flesh. He knows that Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but God must give the increase.Conclusion:
1. It is when false apostles are transformed into angels of light that they most effectually promote the kingdom of darkness.
2. There is a transformation, and that, too, from darkness to light, which leaves a man but a devil at the last. This is the transformation of the head and not of the heart, and gives men a devil's faith, without works; a devil's zeal, without knowledge. How careful should we be, not only to attain a transformation, but the right and true conversion, which none but God can impart.
(R. Hall, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.