Message: In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul was appealing to the church because they had been heavily influenced by outside people that were against Paul and trying to hijack the gospel message into something else. He started off the first verse by saying “I wish you would put up with a little foolishness from me.” This sounds odd but I think what he was trying to say was that they were listening to a one-sided argument and allowing other voices to discredit him, but were not listening to his arguments because their minds were already made up . He continued on to qualify his own personal experiences and expose and dispel some of the arguments that were used to disqualify him. One of the biggest arguments was that he was not a legitimate apostle. We read in previous chapters how the false prophets had come up with letters of certification to credit themselves and Paul said he didn’t need that because his work in ministry spoke for itself in the response and change of the people. They used his humility against him to disqualify him and his decision to work for his own living in order to keep from burdening them with the responsibility of supporting him financially. Does any of this sound familiar right now?
Command: Don’t subscribe to one-sided arguments or one-sided views! Seek truth by inviting in the Holy Spirit to reveal it.
Promise: We will find truth when we put down our own emotions, speculations, personal ideas and desires and listen for the Holy Spirit to reveal it.
Warning: When we refuse to acknowledge truth in an opposing view we are living in cognitive dissonance and this keeps us in a state of denial. We cannot grow there and truth will remain hidden.
Application: One of the strongest ploys I see being used to keep truth from being exposed, is the same trick that was used against Paul. The trick of selectively disqualifying people from having a voice. If we don’t like what someone has to say we discredit and disqualify the person instead of challenging the argument being made. This is wrong and it is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to our learning and growth. It not only harms ourselves, but it also harms those we infect. Cognitive dissonance is a psych term used to explain what we do mentally when we see a reality or truth that doesn’t agree with what we want, think or feel, or with the package we are trying to sell. Often times if the characters of a story are turned around we would see the same truth supporting our own view. If we have to intentionally mute truth or facts brought to light in order to believe or continue to feed something we want to be true, we are living in cognitive dissonance. This is a common behavior in addicts and is what fuels denial to continue the addiction in spite of the evident pain and damage. We have all seen other people living in denial, but if we are not willing to confront our own cognitive dissonance, we ourselves are also living in denial. There is no growth or learning in denial. One-sided arguments come in packages and they manipulate people to accept an entire list of things as a full package deal. If you do not accept the entire package as is, you are discredited and called a fool or worse. This is why politics are so divisive and is also why political manipulators latch on to real emotional events in order to manipulate people into blindly promoting their particular package. In Paul’s case, this was done by false prophets who had an agenda of dismantling the gospel into something else. To be clear: I am not making a parallel between Paul and the false prophets, and the political left and right. I am using all politics as an example because both sides manipulate and discredit people to push agendas. Most of us feel like we are “woke” to another agenda that we see and are really trying to do the right thing. Most of us believe we are being diplomatic in our views, but we have to be very careful to watch for and identify the cognitive dissonance in our own beliefs. For each of us it is something different and the only way out of this kind of denial is to humble ourselves before God and ask him to reveal those things to us. We have to genuinely want to see truth and we have to be willing to break away from one-sided ideas, manipulative people, familiar trusted people and even people we love and have learned from in order to think for ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into truth. That is literally what he is here for!