For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 2 Cor. 2:17
Notice here that, just as in the scripture in Philippians 3:18 concerning the enemies of the cross, these people who corrupt the gospel (or peddlers of the gospel) Paul says they are ‘many’.
The people that Paul is talking about in both scriptures are, unfortunately, preachers. We probably think the Church is safe today. It is not.
Who is a peddler of the gospel? What does the word ‘peddle’ mean, in the first place? From my computer’s Thesaurus it means ‘to sell’, ‘to vend’, ‘to market’, ‘to hawk’. One version says to ‘hype’.
So there are venders, sellers, hawkers and marketers of the gospel. The last lot must be the upper-crust, the more sophisticated.
There are also ‘hypers’ of the gospel. Here hysteria rules. I have seen on TV in some church service in the US, someone was preaching and people were hysterically waving kerchiefs and screaming their heads off and pawing at the air and at the same time they were doing this the preacher was preaching even more violently and they were screaming louder and louder with no let-up, and that went on and on; and 30 minutes later I realized I hadn’t heard one word the preacher was saying and I thought, “They must be catching something in the spirit!”
Those are the hypers.
But there are the venders, sellers and marketers. This is the really dangerous group. Now, here Paul is not talking necessarily about those who tell you to give money so that you might receive this and that blessing. These are simply crooks who prey on the gullibility of simple folk. But they are also an offshoot of that other gospel.
More importantly, Paul is talking about what today we have come to accept as the gospel – a gospel that deals with and talks about what a Christian can get in this material world. It is a gospel which, in effect, panders to the flesh. This is a gospel that tears out one scripture from the Bible and runs away with it. It is the gospel that tells you that Jesus became poor so that we might become rich: and, ever so slightly, it turns that scripture to mean that Jesus became poor so we might become rich in money and the material things of this world. It is a gospel that tells you that God wants you to live a comfortable life in this world because that is what Christ died for.
But the Word of God never talks about us becoming rich in this world. Jesus did not come from heaven to die for the riches of this world.
The preachers who preach this kind of gospel are they whom Paul calls the enemies of the cross of Christ. The enemy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not the Devil. It is the carnal Christian, especially a worldly-minded preacher. And these are many in the Church today.
In Romans 8 the Bible says that the carnal nature does not, nor cannot obey God’s law. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:47,48, “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.”
The Bible says clearly here that there is an earthy man, and that his desires are earthy. In other words, the carnal nature within him lusts after this world and the things in it. We born-again believers are of the second Adam, “the Lord from heaven.” We are spiritual. We have no business with the first man. We are not of that stock. We are of the second man, “the Lord from heaven.” Our desires and our vision is heavenly. May the Lord be praised for that!
Jesus did not have much to say about this earthly life. He said simply, “31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
He said to seek first the Kingdom of God.
That is why the apostles could go hungry and naked. That is why they could undergo all those lacks and still carry the plan and purpose of God in their hearts. They were spiritual.