Monday, August 11, 2014

THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE (2 Corinthians Chapter 10)

2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Chapters 10 through 13 of this epistle have to do with Paul’s direct response to his opponents who were working to undermine him in his God-given apostolic ministry.  They had criticized him for his supposed weakness, saying, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account” (2 Corinthians 10:10).  The Corinthians were, as a rule, impressed with skilled orators, but Paul did not come to them “with lofty speech or wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:1).  He came instead in the meekness of Christ bearing the message of Christ (Cf. 2 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 2:2).  Paul’s opponents supposed Paul to be weak, but he was a warrior and possessed the very best of arsenals.

The text presupposes the existence of a war.  The war spoken of is not of typical variety that go on from time to time in this world, but the spiritual war that has been ongoing since the Adversary first left his appointed place in heaven.  In his great deception he worked to bring the sons of Adam into state of rebellion against their creator.  A long war against God has been raging ever since.  The world, the flesh, and the devil are antagonistic towards God.  No person on earth can avoid the ongoing conflict.

Though delivered from sin’s penalty and power, the believer still wrestles with a foe.  “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).  There is a “good fight” to “fight” (Cf. 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7), but it will do no good to fight in our own strength with weapons of the flesh.  We must “put on the whole armor of God” (Cf. Ephesians 6:11).  The Word of God (i.e. truth) is essential to each element of the armor.

It is foolhardy to fight the good fight with inadequate weapons.  When Jesus was arrested Peter drew his sword and cut of the ear of the servant of the High Priest.  He was boldly prepared to take on all of Jesus’ opponents with his sword, one ear at a time (Cf. Matthew 26:51).  Peter’s weaponry was useless in the spiritual conflict that was raging on.  Jesus met the conflict with devotion to prayer and complete submission to the Word.  While Jesus prayed, Peter slept (Cf. Matthew 26:40).  And Peter was not then comprehending the truth.  My friend has compared the attempt to fight with fleshly weapons to engaging the foe with a small plastic cocktail sword (you know the 3 inch kind they stab olives with) and a police badge sized shield.  As Jesus said, “the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

The battlefield is the mind and the battle is a fight for truth.  It was in departure from truth that Satan won his strategic advantage over man, and it is in truth that victory over him is availed.  The gospel of truth works to gain a positional triumph for the believer, but that’s not the end point of the conflict.  There is the need for the renewing of the mind and that is something that the truth alone can do (Cf. Romans 12:2).  There are thoughts (“strongholds,” “arguments,” every lofty opinion”) contrary to Christ.  Such deceptions prevail in the lives of the lost and linger on in the lives of the saved.  These contrary thoughts “are raised up against the knowledge of God,” and must be taken “captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5; Cf. Philippians 4:8).  They are renegades which work to undermine spiritual health and well-being.  How are they to be identified, marked, and destroyed?

The Word of God has “divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3).  Prayer is likewise a powerful weapon.  Having been graciously provisioned (Cf. 2 Peter 1:3), they are in the arsenal of every Christian soldier.  They are what can make us “strong and brave to face the foe.”  We neglect the careful use of them to our own peril.  But in taking up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” and keeping “alert with all perseverance in prayer” we have divinely powerful weapons with which to fight (Cf. 1 John 2:14b).

No comments: