CONFIDENT IN GOD: Key to Effective Ministry
IT’S WARFARE MAN
2 Corinthians 10:1-10
v Why is the spiritual battle difficult?
v Does the spiritual battle include the mind?
v How should we handle false teachers?
I have been trying to change my eating habits for the past 2 months and in the process lose some pounds. I am making progress but not without some intense pressure. My flesh is weak even though my spirit is willing. I have to fight to take control of my urges and promote the kind of desire that will keep me on track. The fact that it is a struggle reveals the battle it is to control those desires. This weakness always places my progress in jeopardy even though I know I am doing the right thing. You would think that would be enough to persevere but I cannot fight my flesh by my flesh but by my will—my willingness, my spirit. So we are going to learn that this parallels our spiritual lives. We cannot take control of fleshly weakness by fleshly means like learning, personal influence, personality, or rhetoric. The spiritual warfare is against spiritual enemies and spiritual purposes. Paul’s battle against the false apostles is intense.
In our passage they lodged three accusations against him:
1. He may be humble when present but he is bold when absent 1, 9-10. In other words, his bite—personal presence—did not equal his bark—letters. His speaking ability and presentation left much to be desired.
2. He walked according to the flesh vs 2. Walking according to the flesh is living with a worldly worldview as humans do on the earth. So they, the false apostles, think Paul speaks and acts with fleshly motives, like self-centeredness, selfish ambition, and jealousy (actually it was them).
3. His letters are weighty and his presence is weak, and his speech is of no account 9-10. You can see that whoever these false apostles were that had infiltrated the ranks of believers, they were focused on earthly evaluation—what the known world thought was valuable for authority and leadership. Remember it was God who chose and commissioned Paul. Apparently, Paul’s personal appearance and speaking ability were not necessary for him to complete the work God had called him to do. These weaknesses of Paul negated any influence they said he might have. So what do you do and learn?
THE NATURE OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE DEMANDS WE FIGHT WITH SPIRITUALLY POWERFUL WEAPONRY 1-4
1. Don’t get flustered but stay the course vs 1. He begins by referring only to himself as an apostle. He had spoken of ‘we’ referring to himself, and Timothy or Titus. But now he is asserting his own apostleship as the basis of his authority to speak and lead and write and confront. He makes and earnest appeal by means of the same character he is being accused of—namely, by meekness and gentleness of Christ something the world would not chose to wage war—to plead for something. He did not have to do it this way. As an apostle he could have commanded them. But aware of the accusations against him he does not get flustered but stays the course and determines to model Christ even though accused as unimpressive and contemptible. He seems to agree with the accusers at least indicating he is not harsh or severe but firm in purpose, courageous, confident in addressing issues which my result in them disassociating themselves from him. He did not lose his way in the battle against him.
2. You can be bold, strong, and courageous in spiritual warfare vs 2. It is not essential to do so but when necessary we can and should be courageous warriors. He pleads that when he comes in person he does not have to be bold as he is in his letters addressing these issues. If necessary, he will be to those opposing him—the ones who believe he acts with worldly or fleshly motives. This is hand-to-hand combat when necessary. So pull out the driver when you have to.
3. Our strategies are opposite of the world’s vs 3-4. You cannot manage this warfare with conventional weaponry the world uses to manage life. Yes. We are of the flesh, like everyone else, susceptible to its weak will. But we cannot use the weapons it does because of the nature of this warfare. Connections, impressive credentials, rhetorical polish, powerful position, will not put a dent in this onslaught—a spiritual warfare for men’s souls, with spiritual enemies and spiritual purposes. So our weapons are not according to the flesh—the way our flesh wages war—nor of the flesh—the weapons are not of a fleshly nature—ego, pride, power, selfish. Instead, they are divinely powerful meaning things like prayer, obedience, proclaiming truth of the Word to destroy strongholds which are beachheads our flesh has set up to defend itself—the weaknesses we struggle with. These require an entirely foreign kind of strategy— from heaven not earth—souls being impacted by these weapons. The object is to motivate to obedience not to gain a following.
THE WARFARE IS AT THE LEVEL OF PEOPLE’S THINKING 5-6
1. Demolish speculations—that is, conclusions without evidence about God, the Bible, and the gospel. Rom 1:21 says ‘…they did not honor Him as God…but they became futile—pointless, useless—in their speculations’.
2. Demolish every lofty thing—that is proud, self-important, elevated status in the eyes of the world that is ‘raised up against the knowledge of God’. The way of the world is to leave God in the dust and never look back! Kick Him out of creation. Keep Him out of morality. Muzzle His Word by creating alternatives.
3. We must take these speculations and arrogance as prisoners of war. ‘and we are taking every thot captive in obedience of Christ.’ This has major implications for our families and our discipleship. You must teach your family, your disciples, to think biblically! The spiritual warfare competes for the minds of men, children, and students, male and female. Thinking determines belief and affects behavior vs 6. Some Corinthians had defected as a result of their thinking influenced. They or the false apostles affecting them were in facing punishment—God’s wrath directed against the enemies of his people. Speculations and arrogance has consequences. You do not get to rebel and then get away with it. So much of our discipleship is impacting the way people think about everything.
BE DETERMINED TO RESTORE ANY TAKEN CAPTIVE IN THIS WARFARE 7-9
First, expect many to be captivated because they are spiritually shallow and superficial vs 7. Like the C’s they are oriented to worldly wisdom. They become fair game to speculation and arrogant argument. Instead they must become confident in Christ and must acknowledge the Word of God as authority and sufficient as the C’s must do about the apostle Paul!
Second, it is the Word of God plain and simple that must be studied, understood, and applied vs 8-9. That word alone has the authority and sufficiency to build you up—that is, shield you from worldly wisdom, lofty speculation. It is meant to tear down worldly strongholds not believers! But if believer holds onto or is being held by the stronghold of false knowledge we want and need to tear that down and it may look like tearing you down! And that is what it seemed like with Paul’s letters to the Corinthians vs 9. The Corinthians frightened and the False apostles smirking—but make no mistake, God expects our obedience to the truth. We must work at making sure our ministries of discipleship teach that truth form the Word of God as the authority and sufficient for us to follow. We are so thankful for Paul’s letters today, centuries later that we can read, study and put to use. It is good to write things down for future generations!