II CORINTHIANS 10:3-6: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Are you prepared for battle? We are in a war today. It is not a physical war, although it could turn into that. Rather, it is a spiritual war for the mind and souls of mankind. Will, I be a spectator in this war, or will I be a warrior for Christ?
All you have to do to verify the reality of this war is to listen to the headlines each day. While the world throws off morality like a pair of dirty clothes, a great deal of the church is following close behind. Each day comes with an announcement of a prominent Christian leader who has either turned back on their faith or who is now embracing positions that are clearly against the Word of God.
How do we fight this battle?
Paul is very clear. The battle is not with people, it is with the ideas they purport, and with the spiritual source behind these ideas. This is a very important point. Understanding this will define how we approach this battle and our effectiveness. If we see the battle as one against a person or personality, we fall right into the enemy’s territory. However, if we understand the battle and our weapons, we are poised for victory.
- “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…”
In the book of Ephesians, Paul outlines the spiritual armor that God has given us in Jesus Christ. There are many pieces of defensive armor, but there are only two pieces of offensive armor.
The believer, and the church, are not called to take up arms and rush the streets like those of recent groups who turned many of our cities upside down. The believer is to fight a spiritual battle, with spiritual weapons, in the power of God. The enemy, the strongholds that we are battling against, are the lies that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God and the truth of His Word.
If the believer does not engage in this battle, then who will?
- “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:14-18 NKJV
The offensive weapons are the Word of God, with prayer and supplication in the Spirit. These are the weapons that we use against the lies of this age that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. And, these weapons are effective. Light always dispels darkness. Truth always overcomes falsehood. And, prayer in the Spirit brings the power of heaven to bear upon every situation.
The Scriptures never guarantee that standing for the truth will lead every person to Christ and turn around every bad situation. However, this is not our call. Our call is to sow and water. It is God’s work that brings the increase. As we stand to proclaim the Word of God, as we press into prayer in the hidden sanctuary of our hearts, there will be great opposition to our work. Yet, to those who are called to eternal life, these very efforts will be the difference between death and life!
- “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:14-15 NKJV
The church needs to return to proclaiming the truth of God’s Word and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ! To proclaim the truth in the church is to teach the whole counsel of God’s Word. To proclaim the Gospel is to return to the foundation of our calling, the Great Commission. A church that is in the battle for souls is a church that is growing, being cleansed and refined, and standing as a light in the darkness for all to see.
Paul ends these thoughts with a statement that seems a bit puzzling.
- “…and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”
Church discipline has become a thing of the past. Yet, to Paul, it was essential for both the spiritual health of the believer and the life and growth of the church. In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul rebuked the church for allowing sexual immorality to take place in plain sight, without any discipline. Today, what goes on in our churches that we all turn a blind eye to? We are afraid to preach on the tough subjects. And, we are afraid to confront sin and brokenness because we fear it will cost us congregants, money, or position.
If we are going to be victorious in the battle for souls we must be willing to count the cost. In my early days of pastoring, I tried to take a stand against the immorality that was in the church. I did not do this to expose or destroy anyone. I did it out of love for the individuals and love for the church. The result was not good. I found my fellow pastors distancing themselves from me. And, I eventually resigned from the church due to the damage it caused to me both personally and to my marriage. The stress of doing what is right has a high cost.
When a soldier goes into battle they know that their safety is not guaranteed. Yet, they are willing to go to the front lines because the cause is greater than the cost. We must rise up with the sword of the spirit and the mantel of prayer if we are going to be effective in these difficult and troubling times. We must refuse to focus on people or personalities and begin to focus on the truth and proclaim it with boldness and courage.
We must – “…cast(ing) down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”
Father, give me the grace and courage to be a good soldier for Jesus Christ my Lord!
In Jesus Name!