I just realized that we are almost at the end of April already! Whew!
My Puritan devotional always gets me to thinking. Today, it covered the Armor of God, but with a different twist. I won’t repeat all that here other than to encourage everyone to read a couple different devotionals each day. Of course, I hope you find mine captivating, but I know how people are. Well, people that are like me, anyway. I bounce around with several, usually reading two or three each day.
On this particular morning, I want to touch on strongholds. Probably the most powerful passage for this is in 2 Corinthians. Let’s take a look.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 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, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
This passage is so broad in scope that it covers all aspects of discontent and sin. It applies to each of us, individually, as well as to others. It is a passage worthy of memorizing. Let’s break it down.
First, let’s survey the situation. “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.” This means that our troubles, all our troubles, are spiritual in nature. Bob and Susie may be fighting. Maybe one is wrong, but maybe both are. These fights are really not between the two of them, but rather evil that is trying to dominate. Remember what Jesus said about that? “The thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy.” (John 10:10a). Jesus said that he is life. These battles we see are the human manifestation of evil. Yes, so-and-so is being a jerk, but the real reason behind it is spiritual. The same is true about battles that go on inside our minds. “Not good enough,” or “Look at you,” or “Who are you to say anything?” These are the junk we hear inside our own head. While they may be our own thoughts, they have roots in evil and are meant to destroy us. Recognize this fact.
Second, let’s survey our equipment. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” What are some of the weapons of the flesh? Well, let’s start with reason and common sense. Let’s face the facts. If we are partaking in sinful behavior of any kind, that is insanity. Complete and utter insanity. Why on the earth would we even entertain a thought of sinning against the one, true, and living God, the Creator of heaven and earth? We would have to be out of our minds to do so. Indeed, we are. So, while reasoning may be a weapon of our warfare, it can only be so when done through the Spirit. Human wisdom is of no good in terms of spiritual usefulness.
What, then, are our weapons? The Word of God, first and foremost. God has given us everything we need through the pages of the bible. We need to be familiar with it. Prayer is next. When we are immersed in the word of God and go to him, we have opened our Spirit to his will. Through that, we may therefore ask him for things. Maybe it’s help in a difficult relationship. By studying the word of God, we know how to respond to our enemies – with compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and with a servant’s mindset. We ask God to work on people’s hearts and minds and in their lives. We ask that God may bless them and show himself to them. We pray that their eyes may be opened, that their ears may hear, and that their hard hearts be softened to the things of God – just as he has done for us. Right? Let’s not forget that we were once sinful creatures, too, and that God started on us when we were still his enemies.
Let’s face it. God is the one who changes hearts. Yes, we may seem like we can change the perspective of others, but only if they desire to do so. That’s called cooperation, and that’s not what we are talking about here. We’re talking about conflict. Conflict is when we don’t cooperate. Right?
Third, let’s learn how do use our weapons. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.” Stop. How do we know if something is against the knowledge of God? By becoming familiar with our bibles. Intimately familiar. One can only do this by spending LOTS of time reading and studying it. There is no other way. If you don’t spend time in the bible, it is impossible for you to know the knowledge of God. Yes, you may have a sense of something spiritual, but how do you know it is of God and not Satan unless you can compare it to God’s own word? Can’t get around this fact. Only then are we able to recognize arguments and opinions that are contrary to God’s word. When we do, we destroy them.
How? “Take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience.” We all know that our minds can run wild. Sometimes this is good. Imagination is a wonderful gift from God. However, our minds can also quickly go in the gutter, right? We need to know what we are thinking. We really have no excuse to let our minds run wild like teenagers in the street after curfew. Pay attention to your thoughts. When they get out of line, destroy them. Immediately. Promote the thoughts that glorify Jesus and destroy the garbage that represents Satan.
Finally, Paul wraps it up with, “when your obedience is complete.” When we are serious about obeying Christ, by hearing what he has to say and applying it all to our lives, we then will practice these things. We then will pray for those who persecute us. We will pray for their salvation. We will offer them comfort, cool water, and our tunics. We will extend a hand in peace. Our whole perspective will change from adversarial to compassionate. Yes, we may pray tough prayer like we read in the Psalms, but our overall interactions will be much different. Perhaps God will use us as a hammer, but we will do so only at his directive. Let’s face it, our natural tendency is to use the hammer first. If nothing else, we’ll use it to beat ourselves up with it. That’s working in our own will, not His.
So, pick up your bibles, hit your knees, praise and worship God, spend time talking about these things with other believers, and go and share the gospel with a dark and dying world.
Father, thank you so much for hitting us with the same message from many different angles and sources. You know how to get our attention. Teach us, Father. Amen.
Copyright © Scott Powers