The Destruction Of Spiritual Fortresses
Summary: God wants us to know Him and wants us to tear down anything that keeps us & others from knowing Him. Old patterns of thinking & behavior keep us bound from thinking about & doing the ministry of God.
THE DESTRUCTION OF SPIRITUAL FORTRESSES
Paul now turns to the third part of the letter in chapters 10 to 13. In this section he will vigorously defend himself against the accusations of the stubborn legalistic Judaizers.
Sold out ministers of Christ down through the ages have had to pass through similar fiery trials.
Paul shows the manner for dealing with usurped authority. He speaks of himself plainly but under compulsion of circumstances.
The legalists based their authority on tradition and human strength.
Paul said his authority come from his call and his spiritual walk with God. This authority is demonstrated not in personal demeanor or words but in spiritual warfare.
God given authority is displayed in the effective use of the spiritual weapons of God and not in the demeanor of the natural man (CIT).
God wants us to know Him and wants us to tear down anything that keeps us and others from knowing Him.
Old patterns of thinking and behavior keep us bound from thinking about and doing the ministry of God.
Do you have thoughts and actions that weaken your service of God?
Do they cause you anxiety or frustration which hinders your prayer life and the coherency of your Bible reading?
If so, you need to listen intently to Paul's description of how to obtain victory through spiritual warfare.
Here Paul teaches how to tear down debilitating old habits and thought patterns that assail and thwart us when we attempt to move closer to God.
Let us learn what the weapons of our warfare can accomplish.
I. THE ACCUSATION OF WEAKNESS, 1-2.
II. THE ANSWER OF SPIRITUAL STRENGTH, 3-5.
III. THE ACTIVITY OF COMPLETE OBEDIENCE, 6.
Paul’s loving demeanor as true servant of Christ often came across as meek to those around him as verse 1 indicates. “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ- I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!”
Paul begins with an emphatic emphasis on his own person, I, Paul, myself.
This emphasis is fitting since in these chapters Paul will lay open his individual life and character far more than in any other part of his writings.
Paul urged or encourage them [παρακλεω, call them alongside] by [by the influence of or on account of] the meekness and gentleness of Christ ().
Paul wants to follow His Lord's example for he realized that true spiritual power is found in meekness and gentleness not in throwing weight around.
Meekness is more than self-control, it is a humbleness that wants God's control.
Kindness or gentleness is the opposite of roughness, bad temper, and flash point anger. It is non-violent, non-combative attitude that does not press for all one's rights.
Paul's purpose was to exalt Christ, not himself (). He refused the dictatorial leadership style that would make them dependent on him and the strength of his will.
He wanted his converts to trust the Lord and not the servant so he deliberately played down his own authority and rights.
Paul is also addressing his aggressive boisterous accusers who pointed out that he was lowly or of humble contrite conduct while with them (. His enemy portrayed his mild and non-dominating presence as weakness.
Then when his letters showed boldness they said he was like a dog that barks loud at a distance but skid dish when present. Yet he was only following his Lord's example of inner strength not outer bluster ().
Paul continues in verse two letting them know that his inner strength is spiritual strength.
2 cor. 10:2“I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh.”
Paul continues the appeal of verse 1 even when contemplating his challenge.
He earnestly desires them to put their house, their church, their life in order,
So that he may not be forced on his arrival to demonstrate that he is not only capable of writing them bold letters but also of being courageous in their midst.
There was spiritual energy abiding in him which they would do well not to provoke.
He had been vested by Christ authority which he wanted to use to build up, not to tear down.
Paul though was confident that God would be with him in his boldness because of his apostolic giftedness and because of all the battles of faith he had fought in Christ’s service through the years.
But Paul refused to govern by demand even when it was within his rights.
There is a popular misconception that meekness and kindness are incompatible with sternness.
Yet Christ Himself could stand against false teachers and hypocrites with the most severe possible terms (, ; ; In. 2:13-16).
Judaizes judged Paul as if he walked according to the flesh.
They judged him as if all his action and abilities were focused on himself and his place in this life.
But that was not the case, all his energies and interests were focused on Christ, not himself.
II. THE ANSWER OF SPIRITUAL STRENGTH, 3-5.
A clear distinction is drawn between living in the world and using worldly conduct and techniques in verses 3 & 4.
In verse 3 Paul states that he was not guided by the principles of ordinary men, who act out the influence of their fallen nature. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,”
Because the Corinthians, led by their false teachers, judged Paul's ministry by outward appearances they completely missed the power that was there.
They evaluated things according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit.
But Paul took a different direction in life not walking after the pattern of the flesh or according to the natural man but he walked in the Spirit depending on the Spirit.
Yes, he lived in a fleshy body like every other man, subject to the laws and limitation that are common to all human flesh. But he did not depend for success on anything the flesh could render, (that is, human nature).
The follower of Christ cannot allow his conduct to be controlled by the considerations of expediency and self-seeking which are characteristic of the former unregenerate state when he walked according to the flesh.
Paul's strength was not found in the flesh. He developed no fleshly weapons that natural men depend on. Paul's weapon's were spiritual.
The Greek term war [stratos] is literally "lead an army."
Paul states that though he does not fight according to the flesh, he does fight, he even admits that he leads an army to war.
This war is not against flesh and blood ().
His foes were the devil and his demonic agents.
He wared against the power of darkness.
So Paul uses spiritual weapons, Why? Because you cannot fight spiritual battles with fleshly weapons.
We too must put on the full armor of God and fight with spiritual weapons [i.e. the blood of Christ, the power of the resurrection, the victory of the ascension].
The Christian life is not merely a walk but also a warfare (; , ; ).
Verse 4 encourages us to abandon worldly methods (weapons) to rely on spiritual weapons. “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction (tearing down) of fortresses (strongholds).”
The thought of spiritual war is more fully developed. Anyone can use fleshly weapons but few in Christian circles can use spiritual weapons. A Christian who engages in warfare or a campaign must have the weapons with which to fight. The armor of the Christian warrior is given in . It is spiritual armor. The armor of Saul, though splendid in the eyes of men, cannot overcome the spiritual giants who come against us. These are not flesh and blood foes and attempting to withstand them with fleshly weapons would be great folly.
No, we need divinely powerful weapons. We need weapons that are made mighty by God. Paul's attitude of humility is one weapon, since pride places us in the control of Satan. Spiritual weapons like the Word of God, prayer, love, peace, the Cross, the sinless life of Christ, forgiveness, the shed blood of the cross, surrender to the Lordship of Christ, the resurrection and the ascension are the weapons that defeat the enemy.
Only spiritual weapons are divinely empowered for over throwing the fortresses of evil. There is a temptation to meet a challenge of one in the flesh [who is under the sway of the evil one] with fleshly weapons of human wisdom and strength but that is not where true victory lies. [The participle “pulling” or “tearing down” [Greek kathairountes] connects with “war” in verse 3. “Fortresses” or “strongholds” were high military defenses structures or battlements like towers, walls, ramparts or bulwarks.]
This verse is a promise to those who find and learn how to use God's spiritual weapons in the power of God's Holy Spirit. God’s spiritual weapons are empowered by God Himself for “the destruction of strongholds.” These stronghold are in their life, in the life of their loved ones, in their church and in their community where they battle the forces of sin. When engaging the enemy with these weapons the church is assured of victory (). The world scorns those weapons wanting to provoke you to use fleshy weapons and we often turn to human methods and are defeated by demonic forces. When Joshua and his army marched around Jericho for a week, the spectators thought them mad. But the weapon of obedience to God's Word brought down the high walls and the enemy was conquered (). These spiritually powerful weapons are the ones the powers of darkness want to keep from being remembered and used because they are the only weapons which can defeat them and tear down their work!
Verse five demonstrates the destructive and constructive capacity of God's divinely empowered weapons. “We are destroying reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
God's spiritual weapons destroy reasonings and things that stand “against the knowledge of God.” The indication is that there are reckonings, reasonings, speculations or thoughts that invade and lay siege to the mind. The Bible treats them as fortresses or strongholds that need to be destroyed. These reasonings are walls of resistance build up by demonic influence in the minds of people, and like the walls of Jericho must be pulled down. What are those mental bastions?
The strongholds are more precisely defined as belonging to the will and intellect of man. They are reasonings within man that are opposed to the truth of God's Word. The exalted proud mind, both conscious and subconscious, and the stone harden selfish will are the fountain of human actions; they determine our conduct. Attitudes patterns and thought patterns [conscious or unconscious] can be strongholds that effect our presuppositions and philosophies of all we do or don't do. The proud human mind which sees the cross of Christ as foolishness is an example () of a stronghold but there are many more deceived reasonings within each of our minds where satan has built up his fortress within our way of thinking.
Hence, Christian warfare is aimed at pulling down these proud reasonings, these rationalizations of self-centered man. These proud bulwarks within each of us stand against our true knowledge of God. These strongholds have been repeatedly fortified by the lies of satan so that they are part of our life, even our belief system. Causing us to profess to be wise yet we have exchanged the truth of God for a lie ().
Not only can we pull down these centers of depravity against divine truth by God’s spiritually powerful weapons, we can also use them “to capture or subdue every thought to the obedience of Christ.” After storming and pulling down and destroying these lofty high towers [in our mind, life or belief system] we can take possession of their prisoners [patterns] so that they can become conformed to God’s way [of thinking, beleiving & acting]. These rebels thoughts, preconceptions and intentions are then made captives and brought into obedience to Christ. The obedience of Christ is the only stronghold that the enemy can not enter into and conquer therefore that is fortress we so desperately need in our life. O that rebellion in our heart and mind might be quelled and that God's divine and sovereign will might reign in its place!
III. THE ACTIVITY OF COMPLETE OBEDIENCE, 6.
How do you know if you have torn down Satan's strongholds in your life and are fortifying your life in obedience to Christ. Verse six explains. “And we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.”
Once you have torn down know strongholds in your life, taken you will and thoughts captive for Christ and are no longer running from God's discipline, you become ready to punish all that is not of Christ in your life . Always there are places that as we grow in God's truth we discover are still not in line with His Word. When these raise their ugly head in our life we relentlessly jump on them for we realize what would happen if they again gained a beach head in our life. Complete obedience means that we will not tolerate disobedience in our life.
I look forward at the end of my earthly pilgrimage to say with Paul in & 8. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not to me only, but to all who have loved His appearing.”
Is anything in your mind usurping God's place? Is anything keeping you from knowing God more fully, from following Him more closely, from serving Him more faithfully? If so it is a stronghold and must be pull down out of your present way of reasoning. God has give us the spiritual weapons to tear it down and destroy it. Have you used them so that you might be more obedient to Christ?
What thoughts come up against you when you attempt to apply yourself to Christian teachings? If your thinking is not consistent with obedience to Christ, you are being deceived by false teachings, pride or sin. For if you were wholly Christ's you would cast out anything in your life not of Him. Tear down the strongholds and open your life more fully to being obedient to Christ. Fight the good fight of faith with divinely empowered weapons with Christ as your Commander- in-Chief.