Do your thoughts ever get you in trouble? Perhaps cause you to panic? Make you imagine all the worst scenarios? Trigger worry and fear? Our minds can be explosive minefields of disastrous thoughts. Most struggles in life are compounded by our thought life because negative thinking can get us into more trouble than the actual circumstances. Imagining and then fearing what could happen is often much worse than what will happen. As Christians we are able to control our thoughts because God gives us the help we need in Romans 12:2 where we find a beautiful description of God teaching us to be transformed by renewing our minds. (See blog “Extraordinary Living! Be Transformed by Renewing Your Mind!”).
Living with a renewed mind allows us to walk freely in God’s grace, accepting it rather than straining to achieve it. Christians are just as tired and frustrated in life as unbelievers, even though we are the very people who know and are in relationship with the One who can renew, refresh, energize, and encourage us. He is able – we must GO to Him! My friends, we should not pretend we never get tired and frustrated. We need to be real by admitting our struggle, but then we must refuse to stay in it! Our refusal is not accomplished in our own strength because Jesus not only helps us in our struggles but He overcomes them with us and we bring His victory to others.
When we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior and are transformed by renewing our minds we must also be aware of the warfare coming against us with a major attack to our minds. Without this knowledge we are ill-prepared for the spiritual warfare that will assault our lives in Christ. If we do not understand warfare and are not equipped in strategy we will live ordinary lives under the circumstances instead of the victorious life we are destined to live in Jesus! Assuredly we will know Jesus saves, we will be forgiven through repentance, and we will live eternally with Christ, but we will not daily overcome the fear, worry, frustration, and tiredness plaguing us outwardly, in our thought life, or both.
Knowing about this warfare, what the weapons are, and what we are to do with those weapons will bring us confidence as we fight the good fight of faith. When we lay down our carnal weapons and pick up mighty ones we will not settle for living under the circumstances. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 “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.”
What is the warfare? Paul refers to the difficulties opposing us as we carry out our responsibilities unto the Lord as spiritual warfare with spiritual enemies and purposes. This warfare comes right into our lives and churches making life in Christ difficult. Being a follower of Jesus creates opposition! If you never experience warfare it is likely you are not really doing the works of God. Both sin and Satan create opposition to the Gospel. When we act contrary to Scripture, live in fear and worry, slander and gossip, live in rebellion to leaders, commit sexual sin, lie, curse rather than pray for our enemies; this is sin which opposes the Gospel! Then we have Satan prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom he desires, causing us to trip up, turn away from the narrow road, and enticing us with all sorts of carnal lusts. These are things that oppose the Gospel of Christ Jesus as well and this means war!
What are the weapons? We have been given mighty weapons to defeat anything and everything that opposes the Gospel. These weapons are not weak but powerful in God and they are used to punish offending members of the church. Here is where there is much misunderstanding in the Church today. Because we know this war is “spiritual” we assume the warfare does not touch us in the “natural”. Not true! Studying this section of Scripture reveals Paul humbly attempting to communicate to his listeners that he had authority and must use it to bring order to the Corinthian Church. Paul makes the point that though he walked IN the flesh demonstrating weakness, he did not warfare ACCORDING TO the flesh in weakness, but according to the mighty powers of God. As a result of spiritual warfare, he would carry out spiritual results in the flesh. His opponents had tried to convince him that because he was a mere man, he could not use his authority to bring correction. Many leaders today fall victim to this pressure, refusing to bring conviction, afraid of offending, thus caving in and warring according to the flesh or not at all.
The mighty weapons of warfare Paul was speaking of include all the things of the Gospel; things like boldness in speaking truth, church discipline, the power of the Word of God, communion, and various extraordinary gifts of the Spirit. The inherent power in these weapons belong to God not us but we are given the privilege and responsibility to use these divinely powered weapons. The power is in the spiritual truth of the Gospel message not in our interpretation of Truth. When we stop defending our right to be right, perhaps we will pick up the powerful weapons of warfare God has prepared for us to win this war. We must boldly speak the truth of God’s Word rather than making things up or twisting it just enough so people feel better. We must apply church discipline to Christians who continue in their sin, refusing to repent, all the while poisoning the rest of the church. We have misunderstood God’s grace and mercy to mean acceptance and tolerance of sin in the church. Our diverse traditions regarding the Lord’s Supper and how it is to be received have greatly hindered the power which lies within this blessed sacrament (even saying the word “sacrament” will be offensive to some people). Exercising the gifts of the Spirit has become one of the most divisive topics in the Church. And while we are busy being right, we have simply laid our mighty weapons of warfare down in lieu of carnal, weak weapons with which we cannot defeat an ant.
What are we to do with these weapons? Three of the four things we are to do in warfare involve our minds. It appears we would be wise to spend more time focused on our thinking rather than on all the other things we find ourselves focused on in life. Let us consider what we are to do with the mighty weapons we are given: +Pull down strongholds +Cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God +Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ +Be ready to punish all disobedience when our obedience is fulfilled.
We are to pull down strongholds. This pulling down literally means we are to demolish or destroy anything we rely on outside of God. We should just pause and think on that for a moment!
Strongholds consist of arguments and reasons by which we attempt to fortify our own opinion and defend ourselves against those who oppose us. The Corinthians prided themselves in their learning, eloquence, and philosophies. We see the same thing in the Church today as church bodies pride themselves in what they have determined to be truth, by defending their own doctrines and in the process have abandoned their mighty weapons of warfare, all that the Gospel avails to His Church!
These strongholds consist of such things as ignorance, prejudice, the desire to please our flesh, conceits, carnal reasoning, a willingness to embrace sin, and anything else that keeps people from simple faith and obedience to the Gospel. When the Church decides to call those things that are wrong, right, for the sake of acceptance, this wrong thinking becomes a stronghold. For example: determining Jesus is not the only way to heaven but there are multiple ways; accepting the sin of homosexuality in the Church and saying God accepts it; allowing fear and worry to dictate our lives instead of perfect love and trust; rationalizing abortion while desecrating the sanctity of life; turning a deaf ear and blind eye to the immorality rampant in the body of Christ as people live together and have sexual relations outside of marriage; and determining our responsibility is to love and accept everyone rather than hold people accountable or remove the speck (sin) from their lives. These are all strongholds that must be pulled down, destroyed, and demolished in the Church. We can see how necessary it is to understand what the mighty weapons are so we can clearly see what opposes the Christian Church and then use the truths of the Gospel to destroy them instead of using our carnal weapons to embrace them.
Father God, we want to be people who take control of our thought lives and refuse to live anything less than the victorious life Your precious Son paid His life for in our stead! We choose to be transformed by renewing our minds! We choose to enter the warfare and display the glory of Your gospel in our lives and in those around us! We choose to wield the mighty weapons in You that are ours to fight against all opposition! We choose to pull down strongholds! We choose to be hated for Your name’s sake! We choose to tell the Truth in all circumstances! We choose to walk in the same love Jesus taught! We thank You for Your provision, power, grace, and glory! We love You Father! We honor You this day and always. We praise You and surrender in a fresh way to You today! In Jesus’ Name!
(Part Two will conclude this topic of what to do with the mighty weapons of warfare + casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself above the knowledge of God + taking our thoughts captive into obedience to Christ Jesus + punishing disobedience when our obedience is fulfilled!)