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.”
In this section of Scripture Paul is explaining his role of “apostle” along with the authority he has been given even though he is just a man in the flesh. He is reminding the Corinthians that though he is a carnal man, the weapons with which he wages war are not weak or carnal in nature. But just as Paul was given these mighty weapons in God we are given them as well. In Part One we discussed the imminent danger of not using the mighty weapons to control our thought lives. We also discovered that once we are in Christ we can expect opposition to the Gospel. In fact we should count on and prepare for the warfare that will assail us. We should be knowledgeable about the mighty weapons in God we have available to us and we should know what to do with those weapons. Three of the four combat tactics revolve around thinking thus it is important we understand God’s method for dealing with our thought life so we are skilled in warfare. We discussed pulling down strongholds in Part One and this blog will examine the remaining three; +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 our obedience is fulfilled.
We are to cast down arguments. To cast down literally means to demolish and completely destroy arguments just like we are taught to pull down strongholds. There is no “grey” area in this pulling and casting but rather it is a complete removal of strongholds and arguments. It will be amazing when Christians take hold of the mighty weapons of warfare (the Gospel and all it purports) instead of using our weak carnal weapons (our understanding and interpretation of Scripture). When this happens we will see the things in our lives and Churches which oppose God demolished and destroyed rather than allowing insanity to remain through our ineffective hand to hand combat. The arguments Paul speaks of refer to the subtle ways of thinking opponents use to build fortresses that are hostile to the Christian faith. The very definition of fortress implies a place impossible to penetrate which is why we need to cast down and completely demolish these arguments. We should not mess around with them, toy with, or debate these arguments because we cannot penetrate them. Thus, through our efforts to penetrate we may only be aiding our opponents in building a stronger fortress.
We must take up our mighty weapons of warfare – the Gospel and its’ truths! People will find us to be close minded if the Gospel is our only option. But who cares if people think we are not open minded? As a Christian I am open minded to one thing and one thing only! The Gospel! Not some person’s rendition of the Gospel or anyone’s arguments that make “sense” to our limited minds. IF we believe what Hebrews 4:12 and Isaiah 55:11 say about the Word of God, why would we deliberate and discuss arguments with any other weapons of warfare besides the Gospel? “For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two–edged sword piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void But it shall accomplish what I please and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Jesus is our fortress and we know the enemy counterfeits everything of God. He uses people to subtlety build his fortresses. When we entertain arguments in an effort to please people, we only end up co-existing with arguments opposed to the Gospel, wondering how it happened. We see an example of this in the Church with the acceptance of homosexuality. The arguments for embracing homosexuality in the Church were established in subtle ways as leadership toyed with its’ acceptance, refusing to cast down the arguments. As a result, we now witness people of all sexual persuasions co-existing in the Church together. If Christians oppose this lifestyle by presenting Truth, we are treated as judgmental, critical, and unloving enemies of the Gospel instead of recognizing the true enemies who have built arguments opposed to the Gospel.
One night while knocking on doors inviting people to visit a Christian Church in our area, I talked with a man who was active in his church for thirty years. He was part of a church body who voted to allow people to pastor who were actively living homosexual lifestyles. I asked the man if this had caused division in their church and if they were losing members since the Bible teaches otherwise. He simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “Not at all. You know, we just have to go along with the times. There is no sense in fighting it right?”
This attitude and defiance of Scripture demonstrates no fear of God. We have traded in the truth of God’s Word, our mighty weapon in God, in order to be culturally relevant calling it “love”. These kinds of arguments were not established overnight, but over decades people have subtlety brought “arguments” against the Gospel and built a fortress. Rather than leaders in the Church completely casting down and destroying these arguments they have entertained them. Rather than applying church discipline to this blasphemy we chose to “listen” to the rationale and reinterpret Scripture! The mighty weapon of warfare, the Word of God, is clearly not being wielded in these situations thus arguments hostile to the Christian faith have taken over. Unfortunately, we, the Church, simply stand by and say “We just need to show love!” Where are the weapons?
We are to cast down every high thing that exalts itself above the knowledge of God. The high things Paul refers to are likened to barriers or elevated ramparts. They are high places built to defend lies and everything that comes against the Gospel. These high things then exalt themselves in pride, building an even stronger and higher barrier between Christians and the truth of God’s Word. These high things make every attempt to prevail through rebellion while fighting against truth. The knowledge of God refers to the Gospel message, the good news of Jesus Christ! I think we can all see those things in our lives and churches that stand as barriers between us and the Gospel! Between us and the knowledge of God! Are we willing to cast them down, completely annihilate them from our lives and churches? To date, we are unwilling! But in Christ, all things are possible and so we continue in this warfare, believing and trusting in a mighty God! When we gain an eternal perspective we willingly and violently tear down these arguments in our lives. We do not give up or turn back from the war. We battle in the spirit realm and then we bring those victories into the natural realm by speaking boldly the Truth of God’s Word!
We are to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. It is especially important for Christians to remember WE ARE ABLE to bring every thought under control and into captivity to Jesus. The thought in this context is referring specifically to those which serve an evil purpose. Knowing thoughts which oppose the Gospel, like doubt and unbelief, literally cause us to devise evil against Christ should make us vigilant to think God thoughts. It should motivate us to bring those contrary thoughts into captivity, into the submission and obedience of Christ Jesus. When this is accomplished, these thoughts desist from their purpose and submit to Christ. This directive to bring every thought which serves an evil purpose into captivity to the obedience of Christ is central to taking control of negative, oppressive, sin riddled thoughts. We will completely eliminate them from our lives because they obviously are not in agreement with the will and purpose of Christ Jesus.
We are to be ready to punish all disobedience when our obedience is fulfilled. In this Scripture Paul is expressing his readiness to punish all disobedience when the obedience of the church in Corinth in fulfilled. He was communicating that though he was a humble, gentle apostle, he still had been given authority and would not hesitate to punish disobedience. But ….he would hold out the punishment for as long as possible waiting for their obedience to be completed. Knowing and accepting authority in the Church which God has established creates a desire in us to fulfill our obedience because we do not want to be punished for our disobedience. This will take a resurgence of the fear of the Lord in His Church!
Oh, we do not like that word “punish” because it seems so rough and harsh preferring instead to be “disciplined” if necessary. But God has no problem with either! We must recognize the difference and submit to both when necessary. “Discipline” means training is provided to ensure proper and acceptable behavior. It promotes obedience while attempting to prevent disobedience. Punishment imposes a penalty for improper, unacceptable, disobedient behavior. In other words, when discipline (training) does not result in obedience, punishment is necessary.
Another thing punishment does is present an example for other people, with the hopes of persuading them through observation that submission and obedience is the better way. An example from our family illustrates this concept. When our three oldest children lived at home our third child would “watch” how we disciplined and punished her older brother and sister, paying very close attention to what they had done, what we did as a result, why we did it, and if we followed through. I often noticed her “watching” and realized that as a result of what she “saw”, she rarely found herself in trouble. Sometimes she found her way “around” it but she definitely learned it was better to obey than to sacrifice the favor of her parents. We punished the older children strongly and in front of one another not just for their own good, but also to set an example for our other children.
Punishing disobedience when obedience is fulfilled is an encouraging word from Paul as he expresses his confidence in the church to fulfill its’ obedience to Jesus Christ. Punishment was not the first recourse but the last resort. Paul was waiting for the church to obey before punishment for disobedience was administered. Paul had no personal vendetta or revenge attached to his punishment of disobedience and did not want to punish anymore than good parents want to punish. We generally discipline our children believing they will obey, hoping to avoid punishing, but we should always be ready to punish if and when necessary. Any parent knows how heartbreaking it can be when children are disobedient. Every pastor experiences pain when members persist in living sinful lives. Punishment is a necessary part of life and without it, disobedience and rebellion run rampant in households and in the Church. Unfortunately, we often either do not understand punishment or dislike it to such a degree that we refuse to do it. Nonetheless, it is part of our warfare, and still paints a beautiful picture of God’s patience and love for us.
Our warfare includes four simple things! We have mighty weapons of God with which to do them!
We demolish all reasonings, imaginations, arguments, and strongholds which are opposed to Christ. These usually include outward, verbal expressions of opposition that we must destroy.
We lead evil thoughts into captivity. We come to understand when we grab hold of these thoughts which serve an evil purpose before they become outward manifestations, they become willing captives.
We bring those thoughts into obedience to Christ who overwhelmingly conquers all.
We punish disobedience when our obedience is fulfilled. We see it as a positive and necessary act in our warfare.
So the questions remain! What are you thinking? Is it war? As Christians it should be!