Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #247 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 2nd Corinthians 10 today and our focus is on How to Fight Spiritual Battles. Paul’s Method of Spiritual Warfare.. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Spiritual warfare – this was all the rage in christendom in the 90s, the time that Frank Peretti released his book, “This Present Darkness,” which I personally loved. Today we are talking about spiritual warfare too, but it might not be exactly what you think. Often when Christians talk about spiritual warfare, and quote from 2nd Corinthians 10, their targets are demons, evil spirits, principalities, etc. But a close view of the passage seems to indicate that the Paul isn’t battling with spiritual forces at all, at least, not on the surface.
3 For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 6 And we are ready to punish any disobedience, once your obedience is complete. 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6
Demolishing arguments – taking every thought captive to obey Christ…once your obedience is complete. All three of those phrases seem to indicate that Paul is talking about something relative to human opponents – very likely human false teachers/false apostles, since that is what the first half of 2nd Corinthians 11 is all about, and there is no indication of a shift between the last part of chapter 10 and the beginning of chapter 11. So Paul is struggling with human opponents here, but he says the way of struggle is not fleshly – it is not according to the normal way that humans wage war – with words, and sticks and stones…but a different way. Here’s Spurgeon to help us understand this different way: (and, one quick word on the King’s English: carnal means fleshly, and fleshly simply means human nature. The Word of God teaches us that our human instincts and desires are hopelessly corrupted by the fall, and therefore, we cannot always trust our wants, desires and emotional impulses, because our human/carnal/fleshly nature and attitude is suspect at best. Here’s Spurgeon:
THIS chapter presents the remarkable spectacle of a minister of the gospel of peace going forth to war. At first sight we wonder how the meek and gentle Paul should speak about warring and talk of pulling down strongholds, and “having a readiness to revenge all disobedience.” The surprise is all the greater because he is going to war in the church: a shepherd entering the fold with a sword. One would not so much marvel that he carried his weapons against the outside world, but on this occasion it is within the church at Corinth that he is about to commence a campaign. Yet observe how earnestly he deprecates the conflict, how he beseeches them by the meekness and gentleness of Christ to spare him a task which was so unpleasant to his feelings as to deal sternly with those whom he would far rather have commended. But the wonder ceases when we find that the shepherd fights only with grievous wolves, and even in that conflict declares, “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh.” Note, moreover, that his weapons are of a peculiar kind,—“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” He is not about to assault his antagonists in the church with bitter words of railing such as they used against himself; he is not about to meet the philosophers with such philosophies and sophisms as those with which they assailed the gospel; neither is he coming forth with any kind of temporal weapon to inflict aught of injury upon the leaders in error; his weapons are of a very different sort. They are not carnal, but spiritual.
“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal”; yet the spiritual weapons which can be wielded by the Christian minister, and indeed by every Christian man, are not to be despised, for while not fleshly, they are mighty through God. God is in them; God is with those who use them. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, the arrows of truth which pierce the consciences of men, the weapon of all prayer, the influence of the Holy Ghost—that divine power—such weapons as these are by God’s power made mighty to the overthrow of spiritual principalities and powers. Truth and holiness are the appointed engines for the pulling down of the castles of evil. Blessed is he who in every conflict for God takes heed to use none other weapons than those which the Lord hath hung up in the tower of David, builded for an armoury, wherein do hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. Those only can fight the Lord’s battles successfully who come to him to be armed for the fight, and reject all fleshly force. The spiritual shall be victorious, but others must fail.
C. H. Spurgeon, “Forts Demolished and Prisoners Taken,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 25 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1879), 266.
So very often, “spiritual warfare” might not be so much battling demons, but engaging those who oppose us with the fruit of the spirit and the character of Jesus, rather than the insults, sarcasm, anger and violence of humans. Let’s read our passage!
Bible Memory verses for the month of September: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
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