Teaching series from 2 Corinthians

Spiritual Weapons for Spiritual Warfare

2 Corinthians 10:1-11

Teaching t05794

Introduction

Read and explain setting (why Paul is coming on so strong).  False apostles (11:13) have infiltrated and are trying to discredit Paul by pointing to his contemptable appearance and unimpressive speech (10:10), so he has to defend himself for their sakes.

Let’s focus on vs 3-5.  Paul says we are at war, and that we are responsible for waging an offensive war.

The war is not against people (Eph. 6:12), but rather against falsehood (“fortresses” are “speculations raised up against the knowledge of Christ;”  “captives” are thoughts).

Our weapons are not humanly-originated (physical beauty or power; personality power, political clout, etc.), but rather divinely powerful (2 Cor. 6:7; Eph. 6:17,18 >> God’s power through his Word and prayer).

How do we use these weapons effectively?  What does it look like to practice vs 5?  Paul doesn’t tell us in this passage, but we can find out from other passages . . . 

Taking every thought captive

This probably refers to how we handle our own individual thought-lives.

The key to spiritual growth is mental transformation (Rom. 12:2; 8:4-6).  Those who focus on superficial ethical change or emotional experiences are off-track.  Deep-seated, lasting ethical change and healthy spiritual experience are results of primarily learning to think differently about ourselves, God, others, our circumstances, etc.

If we want to be able to “take every thought captive,” we will need to practice three things:

INPUT: learning the biblical world-view

Read Col. 3:16.  The idea hewre is to super-saturate our minds with biblical truth.  Like a large sponge that is so saturated with water that it oozes at the slightest poke, so we should be so full of scriptural truth that any stimulus prompts us to respond with what God says about that area of life.

This is why we stress the Bible so much here!  This is why we have this meeting, home groups, study groups, courses, etc.  Spiritual transformation takes place via the renewal of our minds with biblical truth (Rom. 12:2a).

CONTROL: monitoring your own thought-life (Heb. 5:14)

Aggressively identifying falsehoods, rejecting them and replacing them with biblical truth

“. . .we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ‘ourselves’ to talk to us!  Do you realize what that means?  I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self.  Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical?  Far from it.  This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning.  You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc.  Somebody is talking.  Who is talking to you?  Your self is talking to you.  Now this man’s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks.  His soul had been depressing him, crushing him.  So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you’.  Do you know that I mean? If you do not, you have had but little experience.
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handles yourself.  You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself.  You must say to your soul: ‘Why are you cast down’ -- what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself; ‘Hope you in God’ -- instead o muttering in this depressed unhappy way.  And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done and what God has pledged Himself to do.  Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people,  and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the heath of my countenance and my God’.
. . . The essence of this matter is to understand that this self or ours this other man within us, has got to be handled. Do not listen to him; turn on him; speak to him; condemn him;’ upbraid him; exhort him; encourage him; remind him of what you know, instead of listening placidly to him & allowing him to drag you down & depress you. For that is what he will always do it you allow him to be in control.  The devil takes hold of self & uses it in order to depress us.  We must stand up as this man did and say: ‘Why are you cast down? Why are you disquieted within me?’ Stop being so! “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance,’ He, ‘who is the health of my countenance and my God.’[1]

EXAMPLES: HAPPINESS BY HAVING OTHERS LOVE YOU PROPERLY; PERFORMANCE-BASED ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD; OVERWHELMED BY CIRCUMSTANCES; SELF-PITY.  There is endless application to this.  God will help us identify the lies, bring to mind scriptural truth, etc.--but we must be fully engaged on this front!

This is why fellowship is crucial.  You can’t always identify the lie, and/or you don’t always know what to replace it with, etc.  But other Christian friends can help you in both areas!

OUTPUT: choosing to act existentially on truth (Jas. 1:25)

This is the final piece of biblical faith.  This is what tamps these truths deeper into your mind.  This is what builds greater confidence in God’s Word.

Once we know that God accepts us unconditionally in Christ, we need to act consistently with that truth by drawing near to God even when we feel unworthy, by being honest with him and others about our moral failures, and by extending God’s forgiveness to others.

Once we know that God works sovereignly for good even in bad circumstances, we need to act consistently with this truth by thanking him in the midst of trials and actively seeking to bless others.

Once we know that true fulfillment comes by serving others sacrificially, we need to act consistently with this truth by choosing to serve even when we feel needy na dhave nothing to give.

>> Where you are spiritually five years from now will largely be the result, not of MOUNTAIN-TOP EXPERIENCES, but of habits you build in this area!!



[1] D. M. Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1982), pp. 20,21.