Posts Tagged ‘spiritual warfare’

2 Corinthians 10:1-4

In 2 Corinthians 10:1-4 Paul begins a new tone and pleads for the Corinthians to hear what he has to say. He writes to them in humility and with gentleness the way Christ would interact with them. In these next few chapters, Paul will get a little “rough” with the Corinthian Christians. “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ – I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!” He has tried to be humble when in their presence, but when he is away and writing his guidance he speaks boldly in order to get the message across.

Clarke explained “Having now finished his directions and advices relative to the collection for the poor, he resumes his argument relative to the false apostle, who had gained considerable influence by representing St. Paul as despicable in his person, his ministry, and his influence.” Paul is accused of walking in the flesh because of the perceived contradiction between his gentleness and his severity. “I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh.” These accusations where likely from a vocal minority in the church, but certainly shows how disruptive a small group can be.

Paul will admit that he walks according to the flesh in the sense that we all do. He is a flesh and blood human being, and he struggles with the same things the Corinthian Christians struggled with. Scripture is clear that all of us struggle as human beings with our flesh. However, Paul wants to make it clear that he does not war according to the flesh. “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.” Struggling with the flesh shows we are normal humans. The enemy continually attacks us with temptation that is designed to cause us to walk in the flesh. Our response, like Paul’s, needs to be of warfare against that temptation.

When Paul fought this battle, his weapons were not material but spiritual, suited for spiritual war. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” In Ephesians 6, Paul lists the spiritual weapons he used: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. To rely on these weapons took faith in God instead of any human material defense.

Guzik explained that the Corinthians Christians had access to the weapons Paul described but used something completely differently:

  • Instead of the belt of truth, they fought with manipulation
  • Instead of the breastplate of righteousness, they fought with the image of success
  • Instead of the shoes of the gospel, they fought with smooth words
  • Instead of the shield of faith, they fought with the perception of power
  • Instead of the helmet of salvation, they fought with lording over authority
  • Instead of the sword of the Spirit, they fought with human schemes and programs

God’s  spiritual weapons are ignored by the world but feared by the enemy. When we fight with true spiritual weapons, then no principality or power can stand against us.

Ephesians 6

Ephesians 6 begins with instruction to a number of different groups of people.  As a parent, I always loved verse one: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right”.  Somehow my kids weren’t nearly as fond of it when we had them memorize it.  Because of the sin nature of all mankind, we have to teach our kids obedience as it doesn’t come naturally.  It’s hard to do, and requires that parents do their job leading ‘in the Lord’ – not just their own desires and whims.  The next verse sets that foundation: “Honor your father and mother….that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land”.  Part of parenting in the Lord is to treat our own parents with honor.  That principle and requirement never ends.  We can’t expect obedience from our kids without honor for our own parents.

Paul continues the topic of parenting when he addresses fathers.  “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”.  Obedience is required of children, but good parenting is required of fathers.  They must be careful not to have an unkind, over-critical attitude that torments the child instead of training them.  When you are disciplining a child, you must first control yourself and your emotions and not discipline out of anger or frustration. How can you tell your child that he needs discipline when you obviously need it yourself?

Paul then shifts to slaves and masters, which is sometimes applied to the workplace in today’s world. He first addresses the ‘slaves’ or workers.  “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free”.  God cares how we do our jobs.  Our heart shows our motive and why we do what we do.  Spurgeon wrote “Grace makes us the servants of God while still we are the servants of men: it enables us to do the business of heaven while we are attending to the business of earth: it sanctifies the common duties of life by showing us how to perform them in the light of heaven.”  How we act in the workplace reflects on our walk as a Christ Follower.

But Paul also addresses the bosses.  “Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him”.  How bosses treat their employees is also important.  As Paul admonishes workers to work hard and honestly for their masters, he also tells these bosses to do the same.  God watches the heart of all people.  Being a master does not give anyone a pass on how they are to live.  In fact, the standards are higher for those in authority.

Paul ends the letter to the church after sharing the truth of our place in God’s Kingdom through Christ, and the basics of our walk as Christ Followers.  Now he turns the focus on a key area we must pay attention to when he says ‘finally’. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against  the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”.  We’re in a battle and Paul warns us to get ready for spiritual warfare.  This enemy is far different than any other we may have faced.  We need to consider ourselves as being in basic training preparing for the battle of our life.  God will equip us with the weapons and armor we need, but we have to put it on and learn how to use it to fight.

Paul gives us a detailed description of what it will take to ‘stand firm’ which is our charge as a soldier for the Lord.  “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of  the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication”.  We can only ‘stand’ when we are equipped and properly dressed with God’s armor:

  • Belt of truth – tying together all of God’s truth
  • Breastplate of righteousness – not our own righteousness, but that of Christ that becomes ours through faith
  • Shoes for your feet – living in constant readiness and flexibility
  • Shield of faith – faith that will deflect the enemies attacks of thoughts, feelings, imagination, fears and lies
  • Helmet of salvation – knowing that our salvation is secure and we need not be discouraged
  • Sword of the Spirit – God’s truth which is our offensive weapon in this battle – which means we must know it
  • Praying at all times – prayer must underlie all our efforts in battle

God has equipped us with all we need to be victorious.  But we must put on the armor, learn to use it, and then undergird our efforts with prayer.  This battle is not something we can win alone.  We need to be part of the Lord’s army of Christ Followers who stand together to face the enemy of darkness!

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