2 Corinthians 10:3
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.”
The word ‘walk’ is a common idiom in the New Testament used to illustrate the way we live. Paul is reminding us that whether we are believers or not, we live in the natural world. Believer and unbeliever alike, breathe the same air, eat the same food, and need the same rest. Having said that, Paul goes on to remind us that, although we live in the natural world, we fight a spiritual battle. He does not use the word WAR, as a hook for his sermon, instead he is describing the everyday life of the Christian. From the moment we rise each and every day, we are in the midst of spiritual battle. One of the factors making this battle so difficult, is that it takes place on two fronts. We all battle against our own flesh. We must fight to resist temptation, overcome sin, and live as godly ambassadors of Christ. At the same time, we are battling to see our friends, family, neighbors co-workers, and acquaintances come to Christ. These battles are not won by natural means, but with spiritual weapons.
2 Corinthians 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds . . .”
Often, when we are stirred to share Christ with others, we immediately think we are not a good communicator, don’t have all the answers, or that we are too shy. While all those things may be true, Paul reminds us that the weapons useful in seeing others won to Christ, are not natural, but spiritual. That means our weaknesses do not weaken the message, or limit God’s ability to use us. Paul refers to three effects our spiritual weapons will have on those who have yet to surrender to Christ. First, he states they are mighty to “pull down strongholds.” A person who has not responded to Christ, is in bondage to sin. That sin is like a chain or a prison cell keeping them from Christ. The sin might be substance abuse, partying, fear of man, wanting to fit in, sexual misconduct, pride, or a series of other sins. Whatever sin it may be, we have been equipped with weapons to break down those strongholds and set the prisoner free.
Second, Paul instructs us, our weapons will “cast down arguments.” Upon hearing the Gospel message, many immediately respond with arguments against surrender to Christ. Some of those arguments are based on what they have been taught about science, religion and philosophy. Others, based on personal experiences, that cast doubt on the promises of God. While still others, are based on a misunderstanding of Christ and Christianity. Whatever the source of the argument that exalts itself above the Word of God, we have weapons that cast down those arguments, so they can honestly consider Christ.
Finally, Paul speaks of our weapons “bringing every thought into the captivity of Christ.” I cannot speak to every case, but I know before coming to Christ, I spent a lot of energy thinking, but none of that energy was spent thinking about eternity. My thoughts were consumed with what I was going to do that day to enjoy life. It was only after hearing the Gospel, that my thoughts were captivated by Christ. Suddenly, I began to consider things that I had never thought of before. Will I go to heaven? Am I living right in God’s eyes? For what purpose was I created, and am I living out that purpose? The Christian has been equipped with weapons that will captivate the thinking of the lost.
Paul does not go on to list those weapons here, but when we travel to Ephesians 6, we learn the weapons he is describing are the Word of God and prayer. If we want to see others set free from sin and open to the Gospel of God, we need to pray for them and share with them. Take time today to pray for those in your life who do not know Christ, or are backslidden. Then step out and invite them to come to church with you.
Questions for 2 Corinthians 10
- Look at verses 1-2, 8-11. Paul was an apostle, and had great authority and power from the Lord. We see the Lord giving power to another apostle (Peter) to bring judgment down upon sin in the early church (Acts 5). The Corinthians had always known Paul as meek in person, yet in his letters he has been bold to them. He warns them that when he sees them in person, they will see another side of him if necessary, and he begs them to respond to his written correction. It seems that Paul is taking every opportunity to be gracious with others, and give them opportunity to repent. If you see someone you care about doing something wrong, are you quick to jump into conflict? Do you control your emotions and deal deliberately, thoughtfully, and prayerfully with others before you act or speak?
- Paul’s opponents said that he was just like them (he walked in the flesh). However how was he different from them? (verse 3)
- Read verse 4-6. Paul fought spiritual battles with spiritual weapons. As Christians we are in a warfare (Read Ephesians 6:10-20). Yet we cannot fight this war with earthly weapons, or by earthly resources. What are the weapons and armor that we are outfitted with when we engage in spiritual warfare? Fleshly human resources are not only useless for this battle, but they are the opponent’s tools! Read Galatians 5:19-21 to see what the flesh produces.
- In verse 7, Paul cautions the Corinthians on making judgment based on outward appearance. Read 1 Samuel 16:7. What does the Lord look at? Although we cannot see a man’s heart, what are some good ways to gauge a man’s heart? Read Matthew 7:15-27.
- In verse 12 we see that the people who were criticizing Paul compared and measured themselves by one another. Read John 21:15-22. How did Jesus handle Peter comparing himself to John? Read Ephesians 4:13. According to this verse who should we compare ourselves to? What effect does making this comparison have on you?
- Look at verses 13-16. Paul’s hope is to “not boast in other men’s labors”, but to “preach the gospel in the regions beyond you”. Read Romans 15:20-21. Do you have a heart to see the gospel of God’s grace run?
- In verse 17, Paul quotes Jeremiah 9:23-24. What should we not glory in? What should we glory in?
- Look at verse 18. Ultimately, our opinion of ourselves does not matter; only what God thinks counts. Read Matt 25:14-30. What do you want to hear the Lord say to you when you stand before Him?
Job 37- His Thundering Voice