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Old and New Testament.
Corinthians 10:3-5 Commentary
flesh, we do
For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our
warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.
Bible - Lockman)
It is true that we live in a human body, but for all that we do not
carry on our campaign with human motives and resources
For while we spend our life in a body of flesh, we do not war with
though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the
ICB: We do live in the world. But we do not fight in the same
way that the world fights.
KJV: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after
Moffatt: I do live in the flesh, but I do not make war as the
Montgomery: Though I do walk on the low level of the flesh, I do
not make war as the flesh does;
NET: For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war
according to human standards;
NIV: For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as
the world does.
NJB: For although we are human, it is not by human methods
that we do battle.
NLT: We are human, but we don't wage war with human plans
and methods. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
NRSV: Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war
according to human standards;
Phillips: The truth is that, although of course we lead normal
human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. (Phillips:
TLB: It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I
don't use human plans and methods to win my battles.
Weymouth: For, though we are still living in the world, it
is no worldly warfare that we are waging.
Wuest: For, though we are ordering our behavior in the
sphere, of human experience, not in accordance with mere human
considerations are we waging warfare, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for walking in the flesh, not according to
the flesh do we war,
FOR THOUGH WE WALK IN THE FLESH:
en sarki gar peripatountes (PAPMPN): (cp 2Cor 4:7, 16, 5:1;
Gal 2:20; 1Pe 4:1,2)
Hold mouse pointer over underlined links for pop up of Scripture (which
stays open and can be copied).
ON SPIRITUAL WARFARE
VERSE BY VERSE EXPOSITION ON
EPHESIANS 6:10-18 BY WAYNE
Spiritual Warfare, Pt 1
Spiritual Warfare, Pt 2
Spiritual Warfare, Pt 3
Ephesians 6:15,16 Spiritual
Warfare, Pt 4
Spiritual Warfare, Pt 5
Ephesians 6:12,13 Spiritual
Warfare, Pt 6
Spiritual Warfare, Pt 7
VERSE BY VERSE EXPOSITION ON THE
VERSE BY VERSE EXPOSITION ON
RESISTING THE ROARING LION
Exposition of 1Peter 5:8
Exposition of 1Peter 5:9
VERSE BY VERSE EXPOSITION ON
THE BATTLE IN OUR MIND
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 Exposition
Cyberhymnal Hymns on Topic of
2 Chronicles 20:1-25 Ambushing Satan with Song
- John Piper
THE METAPHOR OF THE CHRISTIAN
Exposition of 2 Timothy 2:3-4
Three Kinds of Soldiers - Ten Principles of
Roman Soldier by Edward Gibbon
(Decline & Fall of Roman Empire)
The Roman Soldier - Description
from Jewish Historian Josephus
A Few Soldier Stories and Sermons
THE AMALEKITES: A PICTURE OF
PERSISTENT SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Nissi: Exposition of Exodus 17:8-16
In this section Paul uses several terms
drawn from the realm of military and warfare. Remember Paul was familiar
with the Roman soldiers (eg, Acts 22:24, 25, 26, 23:10, 24:23, 27:1, 28:16)
and thus Paul knew the Roman army well and knew how to accurately use a
military metaphor. We do well as to believers to remember that just as
accurate knowledge is crucial to survival in real warfare, a similar mindset
is just as important in the unseen warfare of the spiritual realm, where
lives (souls) hang in the balance not just for time (this mortal life) but
for eternity ("immortality" in heaven or hell)!
In 2Corinthians 10 Paul changes the
subject rather abruptly and begins to write some of the strongest language
found in either of his letters to the Corinthians (See Rob Morgan's message
which describes this context in more detail -
2Corinthians 10:5 Every Thought Captive). And although there are
sharp words in this section, we note that they are addressed, not at the
church as a whole but against a special group of false teachers. And thus
this section is vitally important to the modern church, for we too have many
false teachers. Some of these false teachers are very overt in the error
they propound and thus are easy to recognize but others are not. We do well
to remember that every congregation has at least a few members who have been
(or are being) influenced by false teaching and false teachers. But whether
they are overt or subtle, each of these false teachers have in common the
fact that our Adversary the devil is using them as his nefarious tool in an
attempt to derail that local body of believers and steal their joy and the
freedom available in Christ. These evil masqueraders seek to undermine the
power of the gospel with their unsound doctrines of demons. It is these (and
similar anti-God) thoughts that Paul says believers are to wage war against.
In this section Paul gives some practical
instruction on how believers can win the spiritual battle in our thought
life. Don't think that you cannot win these battles because you can if you
use God's provision of divinely powerful weapons.
10:3,4,5 is in the
(see importance of
in accurate interpretation) of
Paul's defense of his ministry against the enemies of the gospel. In regard
to application this passage teaches a powerful principle that is relevant to
every believer's spiritual life (especially if it is to be a "victorious"
life in Christ), for all believers are actively engaged in a spiritual war
whether they know it or not. The important point that Paul is teaching in
this section is that one can control the thoughts that come into our mind.
We do not have to be helpless victims of thoughts, words, speculations,
fiery missiles, human reasoning, vain imaginings, etc that assault our mind.
What Paul teaches is the Biblical way of dealing with these thoughts, be
they fiery missiles of accusation or temptation or whatever their genesis
Ryrie has this note on the context of
In spite of Paul’s general satisfaction
with the Corinthian church, there were still some there who challenged his
apostolic authority and followed certain leaders whom Paul calls “false
apostles” (1Co 11:13). These leaders were apparently Jewish Christians (1Co
11:22) who claimed higher authority than Paul’s (1Co 10:7) and who lorded
over the church.
In these passages we
(1) The battle is spiritual, not
(2) The battlefield is our mind
and our thought life.
(3) The battle ultimately is over
truth, the truth of God versus "truth" as man interprets and propounds
Commenting on the
for at the beginning of this passage, Charles Hodge writes that
it indicates that...
This verse is linked either with the
middle clause of the previous verse (“I am determined to be bold toward the
opponents of the truth, for though I live in the world, I do not wage war as
the world does”), or, as is often the case in Paul’s letters, the for refers
to a thought that is omitted: “Some think that I live as the world does—that
is not true—for though I live in the world, I do not wage war as the world
does.” The latter seems the more natural and forcible. Paul did indeed live
in the world; he was a man, and a mere man, not only having a body, but
being subject to all the infirmities of human nature. But he did not wage
war as the world does. What was human and worldly neither determined his
conduct, nor was the ground of his confidence. (2 Corinthians 10 Commentary)
We walk in the
flesh - Walk refers to how one orders his or her steps, and is a
for how we live or conduct our life. Flesh in this
refers to physical flesh ("flesh and blood"), but even in this same
sentence, the meaning of the second use of flesh shifts to that of
the evil nature that indwells all men, that ungodly nature J I Packer
picturesquely refers to as "anti-God energy". In short, to
be sure believers. like all mankind, are only human, but unlike all the rest
of mankind, are not to fight this spiritual war in a human way!
wisely reminds us that...
God has issued to each of us a
bugle call to intelligent combat (cp our transfer from the power of Satan to
God - Col 1:12, 13-note,
Acts 26:18, 2Ti 2:3,4-note,
cp Heb 2:14,15-note).
It is a call to us to be men and women of God, to fight the good fight (1Ti
1:18, 6:12, 1Ti 4:7-note),
to stand fast in the faith, to be strong in the Lord in the midst of the
battle, in the midst of this dark and evil world (cp Ro 13:11-note,
Ro 13, 14-note,
1Jn 5:19 [cp Lk 4:5, 6, 7], Ep 2:2-note,
Those who ignore this call and the battle that rages around them (and "in"
them 1Pe 2:11-note,
Gal 5:17-note) are doomed to be casualties. We
cannot remain neutral. We must choose sides. We must align ourselves with
the forces of God, the forces of good. We must answer the bugle call, we
must put on our armor and stand our ground or the battle will roll over us
and in our defenseless, bewildered state, the forces of evil will trample us
into the dust of the battlefield.
So we must learn to recognize how the dark systems of the devil work. But
more than that, we must learn the processes of overcoming the systems of the
devil not by flesh and blood, not by joining committees, not by political
action, not by taking up clubs or assault weapons and attacking a human
enemy. No, Paul says the weapons of our warfare are not flesh and blood
weapons, not physical weapons, not political weapons. Rather, our weapons
are mighty, through God, unto the pulling down of strongholds and bringing
into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2Co 10:3,
4, 5). That is the path to victory! (See
2Cor 10:3-5 Exposition)
Joseph Parker (in his sermon on
2 Corinthians 10:4 Weapons of Warfare)...
The last idea that occurs to some professing Christians is that Christianity
or that Christian life is a warfare. It has been noticed by observing and
discerning persons that almost as soon as a man joins the Church he settles
down into indifference or personal and selfish enjoyment,—as if a man should
enlist into the army, and then go home and sit down all the rest of his days
on the sunny side of his house and in the favourite spot in his garden. What
kind of enlistment is that? Do you call that a soldierly spirit and a
soldierly service? Whenever the idea of soldierliness took hold of Paul's
imagination he elaborated the figure with marvellous energy....
In addition to this the next mistake that is made is that persons who enter
the Christian service imagine that all the fighting is to be done outside.
You cannot fight outside until you have fought inside. The first man you
have to kill is yourself....
Are we at war? If the Church is not at war, it is unfaithful to Christ...
DO NOT WAR ACCORDING TO THE FLESH: ou kata sarka strateuometha (1PPMI):
(2Cor 10:4; Ro 8:13; 1Ti 1:18; 2Ti 2:3,4; 4:7; Heb 12:1)(1Co 1:17, 18, 19,
20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25; 2:1, 2, 3, 4)
We do not war -
Notice the word "not" (ou) which in Greek is the strongest way one can
negate what follows in the sentence. In this case Paul is saying we
absolutely do not wage war according to the flesh. In context Paul is
speaking of waging war against lies, half truths and overt error and against
all that is opposed to the Gospel.
According to the
flesh - As noted above, here the
refers to the evil disposition is intended
note). In other words, believers are
not to fight this spiritual struggle in dependence upon "anti-God energy".
They are not to fight in the spiritual realm with fleshly weapons, guided by
the commonly accepted principles of unregenerate men, who act solely under
the influence of their old nature (See
Sin as the unbeliever's "Master"). This is absolutely not the way to wage
spiritual war. Instead believers are to be filled, controlled, guided and
governed by the Spirit (Ep 5:18-note), in continual reliance upon His enablement
of the servants of Christ rightly reminds us that...
They bear about an incomparable treasure
in clay jars (cp 2Cor 4:7). Therefore, although they are compassed with
infirmities, nevertheless the spiritual power of God is resplendent in them.
comments on the weapons as not fleshly but mighty in God...
"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 (mentioned
in his sermon on Mt 10:16). 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
Forts Demolished and Prisoners Taken)
(See related resource -
The Greatest Fight in the World)
David Guzik (ref) has
some excellent comments on this section writing that...
The carnal (Ed: Pertaining to
flesh; fleshly; sensual; opposed to spiritual; describes that which is like
the natural, unregenerate state) weapons Paul refuses were not material
weapons like swords and spears. The carnal weapons he renounced were the
manipulative and deceitful ways his opponents used. Paul would not defend
his apostolic credentials with the carnal weapons others might use.
In Ephesians 6 (see
notes Eph 6:10ff), Paul lists
the kind of spiritual weapons he did use: the belt of truth (Ep 6:14), the
breastplate of righteousness (Ep 6:14), the shoes of the gospel (Ep 6:15),
the shield of faith (Ep 6:16), the helmet of salvation (Ep 6:17), and the
sword of the Spirit (Ep 6:17). To rely on these weapons took faith in
God instead of carnal methods. But truly, these weapons are mighty in God
for pulling down strongholds!
The Corinthian Christians tended to rely on and admire carnal weapons for
the Christian battle.
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.
Jesus relied on spiritual weapons when He
fought for our salvation. Philippians 2:6,7-note,
who, being in the form of God, did not
consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation,
taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And
being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient
to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
This kind of victory through humble
obedience (cp 1Sa 15:22, 23, Lk 1:52, 18:14, 14:11, James 4:6-note,
offended the Corinthian Christians because it seemed so "weak."
The carnal, human way is to
overpower and dominate and manipulate and out-maneuver.
The spiritual, Jesus-way is to
humble yourself, die to yourself (Mark 8:34, "daily" Lk 9:23), and let God
show His resurrection power (Php 3:10-note) through you.
Our spiritual weapons are scorned by the world, but feared by demonic
powers. When we fight with truth, righteousness, evangelism, faith,
salvation, the Word of God, and prayer, no principality or power can stand
"As the spittle that comes out of a man's
mouth slayeth serpents, so doth that which proceedeth out of the mouths of
God's faithful ministers quell and kill evil imaginations, carnal
reasonings, which are the legion of domestic devils, that hold near
intelligence with the old serpent." (Guzik comments -- "A wonderful
observation by John Trapp; if I only knew what he meant!"). (Reference)
Ed comment: In an attempt to
explain Trapp's remark I search the web and here is a related entry - "I
certify that I have many times killed serpents by moistening in a slight
degree, with my spittle, a stick or a stone, and giving them a slight blow
on the middle of the body, scarcely sufficient to produce a small contusion.
January 19, 1757. Figuier, Surgeon.” The above surgeon having given me this
certificate, two witnesses, who had seen him kill serpents in this manner,
attested what they had beheld. Notwithstanding, I wished to behold the thing
myself; for I confess that, in various parts of these queries, I have taken
St. Thomas of Didymus for my patron saint, who always insisted on an
examination with his own hands. For eighteen hundred years this opinion has
been perpetuated among the people, and it might possibly be even eighteen
thousand years old, if Genesis had not supplied us with the precise date of
our enmity to this reptile. It may be asserted that if Eve had spit on the
serpent when he took his place at her ear, a world of evil would have been
spared human nature.
Lucretius, in his fourth book, alludes to this manner of killing serpents as
very well known: Spit on a serpent, and his vigor flies, He straight devours
himself, and quickly dies. (Further comment: I would not recommend
this method if confronted by a venomous reptile, spiritually speaking or
real. In the former I would suggest James 4:7-note,
In the latter I would suggest your legs and feet be quickly mobilized)
James Parker III notes that...
One of the first battles of the Civil War
happened near Washington, D. C., on a Sunday afternoon. The two armies lined
up for battle, and people came out from downtown Washington, D. C., and set
up picnic baskets. It was like a Sunday afternoon soccer match, like a
baseball game. They came with their picnic baskets to watch this little
battle. And very quickly they realized that it wasn’t just a little Sunday
afternoon scrimmage, a little skirmish; it was a major war, a battle to the
death where thousands, and scores and scores of thousands of people would
give their lives.
Now we have to understand that’s the nature of the battle we’re involved in;
we often think that we’re involved in a little Sunday afternoon scrimmage.
We live our lives and act our lives and carry on our lives; we prepare our
lives as if that’s what we’re facing. But what we have to realize is, this
is a battle to the death, and it’s either us or them in this spiritual
warfare. But we don’t carry it on the way the world does...
And so we are indeed arrayed against
fortresses, Paul is saying. Prov. 21:22 says, “A wise man scales the strong
dries and brings down the stronghold in which the ungodly trust.” The
ungodly trust in these strongholds, and the godly man, the wise man, scales
those cities and brings down those strongholds that the ungodly are trusting
in. So we have divine power to demolish strongholds. (Faith and Mission 14:2
former pastor at Moody Bible Church, Chicago, writes (ref) that...
Paul's concern for the church at Corinth
(as it would indeed be for us) is simply that the imagination of the mind,
the process of thinking, the way of reasoning, the method of logic, the
understanding of things which a man adopted in his unconverted days, become
projected into the fellowship of the church, and the church begins to fail
in its spiritual battle because it adopts carnal procedures.
The process of victory which our Lord
taught His disciples was this: that if you cease to resist in the realm
of carnality, then you are resisting automatically in the realm that is
spiritual, and in this way you overcome the enemy. Resist, counterattack,
deal with the situation upon the same level that the world deals with it,
and you are defeated. But refuse to follow that principle of life; take up
rather the principle of the cross (1Co 1:18) and by non-combat in carnal
levels you are combating the enemy in spiritual levels and therefore you
will overcome (Jn 16:33, 1Jn 5:4, 5).
To illustrate this, turn to Simon Peter and the incident in which the Lord
Jesus began to show to him is principle of the Cross (Mt 16:21, 22, 23).
Christ spoke to him about the cross, about the blood, about the way of
sacrifice and death. He had spoken earlier about the corn of wheat falling
into the ground and dying and if it die, it brings forth much fruit, but if
it did not die it would abide alone (Jn 12:24); and Peter's answer was, "Not
so, Lord, not that way, not the way of the cross and death!" (cp Mt 16:22)
Christ's reply was shattering: " Get thee
behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the
things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Mt 16:23, cp Mt 16:24)
But Peter did not learn his lesson. In
the Garden of Gethsemane up goes his sword, out goes his arm, and off goes
the man's ear (Jn 18:10, Mt 26:51, 52, 53, 54, Mark 14:47 cp Lk 22:33, 49,
50, 51!). He is still resisting the principle of the cross, still following
the procedure of carnality, and taking the line of resistance instead of the
line of meekness and submission (Php 2:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). He did not
learn his lesson until after Pentecost (and it took him some time then, cp
Acts 2:15, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41), but this is the lesson which the Lord
Jesus sought to teach him, and the very lesson which Paul is bringing to
bear upon the church at Corinth.
You find this principle today in the church in terms of the theological
outlook upon the Bible, though I have no wish to get involved in a
controversial issue. The difference between what we call today the
fundamentalist or the conservative evangelical and all others in their
approach to the Book is that we as conservative evangelicals submit
ourselves to the criticism of the Word of God, whereas all others submit to
their own criticism. This is the basic difference of approach to the whole
subject of theology, so much so that, in some circles it is said that if you
are orthodox you are out-of-date; you are an obscurantist, and it is an
impossible position to hold in the light of modern theology and modern
These are some of the high things that Paul said exalt themselves against
the knowledge of God, and because the evangelical conservative holds to a
position in which he submits all his criticisms and life to the authority of
Scripture, and refuses to move from that position, while he is only too glad
to discuss and consider all enlightenment upon the Book, he is therefore
Now this I believe is the form of carnality in the church which stems from
corruption of the mind not necessarily moral corruption, but the mind which
insists in submitting the Word of God to its own criticism and only
accepting that which the human intellect can understand and believe. This
corruption of mind leads to carnality in the church and to captivity of
spirit, for by that means there is that which exalts itself against the
knowledge of God. That, in the theological area, is exactly the modern
counterpart of our verse.
I wish to come much closer home than
that, as I bring this right down to where we live.
The Principle of Carnality
The Principle of Spirituality
What is the nature of this conflict?
It is the battle which goes on in the personal life of every one of us in
ordinary, everyday, down-to-earth, practical living—the battle to forsake
the principle of carnality and to accept the principle of
spirituality. It is the battle to take the line of refusing to resist
along the human level, and by so doing, resisting in terms of spiritual
warfare, and therefore overcoming. This is something which works itself out
in terms of our relationships with one another, as well as in terms of our
relationship with God.
If, therefore, it is true that the weapons of our warfare are not
carnal, if God in calling us to be His followers and to live the Christian
life here and now on exactly the same principle as that which was followed
by His disciples—in other words, the line of non-resistance, of meekness and
crucifixion and death, the line of submission one to another in the fear of
God—what then are the weapons a Christian must use, and how does he use
I remind you of words which Paul wrote in his letter to the church at
Ephesus. We must arm ourselves, because in paraphrase he says,
the weapons of our warfare, though they
are not carnal, are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.
In other words, there is a way of life,
there is an armor, there are weapons which the Christian church (and by that
I mean any group of Christians) can use today in ordinary everyday life
which will be so invincible that, to quote the words of our Lord Jesus, " .
. . the gates of hell shall not prevail against them." (Mt 16:18)
If this is true, then it behooves us surely to give very prayerful attention
to this fact, because the fact of the matter is that apart from a mighty
awakening and revival in the church, we are fighting a losing battle because
we are resisting on carnal levels. This is not something you settle at
denominational headquarters or in the high courts of the ecclesiastical
world. It is something you begin to settle here and now that causes the tide
of Holy Spirit power and life to flow once again through the church, which
has been blocked because we as individual believers have rejected God's
What then are the weapons which are mighty through God?
take unto you the whole armour of God,
that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to
stand...your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of
righteousness;...your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of
peace;...taking the shield of faith,...And take the helmet of salvation, and
the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all
prayer and supplication in the Spirit, ...for all saints" (Ephesians 6:13,
14, 15,16,17, 18-note)
Here is the Christian armor. Now will you
please notice this : it is not armor to protect the body, for it is not
designed to keep the Christian from physical harm, but it is armor designed
to protect him against all spiritual attack. It is not something with which
he clothes his body, but something with which he clothes his soul. It is
hidden from the outward scrutiny of others, but its existence in the realm
of a man's soul will be revealed in his daily life. That is why Paul says
"though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh . . ." (2Cor
10:3). Yet our whole activity and our actions in the flesh, in the body, in
daily conduct, are governed by this inward clothing, the armor of the
Let a man neglect putting on this armor and he will soon reveal carnality
to everybody else in his conduct and behavior. But let him go into the
robing room each day with God in the name of the Lord Jesus, and let him
there in prayer put on the whole armor of God —truth, righteousness, faith,
peace, the helmet of salvation, the Word of God as the sword of the Spirit,
and the armor of all-prayer, clothing that the world cannot see—and it will
soon be evident to all by his daily conduct in his daily life that he has
clothed himself with the whole armor of God (cp Ro 13:11, 12, 13, 14-notes).
The absence of a time he takes to clothe himself with the armor of God is
revealed in his approach to the Bible, in his criticism of everything, in
his refusal of every authority, in his hesitancy to accept the Word of
truth, and in his carnality of daily behavior. Here, then, is the answer to
the area within the church where the greatest battles are to be fought, in
the weapons of our warfare that are not carnal, but mighty through God to
the pulling down of strongholds.
The Thought Life
You may ask, how do they work?
They work in the realm of the mind. How is the victory won? It is won in the
realm of the thought-life. Does this mean merely asking God to do something
while we do nothing at all ourselves? No, indeed. What then is the secret of
it? Jesus said, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he," and it is our
leisure thoughts, our meditative life, that decides our conduct.
Alas, how much time we give to the life as it appears before men, and how
little do we give to the life that appears before God! Yet it is that
life that shines through everything, it is that life which is lived with the
Lord Himself and which is clothed with heavenly armor that reveals itself in
spirituality. It is that life, when it is lacking, that displays itself in
carnality (cp John 6:63). The world, you see, sees the expression on a man's
face, hears the tone of his voice, studies his actions whether they are
selfish or unselfish, and by these he is judged inevitably and rightly. In
spite of all his efforts to hold it all in check, he is conveying
transparently to other people that his Christianity is all in the
shop-window, and he is painfully lacking in being clothed with the armor of
God in the soul.
To be specific, it works something like this. Somebody says an unkind word
about you, or you are accused falsely of something you have not done, or
somebody is spiteful in his comments and critical in his attitude. You begin
to think about it, you repeat it to yourself over and over again with
increased indignation, and because it begins to fill your mind, you
tell your friends (with additions of course) until at last, by frequent
repetition, you have been insulted twenty times instead of one. You have
determined to counterattack, to retaliate, to answer back, to vindicate
yourself, and to prove that they are wrong and you are right. This is the
carnality in the life which has happened because of corruption in the mind,
because in the thought-life you have been defeated before you have to
The Law of Exclusion
What then is the answer? As a
Christian engaged in this conflict, knowing that the weapons of our warfare
are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,
there is the law of exclusion. How does it operate? When the thought
comes and the person is reported to have said what he has said, and the
unkindness has been passed over to us, and the criticism has been made,
whereas carnality would say, "Counterattack!" spirituality has the mind
which was in Christ Jesus (1Cor 2:16) and humbles itself and recognizes that
nothing that any person could ever say about any of us is really one
hundredth part as bad as the truth if he only knew it. Therefore, we have no
reason to counterattack, but one good reason to submit and to forget. That
is the law of exclusion.
The Law of Attention
But there is the law of attention
"whatsoever things," says Paul, writing
to the church at Philippi, "are true, whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things
are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and
if there be any praise, think on these things." (Php 4:8-note)
When carnality arises in our hearts,
causing us to answer back, to retaliate, and to fail to follow the principle
of discipleship laid down by the Master, then at that moment we must think
on these things, and answer the enemy by saying, "I'm sorry, my house is
full, I have no room for you and I have no time to listen to you." That is
the law of attention.
I quote some lovely words from that wonderful book,
The Imitation of Christ by
Thomas a Kempis:
Many thoughts have risen up against me,
and great terrors which afflict my soul. How shall I pass through them
without hurt? How shall I break them in pieces before me? I will go before
Thee, 0 Lord, and I will bring low the proud boasters of the earth and I
will open the gates of the prison and reveal to Thee the hidden secret. Do,
Lord, as thou saidst and let all wicked thoughts flee from before Thy face.
This is my hope and only consolation—to put my trust in Thee, to call on
Thee from my inmost heart, and to wait patiently for Thy help and for thy
Yes, truly, the weapons of our warfare
are not carnal, but they are mighty through God to the pulling down of
strongholds; and they cast down imaginations and every high thing that
exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bring into captivity every
thought into the obedience of Christ. That is the principle upon which the
church was founded; that is the principle that was followed by the Master
when He stepped from the throne to the manger and from the manger to the
cross. That is the obedience He expects from each of His followers. But let
us confess with shame, today in the realm of the intellect, the mind, the
thought-life, the church—that is, you and I as believers in Christ—has
followed the carnal method, and therefore she has divested herself of
God grant that you and I everyday may go into our personal robing room alone
with Him, and put on all the armor of God which is mighty to the pulling
down of strongholds of the enemy.
Apart from a mighty awakening and revival
in the church, we are fighting a losing battle because we are resisting on
carnal levels. This is not something you settle a denominational
headquarters or in the high courts of the ecclesiastical world. It is
something you begin to settle here and now that causes the tide of the Holy
Spirit power and life to flow once again in the church, which has been
blocked because we as individual believers have rejected God's principles.
Blessings out of Buffetings. Studies in
Second Corinthians. 1984. Revell).
Warfare of saints
Is not after the flesh -2
Is a good warfare -1 Timothy 1:18,19
Called the good fight of faith -1 Timothy 6:12
The devil -Ge 3:15; 2Co 2:11; Ep 6:12; James 4:7; 1Pe 5:8;
The flesh -Ro 7:23; 1Co 9:25, 26, 27; 2Co 12:7; Ga 5:17; 1Pe
Enemies -Ps 38:19; 56:2; 59:3
The world -Jn 16:33; 1Jn 5:4,5
Death -1Co 15:26; Heb 2:14,15
Often arises from the opposition of friends or relatives -Mic
7:6; Mt 10:35,36
TO BE CARRIED ON
Under Christ, as our captain -Hebrews 2:10
Under the Lord’s banner -Psalms 60:4
With faith -1 Timothy 1:18,19
With a good conscience -1 Timothy 1:18,19
With steadfastness in the faith -1Co 16:13; 1Pe 5:9; Heb10:23
With earnestness -Jude 1:3
With watchfulness -1 Cor 16:13; 1 Peter 5:8
With sobriety -1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Peter 5:8
With endurance or hardness -2 Timothy 2:3,10
With self-denial -1 Corinthians 9:25, 26, 27
With confidence in God -Psalms 27:1, 2, 3
With prayer -Psalms 35:1-3; Ephesians 6:18
Without earthly entanglements -2 Timothy 2:4
Mere professors do not maintain -Jeremiah 9:3
Are all engaged in -Philippians 1:30
Must stand firm in -Ephesians 6:13,14
Exhorted to diligence -1 Timothy 6:12; Jude 1:3
Encouraged in -Isaiah 41:11,12; 51:12; Micah 7:8; 1 John 4:4
Helped by God in -Psalms 118:13; Isaiah 41:13,14
Protected by God in -Psalms 140:7
Comforted by God in 2 Corinthians 7:5,6
Strengthened by God in Psalms 20:2; 27:14; Isaiah 41:10
Strengthened by Christ in -2 Corinthians 12:9; 2 Timothy 4:17
Delivered by Christ in -2 Timothy 4:18
Thank God for victory in Romans 7:25; 1 Corinthians 15:57
Girdle of truth -Ephesians 6:14
Breastplate of righteousness -Ephesians 6:14
Preparation of the gospel -Ephesians 6:15
Shield of faith -Ephesians 6:16
Helmet of salvation -Ephesians 6:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8
Sword of the Spirit -Ephesians 6:17
Called armour of God Ephesians 6:11
Called armour of righteousness -2 Corinthians 6:7
Called armour of light -Romans 13:12
Not carnal -2 Corinthians 10:4
Mighty through God -2 Corinthians 10:4,5
The whole, is required -Ephesians 6:13
Must be put on -Romans 13:12; Ephesians 6:11
To be on right hand and left -2 Corinthians 6:7
VICTORY IN, IS
From God -1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14
Through Christ -Ro 7:25; 1Co 15:27; 2Co 12:9; Re 12:11
By faith -Hebrews 11:33-37; 1 John 5:4,5
Over the devil -Romans 16:20; 1 John 2:14
Over the flesh -Romans 7:24,25; Galatians 5:24
Over the world -1 John 5:4,5
Over all that exalts itself -2 Corinthians 10:5
Over death and the grave -Is 25:8; 26:19; Ho 13:14; 1Co 15:54,55
Triumphant -Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 10:5
THEY WHO OVERCOME IN, SHALL
Eat of the hidden manna -Revelation 2:17
Eat of the tree of life -Revelation 2:7
Be clothed in white raiment -Revelation 3:5
Be pillars in the temple of God Revelation 3:12
Sit with Christ in his throne -Revelation 3:21
Have a white stone, and, in it a new name written -Re 2:17
Have power over the nations -Revelation 2:26
Have the name of God written upon them by Christ -Re 3:12
Have God as their God -Revelation 21:7
Have the morning-star Revelation 2:28
Inherit all things -Revelation 21:7
Be confessed by Christ before God the Father -Re 3:5
Be sons of God -Revelation 21:7
Not be hurt by the second death -Revelation 2:11
Not have their names blotted out of the book of life -Re 3:5
Illustrated -Isaiah 9:5; Zechariah 10:5
(Note: some translation place the following phrase in
verse 4 -
the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and
blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and
destruction of strongholds, (Amplified
Bible - Lockman)
(for the weapons of our campaign are not merely human weapons, but God
has made them powerful to destroy fortresses).
for the weapons of our warfare are not physical, but they are powerful
with God’s help for the tearing down of fortresses,
the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power
to destroy strongholds.
ICB: We fight with weapons that are different from those the
world uses. Our weapons have power from God. These weapons can destroy
the enemy's strong places. We destroy men's arguments.
logismous in v4 rather than
KJV: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but
mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Moffatt: the weapons of my warfare are not weapons of the flesh,
but divinely strong to demolish fortresses—
Montgomery: for the weapons of my warfare are not weapons of the
flesh, but mighty for God, in pulling down all fortresses.
NET: for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons,
but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear
down arguments (NET
logismous in v4 rather than
NIV: The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the
world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish
NJB: The weapons with which we do battle are not those of human
nature, but they have the power, in God's cause, to demolish
fortresses. It is ideas that we demolish,
logismous in v4 rather than
NLT: We use God's mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons,
to knock down the Devil's strongholds. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
NRSV: for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but
they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments
logismous in v4 rather than
Phillips: The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare
but powerful in God's warfare for the destruction of the enemy's
TLB: I use God's mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock
down the devil's strongholds.
Weymouth: The weapons with which we fight are not human
weapons, but are mighty for God in overthrowing strong fortresses.
Wuest: for the weapons of our warfare are not human but mighty in
God's sight, resulting in the demolition of fortresses, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for the weapons of our warfare are not
fleshly, but powerful to God for bringing down of strongholds,
FOR THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE
ARE NOT OF THE FLESH: ta gar hopla tes strateias hemon ou sarkika:
(Weapons - 2Cor 6:7; Romans 6:13; Romans 13:12; Ephesians 6:13, 14,
15, 16, 17, 18; 1Thes 5:8) (1Ti 1:18; 2Ti 2:3, 4, 4:7)
introduces Paul's explanation of why we are not to fight spiritual battles
with "fleshly" weapons. In short, he says believers need no longer resort
to the their old ways (before we were believers the only set of "weapons" we
"owned" were those "passed down" from Adam, weapons that were corrupted by
the fallen, evil flesh nature that "infected" Adam when he sinned,
As an aside, remember
that anytime you observe a sentence begin with "for", pause ("Selah"!)
and ponder what it's there for -- many, if not most, times the writer is
explaining something he has stated in the preceding context. Pausing and
pondering forces you to "slow down" (it is best to not read the Bible in
"speed reading" mode!) and allow the Spirit, Your personal Tutor, to
illuminate the passage. What you are doing in essence is meditating (Related
Primer on Biblical Meditation)
-- see the advantages that accrue from meditating on Scripture - Josh 1:8- note,
on the Scripture and as begin to practice this discipline (and it does take
practice - after 18 years, I still have to tell myself to "slow down" and
"enjoy the scenery" of God's Word).
What can Christians use to counteract the
cults around us? How do we respond when we see a loved one, or a whole
community of believers, threatened by error, by a false idea which may take
over a church, a community, or even a whole nation? Perhaps we are being
faced with a powerful threat from the homosexual community to impose, by
law, an unrighteous life style upon our young people in schools and in
public institutions. Christians are rightly asking, "How can we oppose this?
What weapons can we employ?"
In the broader context outside the church we are also harassed and bombarded
daily. For example, sexual themes in the media imply that any form of
sexuality is acceptable. We are constantly assaulted by crude and offensive
slogans on bumpers, billboards and television commercials. Drug pushers do
their best to hook our young people on narcotics. Pornographers push their
wares at us at every newsstand. Teachers openly espouse Marxism and
revolution in our classrooms. Inflation depletes the value of our dollar
every day, while politicians continue mouthing empty words and doing nothing
about it. Do you ever feel, as I do sometimes, a great sense of frustration,
an increasing sense of desperation at being so helpless? I am sure you do.
How do we stem this downward slide into national disaster? (Reference)
Not of the flesh
- Again "not" is the absolute negation. Our new set of weapons with
which we are to wage spiritual warfare is absolutely not those related to
our fallen, evil nature (flesh). In his famous affirmation of the Christ life,
Paul declared that "the life I now live in the (physical) flesh I live
by faith in the Son of God" (Gal 2:20-notes),
and it is only by surrendering (by faith = trusting, cp Col 2:6-note,
2Co 5:7) to Him that believers can lay hold of our
"divinely powerful" weapons.
A famous cartoon
character of yesteryear named Pogo aptly described the flesh this way...
"We have met the enemy and he is us!"
flesh as "inherited selfishness, that self-centeredness of life which
all of us have without exception, impelling us to pursue our own interests
at the expense of everybody else's." (Reference).
Carnal weapons, that is fleshly
weapons, walking according to the flesh, such as human cleverness or
ingenuity, organizing ability, eloquent diatribe, powerful propaganda, or
reliance on charm or forcefulness, a personality, are all in themselves
quite unavailing in the ceaseless task of pulling down strongholds in which
evil is entrenched.
Peter (1Pe 4:2
cp 1Pe 4:1-note)
speaks of believers living "the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for
human passions but for the will of God", in this case His will being that we
fight the good fight of faith with the weapons He provides in Christ and not
with those we inherited by virtue of having been born in Adam (cp 1Co
Earlier in this
epistle to the Corinthians Paul described the physical flesh
in metaphorical terms (metaphor)
explaining that believers...
have this treasure (in context most
likely a reference to the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ - cp 2Ti 1:14-note)
in earthen vessels (NIV = "jars of clay" - a great picture of the frailty of
our physical human bodies), that the surpassing greatness of the power may
be of God and not from ourselves (2Cor 4:7)
Hodge writes that...
In the war in which Paul was engaged (Ed:
and which should be true of us), his confidence was not in himself, not in
human reason, not in the power of argument or eloquence, not in the
resources of cunning or manipulation, but simply and only in the
supernatural power of God. “We do not wage war in the way the world does,
for our weapons are not worldly.” That is, our weapons are not such as human
nature provides and that therefore in their own nature are human. Weapons,
of course, means all the means that the apostle used in the defense and
propagation of the truth. (2 Corinthians 10 Commentary)
Ellicott points out that the words in 2
Corinthians are of the struggle of a faithful soldier. “We are not carrying
on our campaign in the physical. We are attacking the strong defenses of the
powers of evil.” Until victory, we war with the Word of God as our weapon.
We know the final outcome. And we wait for His shout from heaven! Until then
we witness, exhort the believer, love the Lord, and teach His Word!
(Conservative Theological Journal Volume 5:252)
BUT DIVINELY POWERFUL FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF
FORTRESSES: alla dunata to theo pros kathairesin ochuromaton: (Powerful
- 2Co 3:5; 4:7; 13:3,4; Jdg 7:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23;
15:14, 15, 16; 1Sa 17:45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50; Ps 110:2; Is 41:14, 15, 16;
Zech 4:6,7; Acts 7:22; 1Co 1:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24; 2:5; 2Co 13:3; Heb
11:32,33) (Divinely - Josh 6:20; Is 30:25; Je 1:10; Heb 11:30)
the Lord and instructed Israel to destroy Jericho's fortress God's way (cp
divinely powerful weapons) and after seven marches around the city
(can you just imagine the confused looks on those in the fortress!)...
So the people shouted, and priests blew
the trumpets; and it came about, when the people heard the sound of the
trumpet, that the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down
flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead,
and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20, cp Joshua 6:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,
And recall Gideon
(Judges 6-7) who was called (Jdg 6:6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16ff-notes)
to go against the marauding Midianites with "divinely powerful" weapons...
1 Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and
all the people who were with him, rose early and camped beside the spring of
Harod; and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of
Moreh in the valley. 2 And the LORD said to Gideon, "The people who are
with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, lest
Israel become boastful, saying, 'My own power has delivered me.' 3 "Now
therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, 'Whoever is
afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.'" So
22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained.
4 Then the LORD said to Gideon, "The
people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test
them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you,
'This one shall go with you,' he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I
say to you, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go." 5 So
he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, "You
shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps,
as well as everyone who kneels to drink." 6 Now the number of those
who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest
of the people kneeled to drink water.
7 And the LORD said to Gideon, "I will
deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites
into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home."
8 So the 300 men took the people's provisions and their trumpets into their
hands. And Gideon sent all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but
retained the 300 men; and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.
9 Now the same night it came about that
the LORD said to him, "Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given
it into your hands. (See notes
Human resources can
never defeat our very real spiritual enemies (the world, the flesh, the devil). Only divinely
powerful weapons can achieve victory in this war and thus it behooves
believers to understand the resources we have in Christ (see
in Christ Jesus) that ensure
spiritual victory. Remember that God has blessed us with all spiritual
blessings in the heavenly places in Christ (Ep 1:3-note)
and Christ's divine power has granted to us everything necessary for life
and godliness through a true knowledge of Him (which is why it is so vital
to meditate on the Truth about Jesus in the Word). (2Pe 1:3-note)
- More literally the Greek (dunata to theo) reads "powerful to God"
or "mighty of God".
The literal rendering is difficult to understand and the Wuest amplification
helps us understand Paul's intent describing these weapons as "mighty in
(mighty, strong) (1415)
dunamai = referring to
power one has by virtue of inherent ability and resources; see study of
dunamis) means powerful, able, strong.
attribute of God Himself, Ro 9:22-note,
even a name of God - Lk 1:49) describes the character of the weapons
available to all believer's -- our weapons have sufficient and necessary
power, means, skill, and resources to accomplish the objective of tearing
When believers are
"weak" in their strength (in context don't rely on their fleshly methods),
then they are dunatos or strong ("then I am strong" or dunatos - 2Co 12:10-note)
in the Spirit of Christ and His sufficient grace.
Ray Stedman explains our
divinely powerful weapons noting that there is nothing
more valuable than that we understand the
Scriptures, refresh our minds with them all the time, for in this constant
bombardment with illusion and error it is easy to drift back into thinking
as the world around us thinks. Unless our minds are renewed by the
Spirit (cp Ro 12:2-note,
2Co 4:16, Ep 4:23-note;
refreshed by the truth about life and what it is we really are up against,
we will find ourselves acting just like everybody else. So the first and
greatest weapon is "the truth as it is in Jesus." (Ep 4:21-note;
cp Jn 1:17, 14:6, 2Co 1:20, 2Co 11:10) When we read the gospels (Ro 1:16,
we see that Jesus is a Man Who understands life. He does not act like
anybody else because He really sees what is happening. He ignores much of
the visible symptoms and strikes right at the heart of problems to the
direct cause of events. If we are going to follow Him we will not adopt
fleshly weapons and fall heir to fatal approaches to problems. We will begin
to see things differently. (Reference)
Phil Newton calls our attention
What these weapons are not - The wrong
weapons bring failure. When Hitler invaded Poland in 1938 with his Wehrmacht
and their steel-armored tanks, they were met by the only existing horse
cavalry in Europe. The Polish army stood bravely before the tanks but was no
match for them. Germany soon conquered. They chose the wrong weapons for
fighting their battle. Certainly, the weapons we utilize are not the same
that the world uses against the gospel and God's people: "the lie in place
of the truth, darkness instead of light, grief rather than joy, and death as
a substitute for life" [Kistemaker, 335]. Few with any common sense, much
less spiritual sense, would consider such substitutes for spiritual weapons.
But the area that can trip us is using weapons that feel comfortable to the
flesh, not because they are sinful of themselves, but because they are
inappropriate for the spiritual battles that we face. Tasker identifies
several of these inappropriate weapons: "human cleverness or ingenuity,
organizing ability, eloquent diatribe, powerful propaganda, or reliance on
charm or forcefulness of personality" [TNTC: 2 Corinthians, 134]....
When we are tempted by the world to adopt
the world's methods and ways to conquer its strongholds, we must vigorously
resist. "Not only do such weapons fail to make an impression on the
strongholds of Satan," wrote Philip Hughes, "but a secularized Church is a
Church which, having adopted the standards of the world, has ceased to fight
and is herself overshadowed by the powers of darkness" ...
Let's face it: the Christian's weapons
are thought powerless and silly by the world. What are they? Romans 13:12-note
warns of the creeping nature of sin that darkens the life. "Therefore let us
lay aside the deeds of darkness [through mortification; repentance] and put
on the armor of light." Holy lives must characterize us to combat deeds of
darkness. 2Cor 6:6, 7 amplifies this same truth, telling us that it is time
to take up purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, genuine love, the word of
truth, the power of God, "the weapons of righteousness for the right hand
and the left," and all "in the Holy Spirit." Here the focus of the
Christian's weaponry is upon godly attitude and behavior, gracious treatment
of others, knowledge of God's truth, and the powerful weapon of Holy Spirit
generated righteousness. These characteristics evident among many in
Britain during the first Great Awakening, and not shrewd political
maneuvering, brought down the evil British slave trade. Similarly, the same
godly living during that era shut down much of the ungodliness in the
American colonies. (Sermons
from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians) (Bolding added)
about divinely powerful weapons noting...
Paul enumerates them in Ephesians 6:13,
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, as “the whole armour of God,” namely truth,
righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer. All too
often, Christians and their churches try to do God’s work in ways that
appeal to the flesh—great organizations, Christian entertainment, human
wisdom and philosophy, beautiful facilities, glamorous advertising, and the
like. These are “carnal” weapons, not the weapons provided by the Lord, and
those who use them are in danger of eventual spiritual defeat, even if
outward appearances seem impressive.
Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
divinely powerful weapons - The story of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's
conversion to Christ in a Siberian prison camp is a remarkable testimony to
the truth of today's text. Solzhenitsyn was being examined one day by a
fellow prisoner, a Jewish physician who had been won to Christ by the
example of another prisoner. Noticing the misery in Solzhenitsyn's eyes, the
doctor told him his story, including his faith in Christ. Solzhenitsyn came
to faith through the doctor's testimony and survived to tell the world about
the power of the spirit over human evil. What an incredible example of
waging war by the weapons of the Holy Spirit! When His people call on Him,
no prison or army can lock out the Word and the power of God....Paul is
saying that although we live in human bodies, we don't wage war according to
human standards. Our weapons are those of the Spirit, so they have His power
behind them. These are the only weapons great enough to bring down
""strongholds." What is a stronghold? Moody Press author Jim Logan, in his
Reclaiming Surrendered Ground,
explains that strongholds are the fortresses Satan builds in our lives when
we give him a foothold, a piece of ground on which to build. How does Satan
gain a foothold in our hearts and minds? We give him ground when we sin and
refuse to forsake our sin or when we believe his lies. Satan is a master
builder. He doesn't need much ground on which to erect his strongholds. And
once they are in place, they give the enemy a ""headquarters"" from which to
carry on his activities. (Moody
Bible Institute's "Today in the Word")
Another Illustration of
Divinely Powerful Weapons
The famous story of David and Goliath
in 1Samuel 17 (see 1Sa 17:23, 24, 25,26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35,
36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53)
gives us a perfect illustration of fighting spiritual battles according
to the flesh (see Saul's attempt to put his armor on David 1Sa 17:38,
39) rather in reliance on our divinely powerful weapons (see David's
reliance on the Lord's enablement in 1Sa 17:37, 40, 45, 46, 47). When
faced with insurmountable odds David chose to rely on the Lord declaring to
You come to me with a sword, a spear, and
a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of
the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver
you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from
you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day
to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth
may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know
that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the
LORD's and He will give you into our hands. (1Sa 17:45, 46, 47)
Comment: As an aside note that
David as a young man defeated a physical giant, but as a grown King, he fell
prey to the inner enemy, the
- 2Sa 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We as men must continually acknowledge  we are in
a daily, moment by moment, war for our souls [1Pe 2:11-note]
as long as we dwell in this physical flesh  our enemies, the
are invisible,  the
dwells within the "citadel" [our physical flesh, our mortal bodies] and
through the vehicle of
is waiting constantly to leap upon us and defeat us with temptation that
leads to sin and death [James 1:13, 14, 15 -
What was the difference in David's victory over the giant Goliath and his
defeat by the enemy
Probably many reasons could be cited, but one for certain is his failure to
recognize the invisible enemy and to rely on the eternal truth that "the
battle is the LORD's and He will give [the enemy] into our hand" [1Sa
17:47]. We are to wage war with divinely powerful weapons [2Co 10:4], not by
our might nor by our power, but by God's Spirit [Zech 4:6, cp Gal 5:16-note].
Keep in mind that this is truth which David knew by experience! David had
taken captive the fiery missiles [Ep 6:16-note]
of fear when faced with a physical giant, but failed to take captive the
thoughts [2Co 10:5] set in motion by the image of a beautiful woman in his
defeat by the
May we learn from the man after God's own heart [Acts 13:22] and may we
never forget Paul's warning in 1Cor 10:12! Dear Father give us Thy amazing,
enabling grace to so live, for the sake of the glory of Thy mighty Name,
Jehovah of the Armies.
fortresses - Clearly fortresses is figurative language for
thoughts or thinking patterns, which are like strongholds, citadels or
castles that have high walls that guard these thoughts or thinking patterns so
that they might remain safe, secure and easily defended.
And what are these "fortresses" or
strongholds? "They are the systems, schemes, structures, and strategies that
Satan designs to frustrate and obstruct the progress of Christ's gospel,"
according to Simon Kistemaker . "They are calculated to pervert the
true gospel of divine grace," writes Tasker, "and replace it by another form
of teaching which brings the souls of men into bondage, or to destroy Paul's
apostolic status in the eyes of his converts and thus hinder the further
discharge of his commission" . Some have elaborate design; others are
simple in their obstruction to the gospel. Yet all must be engaged for the
sake of the gospel. (Sermons
from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians) (Bolding added)
comments that Paul...
is describing a battle against evil
ideas—thoughts, arguments, fortresses made of satanic lies. People are
basically victims of the ideas, trapped and imprisoned by false doctrines
and evil systems of thought. The point of the warfare is to liberate people
from those fortresses. (MacArthur,
J. The Truth War : Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception. 2007.
Thomas Nelson or as
= to take down) means literally a
taking down, and so a demolition or destruction results. Obviously Paul uses
kathairesis figuratively here to describe the tearing down of
knowledge especially that which is anti-God or counter to what is presented
by His Word of Truth.
Here are the 3 other
uses of kathairesis in Scripture...
Exodus 23:24 "You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor
do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow
them, and break their sacred pillars in pieces. -- Describes the demolition
of pagan gods and their worship.
2Corinthians 10:8 For even if I should boast somewhat further about
our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for
destroying you, I shall not be put to shame,
2Corinthians 13:10 For this reason I am writing these things while
absent, in order that when present I may not use severity, in accordance
with the authority which the Lord gave me, for building up and not for
ochuroo = to make firm) was used in secular Greek to
describe a strong military installation, a bastion, or a fortified place
fortresses speaks "of those things in which mere human confidence is
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
used only here in the NT but is found 32 times in the Septuagint many
of these speaking of literal fortresses or strongholds - Ge 39:20; 40:14;
41:14; Josh 19:29; (Jehovah is my Rock and my fortress... =) 2Sa 22:2;
2Ki. 8:12; Job 19:6; Ps. 89:40; (the way of Jehovah is a stronghold to the
blameless =) Pr 10:29; 12:11, 12; 21:22; 30:28; Is 22:10; 23:14; 24:22; 34:13;
Je 48:7, 18, 41; 49:22; Lam 2:2, 5; Da 11:39, 43; Amos 5:9; Mic 5:11; Nah
3:12, 14; Hab 1:10; Zech 9:3, 12.
The use of ochuroma
in Proverbs 21:22 somewhat parallels Paul's use...
A wise man scales the city of the mighty,
and brings down the stronghold (ochuroma) in which they trust.
Oxford English Dictionary has one entry that states a fortress is
"a person or thing not susceptible to outside influence." However, Paul is
saying that strongholds that might seem impenetrable by humanistic or
fleshly reasoning, can potentially be demolished by divinely
explaining fortresses (strongholds) writes that...
The opponents of the Gospel felt that
they were so entrenched, so protected by the fortresses that they
occupied, that they despised the ministers of Christ and derided their
efforts. In what follows, the apostle tells us what these strongholds
were. (2 Corinthians 10 Commentary)
Paul says our spiritual weapons can
destroy Satan’s fortresses. Weapons such as prayer, reading the Word,
obedience, meditation on Scripture, fasting, and service can blow up the
devil’s strongholds. And that’s what we must do. These fortresses don’t need
to be remodeled. God doesn’t tell us to capture them, change the locks, and
use them for Him. Satan’s fortresses must be torn down. (Evans,
A. T. 1998. The Battle is the Lord's : Waging Victorious Spiritual Warfare.
Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press or
as an E-book from
writes on fortresses or strongholds explaining that...
Strongholds (fortresses) in this context are wrong thoughts and
perceptions, contradicting the true knowledge of God and the nature of God.
These strongholds are expressed in arguments and every high thing that
exalts itself against the knowledge of God.
This reliance on carnal methods, and the habit of carnal thinking, is a true
stronghold. It stubbornly sets down deep roots in the heart and mind,
and colors all of our actions and thinking. It is hard to let go of the
thinking that values the things and ways of this world, but God's power
really can break down these strongholds...
Praise God, strongholds can be pulled down! Clarke recounts
with wonder one stronghold pulled down in history:
In like manner the doctrines of the reformation, mighty through God, pulled
down or demolished and brought into captivity, the whole papal system; and
instead of obedience to the pope, the pretended vicar of God upon the earth,
obedience to Christ, as the sole almighty Head of the Church, was
established, particularly in Great Britain, where it continues to prevail.
Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!
Arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the
knowledge of God: Carnal, worldly ways of thinking and doing are
arguments against the mind and methods of God. They want to debate God,
saying they have a better way. They exalt themselves against the knowledge
of God. They think of themselves as smarter, more sophisticated, more
effective, more powerful than God's ways. Carnal, worldly minds think they
know more than God does!
We must remind ourselves that Paul is speaking to carnal, worldly thinking
among Christians. He isn't talking about the world here, but the Corinthian
Christians. They were the ones with the strongholds in their minds and
hearts. They made the arguments against God's mind and methods. They held on
to every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We miss
it entirely if we think the love of manipulation, the image of success,
smooth words, the perception of power, lording over authority, and human
schemes and programs are just problems with the world. Paul was dealing with
this heart and mind in the church.
For nothing is more opposed to the spiritual wisdom of God than the wisdom
of the flesh, and nothing more opposed to His grace than man's natural
ability. (John Calvin)(Commentary
Angel of the LORD
seeking to encourage the governor
to proceed with the building of Lord's
Temple (referring to
The Second Temple
for the first Temple or
had been destroyed in 586BC) in the face of strong opposition describes one
of the greatest of our "divinely powerful" weapons, the Holy Spirit
Angel of the LORD
speaking declared) This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not
by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts (see
study of this name -
'What are you, O great mountain? (figuratively in context speaks of
obstacles/opposition - see Ezra 4:1,2, 3, 4, 5, 24) Before Zerubbabel you
will become a plain (again figurative language emphasizing that this
obstacle is a small thing for the Lord); and he will bring forth the top
stone with shouts of "Grace, grace to it! (In other words as the last stone
was set in place, the people would overflow with joyful praise for the
provision of grace heaped upon grace! When the work is done through human
might or power we can take credit for it, but when the work is done by the
continual supply of the Spirit, then it is all to the glory of God's grace.)
(Zech 4:6,7, cp 2Cor 12:9,10)
In the context of
spiritual warfare this timeless truth in Zechariah 4:6,7 should should
encourage believers of all ages to rely not upon "weapons...of the flesh"
nor upon human stratagems, but to rely solely upon the Spirit of Christ, Who
indwells and empowers believers to come against and destroy fortresses of
thought which stand against God's Word of Truth. And remember beloved that
our weaknesses are no hindrance nor are our so called strengths an aid to
God in spiritual warfare.
I like what C H
Unless the Spirit of God be upon us, we
have no might from within and no means from without to rely upon. Wait upon
the Lord, beloved, and seek strength from Him alone. There cannot come out
of you what has not been put into you. You must receive and then give out...
Oh! May God send us poverty; may God send us lack of means, and take away
our power of speech if it must be, and help us only to stammer, if we may
only thus get the blessing. Oh! I rave to be useful to souls, and all the
rest may go where it will.
(Spurgeon in a related note which the
"successful" churches in America need to hear says) "O churches! take heed
lest ye trust in yourselves; take heed lest ye say, 'We are a respectable
body,' 'We are a mighty number,' 'We are a potent people;' take heed lest ye
begin to glory in your own strength; for when that is done, 'Ichabod'
(1Sa 4:21) shall be written on your walls and your glory shall depart from
you. Remember, that He who was with us when we were but few, must be with us
now we are many, or else we must fail; and He who strengthened us when we
were but as 'little in Israel,' must be with us, now that we are like 'the
thousands of Manasseh,' or else it is all over with us and our day is past."
Phil Newton sees a parallel
description of our divinely powerful weapons in Paul's description of
the Christian's armor in Eph 6:10-20 writing that...
Evangelism, carrying the gospel to
others, is another part of the armor: "and having shod your feet with the
preparation of the gospel of peace." Here is the reality that the gospel
in its proclamation, as well as its meditation, is the Christian's
mighty weapon. Many a citadel of prideful reasoning has crashed to
the ground before the power of the gospel wielded by a single believer
proclaiming its truth in the Spirit's power. Many of our battles revolve
around issues of eternity, sin, judgment, forgiveness, and relationship with
God. The world tips its hat toward many different gods and denies any type
of eternal punishment. Yet so many people are trapped in patterns of sin;
families broken apart by sinful practices; corruption dragging others down a
spiraling hole of destruction.
How can these be delivered?
It's not going to happen by mere reasoning power. Reasoning with those
enslaved to sinful habits is like talking to a brick wall. A much greater
strength is needed to break the shackles of sin. The gospel falls
with mighty force upon the strongholds of man's sinfulness, crushing
their defenses, breaking their enslavement by the liberating power of
Christ's death and resurrection, and bringing light into the darkness of
It is interesting that Paul calls for the
gospel of peace to "shod your feet." Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out how this
emphasizes the mobility of the gospel, the ability of the believer to move
into any situation with the gospel of Christ with its mighty power to
deliver and set free the captives. It suggests "firmness, confidence, a
sense of assurance" regarding the gospel. It refers to the believer's
resoluteness to stand firmly in the faith, and to move quickly into action
with the gospel. We see this in Martin Luther as he stood before the Diet of
Worms and a whole conclave of enemies of the gospel arrayed against him. Yet
he stood upon the truth of the gospel, not giving in. "Here I stand; I can
do no other," he declared. That too must be our position. Luther was
standing upon the gospel of grace through Christ alone. His firm stand with
feet well shod with the gospel of peace, broke the stronghold of Romanism,
tore down longstanding citadels that had stood with puffed up arrogance
against the simple gospel of grace. Like Luther, we must learn to move
quickly with the gospel and stand upon it firmly [The Christian Soldier,
Next, Paul calls for the Christian to
utilize faith in Christ and gospel truth: "in addition to all, taking up the
shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming
arrows of the evil one." A shield was used to deflect the blows of an enemy
sword or spear or arrow. Paul's implication is that the adversary of the
gospel assaults us with intent to do harm. He attacks us with condemnation.
He hurls flaming arrows of guilt, doubt, and despair. He assaults us by
dredging up sins of the past or tempting us to nurse wounds from others.
These attacks come from outside the Christian and not within. They do not
originate in the believer but are flaming arrows sent to drive "us down into
the depths of despair and utter hopelessness about ourselves," as
Lloyd-Jones points out . So in our weaponry, God has given to us "the
shield of faith with which [we] will be able to quench all the flaming
arrows of the evil one." Flaming arrows of doubt, evil imaginations, ungodly
phrases or scenes, evil desires and passions, sudden fiery trials, darts of
fear and other arrows may be flying our way. So how do we use the "shield of
faith" as a defense? I quote Lloyd-Jones who states it so clearly.
Faith here means the ability to apply
quickly what we believe so as to repel everything the devil does or attempts
to do to us. Faith is not merely an intellectual belief or theory. Of
course, faith includes what you believe, but faith never stops at mere
intellectual assent and belief. Faith is always practical. Faith always
applies the truth... So I define faith in 'the shield of faith' as meaning
the quick application of what we believe as an answer to everything that the
devil hurls at us .
Keep in mind that the shield of faith is
not faith in faith or faith in yourself. It is faith that is focused upon
Jesus Christ and what He has done for us through His death and resurrection.
It focuses upon the promises and provisions that are ours in the gospel.
"And take the helmet of salvation," Paul
tells us. The helmet covers the mind. Here is where we learn to focus upon
the truths of the gospel, the verities of what Christ has done for us so
that we do not fall prey to condemnation or legalism or self-confidence. We
can often fall prey to the hopelessness of evil in the world or hopelessness
spurred on by some debilitating illness or some circumstance in our
environment. But as Christians, we live in hope as we put our confidence in
Jesus Christ. Paul reminded Timothy when assuaged by the enemy with a sense
of hopelessness and despair,
"For God has not given us a spirit of
timidity, but of power and love and discipline" (or sound mind, 2Ti 1:7).
The Apostle further explains what he
means by "the helmet of salvation" in Ephesians 6:17 with a parallel text in
1 Thessalonians 5:8.
"But since we are of the day, let us be
sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the
hope of salvation."
Hope does not disappoint, Paul told the
Romans (Ro 5:5), because hope is expectation, anticipation of what God in
Christ has already done for you and provided for you. One of the chief
things that set the Christian apart from the world is hope (Ed: In
the Bible "hope" is the absolute assurance of future good). By this I do not
mean someone that has been infused with the power of positive thinking or
who just tries to think positively about everything in the world. Hope
implies expectation: the Christian expects all of Christ's promises to be
fulfilled; he expects Christ to return; he expects Christ to reign until all
His enemies are under His feet; he expects to spend eternity with Christ. He
lives in anticipation of all God's promises being "Yea and Amen!" (2Co 1:20)
"The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," completes the
believer's armor. We have 66 books combined in one Bible that gives us a
powerful weapon to use against the enemy and his strongholds. But we must
not try to "use" the Bible for our own selfish purposes. Some twist and
manipulate Bible passages to convince others to yield to their demands or to
give them monetary gifts, etc. No, the sword of the Spirit cannot be rightly
wielded apart from the Spirit's power. The Holy Spirit honors right
interpretation of His Word alone. Lloyd-Jones warns,
"The moment you separate the Spirit and
the Word you are in trouble" .
As John Calvin commented,
"Whoever, therefore, is unarmed with the
influence of the Holy Spirit, however he may boast that he is a minister of
Christ, will nevertheless, not prove himself to be such" [Calvin's
Commentaries, XX, 322].
The Spirit breaches the strongest
citadels of the mind with the truth of God's Word. In the darkest recesses
of the heart, the Spirit brings the Light of the gospel. (Sermons
from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians) (Bolding added)
described our divinely powerful weapons this way...
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
A mighty fortress is our God, a
bulwark never failing;
Helper He amid the
flood of mortal ills prevailing
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft & power are great, & armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our
striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
Torrey's Topic -
The Power of the Holy Spirit
Is the power of God -Matthew
12:28; Luke 11:20
Christ commenced his ministry in -Luke 4:14
Christ wrought his miracles by -Matthew 12:28
Creation -Genesis 1:2; Job
26:13; Psalms 104:30
The conception of Christ -Luke 1:35
Raising Christ from the dead -1 Peter 3:18
Giving spiritual life -Ezekiel 37:11-14; Romans 8:11
Working miracles -Romans 15:19
Making the gospel efficacious -1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:5
Overcoming all difficulties -Zechariah 4:6,7
Promised by the Father -Luke 24:49
Promised by Christ -Acts 1:8
Upheld by -Psalms 51:12
Strengthened by -Ephesians 3:16
Enable to speak the truth boldly by -Micah 3:8; Acts 6:5,10; 2 Timothy 1:7,8
Helped in prayer by -Romans 8:26
Abound in hope by -Romans 15:13
Qualifies ministers -Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8
God’s word the instrument of -Ephesians 6:17
Use Your Weapons - Above all, [take] the shield of faith with which
you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. -Ephesians
While visiting a museum, I was intrigued by a small inscription describing a
class of Roman gladiators-the Retiarii-who fought using only a net and a
trident. Of all the fearsome and lethal weapons available to those warriors,
who often battled to the death, these men were given two items-a piece of
webbing and a three-pronged spear. When they entered the arena, their
survival depended on how well they used their weapons.
In the spiritual battle we face as Christians, God has chosen our weapons:
"Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the
weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down
strongholds" (2Corinthians 10:3, 4).
It's worth pausing to look at ourselves in the mirror of Ephesians 6:10-18
to see if we are properly equipped with "the whole armor of God." From the
helmet of salvation to the shoes of the gospel of peace, we are to be
protected and armed for a conflict that depends not on human strength but on
the power of God.
When we realize the nature of that warfare and the forces against us, it's
foolish to enter the fray with anything except our God-given weapons. —
David C. McCasland
Does all the world seem against you
And you're in the battle alone?
It's often when you are most helpless
That God's mighty power is known. -Anon.
Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. -Isaiah 40:31
God, and we are
captive to the
[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and
every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true]
knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive
into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), (Amplified
Bible - Lockman)
Our campaign is such that we can destroy plausible fallacies and all
lofty-mindedness which raises itself up against the knowledge that God
has given, such that we capture every intention and bring it into
obedience to Christ,
inasmuch as we tear down reasonings and every proud barrier that is
raised up against the knowledge of God and lead every thought into
subjection to Christ.
destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge
of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
ICB: And we destroy every proud thing that raises itself
against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it
give up and obey Christ.
KJV: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that
exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into
captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Moffatt: I demolish theories and any rampart thrown up to resist
the knowledge of God, I take every project prisoner to make it obey
Montgomery: For I pull down imaginations and every crag that lifts
itself against the knowledge of God. And I carry every thought away
into captivity and subjection to Christ;
NET: and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against
the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it
obey Christ. (NET
NIV: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets
itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every
thought to make it obedient to Christ.
NJB: every presumptuous notion that is set up against the
knowledge of God, and we bring every thought into captivity and
obedience to Christ;
NLT: With these weapons we break down every proud argument that
keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their
rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
NRSV: and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of
God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.
Phillips: Our battle is to bring down every deceptive
fantasy and every imposing defence that men erect against the true
knowledge of God. We even fight to capture every thought until it
acknowledges the authority of Christ. (Phillips:
TLB: These weapons can break down every proud argument against God
and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding him. With
these weapons I can capture rebels and bring them back to God and
change them into men whose hearts' desire is obedience to Christ.
Weymouth: For we overthrow arrogant 'reckonings,' and every
stronghold that towers high in defiance of the knowledge of God, and
we carry off every thought as if into slavery—into subjection to
Wuest: demolishing reasonings and every haughty mental
elevation which lifts itself up against the experiential knowledge of
God, and leading captive every thought into the obedience to the
Young's Literal: reasonings bringing down, and every high
thing lifted up against the knowledge of God, and bringing into
captivity every thought to the obedience of the Christ,
WE ARE DESTROYING
SPECULATIONS AND EVERY LOFTY THING RAISED UP AGAINST THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD:
kathairountes (PAPMPN) logismous kai pan hupsoma epairomenon (PPPNSA) kata
tes gnoseos tou theou: (Destroying - Lk 1:51; Acts
4:25,26; ; 1Co 1:19,27, 28, 29; 3:19; Speculations - Ex 5:2; 9:16,17;
2Ki 19:22,28; Job 5:13, 40:11,12; 42:6; Ps 10:4; 18:27; Is 2:11,12,17;
60:14; Ezek 17:24; Da 4:37; 5:23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30; Acts 9:4, 5,
6; Ro 1:21, 1Co 3:20, Php 3:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9; 2Th 2:4,8)
Judicious use of our spiritual
weapons—especially the one offensive weapon, “the sword of the Spirit, which
is the word of God” (Eph 6:17)—will result in opening the blinded
“minds” (note 2Co 4:4) of those who have rejected God and His
Word, and capturing them for Christ. Thus, we are not to use such carnal
weapons as bullets—or even ballots—in our battle for the human mind, but the
mighty spiritual weapons in “the whole armour of God” (Ep 6:11).
Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
emphasizes that the...
The reason so many Christians are losing
the (spiritual) battle is that they are trying to beat the devil using the
world’s weapons. They are looking to the secular world to help them with
their spiritual need. If your problem, your struggle, your need is induced
and orchestrated by your spiritual enemy, your flesh can’t win the fight.
Unless you choose a spiritual
response, all the time, effort, and resources you spend trying to fix the
problem will ultimately be a waste of time, a Band-Aid on the situation.
Paul says our methods are not of the
flesh because our enemy is not of the flesh. Some of us have been wrestling
with things day in and day out for years. Those are battles, no matter what
other name we may give to them. And if God speaks to it, it is a spiritual
battle. And if your battle is a spiritual battle, it needs a spiritual cure.
You don’t fight cancer with skin lotion. You don’t fight a brain tumor by
taking two aspirin and lying down. Those kinds of problems demand another
kind of help. So do spiritual problems...
Satan targets his attacks on our minds.
We know that because Paul talks about “speculations,” “the knowledge of
God,” and “taking every thought captive” (2Co 10:5)
Where do speculations come from? The mind. Where is knowledge rooted? In the
mind. Where do thoughts come from? The mind. It is all in the mind. So the
Christian who wants to trade his or her spiritual POW status for freedom
must learn to think differently.
When Satan attacks a Christian’s mind, he starts building what Paul calls “fortresses”
(“strongholds,” niv and kjv). The devil builds a place from which he
can operate, and he means for that fortress to be permanent. He plans to
take up residency there.
Satan makes himself at home, in other words, and he gets a grip on the mind
until people begin thinking there is no way to overcome this problem, no way
to save this marriage, no way to unify this church, no way to make a
difference in our world.
Whenever you hear a Christian saying, “No way, it can’t be done. I’ve tried
everything, and it just doesn’t work,” you’re looking at somebody who has
allowed Satan to build a fortress in the mind. However that fortress got
there, it was constructed by the Evil One.
A fortress or stronghold is a mind-set that holds you hostage. It
makes you believe that you are hopelessly locked in a situation, that you
are powerless to change. That’s when you hear people saying, “I can’t, I
can’t, I can’t.”
The only reason you say, “I can’t,” when God says, “You can” is that Satan
has made himself at home in your head. In computer terms, he has you
operating by the old information that was on the hard drive of your mind
before you became a Christian.
See, the Bible says before we were saved, we were operating by a godless way
of thinking, a thought system that was vain and empty. Satan controlled the
keyboard that entered data into our minds and put it on the screen of our
lives to be lived out.
But when we came to Jesus Christ, He gave us a new drive in our minds with
new data to control the way we live. Every believer has this new data, but
many of us are still living by the old data that will not be erased
completely until we get to heaven. Even though we are on our way to heaven,
we are still being programmed by the enemy in some areas.
That’s why Paul had to write this passage in 2 Corinthians. He wanted to
help believers who had become trapped into thinking the enemy’s way—which
all of us have done at one time or another. (Evans,
A. T. 1998. The Battle is the Lord's : Waging Victorious Spiritual Warfare.
Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press or
as an E-book from
(kathaireo from kata = down + haireo = to take for
oneself) means to cause something or someone to be lowered. To take or bring down
(Of our Lord Jesus from the Cross - Mark 15:36, 46, Lk 23:53, Acts 13:29; of
buildings - Lk12:18)
or to bring something down from one point to another.
kathaireo speaks of bringing down rulers (Lk 1:52 - overthrowing them,
taking away their power) or destroying evil nations (Acts 13:19), evil idols
(Acts 19:27) or evil thoughts (2Co 10:4).
that kathaireo has...
four main senses a. “to take down,” b. “to tear down,” c. “to destroy,” and
d. “to dethrone.” The LXX uses it in all these senses for various Hebrew
equivalents, e.g., taking down the brazen sea, tearing down houses etc.,
destroying cities, and dethroning rulers.
The participle "destroying"
which speaks of continuous activity.
There are only 9 uses
of kathaireo in Scripture, all in the NT...
Mark 15:36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it
on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, "Let us see whether Elijah will
come to take Him down."
Mark 15:46 And Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down,
wrapped Him in the linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn
out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
Luke 1:52 "He has brought down rulers from their
thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.
Luke 12:18 "And he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down
my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my
Luke 23:53 And he took it down and wrapped it in a
linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever
Acts 13:19 "And when He had destroyed seven nations in the
land of Canaan, He distributed their land as an inheritance-- all of which
took about four hundred and fifty years.
Acts 13:29 "And when they had carried out all that was written
concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him
in a tomb.
Acts 19:27 "And not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall
into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be
regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship
should even be dethroned from her magnificence."
2 Corinthians 10:4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the
flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
logizomai [word study] = process of careful study or
reasoning and arriving at a conclusion) represents the product of cognition
and thus means consideration, reasonings, reflections, calculations. The
Greeks used logismos to describe the consideration and thought which
preceded and determined one's conduct.
In the present context
logismos speaks of reasonings (sophistries) that are contrary to or hostile
to the truth of God.
used 2 times in the NT here and Romans 2:15
(For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of
the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,) 15 in that
they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience
bearing witness, and their thoughts (logismos) alternately accusing
or else defending them -- Note: here the logismos or thoughts
are personified as both a prosecution attorney and a defense attorney!
Logismos - 25x in the
- Esther 1:1; Ps. 33:10,
11; Pr 6:18; 12:5; 15:22, 26; 19:21; Eccl. 7:27, 29; 9:10; Is 66:18; Je
11:19; 18:11, 18; 29:11; 49:20, 30; 50:45; 51:29; Ezek 38:10; Da 11:24, 25;
Mic. 4:12; Nah 1:11.
Dictionary (resource) says speculation is a mental view of any thing in its
various aspects and relations; contemplation; intellectual examination. It
is a train of thoughts formed by meditation (Ex: From him Socrates
derived the principles of morality and most part of his natural
speculations.) Mental scheme; theory; views of a subject not verified by
fact or practice. This globe, which was formerly round only in speculation,
has been circumnavigated. The application of steam to navigation is no
longer a matter of mere speculation. (Ex: Speculations which
originate in guilt, must end in ruin. -- R. Hall).
Morris has this
note regarding speculations
The spiritual panoply of weapons ordained by God may not appear impressive
outwardly to a humanistically oriented society, but it is only these that
can pull down the strong holds of Satan in this world, casting down the
humanistic “reasonings” (literal meaning of “imaginations”) of the leaders
of this world’s educational and political systems. Otherwise the enemy will
“spoil” us—that is, defeat us and despoil us of the carnal weapons we have
tried to use (Col 2:8-note).
Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
speculations as used in this verse refer to suppositions,
theories, or opinions arrived at through speculating or conjecturing without
knowing the complete facts or having firm evidence, especially the firm
footing of being Scripturally sound.
notes that speculations refers...
to the calculating, reasoning, and reflecting thoughts of the mind at enmity
with God. We get our English term, logical, from this same
Greek root word. Man uses his logic against God's truth.
The gospel remains a mystery to him, even foolishness that demands his
opposition, or so he thinks. So he calculates the ways that he can dismantle
this teaching about God as sovereign Lord, man as a hopeless sinner, and
Jesus Christ as the only Savior of men. He tries to throw off any
considerations of personal sin and responsibility by blaming others for his
own sin problems. He boasts of his own entitlement and rights to every
benefit in life. He blames the government or the schools or the churches or
the workplace or even his own family for his problems. He's not to blame -
everyone else is - even God! 'And besides, this God cannot be all that He
proposes to be since everyone knows that He had nothing to do with creation.
The world came about due to a gaseous explosion billions of years ago. Man
evolved over time, as did everything else. One God had nothing to do with
it. Men have been culturally acclimated to having gods in their lives. But
it is sheer scientific ignorance to believe in an eternally existent God who
created the world and who continues to govern it and who dares to call for
my repentance, faith, and absolute allegiance!' He reasons and reflects to
his own satisfaction that this God that Christians talk about is really only
Or such speculations may run another course - a seemingly Christian one.
Here a person adopts a general framework of Christianity. He calls himself a
Christian though he sees no need for a personal Savior or need for
repentance or even the admission of his own sinfulness. He's a Christian. He
was born into a Christian family and a Christian land. He was even baptized
as a Christian; so he is a Christian regardless of what all of the 'Holy Joe
Christians' say. He does not need to believe in the Bible's inerrancy. Why,
it is just an old book that everyone knows is full of errors and myths and
mere traditions that have been handed down for centuries. He knows that
Christ died only to be an example of self-sacrifice and service to others;
no atonement was needed, no propitiatory sacrifice was necessary. How dare
someone not call him a Christian just because he does not agree with the
so-called evangelical teaching of the gospel!
How are these kinds of
speculations destroyed or torn down?
Paul tells us that we do not do it with human weapons or with the strength
of the flesh or with the power of our own mental reasonings. These are
spiritual strongholds and only spiritual means can tear them down. "Hence it
is that the Christian warfare is aimed at the casting down of reasonings,"
wrote Philip Hughes, "which are the strongholds whereby the unbelieving mind
seeks to fortify itself against the truths of human depravity and divine
grace, and at the casting down also of every proud bulwark raised high
against the knowledge of God." He goes on to explain, "This metaphor
emphasizes the defiant and mutinous nature of sin: sinful man does not wish
to know God; he wishes himself to be the self-sufficient center of his
universe" . Modern men have erected their own Tower of Babel by which
they seek to usurp God's rule over their lives [Bruce 230]. So that calls
for the right weapons of holy lives, God's truth, faith's promises, and
God-dependent prayer, wielded in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Sermons
from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians) (Bolding added)
Recall that in the
context every lofty thing was directed against the gospel,
Jamieson writing that...
Such were the high towers of Judaic self-righteousness, philosophic
speculations, and rhetorical sophistries, the "knowledge" so much prized by
many (opposed to "the knowledge of God"), which endangered a section of the
Corinthian Church. (2Corinthians 10)
Lofty thing (5313)
from hupsoo = to elevate, lift up, raise high) literally meant height, high place, something elevated.
Hupsoma ("the exaltation") was a term in Greek which referred to the
sphere above the earth. It is used of “a height,” as a mountain or anything
definitely termed a “height".
Thayer says hupsoma referred to an
elevated structure, a barrier, a rampart, or a bulwark. Chrysostom says it
meant something like "towering fortress".
The figurative meaning
of hupsoma in the present passage is that of an arrogant or proud
obstacle which pictures these thoughts as "high towers". In the Septuagint
it conveyed the idea of arrogance.
hupsoma is used here...
Figuratively of a proud adversary, a
lofty tower or fortress built up proudly by the enemy (Zodhiates,
S.. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament: AMG Publishers
There are only 3 uses
of hupsoma in Scripture...
"They are exalted a little while, then they are gone; Moreover,
they are brought low and like everything gathered up; Even like the heads of
grain they are cut off.
Romans 8:39 (note)
nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to
separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Comment: No dimensions of any kind can separate us from the love of God.)
2Corinthians 10:5 We are
destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the
knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience
TDNT says that
here in 2Cor 10:5 hupsoma is used by Paul to present
the image of a “fortress with high
towers” for the attitude which proudly resists the true knowledge of God but
which the apostle overcomes with the gospel.
Raised up (1869)
(epairo from epi = upon + airo = to lift up) means
literally to lift up, to raise or to elevate (as in 1Ti 2:8, Acts 27:40). In
the present passage, epairo is used in the passive voice and means to
offer resistance to, to be in opposition to or to rise up against -- the
knowledge of God.
James Butler describes some lofty thoughts raised up against the
knowledge of God...
The atheist Robert Ingersol in his
lectures used to demand that God prove His existence by striking Ingersol
dead in a stated five minute period at the close of an Ingersol lecture.
When the five minutes were over, Ingersol claimed that his still being alive
proved God did not exist. But God did not have to prove His existence on
Ingersol's terms, for adequate proof already existed concerning God's
existence. Ingersol simply would not believe the proof already given. The
call for more proof only reflected unbelief. Plenty of proof is already
available. "He showed himself alive after his passion [crucifixion] by many
infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3). "God commendeth [proved, exhibited,
demonstrated] his love toward us, in that, while we were sinners, Christ
died for us" (Romans 5:8). Mankind does not need more proof; he simply needs
more faith. (Studies
of the Savior)
comments on against the knowledge of God that...
True knowledge makes men humble. Where
there is exaltation of self, there knowledge of God is wanting [Bengel].
Arrange the words following thus: "Bringing every thought (that is, intent
of the mind or will) into captivity to the obedience of Christ," that is, to
obey Christ. The three steps of the apostle's spiritual warfare are: (1) It
demolishes what is opposed to Christ; (2) It leads captive; (3) It brings
into obedience to Christ (Ro 1:5; Ro 16:26). The "reasonings" ("imaginations")
are utterly "cast down." The "mental intents" ("thoughts") are taken willing
captives, and tender the voluntary obedience of faith to Christ the
Conqueror. (2Corinthians 10)
Lofty banners of human pride resisting knowledge of God, 2Cor 10:5 --
Ancient military forces raised their banners to identify themselves when in
battle. Their standards or banners were intended to intimidate their enemies
when at the front lines of war. Ancient kingdoms also built thick, high
walls and proud battlements as defense against their enemies. An ancient
citadel could intimidate an attacking army due to its seemingly impenetrable
walls. And so that tradition continues, but in this case it is the banner of
human intellect and the citadels of human knowledge raised in proud defiance
against the knowledge of God. "We are destroying... every lofty thing raised
up against the knowledge of God." Here are "the opinions or convictions of
those who set themselves and the deductions of their reasons against the
truth of God," as Charles Hodge expressed it [in Tasker 134]. Calvin points
out that "every lofty thing" "denotes any kind of glory and power in this
world." And then he encourages the Christian soldier, "There is no reason,
therefore, why a servant of Christ should dread anything, however
formidable, that may stand up in opposition to his doctrine. Let him, in
spite of it, persevere, and he will scatter to the winds every machination
of whatever sort" [Calvin's Commentaries, XX, 323].
These lofty thoughts of human pride must be cast down for the knowledge of
the gospel to be received. Otherwise, man will continually find fault with
the gospel or try to twist it and manipulate to fit into his own defiant
lifestyle. "For nothing is more opposed to the spiritual wisdom of God than
the wisdom of the flesh; nothing is more at variance with the grace of God
than man's natural ability, and so as to other things. Hence the only
foundation of Christ's kingdom is the abasement of men" [Calvin 323]. That's
why the preaching, teaching, and instruction of God's Word regarding God's
nature, the person and work of Christ, the nature of man as a sinner, the
necessity of the cross and resurrection of Christ, and the gospel demand of
repentance and faith must be set forth in the Spirit's power. All that have
come to Christ have had their defiant banners and walls of human pride torn
down by the message of the gospel. We've been humbled by the realities of
God revealed in His Word.
So, in spiritual warfare, we are dealing quite often with firmly held
beliefs that are clearly grounded upon human pride and not the truth of
God's Word. We can try our best to reason our way through such mindsets but
only through spiritual weapons, those that are "divinely powerful for the
destruction of fortresses" will we know success. Consider that to wield such
weapons we must humble ourselves to live in dependence upon the Lord. That's
why prayer is called for as we recognize our own helplessness to change
human hearts and the great power of God to conquer and subdue even the most
stubborn sinner. It is much easier to satisfy ourselves by using some of the
common manipulative techniques that many practice in the name of Christian
evangelism. We may go through the motions of evangelizing, talk someone into
praying a prayer or signing on the dotted line, and then beam with pride
that we have led someone to Jesus. All the while that person remains defiant
to humbling himself before an omnipotent God that he has offended and
trusting in the crucified and resurrected God-man, Jesus Christ, who alone
can bring him to God. (Sermons
from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians) (Bolding added)
Charles Simeon observes that
text speaks of “imaginations and of
high things which exalt themselves,” not merely against the authority,
but “even against the knowledge, of God.” We must therefore mark the
rebellion of men as it shows itself in their “thoughts” which serve
as “strong-holds” in which they are entrenched and fortified, and by
means of which they exclude God from their hearts.
They fortify themselves then,
1. By proud thoughts—
[It is scarcely credible that such an
insect as man should exalt himself with such impious presumption in the
presence of his God. If we assert the authority of God, and vindicate his
claim to their hearts, they reply, like Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord that I
should obey his voice? I know not the Lord; neither will I obey his
voice.” (Ex 5:2. See also Ps 12:4; Je 44:16)]
2. By unbelieving thoughts—
[We declare what will certainly be the
issue of the contest; and that, if they will not bow to the sceptre of his
grace, they shall be broken in pieces with a rod of iron (Ps 2:9): and
that, if they will not have Christ to reign over them, he will call forth
his executioners to slay them before him (Luke 19:27). But not one word of
this will they believe. They deny that God will ever execute his
threatenings, or that they have any thing to fear at his hands. (Ps 94:7
with Mal 2:17)]
3. By worldly thoughts—
[When we summon them to surrender
themselves up to God, they tell us, that at some more convenient season they
may listen to us; but at present they are so occupied with the cares or
pleasures of life, that they cannot find leisure for such concerns as these.
To all our pressing invitations, they either answer, more civilly, “I pray
thee have me excused,” or, more rudely, “I cannot come.” (Luke 14:18, 19,
4. By self-righteous thoughts—
[When they are driven, as it were, from
their out-posts, they raise interior fortifications with great zeal and
industry: they encompass themselves with “works of righteousness,” and there
insist upon stipulations and agreements with God. They will pay him such a
tribute; they will perform such services; they will surrender up a portion
of their hearts, provided their old friends and allies may be permitted to
continue unmolested in the remainder. The terms of the Gospel are too
humiliating for them: and rather than they will come like Ben-hadad,
trusting solely on the mercy of the king of Israel (2Ki 20:31, 32), they
will die in the breach, and be buried in the ruins of their citadel.]
5. By desponding thoughts—
[God’s entrance into the heart is not
unfrequently obstructed by these, as much as by any other thoughts whatever.
And it is surprising to see with what obstinacy they are defended. Sinners
will even bring Scripture itself to support them against God, and to justify
their rejection of his proffered mercy. They are as studious to persuade
themselves that “there is no hope” for them, as once they were to assure
themselves that there was no ground for fear. (Ezek 37:11. Jer 2:25)]
But impregnable as these “strong-holds”
appear, God can “cast them down.”
II. The means by which God overcomes
God in this warfare does not make use of
[The sword of the civil magistrate is not
wanted in it. It may indeed be properly used to suppress any evils which
injure society, and to protect the godly in the free enjoyment of religious
liberty (Ro 13:3, 4): but it must not be put forth to propagate the
truth (Zech. 4:6). Let Mahometans bathe their swords in blood, and Papists
kindle their fires, to make proselytes to their religion; but God abhors
such measures; and has declared, that “they who take the sword shall perish
with the sword.” (Mt 26:52)
Neither are his servants to call in
artifice (Stratagem; an artful or ingenious device, in abad sense, it
corresponds with trick, or fraud) to their aid. They are indeed, in some
sense, to “become all things to all men, that by all means they may save
some (1Cor. 9:22):” but they are not to make any sinful compliances: they
are to stand upon their own ground: they must “have their conversation in
the world, not with fleshly wisdom, but with simplicity and godly
sincerity;” (2Cor. 1:12) they must not attempt to exercise craft, or to
“catch men by guile;” (2Cor 12:16) but, “renouncing the hidden things of
dishonesty, they must commend themselves to every man’s conscience in the
sight of God.” (2Cor 4:2)
Nor is oratory of any use in this
warfare. St. Paul was qualified beyond most to fight with this weapon, if he
had judged it expedient: but he laid it aside as an incumbrance: he knew
that, instead of advancing the interests of his Lord, it would “render the
cross of Christ of none effect:” (1Co 1:17) and therefore he determined to
“preach not with the enticing words of man’s wisdom,” (1Co 2:4) or “in the
words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but in those only which the Holy Ghost
teacheth.” (1Co 2:13)]
That which he renders effectual, is the
simple preaching of the Gospel—
[The law is usually that which first
shakes the foundations of the citadel, and batters down the fortifications
with which it was encompassed: yea, the Gospel itself also is at first
alarming, because it proposes a remedy to persons perishing in their sins,
and consequently apprises them of their danger, which they were not before
aware of. But when it has convinced them of their guilt and misery, then it
speaks peace unto their souls; and sweetly constrains them to yield up
themselves unreservedly to God, as their reconciled God and Saviour (2Co
5:14, 15) — — —
Not that it has this power in itself: it
is in itself as weak as was the sound of rams’ horns which cast down the
walls of Jericho: (Josh. 6:20) but it is “mighty through God;” and,
when accompanied by the operations of his Spirit, it compels the stoutest
rebel to deliver up the keys of his citadel, and surrender at discretion.] (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 Efficacy of the Gospel)
[word study]) is the comprehension or intellectual grasp of something and
speaks of information acquired through experience or education. It can
describe experiential knowledge rather than a mere passing acquaintance.
Gnosis can reflect only intellectual comprehension without affecting
Gnosis was a
favorite word of the Gnostics, the most formidable enemy of the
Church of the second century. The Gnostics claimed a superior
knowledge peculiar to an intellectual caste and specifically they
claimed a superior, private knowledge over and above that of the Bible.
Certainly the Gnostics were arrogantly opposed to the knowledge of
God, and sadly modern day counterparts have subtlety infiltrated the
church of Jesus Christ.
took its name from gnosis
knowledge, since it claimed for a select few the possession of a superior
acquaintance with truth. Its tendencies were thus exclusive and
aristocratic. The Gnostics denied the direct creation of the world by God,
because God would thus be shown to be the creator of evil. God’s creative
energy was thwarted by the world of matter, which is essentially evil, in
eternal antagonism to God, and with which God could not come into direct
contact without tainting His nature. Hence creation became possible only
through a series of emanations from God, each successive emanation being
less divine, until the point was reached where contact with matter became
possible. These emanations were called aeons, spirits, or angels; and to
these worship was rendered with an affectation of humility in approaching
the lower grades of divinity, instead of venturing into the immediate
presence of the Supreme. The evil of matter was to be escaped either by
rigid abstinence from the world of sense, or by independence of it. The
system therefore tended to the opposite extremes of asceticism and
licentiousness. (From Vincent's Introduction to the letter to the
How do we discern
these "anti-God" thoughts (speculations, lofty things)? Of course the
best way is be surrendered to and controlled by the Holy Spirit and taking
the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, comparing the "invading thoughts"
with the Word of Truth. This underscores how important it is for believers
to be Word saturated, continually "marinating" their minds and hearts with
sound (healthy) doctrine found only in the Word of Truth and Life. Since
most of us have not memorized Genesis-Revelation, an excellent "abbreviated"
filter that can facilitate recognition of these "anti-God" thoughts is the
spiritual "grid" of Philippians 4:8...
Finally, brethren, whatever is true,
whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is
any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind
dwell on these things. (see
If the thought that is
seeking entry into your mind fulfills one or more of these "criteria", then
it is allowed "to pass go", but if not it is captured and taken to Christ.
Hodge has a
lengthy note explaining that lofty thing raised up against the knowledge
of God is...
a metaphor for thoughts, not people. It
is everything that the pride of human reason exalts against the knowledge of
God—that is, God’s revelation of himself in the Gospel (1Cor 3:18, 19, 20).
The conflict that Paul refers to here is that between truth and error,
between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world. When the Gospel was
first proclaimed, it found itself in conflict with all the forms of religion
and philosophy then prevailing among mankind. To the wise of this world the
Gospel appeared as foolishness. It was, however, the wisdom and power of
God. The conflict then begun has continued ever since and is now as deadly
as at any former period. Scientists and philosophers are as confident in
their conclusions and as much disposed as ever to exalt themselves or their
opinions against the knowledge of God. There is no doubt as to the ultimate
outcome of this contest. It is a contest between God and man, in which, of
course, God must prevail.
The instructive lesson that the apostle
wants to teach here is that the advocates of the Gospel must not conduct
this warfare with worldly weapons. They must not rely on their own resources
and attempt to overcome their enemies by argument. They must not become
philosophers and turn the Gospel into a philosophy. This would be to make it
a human conflict on both sides. It would be human reason against human
reason, the intellect of one person against another. Paul told the
Corinthians in his first letter that he did not appear among them as a
philosopher but as a witness; he came not with words of worldly wisdom; he
did not rely for success on his powers of argument or of persuasion, but on
the demonstration of the Spirit. The faith that he labored to secure was not
to be based on human wisdom, but on God’s power; not on arguments addressed
to the understanding, but on the testimony of God. That testimony reveals
the truth to the mind and conscience as self-evident; and therefore it
cannot be resisted.
A rationalistic Christian, a
philosophizing theologian, therefore lays aside the divine for the human,
God’s wisdom for human wisdom, the infinite and infallible for the finite
and fallible. The success of the Gospel depends on its being presented not
as our word but as God’s Word; not as something to be proved, but as
something to be believed. It was on this principle that Paul acted, and
hence he was not at all intimidated by the number, the authority, the
ability, or the learning of his opponents. He was confident that he could
cast down all the proud pretensions because he relied not on himself but on
God whose messenger he was. (2 Corinthians 10 Commentary)
AND WE ARE TAKING
EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE TO THE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST: kai aichmalotizontes
(PAPMPN) pan noema eis ten hupakoen tou Christou: (Mt 11:29,30;
Ro 7:23) (Every thought - Ge 8:21; Deut 15:9; Ps 139:2; Pr 15:26;
24:9; Is 55:7; 59:7; Je 4:14; Mt 15:19; Heb 4:12) (Obedience-Ps 18:44;
110:2,3; Ro 1:5; 16:26; Heb 5:9; 1Pe 1:2,14,15,22)
YOUR THOUGHT LIFE
The charge for God's
children to take control of their thought life permeates both testaments. We
need to hear and heed the warnings for if not we will...
Sow a thought, reap
Sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character.
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
Moses in the
context of instructions on debt cancellation, warns Israel to guard their
thought life in this area, commanding them...
(imperative), lest there is a base thought (Lxx translates it as a
hidden or "secret thought" - but not to God!) in your heart, saying, 'The
seventh year, the year of remission, is near,' and your eye is hostile
toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing (Note: Thought
precedes Action. Bad thoughts lead to bad actions!); then he may cry to the
LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you. (Deut 15:9)
Wash your heart from evil, O Jerusalem,
that you may be saved. How long will your wicked thoughts lodge
(figuratively - literally this verb pictured "spending the night". Paul says
kick these rascals out, giving them over to Christ!) within you? (Jeremiah
The writer of
Hebrews reminds us that the Word of Truth is a "scalpel" which
the Great Physician uses to probe and explore deep within our soul and
spirit, exposing, analyzing and judging our "thought life"...
For the word of God is living and active
and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of
soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge ("critique",
analyzing not just the facts but even the motives of) the thoughts
(reflections, considerations, imaginations) and intentions (in
relation to behavior speaks of our resolutions - which represent a mental
conception following consideration or deliberation) of the heart. (Heb 4:12-note)
In Romans 13,
Paul, in light of the urgency of the times (the night or darkness of this
present evil age is almost at its terminus, Ro 13:11, 12, 13), charges
the Lord Jesus Christ, and make
= with a negative as in this case, the idea is "Stop making provision") no
provision (Literally = a thought before = thoughtful planning to meet a
need, plan a way to provide) for the
in regard to its
(It is easier to resist the first evil desire than to satisfy all the ones
Paul gives three
successive commands to the believers at Thessalonica that relates to this
important topic of taking every thought captive...
(Do not quench the Spirit) But
imperative = testing is
not an isolated action, but is our settled rule and continuing practice. Be
carefully; hold fast
keep holding firmly) to that which
is good; abstain
= command to be continually
"put some space" between yourself and)
from every form (eidos
= literally that
which is seen or visible = external appearance, shape, structure. Men if you
are disciplining themselves for godliness [1Ti 4:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12-note],
ponder Job 31:1 and Ps 101:3-note!)
of evil. (1Th 5:21, 22-
Two good tests to apply to
(1). Will it make you or others
stumble? (Mark 9:42, 43, 45, 47; Lk 17:2)
(2) Will I be ashamed if Jesus should
return? (1Jn 2:28, 1Jn 3:2-note,
writes that in this section Paul...
points out a final "wall" against good.
It is the very personal matter of thoughts which come into our own
minds and hearts, the imaginings of our minds. These refer to fantasies
which we indulge in, endless day dreams of power and accomplishment, lusting
by which we attempt to satisfy inward sexual desires by feeding upon
pornography, mentally, if not openly. You will never win the battle against
sin as long as you allow yourself to indulge in these kinds of fantasies.
That is why the apostle, with all realism, faces us with the fact that we
must bring these things captive unto Christ and no longer permit them to
engage our minds and hearts. They, too, can be conquered by truth, by love,
by faith, by righteousness, by prayer and service, the weapons of our
warfare. Now once these imaginings are conquered, once we really face up to
them and no longer permit them to govern our lives, because of the truth
that God has shown us, then we must be quick and alert to deal with the
return of any of them. (Reference)
(aichmalotizo from aichme = a spear + halotós = to be
taken or conquered) was a military term which mean to take captive as a
prisoner or be led away captive (eg Lk 21:24).
Paul uses this verb
figuratively to describe the power of indwelling
take one captive or make them a prisoner in a spiritual sense (Ro 7:23-note).
This verb is used by Paul in 2Ti 3:6 (note)
to refer to subjecting or captivating "weak women" by teaching unsound
Kittel has the
following note on this word group...
1. Proper Use. The “prisoner of
war” is a miserable person in special need of divine aid (cf. Lk. 21:24).
The exile gave the term a religious reference (cf. Ps 126:1). The messenger
of Is. 61:1 proclaims freedom to captives, and Jesus accepts this as a
messianic task (Lk. 4:18). Visiting prisoners is a loving duty (Mt.
25:36ff.), and working and praying for release is enjoined (cf. Philemon 1:
22). God himself grants liberation in Acts 5:19.
2. Figurative Use. Imprisonment
may be used to denote subjection to error (2Ti 3:6-note)
or sin (Rom. 7:23), but also to Christ (Ep 4:8-note;
2Co 10:5). Paul calls his helpers “fellow-prisoners,” probably not in a
literal sense but in the sense of being similarly subject to Christ (cf.
“fellow-servants,” Col 1:7-note;
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New
4x in 4v...NAS = captivate(1), led captive(1), making...a prisoner(1),
Luke 21:24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be
led captive into all the nations (Fulfilled in 70AD with Roman invasion of
Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple); and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by
the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Most
conservative scholars feel that these "times" began in 606BC coinciding with
the first invasion of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, will
continue to and through the Great Tribulation as described in Rev 11:2-note
come to an end when the Stone of Da 2:34, 35-note
returns and crushes all the Gentile kingdoms [cp Re 19:11ff-note].
but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the
law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my
2 Corinthians 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing
raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought
captive to the obedience of Christ,
2 Timothy 3:6-note
For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women
weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,
9x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Jdg 5:12; 1Kgs 8:46; 2Kgs 24:14; 2Chr
28:8, 17; 30:9; Ps 71:1; 106:46; Lam 1:1
1Kings 8:46 "When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not
sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they
take them away captive to the land of the enemy, far
off or near
28:8 The sons of Israel carried away captive of their brethren
200,000 women, sons and daughters; and they took also a great deal of spoil
from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria.
In this verse the
figurative meaning of aichmalotizo is to subjugate, bring under
control or take control of ALL thoughts that are in our mind (cp
"fiery missiles of the evil one" Eph 6:16-note)
subjecting them to Christ. In context the thoughts we are to bring to Christ
are all "anti-God" thoughts.
calls for this activity to be our habitual practice, because we live in an
"anti-God" world, ruled by an evil Adversary, and are constantly being
bombarded with fiery missiles of "propaganda" in the form of temptations,
lies, half-truths, etc. Spiritual warriors get no furloughs in this life.
Beloved, don't let your mind go "A.W.O.L." (Absent With Out Leave)!
Character is shaped by
what the mind takes in and/or what you refuse to "toss out".
in turn from noús = mind) is literally the result of the activity of
the "nous" or mind, that part of man which thinks. Noema means
that which is thought (a thought), perceived with the mind (a mental
perception), understood, pondered, or considered. A thought is that which
one has in mind as product of an intellectual process. Thought is either the
act or operation of the mind, when attending to a particular subject or
thing, or it is the idea consequent on that operation.
Noema - 6x in
6v - 2Cor 2:11; 3:14; 4:4; 10:5; 11:3; Phil 4:7. NAS = minds(4),
schemes(1), thought(1). Note especially 2Co 2:11 where noema
describes the "schemes" of the devil. Webster says a scheme is
a project; a contrivance; a plan of something to be done; a design.
Scheme is a method devised for making or doing something or achieving an end
and stresses the calculation of the end in view which in the devil's case
describes his (or his minion's) plan which is motivated by craftiness and
self-interest. Beware! Take up the shield of faith to deflect demonic "fiery
missiles" (Ep 6:16-note).
BDAG divides noema into two main
1. That which one has in mind as product
of intellectual process = thought, design, purpose, intention.
2. The faculty of processing thought = the mind or the understanding
W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
and Other Early Christian Literature)
Paul uses noema with a negative
connotation in his description of our Adversary writing that...
"in order that no advantage be taken of
us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes (his devices or
designs = noema)." (2Corinthians 2:11)
You may be experiencing little or big troubling (accusing, doubting,
lustful, tempting, etc) thoughts at this very moment. We cannot prevent the
"fiery missiles" from being shot at our mind. The question then is...
Enabled by God's Spirit and divinely
powerful weapons, what do you choose to do when the
thoughts attack the citadel of your mind tempting you to sin against God and
rob you of your joy in and fellowship with God?
Next time trouble knocks, let thankful
praying and God centered thinking (cf Php 4:8
answer the door. In time, as this discipline becomes a habit, you will
begin to progressively experience God's presence, peace and power in a new
and exciting way.
Phil Newton... explains bringing minds in obedience to Christ...
The Christian goal must never be to simply win an argument with someone that
speaks contrary to the gospel. That's where pride can step into the picture
with even some of our finest explanations of Christian truth. We can forget
momentarily of seeing someone brought to Christ and instead, relish in
conquering a person with our superior grasp of the facts. But Paul helps us
at this point. Not only are we engaged in destroying the reasonings and
pride of man against the knowledge of God, but also "we are taking every
thought captive to the obedience of Christ." Both in our own minds or
thinking, and in those who are opponents to the gospel, we bring the very
designs and purposes of the mind into an obedient relationship to Jesus
Christ through the weapons of God. Philip Hughes helps us to see this more
Not only are strongholds and high
towers cast down, but prisoners are taken captive in the Christian warfare.
These prisoners are the thoughts-the cogitations and intentions-of man's
mind, and they are led captive, every one of them, into the obedience of
Christ. In this way the genuine Christian position is established. The
rebellion of the human heart is quelled, the truth of God prevails, and the
divine sovereignty is acknowledged. The capture, moreover, proves to be a
radical liberation, for only in unconditional surrender to God, his Creator,
Redeemer, and Judge, is man's freedom to be found .
Our goal in the battles we face is
to see minds, thought processes, and life purposes obediently submitted to
Jesus Christ as Lord. Even some of the Corinthian Christians had gotten
sidetracked in their thoughts and knowledge. Paul especially desired to see
their thoughts taken captive to the obedience of Christ. That is the battle
that we face each week as we gather to teach a Sunday School class or work
with a class of young people or preach God's Word. Some have worldviews that
have been deeply affected by the world - they are being held captive and may
not even realize it. So as we labor together, we must do so in the power of
the Holy Spirit with much dependence upon the Lord through prayer. We must
apply the Word of God with precision and expect the Spirit to work. We
cannot grow discouraged in such a battle. It does require perseverance, as
Calvin pointed out. But the fruit of this kind of warfare is sweet and
precious, as minds once held in bondage to the world's way of thinking are
now liberated to follow after Christ. (Sermons
from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians) (Bolding added)
John MacArthur explains that taking every thought captive
You must rid your mind of everything that violates God’s truth and will. By
cultivating an intimate love relationship with Christ, you will desire what
He desires; then whatever you ask, you will receive. The psalmist said,
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of
your heart” (Ps 37:4). When you delight completely in the Lord, His desires
become your own. And they will never go unfulfilled. (MacArthur,
J. Welcome to the Family : What to expect now that you're a Christian)
or as an E-book from
Oswald Chambers writes that...
The proper perspective of a servant of
God must not simply be as near to the highest as he can get, but it must be
the highest. Be careful that you vigorously maintain God’s perspective, and
remember that it must be done every day, little by little. Don’t think on a
finite level. No outside power can touch the proper perspective.
The proper perspective to maintain is that we are here for only one purpose—
to be captives marching in the procession of Christ’s triumphs. We are not
on display in God’s showcase— we are here to exhibit only one thing— the
"captivity [of our lives] to the obedience of Christ" (2Corinthians 10:5).
How small all the other perspectives are!...
Your mind is the greatest gift God has
given you and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him. You should seek to be
"bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ . . ."
Your Mind Stayed on God)...
God will not bring our "arguments . . .
and every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2Corinthians
10:5)— we have to do it. Don’t say, "Oh, Lord, I suffer from wandering
thoughts." Don’t suffer from wandering thoughts. Stop listening to the
tyranny of your individual natural life and win freedom into the spiritual
from hupó = under + akoúo = hear) (Click
study of related verb
literally means "hearing under", that is,
listening from a subordinate position in which compliance with what is said
is expected and intended.
Hupakoe - 15x in 14v - Ro 1:5;
5:19; 6:16; 15:18; 16:19, 26; 2Co 7:15; 10:5, 6; Philemon 1:21; Heb 5:8; 1Pe
1:2, 14, 22
Hupakoe speaks of the one hearing
as being under the authority of some one else. Thus, hupakoe comes to
(disposition to yield to another)
with the demands or requests of someone over us. Obedience is
submission or hearkening to a command.
Obedience is the carrying out the word and will of another person,
especially the will of God.
Illustration - A missionary
translator was endeavoring to find a word for “obedience” in the native
language. This was a virtue seldom practiced among the people into whose
language he wanted to translate the New Testament. As he returned home from
the village one day, he whistled for his dog and it came running at full
speed. An old man, seeing this, said, admiringly in the native tongue, “Your
dog is all ear.” Immediately the missionary knew he had his word for
obedience. (Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations by Paul Lee Tan)
Hupakoe conveys the picture of one
listening and following instructions. Submitting to that which is heard
involves a change of attitude, forsaking the tendency of the fallen nature
to rebel against Divine instructions and commands and seeking God's will,
not self will.
Someone has said that a
"proof" that we are of the elect is not an empty prating about how secure we
are once we believed, but rather how sensitive we are to the principle and
practice of obedience to Jesus.
To the obedience of
Christ - This literally reads “into the obedience of Christ.” The UBS
Handbook says that "In this context the idea is that people will come
to obey Christ in the way that they think... One may say something like “the
thoughts of people are like enemies that we capture. We take every one of
them prisoner and make them obey Christ.""
In keeping with the metaphor,
obedience to Christ is conceived as a place or fortress into
which the captive is led. We must renounce dependence on our own
understanding and submit implicitly, as obedient children, to the teaching
of Christ. Anyone who wants to be wise must become a fool (1Corinthians
3:18). (2 Corinthians 10 Commentary)
John MacArthur writes that...
There aren’t any fleshly techniques or
words that can win a spiritual war. We must depend on spiritual weaponry and
a spiritual battle plan. Our sufficiency in Christ includes weapons that are
divinely powerful, that can destroy the fortresses of the spirit world and
all its lofty thoughts that are raised up against the knowledge of God. What
are those weapons? They are not mystical phrases or verbal formulas. They
are not the power to scold or command demons. There’s nothing secret or
mysterious about these weapons. They are not tricky or complicated. What are
they? Ephesians 6:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 is perhaps the most familiar text
on the Christian’s spiritual weaponry...observe carefully the nature of this
arsenal. The pieces of armor are all spiritual commodities: truth,
righteousness, faith, the gospel, God’s Word, and prayer. They are not
cryptic formulas, but the simple assets every believer inherits in Christ.
How can we use those weapons? Technique is not the issue; personal character
is. Look once again at 1Timothy 1:18, 19... That sheds some light on how we
are to fight the devil. Rather than chasing demons around, trying to figure
out their names and shooing them away, Paul told Timothy to focus on keeping
the faith (sound doctrine) and a clear conscience (righteous living so the
conscience cannot accuse). Again, in 2Ti 2:3, 4, (describes) another very
crucial principle for success in the war against the powers of darkness:
disentangle yourself from worldly things, and commit yourself to doing the
will of the Commander.
Do you see what Scripture is saying? If
we do not use the truth, live the truth, believe the truth—if we do not have
clear consciences that come from holy living, and if we are not disentangled
from the world, doing the will of God—it doesn’t matter what we say to the
powers of darkness. Winning against Satan is not a question of claiming some
kind of imagined authority over him; we simply need to pursue righteousness,
avoid sin, and stand firm in the truth. Satan cannot defeat any believer who
lives that way. Conversely, weak doctrine and sinful living will make a
person vulnerable no matter what verbiage he may spit into the air thinking
Satan is listening. (MacArthur,
J. Our Sufficiency in Christ
comments that taking every thought captive to the obedience of
Christ practically means...
To battle against the carnal way of thinking and doing, our thoughts must be
brought captive and made obedient to Jesus. Whenever we begin to think in
the carnal way, we must stop our thoughts (Ed: enabled by the indwelling
Spirit, alert to falsehood, error and lies because we have a clear knowledge
of the Word of Truth), take dominion over them in Jesus, and not be
conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind
Paul's first application (Ed: in the
of these verses) is towards the carnal, worldly thinking of the Corinthian
Christians that made them despise Paul and his "weakness," doubting his
apostolic credentials. But Paul's principle has a much broader application
We are not helpless victims
or recipients of our thoughts.
We can choose to stop our thoughts, and bring every thought into captivity
to the obedience of Christ. Thoughts of lust, thoughts of anger, thoughts of
fear, thoughts of greed, bitter thoughts, evil thoughts -- they are part of
every thought that may be... must be brought into captivity to
the obedience of Christ.
Someone might object: "I don't want my thoughts to be captive to anyone. I
don't want my thoughts to be captive to Jesus. I want my thoughts to be
free." This is wrong on at least two points. First, you belong to someone no
matter what; ultimately, we either serve Jesus or Satan. Second, if you are
a Christian, you are a purchased possession of Jesus Christ. You belong to
Him. (see 1Co 6:19-note,
gives us some practical application of 2Corinthians 10:5...
As I said earlier, all the temptations we face come to us via our thoughts.
We think about lying before we do it. We think about adultery before we do
it. We think about secret sins and lustful behavior before we commit it.
We think covetous thoughts before we make that unwise purchase. We think
those angry thoughts before we say those angry words.
There is a wonderful story in a book entitled The Autobiography of Martin
Luther King, Jr., which was based on Dr. King’s speeches and writings. On
one occasion he told of growing up in Atlanta, Georgia:
I remember another experience I used to
have in Atlanta. I went to high school on the other side of town—to the
Booker T. Washington High School. I had to get the bus in what was known as
the Fourth Ward and ride over to the West Side. In those days, rigid
patterns of segregation existed on the buses, so that Negroes had to sit in
the backs of buses. Whites were seated in the front, and often if whites
didn’t get on the buses, those seats were still reserved for whites only, so
Negroes had to stand over empty seats. I would end up having to go to the
back of that bus with my body, but every time I got on that bus I left my
mind up on the front seat. And I said to myself, "One of these days, I’m
going to put my body up there where my mind is. (Clayborne Carson, ed., The
Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York: Warner Books, Inc.,
1998), p. 9.)
And he did. Our bodies and our lives always end up where our minds are. A
few months ago I delivered a Sunday morning message about the perils of
pornography, and it’s very easy to have a pornographic brain. Or it’s easy
to have a brain that thinks depressed thoughts all the time. It’s easy to
have a greedy, materialistic mind. All our temptations and sins come to us
via our brains.
So how do we take every thought and make them captive to Christ? I have
four important prescriptions.
First, you have to starve your mind. The temptations and sins inside your
brain thrive on what you feed them, and if you cut off their food supply,
they’ll begin to gradually wither up. I know a man who, when he checks into
the hotel on business trips, asks that they disconnect the television
because he doesn’t want to be tempted. A lot of the trouble you’re having
with your thought life would clear up if you’d stop feeding your sin with
Second, feed your mind. Find Bible verses to memorize and start pushing out
the wrong thoughts with the right ones. Choose some verses having to do
with the mind and with the thoughts, and commit them to memory.
Isaiah 26:3, 4 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is
stayed on Thee.”
Romans 12:1, 2, which I’ve already referred to, tells us to yield our bodies
as living sacrifices and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ
Romans 8 says, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their
minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with
the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of
sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and
There’s tremendous power in memorizing these verses and meditating on them;
and whenever tempting thoughts float through your brain, train yourself to
refuse them by quoting Scripture to them. That’s the way Jesus defeated
Satan in Matthew 4, and you can do the same. Starve the bad thoughts and
feed the good ones.
The biography of Geoffery Bull, the British missionary to Tibet who was
captured and imprisoned by Chinese Communists, tells of how his captors took
Bull’s possessions from him, threw him in a series of prisons, robbed him of
his Bible, made him suffer terribly at their hands for three years. In
addition to extreme temperatures and miserable physical conditions, coupled
with bodily abuse and near starvation, Bull was subjected to such mental and
psychological torture that he feared he would go insane.
He had no Bible now, but he had studied the Bible all his life. So he began
to systematically go over the Scriptures in his mind. He found it took him
about six months to go all the way through the Bible mentally. He started
at Genesis, and recalled each incident and story as best he could, first
concentrating on the content and then musing on certain points, seeking
light in prayer. He continued through the Old Testament, reconstructing the
books and chapters as best he could, then into the New Testament and on to
Revelation. Then he started over again. He later wrote, “The strength
received through this meditation was, I believe, a vital factor in bringing
me through, kept by the faith to the very end.” (Geoffrey T. Bull, When
Iron Gates Yield (Chicago: Moody Press, n.d.), passim.)
So many people have IPod’s now, and I want to encourage you to find biblical
lectures and sermons and download them. Instead of listening to some of the
music or talk radio that usually blares from the car radio, listen to
scripture and sermons and Bible lectures. (Check out the podcasts on our
www.donelson.org website.) Feed your mind.
Third, take control of this area of your life. I had a letter recently from
a man in Illinois who told me that after he got out of the service he spent
a great deal of his time driving tour buses for various groups. As a
result, he said, he was often on the road driving through the night.
Everyone else was asleep, and he couldn’t listen to the radio and he had no
one to talk to; and he was tempted during his long hours at the wheel to
fantasize and think lustful thoughts. But, he said, I developed a plan. It
had three parts. For the first third of my time, I forced my mind to
meditate on Scripture passages that I had read or learned or studied or
memorized. The middle portion of the time was spent in prayer and I took my
time in bringing to the Lord every item of praise and prayer that I had on
my heart. The last third of the time was in quietly singing to myself the
great hymns of the faith. I found that when I followed this pattern, the
devil never had a chance with my thoughts.
It’s important for most of us to report in, to have someone with him we can
be honest about areas in which we need accountability. I’ve spoken about
that recently, and I think most of us realize that this is often a very
We live in a twisted world of temptation; and Christians are being bombarded
from every direction. The Lord Jesus wants control of our minds. He wants
us to be pure of mind. He wants us to be renewed in our minds. He wants
every thought captive to Him. Starve, feed, take control, and report in.
Keep a healthy, positive, clean mind.
And let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, for Thou wilt
keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee. (See his excellent message
2Corinthians 10:5 Every Thought Captive)
Complete Listing of Excellent Resource -
F B Meyer writes about bringing every
thought captive - THE apostle is planning a campaign; his words glow
with the fire of military enthusiasm: but, as one has eloquently said, the
weapons of his warfare are not carnal; the standard under which he fights is
a more sacred sign than that of Caesar; the territory he invades is more
difficult of conquest than any which kept the conquerors of the world at
bay. He sees rising before him the loftly fortresses of hostile error; they
must be reduced or razed. Every mountain fastness to which the enemy can
retreat must be scaled and destroyed; and every thought of the soul, which
is hostile to the authority of the Divine Truth, must become a prisoner in
the camp of Christ.
Be sure to distinguish between the proper use of the intellect by the man
who recognizes its necessary limitations and uses it in the humble and
reverent inquiry after truth, and that undue exaltation of the intellect,
which sets itself on high as the ultimate judge of truth, or which roams
wildly, unheeding the Divine control. There are vain thoughts, sensual
thoughts, cynical and self-reliant thoughts, skeptical thoughts, proud
thoughts, wandering and wayward thoughts; but the apostle says that, however
strongly they fortify themselves against Christ, they should and must be
brought into captivity. Paul once thought he ought to do many things
contrary to Jesus, but became His humble disciple.
The intellect has its province, but faith has hers; and while the intellect
tends to exalt man, faith humbles him and leads him captive in the chains of
love. We must come with absolute obedience to Christ, that every vail may be
torn away, and whatever blurs the clear surface of the mirroring intellect
may be removed. (F. B. Meyer. Our Daily Homily)
Diadochos, a fifth-century writer
included in The Philokalia, writes that
those pursuing the spiritual way must always keep the mind free from
agitation in order that the intellect, as it discriminates among the
thoughts that pass through the mind, may store in the treasuries of its
memory those thoughts which are good and have been sent by God, while
casting out those which are evil and come from the devil
Taking Music "Captive" - Music can
clearly impact our minds and therefore must be included among those thoughts
we take "captive...to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). What should be
our "filter"? Ultimately the music should inspire a greater love for
God and appreciation for what He has done and if it fails to do so take it
"captive". When you hear a song, ask yourself if the lyrics fulfill the
criteria in Phil. 4:8. This will cause you to reject many songs because
their lyrics are untrue, dishonorable, impure, etc. Second, how does the
thoughts generated by the music affect your mind and heart? Some music for
example may stimulate the memory of an unhealthy past experience and thus
must be taken captive.
Timothy Warner - Satan is also
called "the accuser of our brothers" (Rev 12:10). He accuses us to God and
he accuses us to ourselves. God convicts us of sin by showing us how to deal
with it through the Cross. Satan accuses us to discourage us and make us
want to give up. He will sometimes put an evil thought in our minds and then
say, "And you say you are a Christian—look what you're thinking!" I've
talked with ministers and missionaries who've struggled with this. It's one
of the reasons Paul tells us to "take captive every thought to make it
obedient to Christ" (2Cor. 10:5). (Discipleship Journal)
C H Spurgeon - Faith's Checkbook -
"For the LORD your God is He that goeth with you, to fight for you against
your enemies, to save you" (Deuteronomy 20:4).
We have no enemies but the enemies of God. Our fights are not against men
but against spiritual wickednesses. We war with the devil and the blasphemy
and error and despair which he brings into the field of battle. We fight
with all the armies of sin -- impurity, drunkenness, oppression, infidelity,
and ungodliness. With these we contend earnestly, but not with sword or
spear; the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. Jehovah, our God, abhors
everything which is evil, and, therefore, He goeth with us to fight for us
in this crusade. He will save us, and He will give us grace to war a good
warfare and win the victory. We may depend upon it that if we are on God's
side God is on our side. With such an august ally the conflict is never in
the least degree doubtful. It is not that truth is mighty and must prevail
but that might lies with the Father who is almighty, with Jesus who has all
power in heaven and in earth, and with the Holy Spirit who worketh His will
among men. Soldiers of Christ, gird on your armor. Strike home in the name
of the God of holiness, and by faith grasp His salvation. Let not this day
pass without striking a blow for Jesus and holiness.
Ruth Myers - The spiritual
battlefield is within us, in our minds and hearts. Years ago, a friend
shared with us an approach that helps win inner battles, whether they come
as subtle temptations or traumatic struggles. He based his plan on 2Cor
10:3, 4, 5, where Paul speaks of "taking every thought captive to the
obedience of Christ."
You can remember this plan through an acrostic, ACT. ACT gives
you an on-the-spot way to take up your shield of faith and your mighty
sword—your main weapons when you're in the thick of the battle. Here's the
approach in a nutshell:
Acknowledge what you are thinking that gives Satan an advantage, that
fits in with his purposes; acknowledge also the feelings that come with
these thoughts. To cast something down, we must first acknowledge it's
there. Confess sin if you have welcomed and fed these thoughts. As time
permits, pour out your heart to the Lord, letting Him in on what you feel
Choose against these false, negative, or impure thoughts. And choose
not to drain your inner strength by nurturing the disruptive feelings that
accompany these thoughts. Make this a decisive choice. Shout it to yourself
if necessary: "This is not the way I'm going to think."
Think the truth, with thanksgiving. This brings your thoughts under
Christ's authority. Have in mind ahead of time a specific truth, a specific
Scripture, that will work for each battle that is common in your life. If
the false or troubling thought has played over and over in your mind, like a
broken record, you may need to create a new thought pattern by thinking the
truth over and over. Truth is a powerful sword, a light that dispels
darkness. Thanksgiving and praise help release the power of truth within you
and devastate the enemy's purposes. (Discipleship Journal)
David Terry (Discipleship Journal)
- Sinful thoughts are a cancer, and if not operated upon they will spread.
We can't allow the thoughts of sin to exist and grow. Evil thoughts are evil
works in embryo form, and they must be eradicated. But what about evil
thoughts that seem to recur regardless of what we do? What are we to do with
these sinful thoughts that repeatedly molest us?
When indwelling sin has been entrenched by repetition over a long period of
time, it takes the power of God's promises to win victory over them. Attack
a sinful thought with a contrasting promise. If you place Phil. 4:13-"I can
do everything through him who gives me strength" alongside the thought I
can't do anything right, you will defuse the power of the negative thought.
Instead of being impotent and depressed, you will barely lose stride in your
service of the King. So cover an evil thought with a promise from God, then
pray that whenever the sinful thought comes to your mind the promise will
come also, thus diffusing the power of the thought. Temptations do recur.
But good habits are as hard to break as bad habits. God's word punishes
thoughts by exposing them, starving them, and choking them with truth.
George Sanchez - As a counselor I
have had people tell me about struggles they're having in their minds with
temptations and lusts and so on, and they say, "I just can't do anything
about it." Now I could answer that I understand, it's not as bad as it
seems, and so forth. But I can't say that because the Bible says we can do
something about it. No one forces us to think these things. We think about
them because we choose to. It is our responsibility to make these thoughts
captive to the obedience of Christ. God's Spirit and his word will help us
In exercising this responsibility I must first be willing to change. Knowing
that my mind is the control center of who I am, I must guard it. When I get
up in the morning, what am I thinking? What controls my thoughts during the
day? Am I thinking the way God wants me to?
Theodore Epp - How to Mind Your Mind
View - 2 Corinthians 10:1-6
We must depend on the Spirit's power to control our thoughts. Here is what
the Scriptures have to say on that point: "The weapons of our warfare are
not carnal, but mighty through God [the indwelling Holy Spirit].... bringing
into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2Co 10:4,5).
Only the Spirit of God can make this possible in our lives, and He does it
only when we are under His complete control.
When an evil thought comes to our mind, what are we to do? We should turn it
over to the Spirit and ask Him to take charge. I have personally done this
for years. It is the only method that works for me.
I cannot help it when a thought comes, whether it is good or bad. I do not,
however, have to dwell on that thought. So the moment a wrong thought comes,
I ask the Holy Spirit to take over, for that is His responsibility.
When I give Him control, He gives me victory. I have experienced this
thousands of times.
Thoughts that come to our mind can also be the Holy Spirit's reminder to
pray. In 1Th 5:17-note we are told to pray without ceasing. Can we
possibly do that? Only by letting the Holy Spirit control us.
As He dwells in us and we continue to give Him control so that no sin
hinders His working in our hearts, He reminds us of the things He wants us
to pray about.
"And be renewed in the spirit of your mind" (Ep 4:23-note).
To The Bible - To see list of
all Theodore Epp's devotionals
C H Spurgeon prays...
Great Captain of salvation, thou canst achieve the victory. We have
compassed this Jericho these many days, but still the walls fall not. Up,
thou mighty man of war, for thou art such, and come thou to the battle and
then the battlements of sin will fall. "The Lord is a man of war: Jehovah is
his name." (Ex 15:3) Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake
as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath
cut Rahab and wounded the dragon? (Is 51:9) Because of truth and
righteousness, ride forth in thy majesty. (Ps 45:4) For peace on earth and
glory to God in the highest, come forth in the glory of thy might with the
everlasting gospel, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that
exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity
every thought to the obedience of Christ."
One successful minister opens every
service with an exercise based on Paul's words in 2Co 10:5: "Bringing
into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." He urges his
congregation to offer this prayer, in part:
"My dear Lord, I submit my thought processes to the control of Your Holy
Spirit. Free me from the monopoly of unimportant thought. Rescue me from the
blinding whirl of anxious thoughts. Slow me in pursuits that are my own;
quicken me in pursuits that are of Your choosing. Wind me down, quiet me,
warm me, speak to me, teach me. Amen." (from Encyclopedia of 15,000
D. G. Kehl addressing the
challenge of sexual purity (including in our thought life) in an
impure world says...
We do not fall in a moment; the predisposition to yield to sin has been
forming, building, germinating—but not necessarily consciously so (cp Heb
3:13). Sin has both a cumulative and a domino effect. Satan plants subtle
stimuli, often subliminal ones (cp Ep 6:16); he influences an attitude; he
wins a "minor" victory (e.g., Ep 4:26, 27)—always in preparation for the
"big" fall, the iron-bound habit.
A W Tozer (from Tozer on the
Holy Spirit) - Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual
condition may do so by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the
last hours or days. What has he thought about when free to think of what he
pleased? Toward what has his inner heart turned when it was free to turn
where it would?
When the bird of thought was let go did it fly out like the raven to settle
upon floating carcasses or did it like the dove circle and return again to
the ark of God? Such a test is easy to run, and if we are honest with
ourselves we can discover not only what we are but what we are going to
become. We'll soon be the sum of our voluntary thoughts. BAM046-047
The best way to control our thoughts is
to offer the mind to God in complete surrender. The Holy Spirit will accept
it and take control of it immediately. Then it will be relatively easy to
think on spiritual things, especially if we train our thoughts by long
periods of daily prayer. Long practice in the art of mental prayer (that is,
talking to God inwardly as we work or travel) will help to form the habit of
holy thought. BAM044, 046-047
It is possible to have our whole life so possessed by the Holy Spirit that
our very thoughts and intuitions will come to us in quietness and
simplicity, with the consciousness that they have been touched by His
thoughts and illumined by His light, that we are walking continually with
our Father, and receiving constantly the testimony that we please God. CTBC,
Randy Alcorn - What we permit to
reach our mind through our senses will greatly influence our thought life,
whether we want it to or not. Every immoral image carelessly taken in, every
thought not under control, programs the mind for immorality.
As a Christian, I must examine myself. Is my mind an open manhole into which
anything can fall? Is it a drain that indiscriminately sucks in everything?
An "open mind" can be a virtue—but a mind open to whatever a godless world
has to dump into it is not a mind under the lordship of Christ.
But isn't it inevitable that our senses will be exposed to some ungodly
input? Yes. Does this automatically produce ungodly minds? Not necessarily.
It is possible to establish a grid, a filter composed of strong biblical
convictions and Christ-centered thoughts (1Co 2:16, cp Pr 4:23, 22:5,
28:26). Such a filter can allow us to examine carefully, sort out, and deal
with ungodly input (1Th 5:21, 22-
We may not be able to prevent rust and foreign particles in our water pipes,
but by installing a filter we can still have fresh water. Likewise, a filter
of Christian purity can protect us from the immoral stimuli that bombard us.
In Martin Luther's terms, "You can't keep the birds from flying over your
head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair." (Discipleship
THOUGHT CONTROL- Philippians 4:8 (see
note) - When a preacher
visited a young couple, the wife said to him, "We're new Christians, and
although I'm saved I've lived a worldly life - swearing, partying, and all
those things. The past keeps coming back to haunt me. It's destroying my
peace of mind."
The pastor replied, "When something like
that comes to mind, analyze it and recognize its evil source. Then, with
God's help, reject it and put it out of your life. Finally, replace it by
saturating your mind with His truth."
She took his advice and learned to control her thoughts. A few months later
she testified. "I'm not being defeated by my past anymore."
What we think about is important, for our words and actions reflect our
personal musings and meditations. The Scripture says, "For out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Mt 12:34). An evil idea once fixed
in the mind may surface without warning. If we allow ungodly thoughts to
dominate our minds, our character will become warped.
When sinful ideas pop into your head, refuse to concentrate on them. Quote a
Scripture verse, sing a hymn, or pray. With God's help, you will gradually
bring "every thought
into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2Cor 10:5). - Henry G. Bosch
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Search me, O God, my heart discern;
Try me, my inmost thoughts to learn.
Help me to keep from sin, I pray,
Guarding my mind throughout this day. -Anon.
(cp Ps 139:23,24)
In public, guard your tongue;
In private, your thoughts!
Virus - Some days my computer
helps me fly like an eagle. Other times, it bogs me down like a
hippopotamus. On “eagle days” I’m grateful for my computer. But there are
those “hippo days” when I rue the day I bought one.
Recently I’ve had to contend with a virus that invaded my computer. What
bothers me most is that viruses are created maliciously. Bright people who
live with a darkness in their lives want to make other people miserable.
What’s worse, I permitted the virus to enter my machine by opening what I
thought was an innocent e-mail.
Sin resembles a computer virus. Satan wants to destroy Christians by
infecting their minds. But the apostle Paul urged the believers at Corinth
to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2Cor
Just as we let a virus into our computers, we also let darkness into our
lives when we open ourselves unthinkingly to the godless messages that
permeate our culture. We let down our guard and hardly notice the sin that
infects our minds.
But by confessing our sin, reading God’s Word, and praying, we build a
firewall, or barrier, to safeguard our minds. With the help of the Spirit,
we’ll keep our minds from becoming unwitting hosts for unwanted guests. —
Haddon W. Robinson
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Heavenly Father, I’m often careless with what I allow to enter my mind. By
Your Spirit, please help me to guard my mind today. By Your grace, keep me
from situations that wage war on my thought life. Amen.
Guard your thoughts as you would your wallet.
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