Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
2 Corinthians 10:1-17 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! 2 I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 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, 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.
7 You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. 8 For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame, 9 for I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters. 10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present.
12 For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. 13 But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ; 15 not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, 16 so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another. 17 But he who boasts is to boast in the Lord. 18 For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.
In today’s text it says: Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 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. Ephesians 6:10-18 says: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 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. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view. As believers, as followers of Christ, these verses are critical to us regarding our interaction with the world. In John 15:18-20 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” We need to recognize that the world will not love us when we stand with and for Christ. When we engage with the world, we need to recognize that it is not the people we interact with who are our enemies, but rather it is the rulers, the powers, the world forces of this darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. We need to be careful that we do not focus our attention on people, only causing more hatred, mistrust and division, but rather we need to engage the true enemy in the spirit, by the Spirit. Romans 12:21 says: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Today’s text in the NIV translation says: For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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. These strongholds; these fortresses of the enemy are not physical structures, rather they are places built in our own minds when we harbor wrong thinking; when we believe the lies of the enemy rather than the truth of God. That is why we must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. That is why the first thing that we put on in the armor of God is truth. We gird our loins, because the devil fights dirty. He will hit us with a low blow, to cause our eyes to look down rather than looking up and fixing our eyes on Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. Every part of the armor of God but one is to defend and protect us from the attacks of the enemy through lies and deceit. Our offense is that we take up: the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit. Prayer is our offense. Praying God’s word assures that we pray His will. Prayer is not all that we do, but it is the first thing that we do. We can and should do natural things to fight against evil. We can fight against evil by going to cast our ballots against those who stand with and for evil. We can fight against evil by standing with those who stand for law and order, and against those who promote lawlessness. We can fight against evil by speaking truth to those who call evil good and good evil; to those who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; those who celebrate and promote immorality over righteousness and the lie that abortion is a life choice, rather than a death choice.
We can resist and fight evil, but first and foremost we must pray. In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus says: “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” The rock that Jesus builds upon is the revelation that He is the Christ. He is the one who has “overcome the world.” (John 16:33) The gates of Hell are the very places that spiritual evil enters into our natural, physical world. Through prayer, with the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ and that on the cross, He said: “It is finished!” (John 19:30) It is already fully accomplished, Jesus has overcome. We can bind and seal the very gates of Hell. We can loose the truth of Revelation 1:8 where God says: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost… He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.