“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; 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” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.
This world we live in places so much emphasis on the outward appearance but as we see in Proverbs 17:3 ‘God trieth the hearts’. Seemingly an element of the Corinthian church was being influenced by a wave of false teachers whose primary aim was to attack the credibility of Paul’s apostleship and put the people back under the law. They accused him of being timid when he was in there presence but bold when he was far away. Furthermore because he was not one of the original 12 Apostles they used this fact to further question his authority. According to tradition (which we need to be discerning about) Paul was unremarkable in appearance. He was short in stature, bald, bull legged, probably walked with a limp and had a high pitched squeaky voice, hardly a basket of fruit! Verse 10 of this chapter lends some support to this unflattering description. Doubtless his accusers jumped on his unorthodox appearance to further denigrate his character.
But God is not interested in the outward appearance, what’s more, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Cor 1:27).
And so we get to verse 5 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds”. Paul had enough light to know that eloquence of speech was not the way to tackle spiritual assaults – carnal weapons are useless in a spiritual battle; “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). As Christians we are in engaged in spiritual warfare, our weaponry for this battle is found not in our own strengths but in the power of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 6:10-18 details the armoury that we need to put on every day.
What are these ‘strongholds’, these ‘vain imaginations’ we are to cast down? They are the many idols of this God-rejecting world (and sadly carnal Christians), philosophical fortresses that have been brazenly set up against His authority. However a cursory glance at these so-called ‘strongholds’ exposes them for what they truly are – an emperor without clothes! Evolution is a prime example of such a phony stronghold. The world clings to this fairy-tale in the hope that, if they believe it hard enough, it will make God go away. People like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking are placed on pedestals as bastions of knowledge and insight. The Bible has another name for them – fools. Sadly a lot of people today who profess to be Christians are afraid to state such a plain truth. Let us not be among their number, either we believe God’s Word or we don’t; “let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).
Relativism (the notion that there is no such thing as absolute truth) is another popular stronghold of this post-modern world. “All truth is relative” boasts the secular humanist. Let us pull down that stronghold in just two seconds. If all truth is relative then the statement “All truth is relative” would be absolutely true. If it is absolutely true, then not all things are relative and the statement “All truth is relative” is false. So much for relativism! Colossians 2:8-9 admonishes us; “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”.
“…and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”. Brothers and sisters, it is so important for each of us to adhere to this call if we are to live holy lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. If we sin now it is because we choose to do so. If we are struggling with something in our life then we need to bring it in captivity to the foot of the Cross. David Guzik gives this insight; “Paul’s first application 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 and must be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.“
We are not slaves to our thoughts, we must become like Paul, a “doulos”, bondslaves to our perfect Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). How we think is up to us. Contrary to God’s clear instructions, Israel did not destroy the High Places, and subsequently sunk back into idolatry. Even Solomon, the wisest of all men failed in this regard. May it be our heart’s desire to destroy those High Places in our lives (in our minds and hearts) so that our thoughts to be holy and pleasing to Him.