“2 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 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. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”2 Corinthians 10:2-6
This is Paul’s letter back to the church of Corinth. The context of this passage is Paul basically telling them that he doesn’t like being bold with them because they seem not to like that, but if they remembered that they were not of the world, he wouldn’t have to be as bold with them.
He urges the church members to not live by worldly standards but by heavenly standards. It’s interesting to see in this passage how worldly issues seemed to be as much as an issue then as they are today. Today’s generation has new worldly issues to be concerned about however, things like quality music, monitoring the TV and movies that we watch, what we do on the computer, they games we play, the things we read, etc. are all new things that we need to pay attention to.
Colossians 2:20 speaks strongly against becoming consumed with worldly things.
“You have died with Christ and are set free from the ruling spirits of the universe. Why, then, do you live as though you belonged to this world?”
As Christian warriors we must keep our focus towards Heaven, and not
towards earthly pleasures.
Obviously keeping our focus towards Heaven and not towards earthly pleasures is not easy task. Which is why Paul takes goes on to point out one of the many rewards of having heavenly standards. The weapons. Now I’m pretty sure he’s not talking about nuclear power weapons that could blast the heads off anyone within 1,000,000 miles. By reading the context of this passage, we can come to the conclusion that he’s talking about Spiritual weapons, more specifically, the armor of God which I think is way better then any other weapon.
Let’s review what the armor of God is by going to Ephesians 6:14-17.
“14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:14-17
What good are weapons if you don’t ever use them? Do you think a sword would do any good in battle if you left it under your bed, never practiced with it, and just let it collect dust? The easy answer is no. So do you think your Bible will do you any good if you never read it, never apply it to your life, never memorized scripture? No. What about your shield? Do you think your shield would protect you in battle if it was weak and small? Not as much as it would if it were strong and large. A key component of being a warrior is using and training with your weapons. Because what good are your weapons if you are not familiar with them, and know how to use them properly?
Going back to Ephesians 6:14-17, if you are to put on the armor of God, you can not have bulky underclothes on. A warrior must not be weighed down by such things. You need to put away the things of the world, the things that you participated in before you were a Christian. Ephesians 4:22-32 tells us the things that we have to take off, and put away when we become a Christian.
22 You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. 25Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the Devil an opportunity. 28 The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving on another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
Warriors must not be bogged down with lying, anger, foul language, and bitterness.
Warriors must have self-control and discipline. In this particular letter Paul admonishes us not to let our thoughts run around in our heads like the people of the world but to take every thought captive and make it submit to Christ. Paul also writes to the people of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “ Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
So we must keep our eyes on the prize and bring our bodies under strict control. What does that mean to us? Well to each person it means different things, to me personally it means to remember that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, so I should treat it well. That means not too much candy or sweets, eating healthy food that is beneficial to the body, dressing in a modest way, letting the words that come out of my mouth be seasoned with salt and glorifying to God, and always making time to be with God. What does it mean to you? I encourage you to write a list of what it means to bring your body under strict control. Then focus on each thing, maybe pick a thing to focus on each week. I pray that it would help each of you improve your spiritual, mental, and physical lives.
The last part of this passage is short but it also needs to be focused on. Paul tells the church of Corinth that, “ We will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. “ 2 Corinthians 10:2-6
Paul is basically say, “ Okay, so you’ve got your weapons to battle against the things of this world. You’ve brought all your thoughts to God. Your obedience is complete. However, we are all sinful. There’s a pretty good chance your going to mess up. So we’ll be here to punish your disobedience.”
At first glance, this verse sounds kind of harsh. But Paul is stepping into the fatherly role here. A good parent is one that knows how to blend love and discipline. The reason that they( and Paul) discipline is because they genuinely care about their children( or in Paul’s case, his congregation). They want to see them grow and in order to do that, times can’t be all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes there needs to be hard talks, or consequences to actions. The kids( and congregation) may not like it, but it really is for their own good. So who in your life asks you hard questions? Who are you accountable to? Because if you don’t have someone in your life who is pushing you and correcting you when you mistake you will not grow.
Warriors need to have someone who pushes, disciplines, and corrects them in order to grow into a stronger warrior.
The last requirement that I want to talk about of a warrior is that they need to be able to listen to the voice of their commander, and move when He tells them to. Jim Elliot puts it this way:
“Rest in this-it is His business to lead, command,
impel, send, call, or whatever you want to call it.
It is your business to obey, follow, move, respond,
or what have you… The sound of ‘gentle stillness’
after all the thunder and wind have passed
will be the ultimate Word from God.”
This should seem obvious to us, because what good is a warrior if he or she does not go where the Commander wants them to go. The warrior cannot always see the big picture, that is why it is important to listen to the Commander. You can read many stories in the Bible about people who did and did not listen to the Great Commander. Stories like Jonah, where it took him a long time to move where God wanted him, or Esther who responded to the gentle tugging of the Holy Spirit which lead to the saving of the Jewish people.
Keep in mind that a warrior is not always popular, but he must stand firm to the end. God didn’t create us so that we could be popular and consumed with worldly things. He created us to bring glory to Him. We are warriors, we must fight against worldly desires even if it means that we loose our popularity, or that people dislike us.
“22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mathew 10:22
I want to end by reminding you that we who are born again have overcome the world. This is our declaration, and should be always on our minds. We have overcome the world, and not by ourselves, but by believing in Jesus. We are warriors in but not of the world. The world may hate us, but it is not our job to be consumed with worldly things.
“ For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 4:4-5