- Sermon Notes
2 Corinthians 10:1-7
As we come to chapter 10, Paul turns his attention to a problem of great concern to him. There was a group of Jewish Christians coming behind Paul, speaking to the churches, saying that the gospel of grace that Paul was teaching was not correct. They were teaching that if a person truly followed Christ they would take on the obligations of Judaism. By that they meant the keeping of Jewish laws as well as the circumcision of the flesh and all that went along with being a Jew. That isn’t the gospel of grace.
That had actually been a problem from the earliest days of the birth of the church and interestingly, there is still a small group of people today that teach the same thing.
Paul takes this on in an even stronger way in the letter to the church at Galatia, the next book we’ll be studying. “Live by the law, and you will be judged by the law,” Paul writes to them. No, we’ve been set free in Christ, all the requirements of the law have been fulfilled in Christ so that all the ordinances that were against us were nailed to the cross.
There is a spiritual battle for the hearts of the believers in this church and Paul is very concerned for them. This church means a lot to Paul. God used him to plant this church and it’s a great concern to him personally that these Judaizers were disturbing the church that he loves.
I can imagine this myself. I’ve put my heart and soul into this church for the last almost 26 years and if something happened, let’s say I hurt my back and couldn’t be here, and then someone came in and started teaching that everyone had to get circumcised before they could be saved, you can believe I would get a little upset myself. I would get back as soon as I could and set things right.
So Paul is preparing to visit them again and get the church healthy again. There was a spiritual battle for the hearts of the people in that church. It’s the nature of that spiritual battle that we want to look at today in these verses.
I. Do Not War According to the Flesh
- In these verses Paul speaks of war and weapons of warfare, but he’s speaking of spiritual warfare. We live in the flesh; we live in a physical world.
But there’s alsoa spiritual realm.
- Spiritual battles in fact have a tremendous bearing on the events happening in the physical world.
- If you look at what’s happening in the world today, there is deep spiritual warfare behind much of what’s happening.
- Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” We are seeing that in living color on the news with greater and greater frequency.
A. Be spiritually equipped
- Paul wrote that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, they are spiritual. Therefore, we need to be spiritually equipped.
- One of the best sections of scripture that describes the spiritual equipping of the Christian is Ephesians 6.
Ephesians 6:10–13 … Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
- Notice that Paul begins by admonishing us to be strong in the Lord. That’s the best place to start.
- Some like to focus on demons and darkness, but that is not the focus we see in scripture. The first and foremost of all that God hasever said is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”
- Notice that the highest and foremost is not, “Hate the enemy.” Frankly, the enemy doesn’t care if you hate him. He just wants you to hate something. If you hate anything, there’s no room for love and that suits him just fine.
- Be strong in the Lord means to havestrong faith that He is for you and that He is with you.
Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- We need to realize that life is not a playground; it’s a battleground. We needto be spiritually equipped.
B. Choose your battles wisely
- Not only are people choosing the wrong weapons, they’re in the wrong battle. If you’re in the flesh and you’re battling against your wife, your kids, your boss, or your employees, you’re in the wrong battle.
- Our battle is against principalities, powers, world forces of darkness, and against spiritual forces of wickedness in high places.
- That being said, there are also people who believe a demon is behind every problem.
Illus - Like the guy I knew who actually believed a demon was in his carburetor. I mean, come on, should you take your car to a mechanic or an exorcist?
Illus - In Africa, it’s common to blame almost every kind of problem on a demon. The problem with blaming everything on demons is that it’s too convenient; a person then doesn’t have to take responsibility.
James 1:14-16, Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
- However, nor should we make the mistake of underestimating our adversary.
1 Peter 5:8-9, Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith…
- Jesus said, “The thief has come to steal, kill and destroy…” The enemy influences many and would love nothing more than to destroy your marriage and keep you in the grip of a powerful addiction or keep you discouraged with spiritual defeat.
- If you’re battling in the flesh, you’ve already lost, you’ve already been defeated.
- What are some examples of the weapons of the flesh? Anger, badgering, yelling, nagging, backbiting, manipulation, trickery, deceit, etc.
James 1:19-20, Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
- Maybe these are the weapons you have relied on in the past, but these are of the flesh and they are empowered by the flesh.
Illus - When you’re in the midst of an intense situation and you feel your flesh rising within you, be careful, your flesh is powering up the weapons of the flesh.
- Notice that is often the flesh that rises up first. If someone cuts you off in traffic, it’s not your spirit that rises up first, “Oh bless you, my friend.”
2 Timothy 2:24-25, The Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, ableto teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition.
II. Rely on the Weapons of Righteousness
- Paul laid a foundation for this back in chapter 6 where he said that we have the privilege of working together with him.He has given us a ministry of reconciliation.
- He went on to say, “Give no cause for offense in anything so our ministry is not discredited.”
- Instead, commend yourself as a servant of God in all purity, in patience, in kindness, and the Holy Spirit, in genuine love; by the weapons of righteousness for the righthand and the left.
A. Godly weapons are divinely powerful
- God is asking us to operate our lives spiritually. Yes, we walk in the flesh, we have these old bodies of ours and they are breaking down and decaying, but the inner man is eternal. God’s glory resides there.
- We have to decide if we’re going to operate our lives in the flesh or in the spirit - and not go back and forth according to our feelings.
- The weapons of righteousness are divinely powerful. That means that God empowers them. If you will believe that, then youwill trust in faith to rely on the weapons of righteousness that are empowered by the Spirit rather than the weapons of the flesh that are empowered by the flesh.
Illus - Too many people go back and forth between the flesh and the Spirit according to how they feel at the moment. They could be listening to worship in their car, enjoying the Spirit, and then someone cuts them off. How many people get hot in the flesh and then throw all spiritual principles out the window.
- In other words, trust in the weapons of righteousness because they are divinely powerful. They are effective in accomplishing much more than the flesh ever could.
- Grace is more effective than anger. Forgiveness is more effective than bitterness. Peace is more effective than contention. It’s about faith.
Illus - A young man, well-trained in martial arts and physically powerful was riding on a bus when someone got on who was drunk, rude, and belligerent. What happened next was a surprise.
James 3:17-18, The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Colossians 6:4, Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
B. We are destroying every lofty thing
- That is, we are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.
- In Paul’s case, it was about making sure the church did not get taken in by these teachers that were trying to drag them back into legalism.
- But there are many things raised up against the knowledge of God. There’s Islam, secularism, spiritualism, and New Age thought.
- But God’s word is life and truth that stands higher.
Illus – Pastor Kaveh has led many Muslims to faith, not by attacking, but by lifting up Jesus. Many are coming to faith in Iran and throughout the Middle East.
Illus - This week I received a report from Israel that there was a gathering in Tel Aviv where more than 1000 nonbelievers had the opportunity to hear the gospel and almost 800 received Jesus as their Messiah.
Acts 17:30-31, “Having overlooked times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
C. Taking every thought captive
- Paul is speaking to the degree of victory that comes as we rely on the weapons of righteousness. Even to the point of taking every thought captive.
- It’s important that we apply this personally. A person cannot be spiritually victorious until they are victorious in their mind.
Proverbs 23:7, For as a man thinks within himself, so he is.
Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
- Many people desire to have godly character, but don’t understand that godly action must begin with godly thoughts.
- In other words, if you want to be known as a man or woman of grace, then you have to think gracious thoughts. Until you forgive someone in your heart, what’s the point of saying the words?
- Verse 7, “You are looking at things as they are outwardly.” We’re very concerned about how things appear outwardly, but God is saying to us that the key to victory is what takes place spiritually, in the heart.
- Therefore, what you think about, what you desire, the things you long for, the things you love, will define you spiritually, because the mouth speaks and the life is lived from that which fills the heart.
Illus – Pastor Davey Blackburn, whose wife was viciously killed a couple of weeks ago, said, “(My hope is) that Jesus would give me and our family a heart of forgiveness," he says. "Though everything inside of me wants to hate, be angry, and slip into despair I choose the route of forgiveness, grace and hope. If there is one thing I've learned from Amanda in the 10 years we were together, it's this: Choosing to let my emotions drive my decisions is a recipe for a hopeless and fruitless life. Today I am deciding to love, not hate. Today I am deciding to extend forgiveness, not bitterness. Today I am deciding to hope, not despair. By Jesus' power at work within us, the best is yet to come. Even when I don't see it, I believe it to betrue.”
2 Corinthians 10:1-7 NASB
1 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.