Calvary Road Baptist Church

“PERSONAL STRATEGY” Part 1

Second Corinthians 10.3-6 

No one can pick up the Word of God and read it for very long before realizing that much of Scripture is devoted to the details of a great war. In most respects, this conflict is different from any war that you or I have ever been a part of or read about. But in some essential respects, this war that the Bible deals with so much is similar to the wars that men wage against each other. Especially concerning the grand strategies employed, the war is described in the Bible as similar to the wars men have waged against each other. Or, should I say, warfare strategies in the human realm bear some resemblance to the warfare that spans the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

As something of an amateur student of warfare and the history of warfare, I would say that two great strategies are employed in warfare. I have chosen to designate the strategies by two words that might be unfamiliar to most of you: decapitation and disinformation. Decapitation refers to the removal of the head of the organization that wages war. You take the head off, you decapitate. Decapitation was achieved in the Old Testament when one warring king commanded his soldiers to fight against no one but the opposing king. He realized that when you cut the head off the fighting force, though technically capable of continuing the warfare, the war fighters will have been deprived of their decision-maker who issues the commands.

In the Vietnam War, decapitation was attempted against American ground forces when platoons and squads out on patrol deployed in such a way that the Vietcong knew where the platoon or squad leader was. It turns out they read the United States Army field manual. Kill the squad leader, and the squad was usually thrown into disarray.

The older brother of a high school buddy of mine was a sniper in the Army. Before his passing, he told me of a time when he and his partner had been dropped by a helicopter before hiking miles and miles to a position overlooking the Ho Chi Minh Trail, leading from North Vietnam, through Laos, and into South Vietnam. Reaching their hide after a long walk, they slept one night and woke up before dawn to spot a group of North Vietnamese regulars at camp in the valley below. One soldier at the distant camp in the dim light of early morning woke up, started a fire, and walked from man to man, kicking feet to wake each of them up. All but one. That one who was not kicked, but spoken to, was the officer, therefore the target, and was dispatched with a single shot. Decapitation.

Even today, it must be pointed out that the very first missiles that will be used to throw nuclear warheads, whether they are American or Chinese or North Korean or (as a result of our recent election) Iranian, will have as their first and primary target the capital city of the other side. We aim for Beijing or Pyongyang or Tehran, while they aim for Washington, D. C. Each side knowing that if you destroy the nerve center of the opposition their ability to wage war against you is greatly reduced.

Do you remember the drone strike on January 3rd of last year that killed the Iranian general, Qassim Suleimani?[1] In military parlance, the Iranian general’s decapitation removed the man responsible for more American military deaths than any other individual. It was a decapitation that did not start a war, which would have been the case if Iran’s head of state had been killed.

But there is another excellent strategy that is also used when making war. It’s called disinformation. And so important is the concept of disinformation that the Soviet KGB, which was the largest intelligence organization in the entire world before the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of Communist China’s People’s Liberation Army, purportedly devoted one-fourth of its manpower and resources to disinformation during the Cold War.

What is disinformation? It’s a word for lying to and deceiving your enemy, so that he thinks thoughts that are not true so that he thinks you are somewhere you aren’t so that he doesn’t think you are where you are, so that you are in error about who the real enemy is, etc. It is wrong information that is communicated as truth. Disinformation is used to neutralize the head of your enemy’s army when you are not capable of or willing to decapitate the head of your enemy’s army. For example: When Robert E. Lee, the commanding general of the Army of Virginia during the American Civil War, could not eliminate his opposing general, he sought to confuse him.

On one occasion General Lee successfully confused his Northern counterpart into believing that he had far more soldiers than he had by having a single company of men march past a Northern observer that one of Lee’s men had discovered. However, each time the men circled and marched past the Northern spy, they had a different banner hoisted. This caused the Northern observer to think that many companies were marching by, instead of just one company with many different banners. That disinformation employed by General Lee achieved results that were almost as good as decapitation would have been.

Confusing the opposing general is almost as good as killing the opposing general. In the most revered work on the theory of warfare ever written, the ancient Chinese general and theoretician, Sun Tzu, held that “All warfare is based on deception,” and that “His primary target is the mind of the opposing commander.” “Sun Tzu realized that an indispensable preliminary to battle was to attack the mind of the enemy.”[2]

We are involved in a war as Satan’s opponent. Therefore, it is absolute folly for us to ignore the strategy that he employs against us. Since we know that the “gifts and calling of God are without repentance,”[3] and since “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,”[4] it is impossible for Satan to decapitate the leaders that engage in battle against him by killing them, by killing us.

What must Satan resort to if decapitation is not a possibility for him? Disinformation. 

Though the word “disinformation” is not found in the Bible, it is abundantly clear that the main strategy that is employed by your enemy and mine is disinformation. With lies and half-truths, with confusion and distraction, with every kind of errant thought imaginable, Satan seeks to achieve the same effect as decapitation without actually being able to decapitate.

Allow me to give you an example to show you how Satan uses disinformation: A Los Angeles Times headline, back on March 8th, 1990. The title of the front page article read, “No Link Is Found Between Age And Pregnancy Success.” Isn’t that amazing? Thirty years after culture warriors began to strongly discourage women from having children in their late thirties and early forties because of pregnancy complications and increased likelihood of Down’s Syndrome, they decided to inform people that all those warnings of danger to moms and dangers to children were wrong.

I wonder how long it will be before medical doctors level with people about the dangers to men associated with vasectomies or the complications for a woman opting to have a tubal ligation? More dangerous than siring or having a baby, even for the so-called high-risk groups, I would bet. Why do Christians listen to unsaved physicians who were programmed with anti-God disinformation in medical school? Why do we swallow the swill propagandists dispense, especially when it is in direct contradiction to the Word of God? God says children are “an heritage of the LORD” and a “reward,” Psalm 127.3. Why do we listen to doctors and ignore the Word of God? Disinformation. I am not an anti-physician, mind you. I recently went to a doctor. But I do not surrender my mental faculties during a doctor visit.

There are four ways in which a human being can be deceived, according to the Bible.

First, a human being can be deceived by God. That’s right. Turn your back on God, sin against Him repeatedly, and the Bible indicates that He will send strong delusion, Second Thessalonians 2.11. The nation of Israel was a prime example of this. Romans 11.7 shows that God blinded the Jewish people to the truth for their sin.

Second, people can deceive themselves, according to James 1.22: 

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” 

Third, individuals can be deceived by other people. There are numerous examples of this in the Bible, as well as our personal experience. Amen? Finally, Satan has the ability to deceive. Second Corinthians 4.3-4 illustrates how Satan deludes and disinforms the person who is not saved: 

3  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 

Fourth, we know Satan disinforms lost people, so they will misunderstand the Gospel’s truth and die in their sins and go to Hell. But why does Satan disinform Christians? He deceives believers for the same reason that he deceives lost people. Though Christians cannot lose our salvation through disinformation, we can be rendered ineffective and unfruitful.

What tack does Satan employ against Christians? He uses disinformation to achieve the same ends as he would if he could use decapitation. Satan wants to cut off the head of those organizations that oppose him in spiritual conflict. But since he can’t do that, he seeks to render leaders ineffective through disinformation campaigns instead. What are these organizations I refer to? There are only two institutions in existence that pose a threat to Satan. There are only two institutions capable of waging effective spiritual warfare against the god of this world. Those institutions are the family unit and the Church of Jesus Christ congregation. Be mindful that these institutions are incapable of effectively fighting Satan without engaging in a cooperative effort.

Families cannot survive without the ministry of their local Church, and their local Church is mainly composed of family units. It is these two groups, one within the other, functioning harmoniously, that struggle in concert against the prince of the power of the air.

With that understood, how does Satan achieve the effect of decapitation without actually decapitating the head? How does Satan neutralize leadership within a Church without killing the pastors? And how does he eliminate the father's effectiveness in a family unit or the mom who is a head of household, without killing the leader? Simple. Using a disinformation campaign with complexity and thoroughness beyond human comprehension, Satan either succeeds in deceiving pastors and fathers and mothers into not leading their Churches and families, or he deceives Church members and family members into not following their pastors or their parents. Usually, it is a combination of the two.

Dad, I want to ask you a serious question. Do you provide spiritual leadership to that spiritual warfare squad that God put you in charge of called a family? Single mom? What about you? Do you lead them to Church or send them to Church? Do you lead them in Bible reading or tell them to do it? Do you pray for your family, or are you so backslidden that your family spends all their time praying for you? If you are not the functioning spiritual leader in your home, by example and exhortation, you have been effectively decapitated by succumbing to Satanic disinformation.

Somehow and in some way, Satan has fooled you into swallowing so many of his lies, so much of his disinformation, that you are convinced that you can’t, or you are convinced that you don’t need to, or you are convinced that you don’t need to provide spiritual leadership. That is blatant spiritual deception! Because God’s Word indicates that you can, you need to, and you must be the spiritual leader in your home.

Ladies, young people, I turn my attention to you. Examine your followship. If you are not following, no matter what the spiritual leadership or lack of it comes from your husband or your father, you, too, have swallowed Satanic swill.

The fact of the matter is, Christians have the victory. Our Lord Jesus Christ has defeated Satan, but Satan has waged such an effective propaganda battle to deceive us and distort the truth that many of us believe that we are losing! What needless tragedy. And do you know what is the only thing that is required of anyone involved in a conflict that is on the defensive, like so many of us are? An effective offense.

It takes no genius to understand that the very best result of a good defense is a draw. But when you employ an aggressive and potent offense, you will experience victory. And since our Lord has already procured for us the victory in this war, what’s to prevent us from going out, by the grace of God, and enjoying the spoils of victory in the battles? Only our minds.

The only thing that prevents each of us from tasting great victory in this spiritual conflict we call life is that we don’t know what to do. We have so many today who function on such a low plane that they can be likened to foot soldiers who spend all their time digging foxholes. Many Christians miss Church services, depriving themselves of the means of grace and depriving others of themselves as a means of grace. Miss church, miss prayer, miss worship, miss Bible teaching, miss exhortation from others, miss others’ exhortation and mislead children, which is not an exhaustive list.

That was precisely the problem the Corinthians faced in their Christian lives. And that is why the Apostle Paul wrote what he did in our text for today. When someone personally attacked a Corinthian Christian, the Corinthian Christian attacked that person back. That makes about as much sense as a general picking up a rifle and going after the sniper who tried to pick him off. As long as the general is trying to get the sniper himself, he isn’t generaling.

What keeps the general from foolishly picking up a rifle and heading off into the shrubs after the sniper? Hopefully, the same keeping you from lashing out at individuals who attack you, the same thing causing you to rise above the strife and contention that characterizes the lives of so many unfaithful Christians today, and the same thing that set the great Apostle Paul apart from Christians in his day. A strategy.

If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you are too important to do battle in the trenches. God would have you to engage, not in tactical warfare, but strategic warfare. Not going after small targets of opportunity that may present themselves on the horizon, like demons or stupid humans who have allowed themselves to be used as pawns by demons. No. God would have you wage effective spiritual warfare, both within your Church and within your family unit, against Satan himself and against the principalities, the powers, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world whose influence and power for evil is exceeded only by Satan.

The power to engage such an enemy is ours. The infinite power made available to us by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God is available. But we shall not get the job done unless we employ a strategy that has been sanctioned, that has been approved if you will, by God. To state the matter another way, you have to have a plan.

In Second Corinthians 10.3-6, the great Apostle Paul informed his readers that he employed a personal strategy in spiritual conflict. There we learn how to make the strategy used by the Apostle Paul a plan that you are willing to implement: 

3  For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

5  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;

6  And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. 

Knowing that Paul’s strategy for waging effective spiritual warfare was both sanctioned and blessed by God, let us examine that strategy to make it your strategy, your plan. 

THE FIRST THING WE SEE IS A DECLARATION OF PERSONAL STRATEGY 

It won’t do you any good to have a plan that you do not put to use. And you certainly aren’t going to implement a plan you have not declared. Why declare? Because Christians who wage spiritual warfare are not battling an enemy whose strength and might are comparable. We need to use no program of decapitation or deception through disinformation. One only uses such measures when your enemy’s strength is feared. No, we are so confident of the power and the might by which we fight that we openly and publicly declare what we’re going to do, and then we do it. Since the battlefield upon which the most significant percentage of this conflict takes place is our minds, in our thoughts, it’s only reasonable to discover that the declaration of Paul’s strategy, his plan, were things of the mind, as should be yours and mine, 10.3-4a: 

3  For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal .... 

The first requirement is recognizing your walk. We “walk,” which is to say, we live our lives, in the flesh. The flesh is something that more Christians than you might realize have a problem with. The Greek word translated “walk” was used by the Greek-speaking world, and by Paul, to refer to a great deal more than just going for a stroll down the sidewalk. The word was frequently used to refer to how, or how, someone lived his or her life. Such is the way Paul uses the word here. We live out our natural lives in the flesh. And with the term “flesh” referring not just to our physical bodies but to anything and everything about us which isn’t soul and spirit, we have to realize that there are some things we just have to take into account. Because we walk in the flesh, we have to understand that sinless perfection is not attainable.

So, whatever my strategy happens to be, I, like Paul, must incorporate into my strategy a plan for dealing with my imperfections, as well as a plan for combating my enemy. I need a plan to deal with me and the devil. Do you have such a plan? When you sin, do you become so despondent that you feel like giving up? Or is the occasion of personal sin a time of godly sorrow for having wronged God, but also a time in which you realize afresh and anew that though your spirit is willing, the flesh is as weak as the Lord Jesus said it is? Then, having dealt with your sin in a Scriptural manner (realization of sin, repentance of sin, and expression to God of godly sorrow for sin), you take up the battle once again. And this is what you will more likely do if you recognize your walk.

After recognizing your walk, you must realize your warfare: 

“...we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” 

There are at least four things to realize about your strategy, your plan for spiritual warfare, from what I have just read:

First, you must come to the place in your Christian life where you realize and say to yourself, “I am in a war.” Things are not rosy. Things are not peaches and cream. Life is not a bowl of cherries. Life for the Christian (and for everyone else, though they often do not realize it) is war. The sooner you recognize that vital truth, the better off you and your family will be. Men, this is war, and you are in charge! “But I don’t want to be in charge, pastor.” Tough. The Lord put you in charge if you are married.

Second, though we live in the flesh and though we are at war, we do not war after the flesh. Staggering to comprehend that my eyes, hands, mouth, physical strength and endurance, intellect, and education, none of it does me any good in this warfare. Screaming and yelling doesn’t help, either. Although we live in the flesh, the enemy against which we must do battle does not live in the flesh. Satan and his are spirit beings. And the conflict is not in this physical world but the spiritual realm of mind and thoughts. Do you know what that means? It means we are fighting a war against someone we cannot see, against someone we cannot outthink, and we are on his home court. We can beat him with great effectiveness only if we follow directions and stick to the plan, follow our strategy. But stick to the strategy we must.

Third, I find it interesting to note that I do have weapons. There are implements that I can use to inflict harm on my opponent. There are tools that I can wield with great effectiveness if only by God’s grace I will.

Finally, I see that though I have weapons that I can wield, they are not carnal. The weapons that I have to fight my enemy with are not weapons like a knife or a gun or fists. What good would a gun be against a spirit being? No, against a spirit being, such as those we contend with, we must have weapons of warfare explicitly fashioned to put the enemy to flight.

Notice, if you will, that though Paul describes some of the important features related to our warfare and the weapons of our warfare, he does not specify our weapons or who our opponents in the conflict happen to be. That he saves for another epistle. But let us turn to that other epistle now to see who our opponents are and what our weapons of spiritual combat happen to be. Ephesians 6.10-20: 

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore 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.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. 

Can we quickly run through these eleven verses and make some comments? First, in verse 10, we see the strength and the power with which we will fight the spiritual fight. It’s the Lord’s. I ask you, does Satan have a chance against the Lord’s power and might, effectively wielded? No.

In verses 11 and 12, we see that we are expected to stand against the “wiles” of the devil, reaffirming my contention that this is disinformation that we are dealing with from Satan. And we also see that Satan is not alone in this. Paul mentions this list of things in verse 12 are actually the descriptions and titles of high ranking and mighty fallen angels that serve under Satan and rank far above the garden variety demons that most Christians are distracted into being concerned about. Forget the privates, folks, and concentrate on the majors and the colonels and the generals.

Then, in verses 13-20, Paul lists and briefly describes the weapons of our warfare. But understand that though Paul likens a number of these spiritual weapons to a typical Roman soldier’s carnal weapons, such comparison was for illustration purposes. Our weapons are not made of brass and bronze or steel and aluminum alloys. Our weapons are spiritual. Want me to prove it? The fact of the matter is that Paul’s last weapon cannot be compared in any way to a carnal weapon, even for purposes of illustration. This is because there is no analogy in warfare among men to the spiritual weapon of prayer. The amazing thing about this weapon of spiritual warfare called prayer is that it is a weapon often wielded when the warrior who is in a pitched spiritual battle assumes the physical posture of surrender. This establishes that spiritual combat is warfare waged on an entirely different plane than most Christians are either familiar or comfortable with. 

Through my first main point, we have declared Paul’s strategy, our plan. We know that this side of eternity, we are flesh-bound creatures, and that is very limiting. But we intend to wage spiritual warfare using spiritual weapons. Why do we do this? We have no choice since we are already in a spiritual war. But we are out of time. Let me stop here and then, by God’s grace, finish up next time.

But as we close, I want you to recognize what Paul recognized and realize what Paul realized. Recognize your walk. You and I live in what Paul described as “the body of this death.” This side of heaven, there is absolutely nothing we can do about the effects of this body that are purely the effects of this body.

Then, realize your warfare. Dad, do you know that you are conducting warfare, that you are in a war? If you think you are not engaged in warfare, then you are just conducting warfare poorly. How about you, mom? And how about you, young person? Do you realize that this is war and that it’s a spiritual war?

That means you have to deal with it differently than anything you’ve ever encountered in your life. Not that you are without weapons as a believer, but even your weapons are of a nature that you’ve not previously ever dealt with.

The bottom line is to adopt a personal strategy for waging this war you are in so that you can win as many individual battles and skirmishes as possible, by the grace of God. Because if you don’t, dad, the casualties will be you, your wife and your daughter, and your son. The same goes for you, mom.

Don’t allow Satan to cut you off from leadership. He can’t decapitate you, but don’t you allow him to achieve the same result through disinformation. Address your discouragement. Face up to your tendency to be passive and nonfunctional, if that’s the case. Recognize Satan’s lie for what it is when the thought comes to your mind that you can’t talk good and you can’t lead.

My Bible tells me that God forms a person’s mouth, and it goes on to declare that spiritual leaders aren’t born. They are born again and then made over some time of spiritual growth and maturation.

Ladies? Young people? This is your strategy, as well. You, too, must wage effective spiritual warfare using weapons that are not carnal.

You’ve given me your time to show you that you are at war spiritually. Now I would ask that you determine to be here next time to give you the second portion of this presentation, in which I will delineate what your personal strategy is and what your plan should be.

And if you are of the opinion that you don’t need to hear what I have to say, or that it’s not particularly important?

Might that not be an indication in itself that Satan’s use of disinformation has already affected your thinking? I say this because the Bible says we are to desire the sincere milk of the Word. I say this because the Bible indicates that you are responsible to God to allow me to preach the Bible to you. I say this to you because your family deserves to have a spiritual leader for a father and husband.

Too many of our precious ladies and lovely children have to deal with the consequences of a husband and a father who has been so terribly deceived by Satan that he has wholly abrogated his responsibilities and left. Don’t make your family suffer through the same kind of thing with you home.

I fasted and did a great deal of praying in preparation for this message. And I’m trusting God to give me the hearts of men today, for God.

Men? You decide to come back next time, and it will be a victory in a skirmish that will eventually lead to you winning significant battles in the future. Moms? The same is true in your case. You gain no advantage at home.

__________

[1] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Qassem-Soleimani

[2] Sun Tzu, The Art Of War, translated by Samuel B. Griffith, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963), page 41.

[3] Romans 11.29

[4] Romans 6.23

[5] John 8.44

[6] First Peter 1.13

[7] Ephesians 6.17

[8] Acts 24.25; Galatians 5.23; 2 Peter 1.6

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