Calvary Road Baptist Church

“PERSONAL STRATEGY” Part 2

Second Corinthians 10.3-6 

Second Corinthians 10.3-6: 

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. 

This is our second look at the passage revealing the declaration of the Apostle Paul’s strategy for waging extraordinarily useful spiritual combat against Satan and his minions. Recall that I pointed out in passing that Satan was unable to avail himself of the decapitation strategy, whereby he would destroy either the head of the household or the men who occupy positions of leadership in local Churches. Instead, we agreed that Satan’s tack against the only two institutions on earth that pose a threat to him, the Christian home and the Church of Jesus Christ congregation, is to render leadership ineffective through propaganda, through lies, through confusion, through half-truths. In short, either to convince the leader he should not lead or to convince the follower he or she should not follow. This is accomplished through disinformation.

I guess you have to be a pastor to appreciate this, but it stuns me, considering the importance of the topic before us, the number of people who did not attend Church last time, and the variety of reasons they did not attend. Don’t you see what we are up against when we are joined in a spiritual battle against Satan? It doesn’t matter one whit why a household leader did not attend, thereby being robbed of vital truth and information necessary to serve God effectively. All that matters is that there was a time in which God, the Holy Spirit, met with His people to deal with us about the spiritual conflict we must face every day of our lives, and some people chose not to show up. What a coup! That’s like all of the command officers who would be leading the Normandy invasion of Europe, hoping to bring a quick end to the Second World War, failing to show up at General Eisenhower’s final staff meeting to find out what troop ships their men should be on. Amazing. No matter what the reason for not attending that last staff meeting, those fellows still missed it. Amen? And when you missed it, you’ll miss it.

Those of you who were here addressed some of the most important issues a Christian will ever deal with. First, you walk in the flesh. Second, you are involved in spiritual warfare. And this all adds up to the inescapable certainty that we flesh-bound creatures have been appointed by God to engage in a great conflict with spirit beings in the spirit realm. We do have weapons at our disposal, to be sure, but they are not carnal weapons. They are weapons that are just as surely spiritual as the conflict in which we use the weapons is a spiritual conflict. But you will remember from our reading of the text that Paul spends no time whatsoever, at this point, discussing those weapons that he saves for another time and to another Church.[1] And the reason for passing by an opportunity to discuss spiritual weapons is because the passage before us has not to do with weapons, per se, but with what desired end is achieved with those weapons. Specifically, Paul is not seeking to show his readers how to wield the shield of faith, but what things you want to accomplish when the shield of faith is appropriately wielded. Not how to thrust and parry with the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word, but what result should be achieved when the sword of the Spirit, what effect should be achieved when the Bible, is used correctly in a spiritual battle.

This is really a summary, in advance, of this second point in my message. Last week and now form a three-part message too long to deliver in one setting. The first main point, from last week, was Paul’s declaration of personal strategy.

The second main point is 

THE DELINEATION OF PAUL’S PERSONAL STRATEGY 

Here we have Paul’s plan described, using an abundance of military terminology. This two-step strategy forms the essence of the spiritual Christian’s battle style against Satan and Satan’s forces, Second Corinthians 10.4b-5: 

4b  ... 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. 

Notice the two aspects of the Apostle’s spiritual offensive, which is what all real evangelism of the lost actually turns out to be:

First, there is the siege.

Visualize yourself on the spiritual offensive concerning your unsaved child, your sibling, one of your parents, your spouse, or a colleague. See yourself as a soldier of the cross who has taken unto yourself the whole armor of God. Picture yourself as an effective instrument of God’s power and might. As we march across the spiritual terrain, conquering in Jesus’ name, we come to a fortress of resistance. It’s a high place with rocks piled all around and an adversary who refuses to surrender. What do you do in concert with others in your family unit, with others in your Church? You lay siege to that pocket of resistance.

I am told that as the Roman army marched through the Middle Eastern countryside a generation or two before the Apostle Paul reached adulthood, there was a great deal of resistance by those who tried to stop the advance of Rome’s legions. Specifically, in the countryside around Tarsus, which was the city of Paul’s birth, resistance fighters would climb atop rocky outcroppings and pile large stones and rocks completely around the high ground that they occupied. As Paul describes his warfare as a spiritual soldier of the cross, he compares his spiritual strategy to the invincible Roman army’s strategy to their opponents in the region of his birth.

This is no accident. Paul sought to draw a parallel as close to spiritual reality as possible. And just as those pockets of resistance fighters didn’t have any chance at all against the Roman General Sulla and his legions, neither do the forces of those who stand against us have a chance against us if we properly implement weapons that are “mighty through God.”

Notice the purpose of laying a siege against a fortification: 

“... mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” 

The Romans were builders of great war machines. They had catapults. They had battering rams. They had mobile towers from which they could shoot flaming arrows and down from which they could pour boiling oil and steaming hot water. But the region of Cilicia, where Paul was from, and what Paul here alludes to, was very rough terrain that limited the use of most of their large and powerful war machines.

So the Romans resorted to two techniques. They used battering rams to weaken and crack the walls of their enemies, and they propelled grappling hooks over walls to grab hold of weakened areas to pull them down. The purpose of any siege, then, is to penetrate and destroy the defense system of the enemy. Notice how the assault of the Roman army on an enemy fortress parallels the approach Paul employed. The first phrase of verse 5 reads, 

“casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.” 

Our spiritual strategy in ministry and witnessing to the lost involves thoughts and ideas. Amen? Our goal is to tear down two things that are thrown up against us in our spiritual conflict. First, we are “casting down imaginations.” The word “casting down” refers to tearing something down the way you would pull a wall down.[2] And the word “imaginations” comes from a Greek word that has to do with “reasonings,” that has to do with “calculations,” that has to do with “logic.”[3]

Ever notice how people throw up barriers against truth? And have you seen how they play fast and loose with the facts so that the conclusions turn out the way they want them to turn out? 

Those are the kinds of “imaginations” Paul is referring to, and that’s just the unsound logic used by so many Christians. There’s a whole other set of unsound “imaginations” used by unsaved people to justify their kinds of sins. Paul indicates that we’re supposed to plow into that kind of nonsense. Just tear it down.

Then, once that is accomplished, we are to cast down 

“every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.” 

What should the knowledge of God do to a person and do for a person? What happened to Isaiah when he gained insight into the nature of Almighty God? What did Moses do when he came upon the manifestation of God at the burning bush? The knowledge of God produces humility.

But what produces something that “exalts itself against the knowledge of God”? In the presence of humility, it is God Who exalts a person. 

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”[4] 

The only thing that results in a person exalting himself is pride.

We are supposed to go after pride. We are supposed to tear it down. We are supposed to use our warfare weapons to weaken it, make large cracks in people’s pride, and then pull that pride down. But what do most parents of unsaved children do? They timidly wait for an opening. They meekly pray that God would place a witnessing opportunity in front of them on a silver platter. Never would they imagine going on the offensive to woo and win their unsaved child, sibling, parent, or colleague.

Think about this for a second. Are not the two great sins of Satan pride and untruth? And are not these the two defenses that are thrown against us as we attack our spiritual adversary? “Imaginations” refers to the reasonings and the illogical conclusions that people come to due to their sin. But at the heart of it, it’s untruth. And that which exalts itself against the knowledge of God is pride.

When you take God’s Word in your hand and use it to evangelize the lost, use it to counsel and straighten out Christians or use it to inform and instruct God’s children, the only obstacles that you will ever encounter are some forms of pride or untruth. Whether it be marital problems, whether it be the refusal to tithe, whether it be a rebellious teen or a parent who provokes his child to wrath, boiled down to its essence, it is either untruth or pride that’s at the heart of the matter ... or both.

Break through that wall composed of the brick of untruth and the mortar of pride in a person’s thinking. Both using and living God’s Word’s truths, with humility, show people that only truth sets them free and that God only resists the proud.

Once you have successfully laid siege to the fortress of the mind and heart by penetrating through the barriers of pride and untruth Satan has erected in people’s minds, next comes the seizure: 

“and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 

When the Romans captured the rebels who remained alive after they had pulled down the fortress walls (and the Romans always captured the rebels who remained alive), they generally did one thing with them. When they conquered a population, they took large numbers of soldiers and fit young men as slaves. But by the time they had destroyed fierce pockets of resistance, the captured men were generally too weak and starved or too dangerous to use as slaves. So the Romans would take them and put them in chains and lead them back to Rome so they could be paraded in a grand march of conquest. After the conquest procession in which the Roman commander displayed the spoils, the rebels and resistance fighters paraded before the Roman onlookers were then executed. The purpose behind seizing the prisoners was to execute them to no longer be a threat to Roman interests. Romans were in no way sentimental about their adversaries. If they thought you posed a threat, they killed you. It was that simple.

Would to God Christians would have the same attitude concerning dangerous thoughts and reasonings concerning pride. As the Romans took captive men who were a threat to Roman interests, so Paul wants any and every wrong thought brought to the obedience of Christ. Notice that the captive here is not the unsaved person or the sinning Christian who has done you wrong. People are never our enemies. We seek not to take unsaved people and Christians who differ from us captive. We aim to recruit them. Amen? What we seek to take captive are thoughts that are contrary to the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is radical Christianity Paul is proposing here. This is Jesus Christ controlling your thought life. Someone has to control your thought life. It might as well be the Lord Jesus Christ. And why should that happen? What’s the concern that lies back of such activity? People are set free from their burden of sin. People are enabled to hear and understand the truth, which sets men free without Satanic interference.

Your goal in spiritual warfare is to penetrate and pull down the barriers of untruth and pride in people’s thinking. To effectively use your weapons of warfare, you have to know the truth and be humble. This is because as soon as you react to someone’s pride with pride of your own, you have strengthened that which resists God, not weakened it. You are to humbly and truthfully seize that idea, that concept, that philosophy that stands against and contradicts Bible truth, and you demolish it.

Example: “I believe that a man has to do what he thinks is right.” “You know, most people think that way, but the Bible says that there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.”[5]

Example: “I’m proud of what I’ve done in my life.” “Many people are, but the Bible tells us, “what have ye that ye did not receive?”[6]

When you see what pride and untruth produces, you have just spotted a stronghold that needs to be dealt with. Your strategy, which God would have you follow Paul’s lead in doing, is to use your spiritual warfare weapons and deal with such things as Paul has described to us. And the examples I’ve given are only those in which the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is used. All of our warfare weapons will come into play in casting down these strongholds, not the least of which is prayer.

So, lay siege to the stronghold, cast it down, seize it, bring it into captivity, and then deal with it. That is Paul’s personal strategy. That is to be your personal strategy. That is to be every Christian’s personal strategy. And when we employ this personal strategy, how good we will be for each other. Not judgmental or critical, but spiritual and helpful, exhorting and instructing and encouraging each other to live right in the sight of God, putting the enemy to flight. 

Remember, human beings are never the enemy. Human beings are never the enemy. The most violent man is never your enemy. Your enemy is the devil and the demons. Our goal is to put them to flight. So we need to roll up the sleeves and take him on with humility with tenderness, with love, but with crystal clear thinking and a ruthless determination to destroy the stupidity of their thoughts.

Excuse me. Somebody comes along, and He wants to save you from your sins, so you don’t go to Hell, and you resist that? Excuse me. Do you resist that? Excuse me. Don’t you want what He offers you? Joy, peace of mind, and heart. He offers you contentment. He offers you the opportunity of having a great family life and raising children. He offers that, and you say, “No”?

Are you out of your mind? Have you lost your ever-loving mind? There is no alternative to this. Only Jesus claims to be the Savior. Buddha died, and he is still dead. Mohammed died, and he is still dead.

Take them on. Take them on. What do you have to lose by witnessing to people? They are going to Hell anyway. There is no risk. They are going to Hell.

Can we sit on our stools and do nothing, say nothing? Was that the approach the Apostle Paul used, to just sit neatly in a corner, so as not to offend anybody and just prayerfully hope that everything works out all right?

No. No. No. Everything about that man’s life was take them on. Separate the person from the wrong approach to life, from the thoughts that are destructive, from the thoughts that are illogical, from the thoughts that are irrational.

Try to get a wedge between that person and the goofy propaganda they bought into, and show them how wrong that is, how destructive it is, how deadly it is, and how Jesus Christ can save them from their sins and set them free.

You say, “We need to learn how to do that.” Yeah, that’s what Churches do. They teach people how to do that. You certainly don’t learn that on YouTube. What can you learn on YouTube? Not much, because every clown in the world can afford a camera. God’s plan is the Church.

__________

[1] Ephesians 6.10-18

[2] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 486.

[3] Ibid.

[4] 1 Peter 5.6

[5] Proverbs 14.12; 16.25

[6] 1 Corinthians 4.7

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

[email protected]