Paul said in 2 Cor. 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (ESV).
“Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, ESV).
Every day is a battle. We live in a world full of wars. Conflicts happen all the time. Political parties hate each other. Nations hate each other. Family members hate each other. Even in the church we see conflict. Even a Christian battles their flesh and dark forces. Christians struggle with sin and selfish desires. Christian marriages are often tested and battle lines are drawn.
Many people battle with negative thoughts and wrong ideas. They are confused and deceived, and as a result their life looks like a battleground. They feel more defeated than victorious. Rather than being controlled by the Holy Spirit many Christians are being rung through the mill with Satan’s lies, and since the flesh is so weak they are prone to believe the lie rather than the Truth.
When we believe or think wrong ideas they can become strongholds in our mind. Like a city surrounded by a fortress. Satan will do whatever he can to keep the Truth from tearing down the strongholds he seeks to set up in our life.
Paul says as Christians we are in a spiritual battle every day. Satan wants to destroy our soul, but God wants to sanctify our soul. However, there is good news when we look at our battles from God’s perspective and when we use the weapons He has given us.
We can choose to fight our spiritual battles by our own resources, or we can trust in God’s resources. We are often tempted to rely on self rather than Christ. Unbelievers are in the dark. Looking to Christ isn’t on their radar. The devil has blinded their mind to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel. (2 Cor. 4:4). So they don’t have the Holy Spirit as their resource.
But a believer in Jesus Christ has been saved or born again which means they know the Truth. The Truth has set them free from sin. They know that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven and He is the only Savior who can rescue them from sin and death. Christ has opened their eyes so they can see what is good and bad, right and wrong, true and false. They know they are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
Believers know that without Jesus they are lost, confused, and dead in the water. But they’ve been set free from sin; its penalty and power, yet until we go to heaven we battle the flesh and Satan’s evil forces.
Satan knows he has lost the war, but he will try to win a few battles. Christians are saved but they are not immune to being affected by temptations and wrong ideas. Satan will still throw his fiery darts at the minds of believers. (2 Cor. 11:3).
So to combat these evil forces, false ideas, and ungodly arguments God has given us the weapon of His Word. It’s the Word of God that is the sword of the Spirit that helps us take any thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Jesus is Lord so everything and everyone is under His authority!
If we trust in our weak human abilities to overcome these dark spiritual forces we will lose every time. Instead we need a plan of action. We need to ready ourselves for battle. We need to arm ourselves daily with God’s armor, with His Word, fighting on our knees in prayer, and relying on the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom.
All of these false ideas, lofty opinions, and ungodly arguments that enter our brain every day through the media, through fleshly desires, or through the world’s way of thinking are all ideas that go completely against God’s Word and His will. As Paul said, they are “raised against the knowledge of God.”
The reason people are so bound in sin and bound in destructive behaviors, the reason there is conflict and war, the reason why there is a lack of faith, a lack of hope, and a lack of holiness is because too often Christians are not trusting in the Truth of God’s Word.
They have forgotten the power of the Gospel which saved them. They have taken their eyes off of Jesus and placed them on themselves or this world or some idol they have allowed to become a stronghold in their life. They have believed the lie rather than the Truth.
The world scoffs at the cross of Jesus Christ. They think it’s foolish to trust in Jesus. The world thinks life, liberty, freedom, joy, and purpose all come from something other than Jesus Christ. But as Christians we know and believe that the ultimate hope is found in Jesus, but we are prone to think we can change the world through political power, or through advancing self-interests, or through making more money.
We are even tempted to think that doing religious things is the answer or being a good person is the answer. We’ve been saved by grace, but too often we live by legalism. Too many people think that giving money to charity earns them favor with God. Too many think that if life went their way, or if they could climb the ladder of success that they would find true happiness.
It’s obvious that the world runs after false gods and false gospels, idols, and empty ambitions, but even Christians can get caught up in thinking just like the world. But we are to be set apart from the world. Our attitude and ambition and purpose must be Christ-centered, not self-centered.
Our heart has to be cleansed and purified by faith in Jesus Christ alone! It’s His glory we must seek, not our own! It’s His righteousness we need, not our own! It’s His name we must advance, not our own! When we live like the world and live for the world rather than for Christ we are being a hypocrite. James called it being “a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8).
On good days we believe in Jesus, but when trials come we fail to trust in Him. Our minds are being divided between God and worldly thoughts, desires, and values. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 1, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (ESV).
Every day we have to turn away from ungodly ideas and activities. Instead we need to turn to God’s Word for direction. When we are not believing in, delighting in, and abiding in Jesus Christ, we will sin every time!
If loving Jesus and living for Him isn’t our source of joy and contentment we will be blown away from trials, temptations, and lofty opinions. The world will look more attractive than Jesus and our heart will run after what we think will give us ultimate satisfaction when in reality it was all a mirage.
When we do that we’ve forgotten the Gospel. We’ve chosen to believe the lie rather than the Truth. When we do that we’ve decided not to use God’s methods, but human methods. The thoughts and ideas of weak, sinful, imperfect men can never transform the hearts and minds of weak, sinful, imperfect men.
Worldly opinions and methods can never set us free from sin, self, and Satan. We need Someone divine. We need Someone who is holy, perfect, all-knowing, and unlimited in power. Guess who that might be? His name is Jesus! And Jesus is the Gospel; He is the good news that alone can set anyone free! He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!
The more you focus on Jesus rather than self, the more free you become. Sanctification is all about getting your eyes off yourself and keeping them fixed on the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ! (Heb. 12:2).
So when the next battle comes (which might be a few seconds from now), our plan of action needs to be to once again trust in Jesus Christ. Once again embrace the good news of the Gospel, which is: Jesus, the Son of God stepped out of heaven, came down to sinful men, though He never sinned.
He lived the life we should have lived, died the death we should have died, rose from the dead, gives us true and ever-lasting life, and even now prays for you and me!
If Christ lives in you, your sins are forgiven and forgotten! And you have God on your side! You can’t lose when God is on your side. You were once dead, now you’re alive in Christ!
Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3-4, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” God’s Word is sufficient to equip us to win these spiritual battles.
If we will do the hard work of studying God’s Word, memorize some scriptures, pray and depend upon the Lord, and remember the power of the Gospel our problems and struggles may not go away, BUT we will begin to grow in our faith; those false ideas will be torn down, those idols that seek to control us will be demolished, those besetting sins won’t have power over us, our mind will be renewed and transformed, our soul will experience God’s peace, and our heart will be set free like never before!
We will love God like never before. Our priorities will be right, our thinking will be right, and our worship will be right! Whomever Jesus sets free is free indeed! (John 8:36).
Ask God for a greater desire to know His Word. Ask Him to help you grow in holiness. Ask Him to give you godly wisdom and eliminate worldly wisdom. And ask Him to increase your faith as you look to Him for answers, for truth, and for hope!
May we richly and deeply grow in God’s grace, and in the power of His Word! Jesus is our conquering King! He never fails!