The Weapons of our Warfare
Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 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.”
“Spiritual strongholds begin with a thought. One thought becomes a consideration. A consideration develops into an attitude, which leads to an action. Action repeated becomes a habit, and a habit becomes ‘a power base for the enemy,’ that is, a stronghold.”Elizabeth Elliott
Our text presupposes the existence of a war, but not of the typical variety. This war has been ongoing since the Adversary first left his appointed place in heaven. In his great deception, he worked to bring the sons of Adam into a state of rebellion against their creator. A long war against God has been raging ever since. The world, the flesh, and the devil are antagonistic towards God. There is no place on the planet where one can escape the conflict. It is a battle for truth, and we are all involved in one way or the other.
Though delivered from sin’s penalty and power, the believer still wrestles with a foe: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). There is a “good fight” to “fight” (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7), but it will do no good to fight in our own strength with weapons of the flesh. We must “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11). The Word of God (i.e., truth) is essential to each element of the armor.
It is foolhardy to fight the good fight with inadequate weapons. When Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest. He was boldly prepared to take on all of Jesus’ opponents with his sword, one ear at a time (Matthew 26:51). But Peter’s weaponry was useless in the spiritual conflict that was raging on. Jesus met the conflict with devotion to prayer and complete submission to the Word. My friend has compared the attempt to fight with fleshly weapons to engaging the foe with a small plastic cocktail sword (you know, the 3-inch kind they stab olives with) and a police badge sized shield. But. as Jesus said, “the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
The battlefield is the mind, and the battle is a fight for truth. It was in departure from truth that Satan won his strategic advantage over man, and it is in truth that victory is availed. The gospel of truth works to gain a positional triumph for the believer, but that’s not the end point of the conflict. There is the need for the renewing of the mind and that is something that the truth alone can do (Romans 12:2). There are thoughts (“strongholds,” “arguments,” every lofty opinion”) contrary to Christ. Such deceptions prevail in the lives of the lost and linger on in the lives of the saved. These contrary thoughts “are raised up against the knowledge of God,” and must be taken “captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8). They are renegades which work to undermine spiritual health and well-being. How are they to be identified, marked, and destroyed?
The Word of God has “divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3). Prayer is likewise a powerful weapon. Having been graciously provisioned (2 Peter 1:3), they are in the arsenal of every Christian soldier. They are what can make us “strong and brave to face the foe.” We neglect the careful use of them to our own peril. But in taking up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” and keeping “alert with all perseverance in prayer” we have divinely powerful weapons with which to fight (1 John 2:14b). The battle for truth rages on. The “Father of lies” is hard at work spreading all kinds of falsehoods. But “the truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:21) and His holy Word (John 17:17). The urgent need of the day is for believers to take up these divinely powerful weapons in the fight for truth!
ONCE TO EVERY MAN AND NATION
Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah,
Offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side with truth is noble,
When we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
And ‘tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses
While the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue
Of the faith they had denied.
By the light of burning martyrs,
Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calvaries ever
With the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties,
Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still and onward,
Who would keep abreast of truth.
Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet ‘tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above His own.