Part 8 of 10
Abiding in the Truth
Paul writes; "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of STRONGHOLDS" (2 Corinthians 10:4)
The “strongholds” to be pulled down are the repeated sinful tendencies that we as Christians might still practice. These are the “works of the flesh” that may continue in the life of perhaps an untrusting and unyielded Christians. These sinful acts and thoughts are according to “the lusts (strong desires) of the flesh.” These acts all begin as the thoughts and imaginations or fantasies of the “carnal (fleshly) mind” (Rom 8:7, below).
2 Corinthians 10:5 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;
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Romans 8:7 Because the CARNAL (FLESHLY) MIND (phroneo, mindset) IS ENMITY (in opposition to) AGAINST GOD: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Satan works repeatedly to fan the flames of these “strongholds.” But as believers we now know that his power and hold has been broken and that we are “freed” (Rom 6:7). Paul tell us how the power of the Sin-nature was “made of no effect” (Rom 6:6) in believers. Paul writes; “Know ye not” that you “have been crucified with Christ” (Rom 6:3, 6, Gal 2:20). Being dead with Christ, as to our “old man,” the Devil now has no compelling power over believers; all he can do is “tempt” us with his “fiery darts” as thoughts to tempt us. Now we can and must extinguish the “fiery darts” the enemy of our soul may shoot into our minds, by using the elements of “the armour of God” discussed in Part 7 of this series.
The word “imaginations” here above could be translated thoughts or reasonings. The “carnal (fleshly) mind” that is “at enmity with God” is full of moral or carnal reasonings of the “mind of the flesh.” Men often rationalize to justify their sinning against God’s providences and purposes and against Christ and His plan of salvation.
These thoughts are of “the natural man (who) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14). The “natural man” is the Greek, “psych-ikos,” meaning “the man of the soul”)” This is not the unsaved person but rather the Christian who lives by his soul’s natural mind, which is of “the flesh.” The “natural” is the Christian who lives independently of Christ in Him and so he is in opposition to the living Word of Christ speaking within his conscience. The “vain imaginations” of the fleshly mind must be set aside as trash, in favor of the truth being spoken by the “Spirit of life in Christ” within our conscience.
Our natural reasonings, though they may be seemingly logical and believable by the world’s terms, are little more than imaginings that have been directed to us from the “lying one” to falsify the truth. Such reasonings bear no fruit or benefit. All such reasonings are of the deception of the lying one. Man’s reasonings are foolishness to God (Jeremiah 8:9, Romans 1:22 , 1 Corinthians 1:20). Jeremiah 8:9 The WISE MEN are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have REJECTED THE WORD OF THE LORD; and what wisdom is in them? 1 Corinthians 1:20 …GOD MADE FOOLISH THE WISDOM OF THIS WORLD.
Paul says the lost “are without excuse” because everyone knows there is a God. Romans 1:20-22 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are CLEARLY SEEN, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that THEY (the lost) ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE: 21 Because that, WHEN THEY KNEW GOD, THEY GLORIFIED HIM NOT AS GOD, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, But “the lost” gave no expression or reverence to “glorified him,” refusing to acknowledge Him as God. Paul says they are “vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” So we must “cast down” all false reasonings.
The indwelling “Spirit of Christ” is the “one Spirit” (Eph 4:4) called the “Spirit of truth.” Our trust and our walk must be according to the “truth” of God’s living Word – Christ in us. Paul’s “mystery” gospel “is Christ in you the hope of Glory.” Our “hope of glory” is our confident expectation of the indwelling Christ to bring us “to glory.” “Glory” is the full expression of His life in us both now and for eternity in heaven. Living by trusting Christ within us as our new life enables us to “cast down” such vain “imaginations.” Only Christ within us as the new us, is able to bring us to the “glory” or the full expression of His life resident within us. This is the Lord’s work in us; while our work is trust him (John 6:29). Philippians 2:13 For it is GOD which WORKETH IN YOU both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Not only are we to “cast down” such “vain imaginations,” but we must also rid ourselves of every seemingly “high thing” or “high thought” that claims to be better than the knowledge of the truth of Christ. We exalt the “high thing” when we choose the world’s wisdom and ways or our own independent way of living; we elevate our self over God. We become like “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psa 14:1). A regenerated Christian can still choose to live their own self-life ignoring Christ within, thus elevating their own way of living according to their own imaginings. Whenever we think we have something right, even after God says it is wrong, we have exalted our knowledge above God’s.
Along these same lines of ridding ourselves of “high things” that are not of God, we are to take our very thoughts “captive.” What happens to one in captivity? In the case of a caged bird, for example, the bird may no longer fly freely in the air; it no longer has the freedom to do as it wills. Likewise, our life is not our own, we been bought with a price – the precious blood of Christ, He is our Lord. To take our thoughts “captive” is to not allow our thoughts the freedom to wander where they wish to go. We must recognize these thoughts as they occur and set them aside. Example: Sometimes we fantasize, wishing, or wondering why things can’t be better, or we wonder why others who don’t seem to care for the Lord still seem to do well. These are worthless thoughts. Taking such vain “imaginations captive” is to shut out all thoughts that are not thoughts that the Lord would wish us to have. If we take our thoughts “captive” we will not have imaginations to cast down or become strongholds; nor will our thoughts ever exalt themselves above God.
I realize that this above is the ideal. As humans we still live in the flesh body; it is very difficult to accomplish this task 100%. When we fail, we know that we are still okay, because we trust the effectual blood sacrifice of Jesus who has already paid for and taken away ALL our sins. Nevertheless, through our failure, we should learn to depend upon the Lord. So, we can get up and walk again… having learned yet again to trust Him all the more. Every failing is a learning experience, its part of our training. If you find yourself getting distracted or are having problems staying on course you simply need to change your focus from the “things which are seen” (the earthly) and set your mind on “things above” (the eternal).
Col 3:2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
2 Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Paul has given us a way of short-circuiting vain “imaginations” – and that is he suggests a new way of thinking. Paul below tells us how to maintain a good offense that precludes the need of the good defense.
Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS. 9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me (Paul), do: and the God of PEACE shall be with you.”
Consider the kind of things Paul says we need to “think on.” He said thinking on these below will yield the “peace” that is of the “God of Peace.”
· true - not concealed, not false, not hypocritical, without pretense
· honest - venerable, honorable, devout
· just - equitable, just, of good character, holy
· pure - innocent, untainted, unsullied, clean, chaste
· lovely - acceptable, exquisite – there is a beauty to genuine righteousness
· good report - reputable, upright, decent
· virtue - excellence, righteousness
Thinking on these things of God that were given to Paul for us (verse 9) will prevent the entrance of thoughts that can gain a “stronghold” and we will enjoy His peace. My most common way of turning my wayward heart and mind to Him when I recognize I have been straying from Him is to breathe out His name in mind or word, “Lord Jesus.” We are to be those who “call upon the name of the Lord” (Rom 10:13) to be saved from our thoughts.
When we are tempted we can “call upon His name” and “think on these things” (these are prayers); this turns our focus away from the thought temptation at hand and establishes us in a new and proper mindset of His everpresence. “Let this mind (Greek, phroneo, “mindset”) be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Paul’s instruction is in perfect accord with what Isaiah wrote. Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed (set) on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Recall some our key text from Part 1, now we will add verse 6.
“for though we walk in the flesh (body), we do NOT WAR after (in the manner of) the flesh: 4(for the weapons of our WARFARE are NOT carnal (fleshly), 4but (our weapons are) mighty through God (who is “Spirit”) to the PULLING DOWN (Gk., kathairesis, destruction) of STRONG HOLDS; 5CASTING DOWN IMAGINATIONS, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the KNOWLEDGE of God, and BRINGING INTO CAPTIVITY EVERY THOUGHT to the obedience of (attentively harkening to) Christ.
6And HAVING IN A READINESS (OF MIND) TO REVENGE (BRING JUSTICE FOR) all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled (secured and complete).” (2Corinthians 10:1-6)
Verse 6 (above) indicates that we can bring “revenge (KJV),” which actually translates as “justice,” to the “every (disobedient) thought (referring back to v5)” we have, thus we “cast (them) down.”
We can set such “thoughts” aside in “captivity (v5).” To help us understand this verse, let’s consider a military campaign. After the fighting is over and the enemy is defeated, there still may remain pockets of resistance; these are rebels in hiding who still fight on against the victorious army. Each of these foes must be rooted out and justice must be meted out to them. If not, the insurgency will never end. Victory requires that our troops search out those rebels in an effort to stop the harassing violence. For with such violence, it will be difficult for a new government to succeed.
We are called to do the very same thing in our “thought life,” as we turn our heart and yield to Christ who is our Lord or governor, having “the government” of our lives “upon His shoulders” (Isa 9:6). So it is with these insurgent “thoughts” that are of what Paul calls “the mind of the flesh.” Even with Christ as our Savior and even though we try to take every thought captive, there will still be some improper thoughts that sneak in as “fiery darts” from the fleshly Sin-nature to tempt us. These insurgent thoughts are shot into our mind so unexpectedly. We must recognize them as not being of ourselves, not of our new nature. “Now THEN IT IS NO MORE I THAT DO IT, but SIN THAT DWELLETH IN ME.” (Romans 7:17) We must treat our thoughts uncompromisingly, by rejecting them as we turn our heart to the Lord.
Some might ask, why does the Lord allow this? The Lord permits these tempting situations in order to show us our utter neediness in ourselves, thus to build our dependence upon Him. We have the truth of the written word of our faith as our defensive armor, upon which we stand, but this only works by our faith in the ever-present living “Word of God,” which is the Lord Jesus Christ within us. We can overcome these insurgent thoughts with the truth of the unshakable “gospel of our salvation,” which is by grace through faith alone; and by our continual dependence upon and communion with the Lord