Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Sunday - Taking Every Thought Captive

I'm preaching this coming Sunday, Jan. 1, out of 2 Corinthians 10:1-6.

Vv. 3-4 read:
3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. [Lit. - “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war acc. to the flesh.”] 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the flesh. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

"Walking acc. to the flesh" is Paul's way of referring to life on earth in general; This is simply Paul’s way of describing our basic human condition that applies to everybody. If you are a human being, you “walk in the flesh.”

NTW translates vv. 3-4 as: “Yes, we are mere humans, but we don’t fight the war in a merely human way. The weapons we use for the fight, you see, are not merely human; they carry a power from God that can tear down fortresses.”

When Paul describes waging spiritual war “according to the flesh” he’s thinking not merely about the physical body or our common physical condition as men and women. He's thinking about human methods and human strategies and human resources, as opposed to God’s methods and God’s ways and using God’s resources.

Yes, we all live in this world; this world is the arena of our activity. No, this does not mean that the world dictates our agenda. And no, it does not mean that this world provides the tools for the job. So Paul denies that he wages war acc. to the flesh, precisely because of its impotence to effect the needed transformation.

The Corinthian Jesus-followers, influenced by false apostles, accused Paul of doing life and ministry “acc. to the flesh.” What did they mean?

·         They likely meant his lack of verbal eloquence,

·         …his alleged reliance on self-commendation,

·         …his bodily weakness,

·         …his choice not to accept money for his ministry to them,

·         …and the absence from his resume of supernatural encounters and ecstatic revelatory experiences.

Paul accuses the false Corinthian teacher-apostles (aka "super-apostles") of ministering according to the flesh. Today, what does ministry “acc. to the flesh” look like?

"Christian flesh-ministry" today can be: 

·         Human ingenuity-guided ministry. (Instead of Holy Spirit-led ministries.)

o   A reliance on human brainpower… pure human strategizing… 

·         Self-promoting ministry. (Instead of Jesus-exalting.)

·      Money-ministry, motivated by greed. (Instead of being content with what we have.)

·      Numbers-ministry.

o   Any message that threatens to turn people off, and lower the attendance, is set aside, even if it’s radically biblical.

·       Comfort ministry. (Instead of a willingness to take up the cross and even suffer for Christ’s sake.)

o   Choices are made based on what makes the people feel good.

·         Power-status ministry. (Instead of human weakness, in which Christ is strong.)

o   The desire for power shapes what leaders do.

o   Whatever increases the leader’s grip on the church or elevates their influence is what is really prized.

·         Fame ministry. (Instead of the willingness to work for Jesus anonymously.)

·         Secular culture-guided ministry. (Instead of continuous morphing into Christlikeness.)

·         Naturalistic ministry (Instead of drawing on divine power.)

o   The supernatural activity of God is not allowed. Or dismissed. There is skepticism about healing, demonic presences, prophetic words (1 Cor. 14:1-3), and so on.

(Adapted from Sam Storms, A Sincere and Pure Devotion to Christ, Volume 2.)

Paul is out to demolish such things, and make all thoughts captive to the mind of Christ. Vv. 5-6 read:

5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
I am looking forward to preaching on these verses this Sunday. We'll be collectively capturing a bunch of false thoughts and making them obedient to Christ.