Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

3 For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.

The Original Intent

1) “Flesh” is mentioned three times in one sentence. What is meant by this focus-word? (verses 3-4)

The Bible uses “flesh” in different discussions with different meanings based on context and purpose of the discussion. This should remind us that studying Bible words in their original language and context is extremely important. 

The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel spoke positively of flesh when he prophesied of a coming day when the Lord would give Israel a new heart, replacing their heart of stone with a heart of “flesh”. (Ezekiel 36:26)

Paul spoke positively of flesh in a similar meaning of “soft and malleable” when he wrote to the Corinthian believers of Christ’s letter of love written by the Spirit on “human” hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:2)

Of the 140+ times the Greek word for flesh, σάρξ, is used in the New Testament, however, the connotation is overwhelmingly negative. It’s largely associated with sin and often used to contrast the life that is only available through surrender to the Spirit of God at work in a genuine Christ-follower with the life of enslavement to sin that is the default heart-position for every human being. (Romans 7:5Romans 8:52 Corinthians 7:1)

In some cases, however, σάρξ is a neutral reference simply stating a reality in the same way we might say, “we all have skin and bones”. Paul’s usage in the context of these verses is mixed!

First, he acknowledges a reality that we, speaking to genuine Christ-followers, are living in our human flesh (neutral reality). Then Paul moves deeper and teaches us that our ability to fight against sin and sinful desires isn’t limited by either the flesh of our human reality or the sinful impotence of our former way of life before coming to Jesus for freedom and forgiveness.

We are equipped with a far greater power than anything Sin or Humanity can offer for we have the power of the Almighty God at work within us!

The Everyday Application

1) “Flesh” is mentioned three times in one sentence. What is meant by this focus-word? (verses 3-4)

We see oppression in the broader scope of our culture, cities, and the globe and we ache, knowing it is surely not as it was meant to be. It’s easy to see the vastness of oppression and feel completely incapable to make a difference.

What could we do with one ordinary life against such incredible brokenness? Just as easy to dismiss is the reality of our weaponry as genuine believers in Jesus.

True Christ-followers have recognized the oppression in our own souls by Sin and sought freedom from the Only One powerful enough to provide our forgiveness. Full of grace and truth, this merciful God delivers His own Spirit inside the heart of all who have truly surrendered to Him.

By this power of God Himself inside us, He actively empowers, leads, and equips us to accomplish God’s mission of building His kingdom and pressing back against evil in everyday life. His purpose to give freedom from oppression spans everything from the relationships within our walls to the nations around the world.

If we seek the Lord, pleading His cause of justice, He will move in us as His ministers of reconciliation to bring about His purposes by His power. (Luke 4:18-192 Corinthians 5:19)

The Original Intent

2) What is laid out to be demolished? (verse 4-5)

Paul purposed to describe not only our power source “through God” (verse 4) but also our battle plan for how to use our weaponry against a targeted enemy.

We should also note from this passage the importance of using God’s weapon in God’s way for it to be effective. “[…] weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds.” (verse 4)

The strongholds to be demolished by God’s power are marked by arguments against God which are sourced by arrogant pride. Anything that runs counter to knowing God, which encompasses all that He is and the freedom from sin He offers through the sacrificial blood of Christ, is pure arrogance. In ancient times, attacking enemies would lay siege to a city.

If the attacking army endured long enough, eventually the isolated city would run out of supplies, manpower, and sustenance providing an easy target for victory. This was common knowledge, especially for the strategic trade city of Corinth who fought many battles to protect its location and power by building strongholds.

If victory was more likely for the attacker of the stronghold, how much more effective would the All-Powerful God of the Universe be against any spiritual stronghold? None fights like the Lord God; His victory is sure and certain. No stronghold can sustain His power!

The Everyday Application

2) What is laid out to be demolished? (verse 4-5)

Only when we bring all things under the lordship of Christ, as “captives” from the enemy, can we adjust our mindset to become more like Christ in how we engage the world around us.

We all have “strongholds” in our hearts and lives, areas we arrogantly don’t want to surrender. We will remain captives in these citadels until we decide to surrender to Christ’s ways. Only His weaponry can free captives from the chains of sin, flesh, and pride.

Ask the Lord to reveal the areas of your own pride. As you let the Spirit lead you to reflect, what areas do you bristle at with quick justification?

This is pride, Sister.
Call it out for what it is, surrender it to the Lord Jesus Christ, and be freed from the citadel of your own making. Let the gospel ring out loud and clear in your life and overflowing in your relationships! 

As you survey the landscape of your city, nation, and the world, what strongholds is the Spirit leading you to be heartbroken over because of oppression? Fight these with the weaponry God provides! (Ephesians 6:10-20)

The Original Intent

3) Are believers meant to demolish other’s arguments with decisive verbal victories and claim Christ as their authority? (verse 4-5)

Paul’s language sounds intense with words like weapons, warfare, and demolish! Does this intensity match how Christ commands us to live as His followers? Are we to engage in verbal biting combat until we prove our victory?

Sisters, this is not the Lord’s way, and neither is it Paul’s point!

Again, studying the full context of biblical passages is essential! Backing up to verse 1, we gain an entirely new insight, “Now I, Paul, myself, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble among you in person[…].” 

What a starkly different description Paul gives of himself! Demolish, warfare, meek, and gentle don’t commonly fit together. You might picture Paul as a fierce, stalwart itinerant preacher, but the early church had quite a different perspective. His letters were received as kind, gentle, wrapped in humility, and threaded through with deep affectionate love for the Church. There was even word going around that Paul was too “soft” to lead and didn’t carry any real authority. He was just too gentle to make a real difference or hold anyone accountable.

This section of Paul’s letter addresses this misconception with bold clarity. As gripped with compassion as Paul was for the lost, those who lived as enemies of Christ (Philippians 3:18Romans 9:3), he had no tolerance for sin and mishandling of Scripture. He would fight tooth and nail to protect right interpretation of God’s Word and identify sin as vile rebellion within the church. (2 Timothy 2:15Titus 2:1)

The Everyday Application

3) Are believers meant to demolish other’s arguments with decisive verbal victories and claim Christ as their authority? (verse 4-5)

Paul stood on the side of God’s authority by His own Word expressed through His Spirit. There is no higher authority. There is no safer place to be than sheltering behind the God who moves against the oppression of sin.

Likewise, there is no more dangerous place than living in active rebellion against this same God. Paul was widely known for carrying himself with the likeness of Christ’s meekness, gentleness, humility, and broad-sweeping compassion. He urged all fellow believers to do the same in their everyday lives, which includes all Christians today. (Colossians 3:12-17)

Consider how your children, spouse, or neighbor might describe you. How do you respond when your well-laid plans don’t work out? How do you treat those with whom you are angry? When you experience injustice or even simple disappointment what attributes color your face, tone, and body language?

Like Paul, are you widely known for your gentle compassion? Harsh, cold, biting words, tone, and actions shouldn’t describe any genuine Christ-follower.

Arrogance says I must win this argument and prove my point. Confidence in Christ says because I love you so deeply, I am compelled to point you to truth with firm gentleness. (2 Corinthians 5:14)

God will win against sin’s grip for His victory is sure and certain over every stronghold, but how we handle ourselves as His ambassadors will either further His kingdom or stand in rebellion against Him. How will you choose to live today?

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