Last week we saw that the weapons God gives us are divinely powerful. This week we get to see how these weapons destroy the strongholds of the enemy and set others and ourselves free.
The Weapons of Our Warfare
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. (1 Corinthians 10:3-6)
Now we are getting to the fun part. Maybe I am too much of a guy, but I like to destroy things. One of my favorite tools is a sawzall (reciprocating saw for those with a more refined upbringing). Just give me one those babys and set me loose and I am one happy guy.
The word destroy in the Greek lines up pretty well with the English word destroy. It means to violently pull down, tear down, or demolish. Remember that we are destroying speculations and lofty things exalted above the knowledge of God, not people.
The weapons God gives us are to be used destroy every lie and false precept that does not align itself with the truth of God. We are to tear down stone by stone the walls of lies erected against the truth of God and set people free.
We must also look at our own lives and thoughts and make sure that they align with the truth. If we find anything that is out of line with what God has says we must repent and come into agreement with God.
There are four major weapons God gives us to destroy strongholds: the gospel, the truth of God’s word, prayer, and obedience. We will look at the first in this post
We Destroy Strongholds by Sharing the Gospel
The purity of the gospel has been under attack from the very beginning of the church. There were always those who perverted the gospel and sought to change the truth of it. In 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, Paul gives us some insight into why this is so:
18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
To those in the world the gospel is seen as foolishness.
The Jews Were Looking for Signs.
They wanted to see the power of God. They saw the crucifixion of Jesus as as weakness. If He were the true Messiah, He would never have gone to the cross, because cursed is he who hangs on a tree.
The Gentiles Sought Wisdom.
They were looking for fine philosophical truths that tantalized their minds and thought processes. They saw the crucifixion as foolishness. This make no sense. Why would someone dying on a cross have anything to do with me? They rejected it because it did not line up with what they were looking for.
So when the gospel does not line up with what people want, they reinvent the gospel. That is what happen in Galatia.
Paul wrote His first letter that is in the Bible to the church at Galatia. There was a group of people who were preaching another gospel. They were saying that Gentiles must be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses to be saved.
Paul Fiercely Defends the Gospel
Paul was furious and let them know it. Listen to what he had to say:
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:6-9)
Changing the gospel is very serious. Paul said that anyone who preached another gospel than that which was already given was accursed. That means that the person is given over to the judgment of God and is dedicated to destruction.
To change the message of the gospel is to risk the judgment of God. The reason there is such a strong penalty is that a false gospel leads people astray and to their own destruction. We must stand strong and proclaim the message of the gospel.
Distortions of the Gospel
There are many ways that the gospel can be misrepresented. One is called legalism. Legalism is living by a set of rules and laws rather than by faith in God. That was the trouble in Galatia.
Maybe you have experienced something like this. Years ago I worked at a Christian Bookstore in addition to being a pastor. I had people from a local church come in and try to lead me to Christ.
When I told them that I loved the Lord and was a pastor in town the first thing they asked is what Bible I used. I said the New American Standard. I was quickly told that this was not the right Bible and the only Bible that was right was the King James Version.
They would leave me tracts on top of the cash register when they left. I was asked how I was baptized and many other things.Through many conversations it came out that they really believed that they were the only true denomination and church that was following the Lord completely.
They were trying to get me saved so I could come to their church, be baptized in their church, and use their official translation.
Now I am not saying that these people are going to hell, but they are surely living very legalistically if they think that their church and their doctrine and their translation is the only right one.
Sorry, I just had to use that word. After all I did go to school for a long time and have to use that knowledge sometime time somewhere.
The word simply means without law. It is the exact opposite of legalism. Have you ever noticed how there are always extremes on the left and the right and the truth of God’s word is somewhere in the middle?
Antinomianism says that Christ has set us free from the law. We are not under the law and can do what we want. We are free. We can drink, do drugs, have sex outside of marriage. These things do not affect our salvation.
Stay True to the Gospel
Paul has something to say to those who who feel free to continue walking in sin after coming to Christ. He says in Romans 6:12-18:
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
There are many more ways to pervert the gospel of Jesus, but this will do for this post. The point is that we must remain true to the gospel of Jesus Christ because that is the only thing that saves people.
We can never change the truth of the gospel to try and make it more relevant or to be the way that we want it. Sure people may be offended or think what we are preaching is foolish, but we must remain true to the gospel or people will perish.
We already heard this verse last week but it worth repeating here. Paul said:
I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16).
When we water down and change the gospel, people’s lives are at stake.
Next week we will look at weapon number two in our arsenal: the truth of God’s word.
P.S. Remember that the power of the gospel in not in our persuasive words but in the message we present. Our goal is not to be wise like the world, but to be wise in the things of God.
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