Many people are unaware that there is a spiritual battle going on around them every day. Groups and individuals promoting their own thoughts and agendas that directly clash with the truth of Scripture. The Apostle Paul was aware of the battle and told the Corinthians the way that he approached the battle.
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)
We Are at War
Paul warns the Corinthians that there is a war going on. He uses the word for war that speaks of a campaign rather than an individual battle. He is thinking about the scope of the war that is taking place.
The church is being accosted on every side. The same is true today. Our society is working hard to silence the church. You can begin a conversation on many biblical truths and the conversation turns ugly.
Speak about what the bible says about homsexuality and you are instantly demonized. You are homophobic, bigoted, and using hate speech. This strong speech is used to emotionalize the conversation and stop all discussion.
The proponents of homosexuality blatantly and endlessly promote their thoughts and ideas as the truth and attack anyone who disagrees with their statements. They declare that what they are communicating is the truth and anyone who disagrees with them is narrow minded, opinionated, and intolerant.
It is a Spiritual Battle
The battle we are facing is spiritual. We are not fighting against flesh and blood and attacking people. We are fighting against the philosophies of men, demonic influences, and worldviews that directly contradict God’s revealed truth.
Paul states that even though we walk in the flesh we don’t war in the flesh. We must approach the onslaught of the world in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 6:11-12 Paul encourages:
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
There are strong spiritual forces behind every philosophy and teaching that is opposed to the word of God. The goal of this type of teaching is to contradict what God has said. It seeks to call God a liar and present the lie as truth.
One of the most blatant examples of this is in the garden of Eden. God declared to Adam that if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil . . . you shall surely die (Genesis 2:17). Very clear command with very clear consequences.
When confronted by the serpent in the garden, Eve added to the word of God. She said that God said, “You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die” (Genesis 3:3). She made God’s word more restricted and misstated what God had said.
The serpent rejected the truth and confidently contradicted what God said. He said, “You surely will not die” (Genesis 3:4). He goes on to tell Even that the reason that God doesn’t want them to have the fruit is that they will become like God.
The serpent not only contradicted God but put Him in a disparaging light. He was doing it out of insecurity. He was doing it to stop Eve from becoming all she could be.
Eve had a choice to make. Who would she believe? God? Or the devil? Eve was deceived by the words of the serpent and ate the fruit and gave some to her husband. They ate the fruit and died spiritually that day. They were naked, ashamed, filled with fear, and accusing others for the choices they made.
The Souls of Men Hang in the Balance
The same battle that raged in the garden is taking place right now in the lives of billions of people. All over the world people are determining whether they will believe what God has said or if they will put their trust in the contrary teachings of men.
Just as the devil stood and contradicted God, there are those that stand up and proclaim that what God has said is a lie and they know what is true. God’s ways are too restricting and we want to be like God choosing what we believe to be right or wrong.
There are consequences to rejecting God’s truth and promoting a lie. Ephesians 2:1-3 explains the state of those who refuse to believe God’s truth and live according to the precepts of this world. Paul says:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Those who choose to reject the truth of God’s word are spiritually dead and living according to the “truths” of the world. They are listening to the lies of the enemy and rebelling against the ways of God.
Instead of submitting to the truth of God’s word, they reject it and in doing so cut themselves off from the only source of salvation. They live for themselves and do whatever they think in right in their own eyes.
In choosing to reject God’s word they are indulging in their own flesh and mind opposing God and coming under His judgment.
The Enemy’s Weapons
Paul gives us a clear picture of the weapons that the enemy is using to wage warfare against mankind and the church. His main weapons all are connected to thoughts, ideas, mindsets, and worldviews.
The devil is using words to wage his war. He is using false ideas to hold people in bondage. He is using philosophies and false religions to keep people in captivity.
This should not come as a surprise since Jesus said of the devil that “there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
The weapons the devil uses to wage battle are words and ideas. He purposefully misleads people with false philosophies and religions to hold them in bondage. We will now look at three ways the enemy promotes his false beliefs.
The first weapon the enemy uses to bring his deceptive viewpoint is through speculations or arguments. The Greek word is logismos. There are two important aspects to consider in this word.
The idea behind this word is to bring logic and calculated thought to bear on a topic. It is not just random thoughts thrown at an issue, but a well thought out argument of the rational mind structured to stand against the truth of God’s word.
Other words that convey the idea of logismos are mindset, philosophy, or worldview. They include both formal and informal arguments that portray the thought process of men on a topic.
The second aspect of logismos is the evil intent behind these thoughts. They are opposed to the word of God and seek to contradict what God has revealed. The Louw-Nida Lexicon describes the word as “fallacious and deceptive reasoning and, by implication, based on evil intentions—‘false reasoning, false arguments.’”
Dutch Sheets helps us understand the scope of this word in his book Intercessory Prayer. He says:
These logismos would include philosophies (whether formally identified or unnamed personal ones), religions, humanism, atheism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, racism, intellectualism, . . . materialism, roots of rejection, perversions–anything that causes a person to think a certain way.
God has revealed Himself through creation, His word, and through Jesus Christ. He has made His truth known and men rise up and contradict it through their own reasonings. They say, “It is not so.” Just a few examples should do:
God says that homosexuality is a sin and an exchange of the “natural function” of a man or woman for that which is “unnatural” (Romans 1:26-27). Proponents of homsexuality argue that this is not true and that it is beautiful when two people are in love with one another.
God says that the sexual relationship is special and reserved for marriage. Society argues that people should live together and see if they are compatible before they get married.
God sees abortion as murder. Those in favor of abortion say that it is a woman’s right to choose whether or not she should have the baby because it is her body.
God says through His word that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world and no one can come to Him except through Jesus. There are those that say all religions lead to God and reject the idea that salvation only comes through Jesus.
The list could go on and on as men attempt to contradict what God has called true.
Every Lofty Thing Raised Up Against the Knowledge of God
Remember that the imagery throughout this passage is one of warfare. The enemy wants to stop the spread of the knowledge of God, so he erects barriers to keep people “protected” from it.
The purpose of these barriers is to keep people from coming to a knowledge of God. It is an active attempt to place a barrier around people that will keep the truth out.
The barriers are erected out of pride. Louw and Nida help us understand the concept behind the word lofty (hypsoma). They describe it as “an exaggerated evaluation of what one is or of what one has done—‘conceit, pride, arrogance.’”
The resistance and erection of barriers come from a pride that refuses to submit to God. There is a belief that my way is better than God’s way. No one can tell me what to do or what is right for me.
Satan rose up in pride and rebelled against God. His plan has not changed from the garden. He arrogantly contradicts the word of God so that people will choose to follow him and not God. He wants men blinded to the truth so he can keep them in his clutches. Second Corinthians 4:3-4 says:
And even if our gospel is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
This same attitude is one that Jesus encountered in the lives of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus warns His disciples of the need of humility since whoever exalts himself will be humbled. He begins to pronounce seven sets of woes against their actions. Two verses are especially meaningful in this context. Jesus said,
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter it yourself, not do you allow those who are entering in to go in . (Matthew 23:13)
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:15)
The enemy will erect any kind of barrier to stop people from coming to a knowledge of the God.
The first weapon of the enemy is the big picture reasoning that comprise a philosophy, religion, or a worldview. The second weapon is the barriers he erects to keep people from coming to the truth. The third weapon is specific thoughts directed toward each person.
The Greek word noema has a couple of major ideas. The first is a thought that has come about because of the process of thinking. The second is that of a plan or strategy with evil intents. Have you noticed how the plans of the enemy are based on evil intent?
Paul uses the word to describe the schemes of the devil toward each of us. He says, “we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Part of the war plans of the enemy is specific schemes designed to keep you from the truth.
His plan is unique, though similar, for every person. He knows each person and what makes them tick. He then put his plan to work by dropping thoughts in a person’s mind to keep them in the dark.
C.S. Lewis gets to the heart of this strategy in his book The Screwtape Letters. The book is about the correspondence between a senior demon in the “lowerarchy” of hell named Screwtape and his nephew, a Junior Tempter learning how to keep the person to whom he is assigned to in the dark and therefore assure his damnation.
Screwtape is constantly telling Wormwood how he should attempt to direct the thinking of his “patient.” If the patient begins to respond and move toward God, there is a constant set of directions in how to countermand what is taking place.
Even though this is a fictional book, it gives insight into how the enemy might operate in the life of a human being. The main goal is to keep a person from coming to Christ. If that fails, the next is to keep him passive and irresponsible in the things of God.
The enemy is constantly attempting to speak thoughts to both unbelievers and believers. His goal is to stop them from experiencing a true knowledge of God.
Now that we understand the weapons the enemy uses, we can speak about how he uses them to erect fortresses.
The fortresses the enemy is building is not something physical that one can visit and see. It is comprised of the philosophies, religions, worldviews, multiple barriers, and the specific thoughts used to keep people in darkness.
These fortresses are designed to keep men in and God out. There is great power in ideas. What one believes really matters. These fortresses are not a flimsy house of cards that will fall at a slight breeze. They are strongly entrenched ideas that blind the minds of men and women.
It is possible to look at the condition of the world today and despair. But as believers we are not helpless. God has given us weapons to break down the enemy’s fortress.
Next week we will look at the weapons God has provided us and see how we can begin the process of destroying the fortresses in the lives of others and in our own lives.
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