The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
KJV The weapons of our warfare are not carnal.
Paul sees Christian ministry and Christian life as a battle – as a war!
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. NIV
NRSV 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, (or fleshly)
Sarkinos human, worldly, fleshly, of the flesh
Message The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will.
So Paul saw his life as an apostle and evangelist and missionary as a war. By extension all Christian ministry and Christian living is a battle. But he didn’t fight that war in human ways or with human weapons.
First of all, we need to be clear who Paul thought he was fighting againt in this battle. Or to be more precise, what he is fighting against. His battle was not with the Corinthian Christians, not even those there who had opposed him. The war was not with the people who sometimes opposed his ministry and persecuted him and even tried to kill him for his evangelism. The war Paul is talking about was not with people at all.
4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
The battle we fight as Christians are never against people but against false ideas and arguments.
NLT 4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.
Paul’s war was against the strongholds of human reasoning and all the false arguments.
Message The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
There is a battle in the Christian life, but it is not against human beings. It is against false ideas. But there are other enemies sometimes hiding behind that massively corrupt culture and those warped philosophies and those barriers erected against the truth of God.
(The weapons of our warfare) have divine power to demolish strongholds.
The word stronghold is not used anywhere else in the New Testament. But the idea of a stronghold or a fortress points us to the cosmic powers so often pulling the strings behind human philosophies and ideas. Paul is much more explicit about this kind of spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6.
Ephesians 6 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
As Christians we are not at war with other human beings. But our battle is with the devil’s schemes, all the false ideas and behind those the powers of evil who are seeking to possess and destroy God’s world and oppose God’s wonderful plan of salvation at every point they can.
Our war is against all who oppose God, the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
The Message spells out just how serious this spiritual battle is.
This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
So in this struggle, which has cosmic dimensions, what are the weapons of our warfare? These weapons which are not human or fleshly but have divine power to demolish strongholds.
Time and again in 2 Corinthians when Paul is defending his ministry, his appeal is the very simple one of truth.
2 Cor 1:12 Now this is our boast: our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.
Integrity, Godly sincerity. Transparent honesty. No double-mindedness. No spin
2 Cointhians 1:18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silas and Timothy—was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, but in him it has always been ‘Yes’. 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.
We always need to remember that in our battles with false ideas and the powers of evil behind them, our greatest weapon is the truth. No compromising. No short cuts. But the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!
2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
No secret and shameful ways. No deception. No distorting the word of God. Just setting forth the truth plainly. Only God’s truth will get through the veil which the devil uses to blind the minds of unbelievers.
This is why it is so important to defend the authority of the Bible and the truth of the Word of God.
Paul spoke of weapons before in chapter 6.
2 Corinthians 6 ; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;
These are our weapons of righteousness in this spiritual battle. Truthful speech and the power of God.
THE POWER OF GOD
Paul had written in 1 Corinthians about the power of God. And how that power is found in a most unexpected place.
1 Corinthians 1 18 For the message 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; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
In the battle against the false human philosophies the strongest weapon to unleash the power of God is the cross of Christ.
1 Cor 1 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher 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 know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
The power of the cross. The simple message that Christ has died for our sins according to the Scriptures is God’s answer to the wrong ideas of the Jews and of the Greeks and of all the atheist philosophers and the false teachers today. Jesus Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God!
1 Cor 2:1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power
God’s power is released through the cross of Christ. This is why it is so important to proclaim boldly and unashamedly the cross of Jesus. At the same time we must resist all the attempts to empty the cross of its meaning. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.
2 Corinthians 5 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So our battles against the wrong ideas of this age are not fought with wise or clever words. Our weapons are truth and the power of God revealed in the cross of Christ. It was on the cross that Christ won the supreme and decisive victory over the powers of evil.
Colossians 2 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
On the cross Christ has defeated the devil and all his demons. Our battles are just the mopping up operations at the end of the war. The Cross of Christ is the power of God.
THE ARMOUR OF GOD
Ephesians 6 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Belt of truth
Breastplate of righteousness
Shield of faith
Helmet of salvation
Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God – the only weapon for offence in the list.
One more weapon of our warfare of course is
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
In our battles against the false ideas and the powers of evil behind them, the most important and the most powerful thing we can do is pray. It is only God’s power which can help people to see the truth of his word. It is only the Holy Spirit of God who can give new birth and new life. So the best thing we can do is to pray without ceasing, on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. To pray and keep on praying.
TRUTH, THE POWER OF GOD IN THE CROSS, THE ARMOUR OF GOD, PRAYER.
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.