Words of Faith 11-30-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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2 Corinthians 10:1-6
By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you--I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away!  I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  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.  And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
How do you deal with critics and antagonists who use fleshly methods to try and get their way? How do you break through to them? Paul's approach to dealing with such conflict didn't come from a book in the self-help section or a corporate training seminar. Quite the opposite, Paul refused to engage his critics in the fleshly ways that they had used to attack him.
We don't want to miss the fact that Paul had some traditional tools available in his arsenal. He could actually excommunicate people. He could bring them before the church for public discipline. In first century Corinth, folks couldn't just go down the street to a different church. There were no denominations or different brands.
So Paul warned his critics, "Don't make me come over there deal with you face to face." We don't know exactly what Paul had in mind but he was "ready to punish every act of disobedience.” He also knew that most critics lack courage and are loathe to confront the truth face-to-face.
The heart of Paul's conflict resolution model was gentleness and meekness that reflects the character of Christ and does not lower itself to the ways of the world. The phrase Paul used here means literally "the way of the flesh" meaning based in the sinful nature. Paul refused to "get down and dirty" or even enter into the fleshly contention that his critics lived by. Paul refused to return fire using the worldly methods of his opponents.
Most interpreters point to the worldly methods of the day as spouting one's learning and credentials with rhetorical polish. Paul was not a braggadocio or even given to what we would call "spin.” He did not have a public relations director or a "dirty tricks" campaign. He refused to retaliate with gossip or innuendo the way he had been attacked. But Paul had weapons far more powerful than his critics.
Instead of campaigning against his critics, Paul got on his knees and prayed for them. He used the weapons of heaven. The weapons means "tools, armor, or utensils.” This is the same root word Paul used to describe the full armor of God in Ephesians 6-- truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation, the Spirit and the Word of God-- "praying on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests" (14-18). This is the arsenal of a believer.
It is by the divine power of prayer that strongholds are demolished along with the arguments of those who oppose the Gospel and the pretense that they live by. The word "arguments" is translated "imaginations" in the KJV but means computations, reasoning or conceit. These are the arrogant accusations and criticisms of Paul's opponents. "Pretense" means literally anything that would exalt itself, poise or raise itself, against the knowledge of God. It is a spirit of pretense that raised itself against Paul's leadership.
Are there some strongholds of opposition in your life? It may be a person or an attitude or a pretentious group. It may be an argumentative circle of friends or family. The answer is not to enter in with the flesh. The answer is to go to God in prayer. The answer is to seek God's divine power in demolishing those strongholds breaking down the walls and softening hearts. This is the way of Paul following after the Master.
Father God, teach me the life of prayer soaked in Your Spirit. Teach me the life of trust that never needs to battle with the tools of this world. Teach me the way of walking with You so closely that arguments and pretense tumble away. In Jesus' Name.