For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.
Life is a battle. We are facing unprecedented circumstances, struggling to maintain our momentum for what we perceive as normal. We are dealing with people stressed beyond measure and often leaking that stress out on others. Change is tossing our own world out of sync with our perception of normal. Life can feel very much out of control and it is deeply unsettling for many.
The danger is, when life seems unfair or it gets uncommonly challenging, there is a temptation to start looking at people and circumstances as our enemy. We start thinking that others are the problem or fate has something against us. These are things that are ruining my schedule or my day. Certainly, as Paul mentions above, we do live in a concrete world and it does have its challenges. But for believers in Christ the battle is not primarily “first world issues,” at least we don’t want to get caught in the weeds of circumstance. We don’t want to get caught wrapping our life around the problems or bad behavior of others. We can’t ignore these things but we don’t want to get derailed by them. Worst case scenario, our circumstances or the behavior of others begins to define our own world and how we view life. We actually end up giving up control of our life to other people or bad experiences and these can be powerful in ruining our life because we keep on acting out of the pain of past experiences rather than the power of Christ to rise above these.
The battle we often fight is making war against first world stuff: people, problems, circumstances, unfair events, change and things like natural and moral evil. They are real but not our primary concern. Paul points out that the most significant battle that all of us must win, as Christians, is the battle that goes on in our mind.
Regardless of our circumstances and the people who surround us, the ultimate battle we face is bringing every thought, in our own thinking, into obedience to Christ. We control virtually nothing of the people around us, how they act or how they treat us. We often can do very little to change many of the circumstance in our life and even when we have the power to change them we are not always happy with the result. The key to our “spiritual battle” is bringing “all our thoughts into obedience to Christ.”
In Paul’s ministry much of “these kinds of battles” were external from himself as an apostle to the Gentiles. He addressed doctrine, philosophy and teaching that was contrary to the gospel of Jesus. So he would address those things vigorously. People’s minds are vulnerable to deception and building a whole kingdom of “how life works” in their mind that is not in sync with God’s truth. Dismantling those “strongholds” is like destroying an entire rampart or city to get people to consider a different way of thinking. That problem of course was exactly what the gospel was about. Destroying false beliefs, thinking and viewing self, the world, the culture and even people in a way that is contrary to the truth of the gospel.
But even as believers, our greatest battle is not the incompetence of other people around us. Our greatest battle is allowing God’s truth to reshape our own bad thinking about ourselves, others and life. We create this caricature of reality, God and our life based on our own dysfunctional thinking. These are the first strongholds and barriers that have to come down for us to live for Christ according to his truth not our own perceptions.
In His grace,