Peninsula Community Church
The Body, Soul, and Spirit – The Soul Part 3
March 9, 2014
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 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.
As we look at the first passage, we see a couple of truths that stand out. First of all while we walk in this flesh as human beings, as believers we do not wage war in the flesh. If we battle with weapons that are motivated by and nurtured in the flesh, the outcomes are not spiritual and are most often not productive. When we battle in the flesh, we are driven by what satisfies the emotions, the will, and the five senses. When we are motivated by the flesh, it is easier to accommodate false beliefs and to compromise biblical beliefs by surrendering to a false world view than it is to stand on Biblical truth.
To overcome the flesh we must be walking in the spirit, but what does that mean and what are the rewards. Some of this can be cleared up by understanding Paul’s writings in Galatians 5:16-26 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident:sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
When we walk in the spirit and therefore refuse to use fleshy weapons, Paul gives us a promise that we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Notice this is more of a promise than it is a command. To use fleshly weapons is to submit to the desires of the flesh but to walk in the spirit is to surrender our lives to Christ to His ways of living, thinking, and doing life. In the passage, we have a comparison of what the flesh looks like and what the spirit looks like. What a difference. Look at the comparison of the flesh as it defines the actions taken and the fruit of the spirit which deals with the character of the believer.
Let me ask you a question? Have you ever witnessed someone who has seemed to be a solid believer in Christ, only to find that at some point in time they do things that reveal that their inward life does not match the outward life they present in a big way. When this occurs, it is very possible that they were using the weapons of the flesh and not the weapons of the spirit to fight their battles. They were in essence facing a level of dissonance which brings their life into confusion. Too often, they live at a level of a hypocrisy. The reason most often for this is that they have been living and battling from the flesh and not a spiritual perspective. The fear of being exposed established parameters in their life where they only allowed you to have entrance into certain parts of their lives. The problem reaches a climax when we touch on a subject or issue they have not presented to God or for that matter they do not have a desire to surrender it God. The result is rejection, isolation, and ejection of the friendship. They would rather hide or run than deal with the truth.
The second idea presented here is, as believers, we have been give divine power to destroy strongholds. To understand this, we must understand what a stronghold is. In biblical times, Paul’s readers would have understood this terminology more than perhaps we do today. A city would establish a fortress around the city for two reasons. One it would protect the people within the fortress but negatively, it often closed the city off from the rest of the world.
Spiritually, a stronghold can be defined as a wall that has been built in the mind that protects the mind. A stronghold is a mindset or a point of operation within a person that holds the believer captive or he is incapacitated because of it. These things are initiated for several reasons. For one we have been hurt before and we decide that we will not allow people to hurt us again, so we wall up our minds to any future relationships. Because we have been hurt, it is extremely hard to let others in. This mindset may have been established because of a doctrinal position that minimizes the truth of God’s word or diminishes the value of God in our lives. This happens too often because the false doctrine appeals to our flesh and not the spirit of God within us. I could offer many other examples but I think you get the picture.
The ideas and thoughts that make up the stronghold in our minds are based on the lies that challenge the truth of what God has revealed about Himself and about ourselves. For our discussion today, a stronghold is a mindset, an epicenter, of unbelief that exalts itself over God and keeps you from maximizing your potential in God in every area of your life. It’s possible to be active in the church and say the hallelujahs but be locked off from God’s glory which makes you a functional unbeliever in different areas of your life.
I love what Mark Twain said about the thoughts we had. He wrote, “What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history.” (Reader’s Digest [1/93], p. 155).
Strongholds are also describe as an “argument or high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Strongholds are erected through our thought life and what we allow to be planted in our minds. Paul continues to express at least two of these strongholds that effect us. We destroy arguments and lofty opinions raised against the knowledge of God. Notice here that the scripture does not say against God alone but against the knowledge of God. You see the problem that exists is that once our understanding of who God becomes distorted, we find that we become mentally disabled emotionally and spiritually.
These arguments most often are couched in terms of the lies that are spoken into our lives. I often go back to the events involved in the creation but they are helpful reminders to us that lies and distortions have been a part of our existence before the fall of mankind. The serpent did not outright lie, he simply distorted the truth of what God had spoken. What lies keep the Gospel from dominating your thought life? What strongholds have been setup in your mind, that hinder the sanctifying work of God in your life? What sinful thought fortresses reside in your head? If you remember the story of creation, you will see that from the beginning of time man has dealt with the issue of the lies that are spoken. As we continue to focus on the truth, rather than lies dominating us we will find that we are more successful in following truth.
To understand strongholds, we must understand what causes them to occur. As we have discussed before, we find that there are several sources for the strongholds that exist in us. These strongholds can be initiated because of the experiences we have had. If we are continual rejected, we tend to believe that we are rejected as a person and we will believe any negative act initiated toward us is an act of rejection. This view can lead to a mindset and therefore a stronghold that we are rejected. A second source is the lies and falsehoods that are communicated to us and in us. If we do not take these lies into captivity, we can begin to be controlled by the lies. A third source of strongholds are the beliefs and doctrine we hold to. And finally, the influence of our family can be a source of strongholds in that we experience a lack of love, acceptance and encouragement, so we begin to believe that we are unloved, not accepted which results in us walking in discouragement, doubt, and depression.
Let us look at just one of these sources, lies. I would propose that are many lies that effect us.
For example, there are the lies you tell yourself: I have to be perfect. I can’t make any mistakes. I am a failure. I am a mistake. I must be happy. I need people to agree with me all the time. I can’t shake my past.
There is a second level of lies that are communicated to us. These are the lies the world tells you: I’m only human; everybody does this. Do whatever it takes to reach the top no matter who you hurt in the process. Your value is determined by what you possess, and who you know.
Thirdly, we are impacted by the lies communicated through our relationships: It’s your fault. If I had not married you… You make me so mad. Why can’t you be like so and so? I wish I was like so and so.
Fourth, we must deal with the lies that distort the Gospel: I must earn God’s love. God won’t protect me. God does not love me. I can do what I want and God will forgive me. If I were more spiritual I would not struggle like this. God will bless me if I obeyed.
And finally, we have the internal lies that come in the form of the questions we ask: Does God really hear me? Does God really love me? Has God abandoned me? Why does God not stop the pain?
So how do we deal with these things. We do so by taking every thought captive. We in essence lay these lies being spoken into our lives against the template of God’s word. It is the truth of God’s word that sets us free. We will look at this next week.