2 Corinthians 10:1-6
Guidelines For God’s Warriors
“Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Corinthians 10:1-6, KJV).
One of the real challenges we face in teaching and preaching is to uphold the truth of God without any hesitation, apology or compromise, but doing that “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” When there is controversy and confusion, when emotions heat up and especially when we must respond to critics, there is powerful temptation to “take off the gloves” and get physical, or at least carnal! Our task, therefore, is to think through this challenge; to decide we will seriously stand fast in our preaching and teaching, and be ready to reprove, convict and exhort. Yet, that decision must be accompanied by another decision – to refrain from carnal tactics, resist the temptation to insult people and jump to conclusions.
The way in which Paul responded to his critics gives us some helpful guidelines for our own behavior in similar situations. In 2 Corinthians 10:1-6, we can study the apostle’s attitude and manner, his methods, and his purpose. Consider …
Attitude & Manner: “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” Here is an intense challenge; to be unrestrained and bold in preaching the truth, to expose error without fear and urge sinners to repent … but to do this “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” This requires of us extraordinary determination and self-control. Being meek doesn’t imply lethargy or weakness. Being meek doesn’t mean we never feel impatience or anger. It means that we are under control, not reactionary. So I must preach the truth and answer error “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.”
Methods: “… not … according to the flesh.” When it becomes clear that error is being taught, disciples are being led away, or sin is being winked at, we may be tempted to react with such vigor and righteous indignation, we forget that we are soldiers committed to high standards of attitude and conduct. Whatever methods we decide upon, we must never feel free to resort to the carnal tactics of men. I must answer error, and I may find it necessary to identify the promoter of error; but I’m not free to “trash” somebody because I don’t like what they are doing, or I suspect they might be wrong about something. A good example is, learning to stand against abortion, but without killing doctors!
Legitimate Methods: “…pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” Our method is to persuade; to use the sword of the Spirit to pull down strongholds; to present the Scriptures in such a way as to cast down the foolish arguments of men, and to preach and teach so that we combat “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.”
Purpose: “…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” My purpose is to so teach and uphold the truth, that people with good and honest hearts will decide to submit their thoughts to the rule of Christ. Scoring the applause of men must never be my motive (Gal. 1:10; 1 Tim. 1:3; 1 Thess. 2:10).