Monday, July 21, 2008

Refusing to “war after the flesh”

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I want to apologize for my lack of posting the past three weeks. I was in Ecuador for two weeks, then tried to get caught up last week, and never did. I am committed to posting this week. For those of you who read regularly, thank you for your understanding. I would like to share with you today some thoughts concerning one of my favorite verses, 2 Corinthians 10:3. I will also use the thoughts of one of my favorite authors Rick Renner (Sparkling Gems from the Greek).

As a child of God, it is important for you to remember that you have been delivered from Satan's power through the victorious, redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Make sure you keep that wonderful truth in mind the next time you have to deal with the devil's attack on your life. And don't try to defeat a spiritual enemy with fleshly weapons and techniques because fleshly weapons are for fighting fleshly adversaries; they were never intended to defeat a spiritual foe. Spiritual adversaries must be fought with spiritual weapons!

Paul makes this point in Second Corinthians 10:3 when he says, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh." The word "walk" in this verse is taken from the Greek word peripateo. This is a compound of the word peri, which means around, and pateo, which means to walk. When these two words are compounded together, the new word means to walk around or to habitually live and carry on in one general territory. It is the picture of a person who has walked in one general path for so long that he can now almost walk that path blindfolded. He knows that area well because he has habitually lived and functioned there.
By using the word peripateo in Second Corinthians 10:3, Paul is making a very strong statement about his humanity. He's saying, "Nearly everything I do, I do in the flesh. I eat in the flesh; I sleep in the flesh; I think in the flesh; I study in the flesh. My life is primarily lived in this earthly realm." Although he was a spiritual man, he still lived in a body made of flesh.

Paul knew that he was locked into his fleshly body and couldn't get out of it — nor could he trade it for another! I'm sure he would have taken that option if it had been available because he had been brutally beaten and terribly abused during the course of his ministry. His physical body permanently bore the scars, marks, wounds, and disfigurement of those beatings (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-25 and Galatians 6:17). Having a body free of scars and disfiguring wounds would have seemed like a terrific prospect to Paul!

In addition to the beatings he had endured, Paul was naturally a man of small stature. In fact, the name Paul means "little one." Although he was an intellectual giant who was highly educated, cultured, and even skillful in the political arena before he came to Christ, he did not have a striking physical appearance. Even historians record that he was a small and unimposing man.

It seems that the appearance of Paul's body was even an issue in the Corinthian church. Those who were against his ministry and wanted to eliminate him used his physical appearance as a reason to discredit him. In response to this, Paul wrote and said: "...In presence [I] am base among you..." (2 Corinthians 10:1). Because his adversaries were judging him according to the flesh, he asked them: "Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?." (2 Corinthians 10:7). Finally, Paul actually quoted what they were saying about him: "For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak." (2 Corinthians 10:10).

Notice that Paul never argues with them about the condition of his body. In fact, it seems that he agrees with them, even stating, "I am base among you." But whereas some may have judged him according to the flesh, Paul's confidence was not in the flesh but in the spirit. That is why he told them, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh" (2 Corinthians 10:3).

I think this message is important because we live in a day when people tend to judge themselves by the appearance of their bodies. If they are skinny, they feel good about themselves. But if they gain just a little weight, they are tempted to think that they are ugly and disgusting. Because of modern movies and advertisements, people are continually inundated with thousands of subliminal messages that say, "If you're not skinny and youthful-looking, you don't rate!"

Amazingly, even believers get caught up in judging themselves by their outward appearance. Although it's true that we should do what we can to stay in good shape physically, there are millions of people who are in great physical shape but couldn't win a spiritual battle if their lives depended on it!

You see, physical muscles make you look great in the natural, but mere flesh and blood has no effect on the devil or the spiritual realm. Spiritual battles are not to be fought or won with flesh, because the flesh is no match for spiritual foes. This disadvantage of the flesh is the reason God has supplied spiritual weapons for the believer.

Paul was aware of the weakness and futility of his flesh. He knew that when it came to dealing with the devil, he had to turn his attention to the realm of the Spirit where supernatural assistance was available and spiritual weapons existed for him to use against the devil. He knew his greatest weapons did not lie in his mind, his talents, or his flesh, but in spiritual weapons that exist in the realm of God's Spirit.

In Acts 19, a group of exorcists, whom the Bible identifies as the seven sons of a man named Sceva, attempted to cast an evil spirit out of a demon-possessed man. But when they commanded the evil spirit to come out of that man, the spirit answered them: ".Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?" (Acts 19:14,15).

Think of it! That evil spirit knew who Jesus was and who Paul was! Even though Paul lived in a small body that had been mercilessly beaten and abused, he was so powerful in the spiritual realm that hell knew his name! Perhaps the limitations of Paul's flesh turned out to be to his advantage! Because he couldn't lean on his flesh, he had to learn how to function in the realm of the Spirit — and that's the reason the evil spirits knew who he was!

That's exactly what you need to do as well. Yes, you may live in a fleshly body that has all kinds of limitations, but you can go forth with spiritual weapons to do warfare in the Spirit! Regardless of what you look like in the natural realm, you can be a holy terror to the devil in the spiritual realm. So reach out and take the loin belt of truth, the shoes of peace, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. When you're clothed in the whole armor of God, you can win the victory over the kingdom of darkness every time! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty


Samantha said...

"Great topic & it has covered several points regarding
subliminal messaging technology. It was fun reading your article. You might want to check out as they have a whole range of articles and programs related to subliminal messages."

The Steins said...

I really needed that Bro Rusty! Thank you..We miss you guys!