Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pulling Down Strongholds

 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 10:3-6

There is so much talk of guns these days, and so many people think that the answer to all of our problems is to be better armed than the other guy.  I don't really want to get into a gun debate, but I thought about it when I read these verses.  "Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh" says Paul.  And Paul knew about weapons.  He had been in charge of capturing and killing Christians.  I don't think this was done in a peaceful manner.  I imagine that they were sent out with weapons to ensure compliance, as well as their own safety.  But I can't remember anywhere after Paul's amazing conversion that it mentions him using a weapon.  

 The truth is that we do have strongholds that need to come down.  But they are not the strongholds we are worried about.  We are worried about protecting our lives.  We are worried about protecting our health.  We are worried about protecting our possessions.  We are worried about protecting our rights.  We are worried about protecting our freedoms.  But these things are all carnal.  Worldly.  Of the flesh.  Paul is talking about something other than the flesh.  Our strongholds are not the things we worry about.  They are the worries themselves!  They are our imaginations (arguments and theories).  High things that are against the knowledge of God (pride and pretentions).  Our thoughts.  Our disobedience.   

It is pretty easy to fight against those who attack us.  It is pretty easy to fight against those who attack God.   It is not so easy to fight against our own minds.  We cannot pull down the strongholds of our own minds.  Our prejudices and arguments and thoughts have been built up over years.  We have bought into the lie that it is all about us, and that we need to look out for number one.  We have had years of indoctrination through everything we hear, watch, and read.  We have been taught this by well-meaning instructors our whole lives.  This way of thinking has become our way of dealing with the world.  It has infiltrated itself into our family dynamics, and even into our churches.  It informs everything we do, and affects every relationship we have.  

So how do we break down the walls?  We don't even know where they are.  They are so overgrown that we don't know where to start.  

Paul says that our weapons are not carnal, but "mighty through God."  Jesus said that we need to humble ourselves, and we will be exalted (see Matthew 23:12).   Maybe it goes along with the "admit you have a problem" philosophy.  "Hello, my name is Robin, and I am all about ME.  It has been one second since my last selfish thought."  The difference is that with God, we can truly change.  People who have gone through AA can go for the rest of their lives with the knowledge that one drink could send them back into that downhill spiral to alcoholism.  People who have turned from their old ways of life to following Jesus Christ are born into new people.  The old life has been buried.  Those old strongholds are broken and cleared out, and we get to start over again.  

Sometimes it's not instantaneous. Sometimes there are hidden places that we forgot to turn over to God.  We suddenly realize that we are back to walking in the flesh and warring after the flesh.  But now we know what to do.  We humble ourselves before God.  We confess and we turn away from those sins.  And we are delivered again, clean before God.  Jesus took care of that for us.  He died, so that we would live.  He took our punishment.  He took all of our dirt and stains and left them in the tomb.  If we are dying in our sins, it is our choice to do so. 

 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free...Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin... If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
John 8:31,32,34,36 

We are not mighty in ourselves, no matter what we can bench-press or what our stock portfolio says.  But we are mighty through God.  He will pull down those strongholds if we will let him.  And then we can be free indeed.

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