What Are the Weapons of Christian Warfare and Who is the Enemy? #269
Happy Monday, dear friends! Our Bible passages for this fine Monday include 2nd Samuel 17 (death and mayhem, of course), plus Psalms 72, Ezekiel 24 and 2nd Corinthians 10. Today, we’re going to jump into the time machine and head back to 1990, baby. That was a great year for me – the year I graduated from high school, and the year I discovered that I had preternatural senses, a mutant healing factor, an adamantium laced skeleton and indestructible claws that came out from between my knuckles. Oh wait, that last part was Wolverine. I get he and I mixed up sometimes for obvious reasons. But, I did graduate in 1990, and it was an odd year musically for me. My favorite musical genres were alternative, grunge, hard rock and heavy metal, with a little rap thrown in, but I was in the process of being convicted by God for some of my musical choices, so thanks to my good buddy Michael Whitlark, I found out about Christian heavy metal. This is Christian music, written by Christians (by and large) that sounded somewhat like the heavy metal acts that I really liked at the time – bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer and Barry Manilow. One of my favorites of the Christian heavy metal genre was Deliverance, and they released an amazing album called ‘Weapons of our Warfare’ in 1990. It was all about spiritual warfare and had a picture on the album cover of the apostle Paul writing 2nd Corinthians 10, while in the background a heavily armed angel has grasped a demon-dragon by the throat, and is about to disembowel it. As you can imagine, this is an aggressive album, and it even has a song on it called, “Slay the Wicked!” That song starts with the sound of a sword being drawn, and appears to include the sound of that sword chopping something off! But it does have some pretty great lines, “Angelic forces fighting the battles, Unseen warriors, Mighty they are
There is no place where angels fear to tread Drawing swords of His awesome power, The word of truth on their lips Prevailing over the rulers of this age, Release the power…not ours, not angels, but God’s own power! This is the hour! Demons, your fate is sealed…slay the wicked!…
It also has an amazing song with the lyrics of Galatians 6 in it – ‘We shall reap, if we faint not!” Several of the Bible verses that I have memorized have come from my Christian heavy metal phase…which I still go into from time to time. I like my music like I like my mints – powerful, aggressive and enlivening! Altoids are way too weak for me.
Looking back, the best thing about the album is the very first track, entitled ‘Supplication.” It starts out with an amazing British voice quoting 2nd Corinthians 10 – our focus chapter today – verse 4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” GREAT STUFF, and I can’t really talk about 2nd Corinthians 10 without thinking about that album. Let’s read the Bible passage, and see if it is quite as violent as the band Deliverance seems to envision it, and then discuss what the weapons of our warfare are, and who we are to use them against!
So – violent passage, right? Well – yes it is, but not violent in the action movie sense, or the hand to hand combat sense. Here’s the thing about Paul: he was not a bad man. He apparently was remarkably unimpressive to look at and listen to, and he was, by his own confession, quite physically weak, based on this passage, “ 10 For it is said, “His letters are weighty and powerful, but his physical presence is weak and his public speaking amounts to nothing.” Think about that for a moment: the chief spokesman of early Christianity, whom God used to spread the gospel all over Asia and Europe, was weak and a poor public speaker…and yet God used Him to ignite an inarguably world-changing movement that has lasted almost 2 millenia. That is difficult to explain without resorting to the supernatural. This factoid helps us realize that Paul isn’t talking about hand to hand combat weapons like swords and battle axes. We also know this from vss. 3-6:
3 For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 6 And we are ready to punish any disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
2nd Corinthians 10:3-6
If Paul wasn’t talking about physical weapons, what was he talking about? Well, we can turn to Ephesians 6 for the answer, of course:
10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. 13 For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
People often say there is only one weapon in this passage – the sword of the Spirit, but I actually see TWO weapons – which, when combined, form the weapons of our warfare: The Sword of Truth, which is the Word of God, and praying in the Spirit and interceding. We fight the spiritual battles in front of us – not with our fists, or our adamantium claws, and most especially not with our insults, cut-downs, back-biting, slander, libel, gossip and angry outbursts, but with the Word of God and prayer. These are the mighty weapons that Paul is talking about – the Word of God, which is sharper than ANY sword:
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
And a lifestyle of persevering, Spirit empowered, Spirit led, and Spirit soaked praying in the Spirit. We know that there is an offensive weapon type capacity to prayer in the realm of spiritual warfares from instances like the time where the disciples failed to cast a demon out of a suffering young boy. When they asked Jesus why they failed, His answer was, “This kind can only come out by prayer.” We also know that praying in the Spirit has a strengthening quality from passages like Jude 20, “But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,”
Now, you might be thinking that today’s answer to the Big Bible question is very much elementary, and you might be wanting something deeper and more mysterious. Sorry to disappoint, but I need to tell you this: What we have been given today in the Word of God IS powerful and mighty in God to the pulling down of strongholds. It is also rare. Most Christians would probably know that the Word of God is like a sword, and they would know that praying can be helpful in spiritual warfare, but very few Christians actually dwell in the Word and in prayer to the degree necessary to persevere in spiritual warfare against the enemy, and pull down those strongholds. In the same way that lifting one 10 pound weight one rep once a month won’t make you strong, and running 10 yards at a slow pace once every six months won’t make you fast…praying a short prayer over your Raisin Bran and reading a Bible verse a day won’t make you mighty in God to the pulling down of strongholds.
One more question to cover: WHO is the enemy? And the answer is very, very important: NOT HUMANS. Your enemy is NOT humans. Not Democrat humans, Trump supporting humans, Trump hating humans, liberal humans, conservative humans, white humans, black humans, brown humans, old humans, young humans, teenage humans, rich humans, poor humans, entitled humans, foul-mouthed humans, humans in gangs, humans in law-enforcement, humans in your family, humans that are your in-laws, your spouse humans, your parental unit humans, your sibling humans, or ANY HUMANS. Humans are NOT the enemy that our weapons of warfare are to be used against. Instead:
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.
More on that passage and that truth when we get to it, but one more reminder: humans aren’t your enemies, they are your mission field. Turn the other cheek. Serve them with humility. Love them as you love yourself, and stretch yourself to share the good news of Jesus to them. You have been sent as an ambassador to represent King Jesus to these humans, and He loves them and desires that all of them come to the truth and be saved. Don’t make enemies out of people, make disciples!