II Crinthians 10 Warfare

September 28, 2014  II Corinthians 10  Warfare and Prayer 

 

      In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was proclaimed in America.  The word spread from Capitol Hill down into the valleys of Virginia, and the Carolinas, and evens into the plantations of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. The headlines read, ’Slavery Legally Abolished!’   However, the greater majority of slaves, in the South, went right on living as though there had been no emancipation.   They went on living like they had never been set free. In fact, when one Alabama slave was asked what he thought of the Great Emancipator, whose proclamation had gone into effect, he replied "I don’t know nothing about Abraham Lincoln except they say he set us free.   And, I don’t know nothing about that neither."   How tragic.   A war was being fought.   A document had been signed.    Slaves were legally set free.    Yet most continued to live out their years without knowing anything about it.    They had chosen to remain slaves, though they were legally free.   Even though emancipated, they kept serving the same master throughout their lives. It was all they knew.  They did not know where else to go.    Yet so it is with many believers today.  They have been set free, yet they have chosen to remain slaves to the same strongholds that have gripped them in their life. 

    Scripture is very plain brothers and sisters that you have been set free.  If you have received Jesus Christ into your life you are set free.  Sin no longer has power over you.  You can chose to sin and you can yield to temptation but Jesus has set you free.   When a non believer sins he or she is just doing what is natural for them but it is different for a believer.  We have a new power in our life.   If anyone is in Jesus they are a new person a new creation.   Christians are the temple of the living God.  Your body and thoughts belong to God.  Romans 6:14 for sin shall not be your master because you are not under law but under grace.   We are empowered and changed and we can walk in that freedom.   We are to walk in that power and victory.    It is our blessing and responsibility to do that. 

     Edward Sanford Martin, in ’My Name is Legion,’ said it best: "Within my earthly temple there’s a crowd; There’s one of us that’s humble, and one of us that’s proud.   There’s one that’s broken-hearted for his sins, there’s one that is unrepentant sits and grins.    There’s one that loves his neighbor as himself and one that cares for naught but fame and self.   From much corroding care I should be free, if I could once determine which is me!"    Scripture is clear that our real life is in Jesus.    It is not this world and sin.    Colossians 3 tells us since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.    Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.    For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.   When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.    Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature.   The Christian’s life belongs to God and not for himself or herself. 

    We are in a war.  God did not insulate us from this world.   We are in it and experience it.    We are not helpless in this world.   We war against the flesh, the world and the devil.   We are not without tools to fight in this war.   We are in a war to be Christ like.   There is no real spiritual power in the Christians life unless he or she is consistently walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.    Paul is talking about power in this passage to change lives.  This passage is not holding the fort.   It is not just what happens here on Sunday.   The way Paul talks about this is going into the enemy camp and doing battle.  It is setting captives free.  Perhaps some of us are not ready to do that yet.   Where is this battle fought?   It is fought in the mind.  There is a battle for our thoughts and mind.  The first step in warfare is controlling our mind.  Even though it is in our mind it is a very real battle.   It is not an easy battle. 

    There certainly is authority in this passage.  When Paul talks about his weapons that are mighty – that is authority.  There is authority involved with demolishing strongholds.  There is authority in destroying arguments.  There is authority in taking every thought captive to Jesus.  And there is authority in punishing every act of disobedience.   There is authority and power in those acts.  We have authority and power in Jesus.   Jesus said I have all authority in heaven and on earth and you go in that authority.  Jesus gave authority to his disciples to cast out demons and to heal.  

    The Holy Spirit tells us in this passage that the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world on the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds.   The weapons used in this battle are not carnal.   They are not fleshly weapons.   Only spiritual weapons can break these strongholds.   These weapons can totally destroy, totally break, and wipe out these barriers to God in a person’s life.   A stronghold is a place of power and hence it takes power to break it.  It is like a wall or a barrier.   It is like a fortress.  There is strength in it.

       It is to make hard or strengthen.  It is an area to contend for.   Dictionary says an area dominated or occupied by a group or marked by a quality.   Paul is certainly talking about it in a negative way because it is against God.  It can be an area in a Christian life that the enemy controls or that sin controls.  It is an area that is not under the control of Jesus for the Christian.  Those walls, those strongholds, those barriers may be and can be broken through spiritual tools that the Christian has.  Generally it is not easy to break them.   It takes spiritual power to break them.  The arm of flesh will fail you.    It is a war it is a battle.  It is a battle to be totally in submission to Jesus.  There is no indication here that the Corinthians wanted or were in submission to the breaking down of these strongholds.   That is very important.  God can work where people do not want God to work.   Do not be quick to give up.  King David sinned and Nathan told him you are the man.   David had been burying his sin with Bathsheba but God used Nathan to get his attention. 

     As we look at this passage Paul is writing this to the church at Corinth.    He is talking about his ability to defeat strongholds in the church.  Paul is not writing about himself but breaking forces in others.    But let’s just be aware that we have resources as Christians to break personal strongholds I believe.  As Christians we may need the help of others from time to time to break strongholds personal or in others.     Jesus used the scriptures to defeat Satan as he was tempted in the wilderness.  God has given us everything we need to live righteous lives and God expects us to use those resources.  

    How do people get caught up in strongholds?   It can be quite innocent but generally it is too much of the world.  It is sowing thoughts that can lead to habits, patterns and character.   It can be hanging around with wrong people.   It is excusing things in your life that are wrong.   It is saying to yourself that is OK.   I will just do that this once.   If you open the door Satan and temptation come in like a flood and then we are busted.   Some little indiscretion turns into a huge war for us.  Wrong patterns set in.  Wrong thought patterns lead to wrong actions.  Those that play in the devils arena find that they are it.   Satan can easily defeat our feelings, our wishes, our flesh, and desires but when we use the word of God and spiritual tools such as prayer he can’t stand.  James tells us to submit to God resist the devil and he will flee from you.   He has to go.    Jesus told Peter get behind me Satan. 

    There is a war in the heavens above us.   You can see that in Daniel where the angel battled for 21 days to bring God’s answer back to Daniel.  We see it in Ephesians 6 where we are told that our struggles are not against flesh and blood but against rulers against the authorities against the powers of dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.    It seems clear that spiritual forces of evil are in heavenly realms.  In Revelation 12 and there was war in heaven.  Is Satan in heaven or has Satan been cast out?   Does he accuse us day and night before the Father or has
Satan been kicked out?     That war finds its way down here on earth.  There is a war in the world.

       The voice of the martyrs (VOM) flier said that 3,000 Christians have been killed in the last 6 months in Nigeria.  Over 11K Christians have fled their homes this year because of attacks in Nigeria.   I have heard or read recently that Christian children are being beheaded by ISIS.    President O Bama says they are killing Muslins also.   Innocent people are being starved and killed.  Christians are persecuted around the world and God will deal with it.  It is estimated that there are over 300,000 Christian martyrs each year.   They give their life for the name of Jesus.   The VOM bible cover states that the bible is illegal in 52 countries.  

     Paul does not talk about prayer in this passage but I am not sure we cannot do spiritual battle without prayer.  Prayer is a key tool for any spiritual victory.  It is an important element in our walk with God.    I know we can use scripture against “Satan and can rebuke Satan in the name of Jesus but I think prayer is under all of that.   Jesus told the disciples that the demon tormenting the boy could only be forced or driven out by prayer.   People were never meant for demon possession so in a sense when demons afflict or possess people the demons are really squatters.   They do not belong and should not be in people.  People can open a door for them so they get in but ultimately if they are in people they are there illegally.  God never intended for man to be possessed by demons.  From what I see Jesus always set people free from demons.   Demons always afflict people and bring people down.   God is not mocked we reap what we sow.  

    The spiritual world impacts us a lot.   The Lord reminded me of John Dawson’s book on taking our cites for God on how to break spiritual strongholds for God.    John writes the greatest prayer effort I have experienced was in Los Angeles during 1983 and 1984.  The Olympic outreach is the central illustration of this book and the prayer strategy and its results are among the most exciting stories of all.   He writes we knew the attention of the world would be on our city.   We expected 100’s of thousands of foreign guests.  People from almost every nation would come to a city with religious freedom.  Over 1600 churches united in an active coalition.  Ten sub committees were dedicated to every conceivable form of evangelism and met to pray.   Two hundred pastors met for 3 days of prayer. One group of women purchased detailed street maps and spent months praying over the inhabitants on every street.  A group in Korea of over 300,000 intercessors prayed for Los Angeles.  Television, newspapers, and magazines called for prayer.  Two hundred pastors of the city met each month for prayer at the Olympic village site.

     The spiritual atmosphere over the city changed.   When the outreach began teams reported that more than 1,000 people each day came to Jesus.  Everything in the city was affected.   People were friendly.  Instead of the expected increase in crime the crime rate decreased.   The city was free from spiritual oppression.   A police academy Chaplin visited the county morgue shortly after the outreach.   The coroner told him that normally the morgue received 78 bodies a day many of whom are victims of murder.   The Chaplin asked him if he ever saw a change in those statistics.  The coroner gave an exciting answer, yes he said during the 2 weeks of the Olympics there were no murders.  Not a single person murdered for 2 weeks when normally there were several a day.   We have powerful spiritual resources.    We wrestle not against flesh and blood.  We are in a spiritual battle and we can by God’s grace abolish strongholds in our lives and in the lives of others.   Brothers and sisters only engage these dark spiritual forces as God leads you and do not forget without Jesus you can do nothing.  Cover yourself in prayer before you go into heavy spiritual battle and I suggest that you take a mature Christian with you.