The Weapons of Our Warfare

2 Corinthians

The Weapons of Our Warfare

June 10th, 1956 @ 10:50 AM

2 Corinthians 10:3-6

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.
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THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Corinthians 10:3-6

6-10-56    10:50 a.m.

 

 

You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  And this is a humble servant who had rather be pastor of this church than to be the king of England or the ruler of the whole universe.  This is a happy pastor who delights to open God’s Book and to read from its page, and in prayer and in humble asking for God’s divine wisdom, to break for our hearts the Bread of Life.

So many ask the pastor, “How are you faring preaching three sermons every Sunday?”  And my reply, “I never enjoyed the wild joys and gladnesses of living in my life as I do doing just that.  And I am looking forward to the day when maybe we can have four services a day and the pastor prepares four different sermons.”  Wouldn’t that be a great problem to face, that so many people attended upon the preaching of the Word of God that the great church had to have four services a day?  Well, three is a nice beginning, and my soul has grown in these days since we began that extra service.  I love to study and to prepare the sermon.

I thought that I knew something and somewhat of the Word of God when I was doing my graduate study, and for three years beyond the master’s degree in the seminary, getting a doctor of philosophy degree.  For three years in that graduate work, studying the Bible, I thought then that I knew somewhat of the depth of the riches of the revelation of God in these Holy Scriptures.  I have found mostly in these recent days that I just barely had touched the top of the surface.  There are unfathomable depths, impenetrable riches.  There are gold, and silver, and pearls, and gems beyond what you ever would think for, as you probe into the deep things of God in this Book.  Ah, what a privilege to open it, to read it, to ask God to give you a message from it, and then to feel God’s Spirit talk to your heart.

Now the power that it has lies in the intercession of the people, for it is still sentence and language and word until it is quickened and incarnate in us.  I will read the passage, as I will just now, but unless the Holy Spirit gives it life, makes it live, quickens it—unless it is incarnate in our hearts, our souls, our bodies, in our minds, it still is just a printed word.  The power of it lies in its incarnation.  It must in our hearts, in our minds; it must come to life again.  It must live in us, throb in us, as it did in the heart of the one who wrote it.  So all these services are reincarnations of the great truth of God that the Holy Spirit placed in a prophet or an apostle, years ago.  But the Spirit Himself is the Ancient of Days, and the great truth is eternal and timeless.  And it is for us to receive it, that it might live again in our souls. 

Now we have come to the tenth chapter of the second Corinthian letter, 2 Corinthians 10:

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.

But 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 strongholds;)

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.

[2 Corinthians 10:1-6]

 

When Paul writes his letters—and we have thirteen of them in the Bible—when Paul writes his letters, they are all full of feeling.  They are filled with personal reverence.  They were written at a white heat.  I would think that Paul never in his fondest imagination once dreamed that they would be incorporated in a Bible, as we have, and that two thousand years later we would be reading them.  They lived in the presence of the imminent return of the Lord.  Paul and most of them, for most of their lives, thought Jesus would come in their day and in their time.  And that is the way all of us ought to live, in the immediacy, the immanency, of the coming of our Lord.  That gave rise to everything that we call Christian.  Paul wrote his letters, I say, at a white heat.  Things would arise, and he would write the letter to the church.

Now this second Corinthian letter is no different.  Having left Ephesus in an uproar, having been forced out of the city [Acts 19:1-20:1], he went around to Corinth, over there in Achaia, in Greece, the Peloponnesian peninsula, down there below Athens.  He went way around like this, clear around the Aegean Sea, and up there in Macedonia, the lower part of the Balkan Peninsula.  Up there in Macedonia, he met Titus [2 Corinthians 7:6], whom he had sent to the Corinthian church, to see what he could do to quell the trouble, and the turmoil, and the strife, and the division that was severing the church in pieces [1 Corinthians 3:3].  When he met Titus in Macedonia, a part of what Titus had to say was full of good news.  It was gladness.  So Paul wrote the first part of the second Corinthian letter; 2 Corinthians 1 through 7.  Those chapters are chapters of great comfort and gladness and exaltation [2 Corinthians 1:1-7:16].  Then the eighth and ninth chapters concerned the offering, the collection he was taking [2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15].

Now when you come to the tenth chapter of the book, from the tenth to the end, from the tenth through the thirteenth chapters, you come into an altogether different atmosphere [2 Corinthians 10:1-13:14].  It’s not the same letter.  It’s not the same tone.  It’s not the same spirit.  You would hardly think it would be the same man who was writing.  And the reason for it was this.  When he met Titus, Titus not only told him good news—the church was so wonderfully overcoming the tremendous handicaps that were facing it [2 Corinthians 7:7-12]—but also Titus brought in bad news, discouraging news.  And the discouraging news was this [2 Corinthians 10:2]: there was a group in Corinth—there was a party there, a faction there—there was a group in Corinth that were bitter in their castigation and their criticism of the apostle.  They called him every uncomplimentary thing that language could sustain.  He was a pseudo-apostle.  He was not a real apostle.  He was a low schemer in all that he did, and everything that he said was for his own advancement.  He was trying to further himself, and he had no genuine message from Christ, and he perverted the real gospel of the Son of God.  Oh, they said lots of things! [2 Corinthians 10:10-14]  

Now, Paul addresses the last part of this Corinthian letter to that recalcitrant, incorrigible, obstreperous group.  And when he speaks then, he will speak in a tone of defense.  He is vindicating his apostleship [2 Corinthians 10:8].  So when we enter these tenth through the thirteenth chapters, that is the spirit of the thing.  Now he uses an illustration here that is going to comprise the message of this morning.  He uses it incidentally.  It is not the direct purpose of what he’s writing.  But he uses a metaphor, and then he elaborates upon it, it catches fire.  And that metaphor is our sermon today.  He starts off by saying, “I Paul . . . beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I who among you, present among you, meek and base and lowly, but absent from you, I am very bold writing you this letter.  And I beseech you, that I do not have to be bold and denunciatory, and castigate, when I am with you in presence.  But if I have to be, I will not be reluctant to be against some who think of me as if I walked according to the flesh; that what I was doing was hiding some ulterior purpose for myself, as though what I was doing was for my own personal furtherment and aggrandizement” [2 Corinthians 10:1-2].

Then Paul says, “I admit that we walk in the flesh, live in a mortal body.  I am a mortal man, I admit that.  But we do not war after the flesh We are soldiers of Jesus Christ.  But our plans for battle and our weapons of conquest are not carnal; they are not fleshly” [2 Corinthians 10:2-3].

(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 exalteth itself against . . . God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

having in readiness to revenge all disobedience

 [2 Corinthians 10:4-6]

 

Now this is what he did.  A characteristic of Paul is this.  He will say something; then that something will suggest something to him, and away he goes; then he will come back to his original subject.  He is very volative.  His mind is very active under God, most quickened and alive.  He is just full of things to say and to write and to preach; and he will use a simile, or a metaphor, or an illustration; then, that will suggest a group of things in his mind, and he says them; then he will come back to what he originally said.  Now, that’s what he did here.  When he was answering those critics that he walked in the flesh and that he was a soldier for himself [2 Corinthians 10:2]; he said, “I admit that we walk in the flesh.  We are mortal men, but our soldiering, our preaching, our ministering, our gospelizing, our evangelizing, is not according to the flesh.  But we war according to the mighty spiritual weapons God hath placed in our hands” [2 Corinthians 10:4].  And then the illustration catches fire.  And back of the imagery is this.  He looks upon himself and the fellow gospel preachers who are with him.  He looks upon them as soldiers who are attacking a great fortress or fortresses.  And they are doing it in the power of God.  And he speaks of the pulling down of those great fortresses, the strongholds, and the casting down of those high towers, those great, mighty castles, and bringing into captivity, seizing those people and carrying them away captive, and then bringing revengeance on the rebels who still hold out against the message of Christ [2 Corinthians 10:3-6].  Now that is what he is talking about there.

Now, that’s an unusual thing.  That is a stupendously different thing when it applies to a preacher of peace, a messenger of Christ.  Here is a man, here is the spectacular thing.  He starts off by the meekness and the gentleness of Christ.  Here is a minister who is a preacher of Jesus and a representative of the lowly Lord [2 Corinthians 10:1].  And then down here, you have this unusual thing of that man who is a lowly minister of Christ, he is storming a fortress!  And he is in the war!  And he is casting down castles!  And he is overcoming high towers!  And he is conquering kingdoms!  And he is carrying into captivity!  And he is ready to bring revengeance upon the rebels who still hold out! [2 Corinthians 10:3-6].  I tell you, the gymnastics that Paul will go through with in about three or four verses is astounding!

Well, the difference here lies in this, that the weapons of a carnal warfare are full of agony, and dread, and death, a big bomb that falls from the sky, the rattle of a machine gun, the blood and terror and the horror and sorrow in the weak.  Those are the weapons of a carnal warfare.  But the weapons that he speaks of are of a different nature [2 Corinthians 10:4].  They are spiritual weapons, mighty under God, and their use is toward the subjugation of the kingdom of Satan and bringing all of this world into captivity, to the mind and heart that is in Christ Jesus [2 Corinthians 10:4-5]. Now, so much for the explanation of the passage. 

Now, may I take his metaphor?  The storming of the fortress, the casting down of the high tower, the leading away into captivity [2 Corinthians 10:4-5], may I take the thought and apply it to our hearts and lives today?  Any preacher, any gospelizer, any evangelist, any soldier of Jesus, when he seeks to take to the hearts of men the overwhelming, changing, converting message of Christ—when he does it, he meets terrible opposition [2 Corinthians 10:5-6].  When the gospel message endeavors to penetrate into a man’s heart, there are great earthen works, breastworks that are thrown up against him [2 Corinthians 10:4-5].

The man on the inside of that castle, the man behind those frowning walls, those great fortresses, he is not easily taken. And he looks down upon his assailants.  He has entrenched himself, Paul says, in a high tower and a great, strong fortress.  This man to whom you are bringing the message of Christ, he’s in that fortress, surrounded by those great, towering walls.  And if I could name some things that he’s in up there, he’s in a great fortress of self-sufficiency.  He doesn’t need your God.  He has no use for your Christ.  And he has no time for your church.  And he is too busy to listen to your message.  He’s in a high fortress that frowns down upon you.

Another thing:  he’s in a high tower of contumely, and contumaciousness, and intellectual pride and conceit.  And with superciliousness he looks down upon this poor preacher.  Why, he says in his heart, “This thing of conversion and of becoming a Christian; that’s for the publican, and the sinners, and for the ignorant; for those.  But as for me, I do not share in those things, they’re for somebody else, but they’re not for me.”  Then he shuts himself up in that high tower and behind those massive walls, and he puts over him the protective covering of tremendous things and ceilings and roofs.

And the light of God’s penetrating love and revelation, he shuts out.  And he lives in the dark, and the recesses of his life are dark.  They never come under the light of the convicting power of the Son of God; so there he is in that tremendous fortress, and he has shut out and opposed Paul; the message brought by the Christian preacher.  So the Christian preacher talks to him, and he says, “Up there in your tower, you beyond that high, strong wall, you listen to my message.”  And he replies.  He says lots of things.  He replies.  He calls down to the preacher as he brings the message, and he says, “Listen, I haven’t time for those impractical matters.  I am a practical man, and I have to do with things of a practical nature.  Why,” says that man, “I am engrossed with great questions like this.  What shall I eat?  And what shall I drink?  And wherewithal shall I be clothed?  And I have no time for questions such as, what must I do to be saved?”  So he is up there in that fortress, and he is up there in that high tower, and he’s giving his life, oh, to many things.  “Let’s eat and drink and be merry,” he says, “and forget about God.”  No time for Christ.  Pass by the cross and never look at Jesus.  Oh, what a sin!—as though he had sinned in no other way.  Yet has he sinned thusly, that he rejects, and spurns and passes by the overtures of grace of God in Christ Jesus [Luke 12:19-20].  But he’s up there in that fortress, and he’s giving himself to those things of the day.  And he has no time for Jesus.

But the preacher does not go away.  He is importunate, and he storms that tower with the weapons of God, and he calls for that man to open his heart to God.  And the man has many sly things to respond, and here is one of them.  He says, “Now listen.  Listen to me.”  He says, “I was born a Christian.  I was born a Christian.  And I don’t need your gospel message.  And I don’t need to come down that aisle.  And I don’t need to confess my faith in Christ.  And I don’t need for you to baptize me.  I was born a Christian.”  Oh, that’s one of the most—oh, that’s one of the hardest walls to penetrate, and that’s one of the hardest breastworks, earthen works, to overcome that I know of in this world.

Did you know in my work among people, the one sure answer that just pulverizes the appeal of this preacher is this?  “Now, you wait a minute, preacher.  I was christened when I was a baby.  I was baptized when I was an infant.  I was born a Christian, and I was enrolled in the kingdom of God when I was a little, tiny unconscious baby.”  What are you going to say to that?  What are you going to do about that?  Oh my soul, would to God, would to God that a man could become a Christian just by being christened when he is an unconscious infant!  Wouldn’t that be simple?  Just take all of our babies, take them to the priest, take them to the vicar, take them to the minister, take them to the pastor, and he’d christen them and baptize them and put a little water on their head, and that’d save them, and they’d be saved forever.  Wouldn’t that be easy?  Wouldn’t that be simple?  “I’m born a Christian!”

But God’s Book says, God’s Book says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  Verily, “I say unto you, you must be born again!” [John 3:6-7]  It will not do.  It will not do.  You must be born again!  God says, for a man to be born one time, to be laid an unconscious infant in the arms of a loving mother or father, is not enough.  There’s another birth, there’s another kingdom, there’s another world; and the subjects of that kingdom are those who are spiritually born again in the heart and in the soul [John 3:3].

I must consciously for myself take the Lord Jesus as my Savior in the forgiveness of my sins [Acts 2:38].  My mother, who loves me, cannot believe for me.  My sainted father who is in heaven could not accept Jesus for me.  I must accept Him for myself [John 1:12].  I must repent, I must believe, I must turn to Christ [Acts 3:19].  I must openly, publicly, confess His name [Romans 10:9].  I must be baptized on the basis of that committal of my life [Acts 2:38], in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ; “You must be born again” [John 3:3, 7].

The man in his high tower, he persists.  He’s hard.  He is greatly fortressed roundabout.  But the preacher doesn’t leave.  He is importunate, and he says to the man, “But you must trust in the Lord and be saved” [Acts 16:30-31].  And the man replies in his great high tower, he replies, “Now you listen to me, preacher, now you listen to me.  I don’t believe in any revelation from God.  I don’t believe in that old verse back there in Isaiah 55:3: ‘Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live.’  That’s an old, outmoded, outdated verse in the Bible.  I believe that the only thing we ever know comes through scientific thought, that’s all.  And what is certainly proved by science, those are my acceptances; and what is not brought to me by scientific thought, I will in no wise receive or accept.”  So he shuts his mind, and he closes his heart against all of the revelation of God.  To him, the Book is a book of fables, or it is a book that does not matter—written way back yonder—those dusty, musty pages, reciting a story that ought to have been forgotten about.  And he’s living in a new day and a new generation and a new age, and he worships at the shrine of science and what scientific thought can bring to him.  Oh, what a man!  What a man!  That man is just the same kind of a man who says, “I’m going to shut my eyes.  I’m going to blot out the entire handiwork of Almighty God, and I’m going to evolve me an astronomy all of my own.  I’m just going to think it out for myself and seek it out for myself.  But I’m not going to see what God has done, and I’m not going to look at the great handiwork of God in the heavens.  I’m going to evolve my own astronomy!”

That’s just the same thing as a man living in this world and says, “I’m not going to read what God has said.  I’m not going to study the revelation of God about Himself, but I’m going to think it out for myself.  I’m going to probe down there in the earth, and I’m going to look at the rocks, and I’m going to seek out there under those logs and stones, and I’m going to look at the bugs, and I’m going to study all about zoology and the animals that walk on this earth.  And then I’m going to look around me. And by the time I formulate and summarize all the scientific knowledge, then that will be my Lord and God.”  Ah!  And I’ll tell you the god you’ll come out with: you’ll come out with a god that is just like those stones you are looking at and just like those bugs you are studying, and just like those four-footed and two-footed animals that you are following after, and just like all of the fauna and flora and geology you’ll find in this world.  You don’t elevate.  You don’t rise.  You don’t find Him who made it—not in those things.  The only way we ever know God is through the self-revelation of God [John 1:18, 14:6].  You can’t be smart enough to find Him out.  He has got to reveal Himself, and that revelation lies in the heart and the mind that is in Christ Jesus, who is writ large, who is exposed, who is revealed here on the pages of this sacred Book [John 5:39].  If I don’t find Him here, I don’t find Him.  If I can’t know Him here, I can’t ever know Him; never, never, never.

My man in the high tower, in that fortress, he looks down on me, and he says, “Now listen.  Now listen, I know your Christianity is all right.  And it’s good for you, and it’s good for your people.  I know it’s all right.  But listen to me.  Listen to me, I have an eclectic faith.  I take what’s good in Christianity, I take what is good in philosophy, and I take what’s good in Baha’i, and I take what’s good in Oriental mysticism and theosophy.  And I take what’s good in Hinduism.  I take what’s good in Buddhism.  And I take what’s good in all of these faiths in the world, and I’ll have an eclectic and superior religion.  Now, that’s the kind of religion I’m going to have.”

I was preaching in a city in the North and East.  And the biggest church in that city boasted—the pastor boasted of this—he said, “Our church is not just a Christian church.”  He said, “Our church is a greater than a Christian church.  For,” he said, “a church that worships just Jesus is bound down by the ethic and the revelation of the Lord Jesus.  But,” he said “this church is superior to just the ethic and revelation of the Lord Jesus.”  He says, “This church takes what’s best out of Jesus, and what’s best out of Zoroaster, and what’s best out of Mohammed, and what’s best out of Mahavira, and what’s best out of Buddha, and what’s best out of Confucius, and we put it all together; and all of it together, it makes a superior religion and a greater faith.”  That is what that church’s pastor said.  And they boasted of their intellectual, ethical, religious superiority!

 Ah, my soul, my soul!  Christianity, the faith of Jesus, is not come into this world in order that it might occupy just one of the niches of a great pantheon.  There’s Jesus, and those who want to bow at that shrine; and there’s Buddha for those who want to bow at that shrine; and there’s Confucius; and there is all the rest of them—and in this great pantheon of world faiths, each one may bow at any shrine that he chooses.  Not so.  Not so.  When the Christ comes in, that false god Dagon must fall off his pedestal and not a stump of him remains [1 Samuel 5:1-4].  The faith of Christ is an exclusive faith and an exclusive religion [Acts 4:12].  It countenances no one other.  That pantheon of religions; they have in it every false god in this world, and they can look at one another in perfect peace because they are altogether false. 

There is one true God, and there is one true Savior [Ephesians 4:5-6].  And that God’s name is Jehovah God, and that one Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ, and “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” [Acts 4:12].

The weapons of our warfare as we storm the fortress and the high towers, behind which a man shelters himself against the appeal of the gospel of Christ, and the marvel of it is our weapons are not carnal; but they are mighty through God to the pulling down of the strongholds, to the casting down of every high thing, and to the leading into captivity [2 Corinthians 10:4-5].  Would you believe it?  I am amazed.  I am surprised.  The weapons of our warfare are spiritual; but they are mighty unto God, to the pulling down of the stronghold and the casting down of that high tower [2 Corinthians 10:4]. Would you believe it? 

What are these weapons in our hand by which we storm the heart and the soul?  Why, they are simple things.  They are things like this: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” [John 12:32].  They are the preaching of the gospel of Christ [Romans 10:13-17].  They are the convicting power of the Holy Spirit: “And He, when He comes, will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” [John 16:8].  Every time I talk to a man about Jesus and every time I stand in this pulpit and preach the Lord Jesus, I’ve got God on my side.  The Holy Spirit seeks, penetrates, enters that man’s heart.  And he says, “That preacher is right. That preacher is right.  God is on the side of the preacher.”  “And we overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony” [Revelation 12:11]. 

These are our weapons, spiritual weapons [2 Corinthians 10:4-5].  And what things they bring to pass.  What things.  What things!  There is a publican, a rich tax collector, and he is there in God’s house.  And he is beating on his breast, and he cries, saying, “Lord, Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner, the sinner” [Luke 18:13].  Look at that man.  Look at that man.  Look at him.  Look at this proud rabbi [Paul] who was a young man and a member of the Sanhedrin, who was to inherit the mantle of Gamaliel [Acts 22:3].  Look at that young man.  Look at him.  As now he cries: “O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” [Romans 7:24]  And blinded, they were leading him by the hand into the city of Damascus [Acts 22:11].  Who would ever have thought of that?  Who would ever have thought of it?

Bunyan’s pilgrim, Christian: there he stands with his back to his city and his face to the celestial hills of God, and he holds in his hands an open Book.  And he cries with a great and lamentable cry as he reads from the page, and he says, “What shall I do and where shall I go?”  Isn’t that amazing?  Here’s a man, yesterday he was proud and lifted up and vainglorious and conceited.  He was self-righteous and boasted of his own goodness [Luke 18:11-12].  Now, he’s on his knees, crying, “O God, how unworthy and how undone am I.  Lord, be merciful unto me” [Luke 18:13].  Isn’t that amazing thing?  And there’s not a single one of you but has gone through that experience?  You can remember times in your lives when you were proud in some high tower, when the Spirit of God pulls you down and humbled you, and you felt in your soul such vast, indescribable unworthiness.  “O God, be merciful to me,” the sinner [Luke 18:13]; the weapons of our warfare.

Why, there’s no Sunday passes, no Sunday passes, but that we before our very eyes see men and women, children and young people, humble before God.  Of the seven or eight who came at the eight-fifteen o’clock service this morning, one was a young fellow just crying his heart out.  Put his arm around me, sobbed on my shoulder, said, “Preacher, I just today, I just today, my heart, it just breaks open.  God has just spoken to me.  He has just spoken to me, and my heart is overflowing.”  Why, where does that come from?

 The weapons of our warfare are spiritual weapons.  Paul says, “They are mighty under God, casting down from every high thing, pulling down strongholds, just entering the deepest fortress of the soul” [2 Corinthians 10:4].  We take his last: “And bringing into captivity to the obedience of Christ” [2 Corinthians 10:5].  What he’s got in his mind is this:  have you ever seen pictures of those old inscriptions of Egypt, and of Assyria, and Babylonia, and all those ancient countries when they conquered a people, and on those inscriptions you’d see long strings of captives, just all, the whole nation taken captive?  You’ve seen those pictures.  When you go to Rome and in the Roman Forum, look at the Arch of Titus.  You have there, on that side, on the right side; you have there Titus, at the head of his great, triumphal procession, in his chariot, with an olive crown over him of victory.  And then behind him, then all over there, those long, long trains of captives, the Jewish people that he captured in the destruction of Jerusalem.  Now that was the commonest thing that an ancient would ever know; the long string of captives, following a conquest. 

Now that’s what Paul says: “And bringing into captivity to the obedience of Christ” [2 Corinthians 10:5].  Here’s a captive of the Lord Jesus, and there’s a captive of the Savior.  And there’s a captive of our divine Lord, and there’s a captive of the Holy One of Israel.  He has taken you; He has got you, you belong to Him.  You’re bound by fetters of gold, cables of love.  You’re not your own anymore, you can’t be.  You belong to Him, captive of Christ [Ephesians 3:1].  He has got your mind, your understanding.  You can’t quite shut Him out, not  anymore.  Other things come into your mind, and other thoughts do penetrate your mind, but you can’t leave Jesus out anymore!  He has got your mind and your thoughts and your meditations.  And in the nighttime you think about Him, and in the daytime He comes to your heart, and when the Lord’s Day comes, there’s a pull at the call of the church bell or at the hour of worship.  He has got your mind.  You’re thinking about Him; a captive of Jesus [2 Corinthians 10:5]

There was a time maybe when you never thought about Him at all!  You were drinking, or you were playing, or you were out after the world.  But now, it’s not that way anymore.  He comes and you think about Him, you’re a captive in your mind.  And you’re a captive in your will.  You can’t shut Him out in making decisions any longer, you just can’t.  These things that arise, God enters into them now.  “Is it right?  Is it just?  Is it pleasing in His sight?  Does it honor the Lord?”  You’re a captive, you belong to Him.  You just can’t quite read Him out.  And the great ambitions and hopes of your life somehow are centered in Jesus.   

You get to thinking about—like Dr. Fowler prayed in his prayer—I presume it came to his mind when he thought about our extension day, people who can’t come to church, they’re old, they’re invalid, they’re looking over that river.  How is it on the other side?  You can’t help but be that way when you’re a Christian.  You’re thinking about how is it with the Lord?  “Read me a Scripture, preacher, about heaven, and about that long journey, and about Canaan’s fair and happy land, about the promised world that is to come.”  You just can’t help but think about those things; the Lord and what God has in store for those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 Peter 1:3-4].  You’re a captive, you’re a captive.  He has got you!  But ah, may I say of that captivity?  That’s the perfect freedom!  That’s the sure and eternal liberty, that captivity.  For He Himself said, “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” [Matthew 11:30].   

His chain never galls.  His fetters are never hard or harsh.  I say, it is the one and only perfect liberty.  In Christ, we are His!  He hath taken us by conquest.  He hath overcomest our every objection and excuse, it all is washed away, and here I am, given to the love of God and to the service and ministry of Christ my Lord [2 Corinthians 10:5].

On that radio, if God has made appeal to your heart, if you’ve never responded, today would you say, “Master, there’s one more captive in the train, in the pilgrimage from this world to the world to come, there is one more sojourner.  Lord, it is I!  It is I! I’m one, I’m one!”  In the great congregation this morning, somebody you: “Pastor, Jesus has won me.  I’m His captive and glad to own it so, a yielded, willing conquest.  Here I am, and here I come!”  In the balcony around, somebody you, in the great press of people on this lower floor, somebody you, give your heart to Christ, follow in His train, or put your life in His church.   While we sing the song, while we make appeal, would you come?  Is your wife here?   Would you come and be with her, would you?   Is there any member of your family here?  Would you come and be with them and with us?  A whole family of you together, however God shall say the word and make the appeal, while we sing, would you come?  Would you come, while we stand and while we sing? 

 

 

THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Corinthians 10:3-6

6-10-56

I.          Introduction

A.  Paul’s letters full of personal feeling – Second Corinthians no different

1.  Chapters 1-7 good tidings from Titus

2.  Chapters 8-9 concerned the offering

3.  Chapters 10-13 discouraging news from Titus – Paul writes in defense of his apostolic ministry

B.  The slanderers said Paul “walked according to the flesh”, and only furthered himself(Acts 8:1-13)

C.  Paul’s response includes a metaphor – weapons not of flesh

1.  Spectacle of a minister of the gospel of peace going forth to war(2 Corinthians 10:1-3)

2.  Soldiers attacking great fortresses in the power of God, casting down those high towers, leading captives away, bringing vengeance (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

3.  Weapons arespiritual, for the destruction of the works of Satan and liberation of the soul in captivity to Christ

II.         The opposing fortresses

A.  Fortress of self-sufficiency

B.  High tower of false pride, cultural and intellectual conceit

C.  Heavy walls, sly responses, sunlight of God roofed out by heavy beams

D.  The responses of a man fortressed about

1. “Have more important things to think about” – sin of neglect, indifference, passing it by

2. “I was born a Christian”(John 3:3, 5-7)

3. “Revelation of God is impossible; only truth is through science” (Isaiah 55:3)

4. “I have something better” – best of philosophies, religions together make superior faith(Ephesians 4:5-6, Acts 4:12)

III.        The fortress taken – prisoners led away captive

A.  The weapons

1. The gospel of Christ(John 12:32)

2. The convicting of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8)

3. The testimony of God’s people (Revelation 12:11)

B.  The gospel’s strange work

1.  Publican’s cry, “God be merciful…”(Luke 18:13)

2.  Paul’s cry, “O wretched man that I am…”(Romans 7:24, Acts 22:11)

3.  John Bunyan’s pilgrim

C. The captives led away(2 Corinthians 10:5)

1.  Captives of Christ

a. Inmind, understanding

b. In will

c. In hopes, aspirations(Matthew 11:30)