by Wayne Barber<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul said to the Corinthians who desperately wanted to see him vindicated, “Don’t make me have to be bold among you when I come, just to satisfy your intent of showing me off as to how I can really be! Don’t take matters in your own hands and take up an offense for me.”
Why, Paul? Because though we live in bodies that are subject to that kind of behavior we don’t war according to its weapons! “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh” (v. 3). Paul knew what I wish we could all understand about being believers: We are in a war with our fleshly mindset to do things its own way, particularly in resolving the conflicting situations of life.
But God has a better way! The flesh has it’s weapons of “get in their face,” “even lie if you have to,” etc. But we don’t fall into that trap if we are allowing Christ to live in and through us!
In dealing with conflict, we need to know our weapons: “for the weapons of our warfare are not (ou in the Greek: absolutely not) of the flesh, but divinely powerful” (v. 4).
First of all, the weapons that are necessary to combat our real enemy are divinely powerful! They are not the grossly ineffective, weak and anemic weapons “of the flesh.” Instead, they are powerful (dunatós, mighty; capable of accomplishing the task. Our weapons are mighty because they are of God. If you think about it, when you deal with conflict situations only God knows what the real problem is anyway! If there is ever going to be a solution then it has to begin with Him
The battle Paul was up against in Corinth was a battle of humanistic error; worldly wisdom; and false doctrine. His opponents had impressive worldly credentials and were in command of the way people thought and behaved. Notice how Paul contrasts who God chooses to use: “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong (1 Cor. 1:26-27).
Paul was in total contrast to the academia of the world, who were polished and successful and persuasive in how they presented their false message: “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 2: 1-5).
We need to realize that our weapons are not “what” but “who”! Jesus is our weapon!
This once again shows us that before we ever approach any conflict, whether it involve ourselves or one whom we love, we must be dressed in the armored garment of Christ! When He is in control of our lives and we are workers together with Him, then His armor; His weapons; are weapons of righteousness (see also 2 Cor. 6:7).
Christ in us is the only one who can solve the conflicts that come either from other believers or the pagan world! His arsenal is divinely powerful! Obviously, His arsenal includes not only His character, but also His Word: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). This word is rhema, the spoken word—that with which Christ convicts us in our hearts, in the middle of a conflicting situation. This is not just head-knowledge of God’s Word but having God burn it into your heart as you get into it to seek Him. When Israel was just about to go into the biggest struggle of its life God told Joshua: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Josh. 1:8). “Joshua, get into My Word and meditate on it and don’t let anything come out of your mouth that is not saturated with My Word!”
When we face hurtful conflict and we want to experience for ourselves the divinely powerful weapons of Christ living in us, then we must immediately go to God in prayer and to His Word! The only thing that will disarm our opponents in a hurtful climate will be His character seen in us and His Word seasoning everything we say!
Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church
in Albuquerque, New Mexico.