2 Corinthians 10:3-5. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
One of the questions every Christian needs to ask daily is “where or how am I walking in the flesh alone without the Spirit?” And even more important, “where or how am I waging war according to the flesh?”
One of the primary ways that the flesh grabs hold of our hearts and minds is through what Paul calls arguments and lofty opinions. In other words, our pride and haughtiness, our pretensions. Arguments born out of self-confidence and self-exaltation. These lofty opinions of ourselves are a fortress or stronghold that needs to be breached. A tower that needs to be pulled down. Why? Because clearly this way of thinking is against the knowledge of God and disobedient to Christ. It’s not gospel thinking.
But what exactly are these arguments that Paul is looking to destroy? Well, he doesn’t specifically say. But we know they are full of pride. We know they were arguments against Paul, his authority, and his gospel. They were arguments against the reality of Christ and his cross. In 2 Corinthians 11:4 Paul will say that his opponents preach a “different Jesus.” The fact that Paul says Jesus and not Christ is significant. It may be his way of saying that they follow the Jewish Jesus, but not the risen Christ. They’ve turned Jesus’ teachings into a new law to follow for righteousness, instead of relying on the CROSS alone as the source of all life and grace.
These are the same arguments that we fight against in our own minds still – the argument for a law based self-righteousness. A righteousness that is obtained by our good works. A sanctification that is achieved rather than received. We default to this law keeping. We default to this self-righteousness.
What is more lofty than this? More prideful? This idea that we can earn God’s favor is against the knowledge of God and disobedient to Christ.
Any idea that removes the need for Christ must be destroyed. And this includes a lot of ideas about Jesus. It’s easy for Christians to turn Jesus into a new form of law. How many times have you heard a Christian say that they are “trying to be like Jesus?” Or “trying to be a good Christian?” But this is the pride of the flesh. It’s way too easy for us as Christians to let our minds be taken captive. But our union with Christ leaves no room for this kind of pride within our thinking. Turning Jesus into another form of law IS this lofty thinking that Paul is combating.
You say, “But aren’t we supposed to take every thought captive to obey Christ?”
Yes. But obeying Christ is NOT simply “be like Jesus.” Obeying Christ is trusting Christ. It is relying on his grace and his cross. Taking every thought captive to obey Christ is the same thing as living by faith in what Christ has done for me. It is dependence. Dependence upon his love and grace. Not dependence on our own self-righteousness as we try to be “good Christians,” or try to be “Christ-like.” Yes, Jesus commanded us to abide in his love and to love one another. But first he promised to love us and abide in us. His commandments, therefore, are simply a call to dependent faith. Faith in his grace.
1 John 3:23. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
Is it really possible for us to live a pride filled Christ-less Christianity? I think so. When we make the Christian life more about our progress and less about our position, we face this danger. When we make the aim of our faith to “be better” or “be more like Jesus” rather than about needing grace, we are placing our faith in a fleshly, lofty opinion, that is against the knowledge of God. Any way of thinking that takes away from our faith in God’s grace must be destroyed. It must be taken captive and executed.
“To live is Christ” removes the need for this pride filled and fleshly thinking, this form of law, by making us perfectly righteous right now. While at the same time reminding us that we are also completely sinful right now. Therefore, the Christian life is not about the pride filled journey of getting better and better. It is about the never ending need for grace. Grace that will ultimately make you like Jesus.
Are you fully relying on God’s grace today, or has your life been more about your behavior than his grace?
You in Christ
How does union with Christ allow us to place our faith in a position and not in our own progress?
Christ in you
What specific lofty opinion about yourself do you need to take captive and execute today?
Playlist: Taking thoughts captive.