What does spiritual warfare consist in? For example, when Paul says “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds,” (2 Corinthians 10:4), what are the spiritual weapons that he’s talking about, and what are the strongholds that we are supposed to destroy with them? Paul answers our question by continuing in verse 5, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive in order to obey Christ.” The targets he has in mind to destroy are all the false religions and the worldly wisdom that stand against the knowledge of God and keep people in darkness. It makes sense that if the enemy is a liar and his weapon is deceit, Paul fights against him by destroying his lies with the truth. Paul’s weapon then, is the proclamation of the Gospel, and just as he says here that it has divine power, so elsewhere he says that it is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16) and that “the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). And Paul does not just proclaim the Gospel, but he also fights for it, reasoning with people in the synagogue and in the marketplace, “explaining and proving” that Jesus is the Messiah who died and rose again. Just as earthly kings fight physical wars to expand their territory, so Paul engages in spiritual warfare to expand the kingdom of heaven, making disciples of every nation and bringing the world into submission to Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20, Genesis 49:10).
Paul was completely devoted to this great conflict, sparing no effort both because the glory of Christ was at stake and because he knew that lives hung in the balance. He said, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory,” (2 Timothy 2:10) and “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). No labor or expense was too great. No fear of suffering or threat of the enemy held him back. Paul’s whole life was an offering to God, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, toiling and struggling with all the strength that God gave him (Colossians 1:28-29).
In this way, Paul ran his race to the very end and finished the course with honor. Now it falls to us to take up the same battle that he spent his life for. What more noble cause will we find than to push back the darkness of infernal lies with the light of Jesus Christ? What better way to use the time we have here than in tearing down the Devil’s strongholds to free his captives so that they can share in the life to come? If Christ is our king and he is on the march, then let us be loyal and dedicated soldiers. “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:4). By God’s grace, we will make the sacrifices, and we will do the hard work, and our Captain will not find us sleeping when he comes, but standing ready at our posts, actively engaged with the enemy.
So what does this look like? What can we do today to fight the good fight? War is complex, and there are many different roles which the Lord assigns to different people according to his wisdom, but here’s a few general ideas for how we can advance:
- Pray – for Christ’s kingdom to come, for the salvation of individuals and groups, for the holiness and building up of your local church, for workers to go out into the harvest…
- Study the Bible and good theology so that you can be ready with a reason for your hope in Christ (1 Peter 3:15).
- Teach your children or grandchildren the ways of God.
- Encourage your pastor.
- Start a Bible study.
- Invite a neighbor or coworker to dinner.
- Support a missionary.
- Be a missionary.
- Put to death your own sin.
My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
Jesus, John 4:34
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
1 John 3:8