"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ."
This is a powerful piece of Scripture! And I wish every Christian would fully embrace the comprehensive message that the Apostle Paul is trying to tell us in this passage. I've always thought of it as a companion to his message on the "full armor of God" in Ephesians. But I am continually surprised at the number of my fellow Christians who apply his instruction on a limited basis.
In Ephesians, Paul tells us that we do not fight against flesh and blood. In other words, our enemies are not human like us, but are "cosmic" and "spiritual forces". He even gives us the rank and serial number, so to speak, of Satan's army... rulers, authorities, powers, forces. He tells us who we are fighting, and then tells us how to protect ourselves, and with what armor ... fasten on the belt of God's Truth (who He is, and who you are in Him); put on the breastplate of righteousness; put on the sandals of the gospel of peace; take up the shield of faith in all circumstances, and the helmet of salvation, along with the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God). He then instructs us to pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
First of all, there are many Christians who do not understand that we are to put on the armor and all those components because WE ARE AT WAR! Somehow, they think that putting on the armor is simply part of our daily walk with God. But why would Paul use imagery of war and a battle, if he just wanted us to know God's Truth, be righteous, live a peaceful life, be faithful, accept our salvation, and read the Word? The picture of putting on armor means you are going to be going to war, and are engaged in a fight. He even tells us who the enemies are in the preceding verse! But somehow some Christians ignore the first part of his message, and refuse to see the obvious... that we have very real spiritual enemies and there is a battle that needs to be waged -- why else put on armor?
Then there are Christians who will get to Level One by admitting that they can see the implications of a spiritual battle, but cling to the part of the verse that says "pray at all times... with all prayer and supplication", as if that is the only thing we can do. Please don't misunderstand! I am not diminishing the power of prayer, but as Paul tells us in the Scripture I have selected for today, there are weapons of warfare that we need to employ. Notice the plural of that word? Prayer is important; it is vital in our battle plan, but it is not the only weapon we have at our disposal!
I want to reiterate ... in Ephesians, Paul tells us that our enemies are not flesh; but in 2 Corinthians, he tells us that our weapons are not of the flesh. I think it is important to understand that he is trying to tell us that our human efforts are not enough to fight the spiritual enemies that Satan will send against us. Notice that he says we "do not wage war according to the flesh". Also note that he isn't as specific in 2 Corinthians, as to what those weapons are. Let me share with you what the Lord has shown me.
First of all, I believe today's passage shows us that we must be ACTIVE in using our weapons, in order to be effective. Each of the weapons I am about to suggest involves us being active, and taking a stand; using a specific weapon to overcome the activity and influence of Satan and his army.
The first weapon that I believe can be especially effective is PRAISE. The devil hates to hear people praising God. When we speak praise out loud, it releases the presence of God in our lives, and a divine connection (and protection) is initiated that the devil cannot penetrate. Michael Fackerell, a Christian missionary to Romania, has explained the power of praise as a weapon, better than anyone I've ever heard. He says, "Many of our problems would be solved if we could only get Satan and his demons to SHUT UP. They operate by injecting suggestions into our minds which seem plausible, but are rooted in unbelief and rebellion towards God. The suggestions come as if they were our own thoughts, when they are not at all! We lose battles when we believe and trust these demonic suggestions. These suggestions, thoughts and imaginations work to sow discouragement, confusion, fear, doubt and unbelief in our minds. PRAISE – be it spoken or sung to music, however, works to SILENCE the enemy. Perfect praise led by God’s Holy Spirit will completely silence the enemy."
Please note that he has shown us how to be active in using the weapon of Praise, and how it brings us into partnership with the Holy Spirit. That is the "divine power" to break strongholds, that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians!
A second weapon we have at our disposal is the Word of God. We can see that this is the same weapon Paul says is part of our spiritual armor in Ephesians 6. And it is the only piece of armor that requires action on our part; the only offensive piece of armor. Everything else is defensive. Once again, we see that actively speaking the Word of God out loud is a weapon that will overcome and defeat the Enemy. He cannot stand against the Word!
The next weapon that is active and effective against the devil is the Blood of Jesus. We all sin, and by His blood, we are all cleansed, when we accept Him as our Savior, repent, ask for forgiveness and begin to walk out our salvation. We must never listen to the lies of Satan, and let him condemn us by our sin. We must actively apply the Blood of Jesus as a weapon in order to cover us and restore us to a place of acceptance with God, and peace with ourselves. Remember that Revelation 12:13 says the saints "overcame the devil by the blood of the lamb".... This is a powerful weapon in our arsenal!
Now we come to the weapon that Christians are most familiar with -- and oftentimes limit themselves to... Prayer. We must prevail in prayer, keep praying, and believe in the power of prayer. But prayer is not simply our request made known to God... it is so much more! We can actually, in prayer, boldly enter God's throne room (in our spirit) and petition Him for help in a particular need (Hebrews 4:16). The Bible has a lot to say about prayer, but perhaps we should pay particular attention to how Jesus told us to pray: to acknowledge that our Father is in heaven, and His name is holy. He also asked us to pray "that His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven...". In other words, when we pray, we want to ask that our desires and our circumstances, here on earth, be brought into alignment with God in Heaven.
We know that God only wants what is best for us, and that if we are in dire straits here on earth, it is because the devil is being successful in attacking us through our sinful nature. If we have anything that is separating us from God ... whether it be unforgiveness, unbelief, anger, bitterness, envy, self-rejection, or any of a myriad of weapons the devil can use against us ... then we are not in alignment with Heaven, and that's not how God wants us to live. So we have to fight the devil with effective prayer; with the kind of prayer that destroys the stranglehold that the devil can get on us, so that our lives are out of kilter with God's kingdom in Heaven.
Another powerful weapon is our Testimony. Again, when we share our testimony of how God has delivered us from our bondage, and broken the chains of slavery that bound us to the devil, then that is an active word that the spiritual realm hears, and it is a very real strike against the forces of the Enemy. You are taking an active part in the battle to win souls to Christ, which removes a target from the spiritual battlefield. You may very well have snatched a victory out of the hands of the devil, and struck a blow for the glory of God!
I can not over-emphasize the power of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Remember, this is a spiritual battle we are engaged in, and God, through His Holy Spirit, has given us gifts to help defeat our Enemy -- whether it be a Discernment of Spirits (to identify what kind of spirit or stronghold Satan is using to attack a person); a Word of Knowledge or Wisdom (a direct revelation from God); the gift of Faith (in which the Christian receives a supernaturally strong and bold faith for a particular work God wants to do. This faith is far beyond the normal faith level of that person); a gift of Miracles (and yes, I DO believe that God still performs miracles today. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever -- and He has given us the authority and power, through the Holy Spirit, to do the things Jesus did). If He performed miracles in the past, He performs them today, and we can expect them tomorrow. Any of these gifts are powerful weapons in the hands of Christians who fully comprehend the spiritual battle that we must fight.
The Name of Jesus is also a potent and essential weapon as we fight in the spiritual dimension. Jesus gave the 72 disciples He sent out into the world t(o spread the Good News) the most powerful weapon He could ... His Name. They reported back to Him in Luke 10:17, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” In every instance in which Jesus interacted with the demonic influences on earth, they knew who He was, and they feared Him. They also were subject to His every command. And they still are! When we encounter demonic activity in our lives, we can declare that it be bound, it stop, and it be cast away from us, In the Name of Jesus! But here's an important addendum... we have to Believe it can be so! Without Faith on the power of His Name, then Satan can just send a spirit of unbelief to sabotage our weapon. It is imperative that we believe what the Bible tells us, if we are going to be victorious in our spiritual battles!
The last weapon I want to point out is the weapon of Fasting. It is more than just doing without food to cleanse and detoxify our bodies. Fasting creates a hunger in our soul to be brought into line with God's will. We can use Jesus as our role model. Fasting precipitated His showdown with demonic power. Jesus fasted in the wilderness (in those days he ate nothing), and Satan came at the end of it to test Him. By speaking the Word in the face of great pressure, Jesus defeated Satan and was qualified to move in the power of the Holy Spirit as a MAN. That is the purpose of fasting as one of our spiritual weapons -- to prepare us to move in the power of the Holy Spirit, not our own.
So, I hope I have shown you that we have an array of spiritual weapons in our war against the Prince of this world. Prayer is a powerful one, but we should not rely on it as the only weapon in our arsenal; and we need to specifically realize that prayer in our own power is far less effective than when we utilize our other weapons to strategize and win victories over God's Enemy. When we only pray in our flesh, we miss out on so much of the divine power available to us through our other spiritual weapons of warfare. Remember, in our Scripture today, Paul tells us that our Weapons (plural) "have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ." Are you willing to trust in his advice, and rely on the Word?