Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 24 2020 - 2 Corinthians 10:1-18 – Choose your weapons

The marked change in tone has led many to view chapters 10-13 as a separate letter: perhaps even the 'severe' letter written after 1 Corinthians but before 2 Corinthians 1-9. Others suggest that Paul was interrupted in the writing of this letter with news from Corinth that teachers had arrived who were preaching a false gospel and bad mouthing Paul – and it seemed that they were gaining a hearing.

Whatever the case, Paul is clearly under attack from some at Corinth who were anxious to present themselves as far more spiritual than him and more fit to be leaders of the church. They accuse Paul of putting on a bold face in his letters though when he actually turns up he is revealed to be a weak character. Paul is content to admit to physical weakness and human frailty but he adds, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Paul is engaged in a battle for the hearts and minds of the Christians at Corinth. Unlike his opponents, Paul does not use the human weapons of slander and character assassination. Paul uses weapons supplied by the Spirit of God: the message of the gospel; the character of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death; the convicting power of the Spirit. Moreover, he does not seek a personal following, he does not seek personal domination over the Corinthians, he seeks to bring every thought captive to Christ and every person to bow the knee to him. Paul will only use methods that reflect the character of Christ and that promote no other lord but Christ.

Paul is concerned to win the favour of the Corinthians – but not for his own sake. He wants them to support him in his work of preaching the gospel in regions beyond them so that others also may enter into the blessings of knowing God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sadly, our churches are all too often troubled by conflicts like those that troubled the church at Corinth. There are many who want to promote themselves and seek a following for themselves. In such circumstances, how do we engage in the battle for hearts and minds? Are we seeking to win support for our own cause or are we concerned that every thought – including our own – is made captive to Christ? Do we use human means of ‘winning’ the conflict – rumour, manipulation of the truth, selective reporting – or are we concerned only to bring people back to the message of the gospel, that they/we might be conformed to the character of Christ and that our lives might all be shaped by the Spirit of God?

When churches become preoccupied with internal struggles for power they have lost their preoccupation with the gospel and have forgotten the needs of the world around them. The world does not need more power struggles.

But it’s all too easy to spot the bad behaviour of others and to excuse our own behaviour – to dress up human power games in spiritual clothing. Let’s ensure that our hearts and minds are captive to Christ before we attempt to wage war on others with the gracious weapons of the gospel – the weapons of God’s Word and his Spirit.

Lord, keep us from fighting our own battles with the weapons this world uses to secure power and influence. Take us captive by your grace. By your Spirit reshape the desires of our hearts and the thoughts of our minds that we might serve Christ in all we think and say and do. May our churches be garrisons of the gospel rather than battlefields for power.

Peter Misselbrook