Lesson Seven – Divine Power to Demolish Strongholds

Divine Power to Demolish Strongholds

Lesson Text:  II Cor. 10:1 – 13:14.

Introduction

This text is the third and last group of thoughts in II Corinthians.  This letter should be read in three large segments of thought; chapters 1-7; chapters 8 and 9 and finally this text.  In fact, an exegetical approach for reading the Corinthian letters requires an understanding of the historical and literary data revealed in these last four chapters of II Corinthians.  Both letters should be read in the context of the story Luke recorded in Acts chapters 18 through 20.  Because of the close relationship of the Corinthian letters with Luke’s narrative in Acts we need to apply the principles for reading a story as well as a letter.  Please review the exegetical work in Part I and II and give special attention to Part I, Lessons Three and Four.  Note the “You, We, They” chart in Lesson Three.

So to speak, Paul “took off his gloves” in these last four chapters in order to reveal the problem behind the problem.  His aim was “to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.”  II Cor. 11:12.  The “They” group may have been preying on the weaknesses of the “You” group to discredit the “We” group – which included Paul.

This is the final lesson in this series of lessons.  The aim of this book of lessons has been to study the Corinthian letters.  The intent has not been to write a commentary; however, comments have been added and they must be accepted only as the hypothesis of the writer.  In fact, all lessons taught by Christians are our hypotheses.  Only the word of God is truth.  Consequently, the aim of this book has been to assist Bible students in their own study of these letters.  They were written by an apostle, who said, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.”  I Cor. 2:13.  We hold in our hand spiritual truths from the mind of God “destined for our glory before time began.”  I Cor. 2:7.  God has packaged within each human being a need for glory.  The status of sons and daughters of God is the message Paul received for Christians (II Cor. 6:17, 18).  We live in hope for the glory of God; however, His glory is at the same time our glory as His children (II Cor. 3:18; Rom. 5:2).

Each Christian should ask himself or herself often if our identity as a son of God is my personal faith (Rom. 8:16).  Are these letters the wisdom of the Apostle Paul?  Did he receive them from Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit?  Did they come from the mind of the same God from which our spirits came?  We can know.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?  II Cor. 13:5

Mankind has been endowed with the capability to examine ourselves.  Adding to this capability, we have the capability for having the awareness of what is good and evil.  All people now have this knowledge because Adam and Eve broke covenant with God (Gen. 3:22).  Mature individuals are responsible for the condition of our own “self.”  As we understood from our last lesson, there are no holy men, reverends, gurus, priests or preachers who are accountable for another individual’s behavior.  By our own personal study of God’s word and by our faith in what we learn and believe, Christians attain power to demolish the strongholds of Satan.  These strongholds were here when we came forth from our mother’s womb (I Cor. 5:5; II Cor. 2:11; 6:14-16; 11:3; Eph. 6: 10, 11; I Pet. 5:8).  Although Satan has control of the world his present aim is to destroy God’s church.  He masquerades as an angel of light to achieve his goal (II Cor. 11:14).

Words like “work” and “suffering” have been filtered out of the evangelistic call in public preaching and church teaching today (I Cor. 15:58; II Cor. 1:7).  The Sunday worship service and the fellowship meals have taken center stage in the larger and more popular congregations of religious people.  The thinking is more like, “we pay the preacher and his staff to take care of the work part.”

“Keeping the faith” should have taken on a different meaning for some of us after the study of these letters.  The aim of this lesson is to browse through the last four chapters of II Corinthians to learn about weaknesses and sins that “fueled” the problem of division in the churches in Achaia.  How did some members get to the point of “acting like mere men?”  I Cor. 3:3.   In the previous lesson we understood the starting point of their division was boasting about men.  This opened the door for Satan’s work.

Lesson

Satan has strongholds in the world realm as we would expect; however, his great desire is to present arguments and establish pretensions “that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” NIV,  II Cor. 10:5. The KJV reads; “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.”   Arguments (NIV) and imaginations (KJV) have been translated from the Greek word, logismos.  It means “reasoning.”  Reason is a characteristic of philosophy – the wisdom of man.  Pretensions (NIV) and “high thing” (KJV) have been translated from, hupsome; it means “exalteth itself.”

One of Satan’s strongholds has been developed by “those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.”  II Cor. 5:12.  The imaginations of “those who take pride in what is seen” have developed some “high things” that do not have a scriptural base.  There are no fundamental scriptures for the Roman Catholic or the Eastern Orthodox churches.  Everyone understands this; still in religious circles the world accepts the wisdom of men for their existence.  Denominational groups, most mega-churches and what is called progressive movements claim the word of God for their foundation; however, they prefer not to use the wisdom of God for their teaching and administration.  These are all the imaginations and pretensions that were birthed by religious councils and boards; consequently, they form churches by the wisdom of men.  It all started in places like Corinth and Ephesus in the first century (Rev. 2:4).  Jesus knew it would not end in the first century and we can be sure that is one reason our Lord included these letters in the New Testament.

These groups of religious people who have their foundation on “imaginations,” and not on the knowledge of God, now rule the quote, Christian society in the world.  However, they do not rule the church of God “in Christ,” which is the temple of God functioning as the body of Christ (I Cor. 1:2; 3:16; 12:12-14).  This is the church Paul prepared as a bride for Christ.  It is still a pure virgin; albeit, hard to locate (II Cor. 11:2).  God knows who she is and one day He will present her to Christ (Rev. 19:6-8).  Satan was using some false apostles who were using some weak members in the Corinthian church to try to rob the bride of her pureness.  This is why Paul wrote these letters.  Christians who want to have God’s kingdom in us so we can be in His kingdom when Jesus turns it back to God, the Father, need to understand the principles of life in these letters (I Cor. 4:20; 15:24).  People may leave the church of God but they will not divide it.

The problem of division Paul addressed in the Corinthian letters has destroyed the primary church government in what is called, Christian churches throughout the universe.  According to Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, the word, fundamental means:  a. Serving as an original or generating source: Primary.  b. Serving as a basic supporting existence or determining essential structure or function: Base.  The word of God is the fundamental foundation for the church of God Paul speaks of in these letters.  “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  I Cor. 3:11.  Jesus taught and lived the word of God.  He is “the word of life.”  I John 1:1.  Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”  Matt. 16:18.  Paul was not a “Yes” and “No” preacher and teacher of God’s word (II Cor. 1:18-22).  He may have been saying “Amen” to Jesus’ declaration about “the gates of Hades will not overcome it” in the following scripture.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  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. II Cor. 10:3-5

We have been born into a scenario where religious division is acceptable.  It is taught as good but Paul has taught us it is an evil work of Satan (II Cor. 11:14, 15).  Until a person matures enough to read literature we must accept the religion of our family and significant others.  All people are subject to passive learning from the behavior of others until we learn to read and think for ourselves.  Many people never become disciples (learners) of Christ by their own personal study of the word of God.  They fall in line with what is “dumped on them” by the local society in matters of taste, beauty, values and religion.

Each Christian’s Bible study must be disciplined by the principles for reading literature.  Jesus and the apostles presented oral lessons about the word of God.  After some time, Spirit filled Christians taught and then wrote down what Jesus Christ was speaking through them (John 16:12-15; II Cor. 13:3).  Jesus now speaks to Christians in the various genre of literature in the Bible (II Tim. 3:14-17).  Again Paul said, “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.”  II Cor. 1:24.  It is God’s will that man teach man but faith comes by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17).  We cannot borrow our teacher’s faith, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because any one who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  Heb. 11:6.

Christians are the people whom God anointed and “set His seal of ownership on us.”  II Cor. 1:22.  We “hate what is evil and cling to what is good.” Rom. 12:9.  We must “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Rom. 12:21.  Therefore, we need “to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”  Rom. 16:19.  Mankind got the knowledge of good and evil because Eve was deceived by Satan and then convinced Adam to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:17, 22; I Cor. 15:48, 49; II Cor. 11:3).  We have become aware of what is good and evil; however, to know the difference we must be students (disciples) of Jesus Christ.  “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Heb. 5:14.  Why do people give themselves over to follow other people in their religion?  The following are perhaps some reasons for this type behavior:

II Cor. 10:6.  In this scripture we find a healthy spiritual reason for choosing to follow strong Christian leaders.  They are Christians who are “slaves to God’s righteousness.”  Rom. 6:16.  The leaders of a church cannot maintain discipline in the body on a level higher than the obedience of the church as a whole (I Cor. 5:4-6).  Jude addressed a situation in which the church was not able to free themselves from ungodly members until they grew spiritually (Jude 20, 21).  

II Cor. 10:7.  “You are looking on the surface of things.”  The kingdom of God is not a surface thing.  It is not just talk (I Cor. 4:20).  Christianity is not about great speeches, quoting scripture and harmonizing voices in song.  It is about the mind, heart and conscience of a child of God (I Cor. 2:16; II Cor. 1:12; 5:11, 12).  Christianity is about suffering to comfort others (I Cor. 12:24-26; II Cor. 1:3-7; Rom. 8:29).  It is within our legitimate suffering that Christians conform to the image of Christ (Heb. 10:32-39).

II Cor. 11:3, 4.  Some people depend on other people to study the Bible for them.  Ignorance of God’s word allows false preachers and teachers to teach “another Jesus.”  People who will not apply correct principles for reading the different kinds of literature in the Bible are candidates for religious business people. There is a large group of religious people who are only comfortable with Bible facts.  They are not educated enough about the purpose of God’s creation of mankind to seek the principles of life for eternal life as a child of God.  Their main problem may be laziness of the mind.  The Hebrew writer, it appears, was working on this kind of problem when he said, “We do not want you to become lazy.”  Heb. 6:12.  The Hebrew church did not like to develop their minds about “righteousness” and topics like being able to “distinguish good and evil.  Take note where this problem led.  See Heb. 5:11-6:12.  Someone had to teach them elementary truths over and over.  Much of the money deposited on each Sunday in religious gatherings finds it way into the bank account of people who teach “elementary truths” year end and year out.  This person is identified as the pastor, chief minister or “pulpit preacher.”  This situation has left very few preachers for “seeking the lost.”

II Cor. 11:19, 20.  In these two verses we have a summary account of what is repeated over and over in all religions.  It happens in the pagan religious world but it is prevalent in what is called Christian churches.  Religious people have a tendency to look for a self prescribed “holy man.”  This does not need to happen to a serious student of the Bible who is seeking to live in the kingdom of God eternally.  We can become independent Bible students by using the same principles for reading the Bible as we do for reading secular literature.  Anyone who proclaims a role for himself or herself as anything other than a member is in the religious business.  There are only two offices in God’s church for mankind, elders and deacons (Titus 1:5-9; I Tim. 3:1-16).  Many people assume Timothy and Titus appointed men to these offices by the authority of the preacher.  In fact, both were working under the direction of Paul, an apostle.  The office of the apostle is no more; therefore, the appointment of elders and deacons is the responsibility of the members they lead and serve.  See my book entitled “The Kingdom of God,” Part V, Lesson Thirteen.  This book is posted on my website.   http://www.kingdomofchrist.info

II Cor. 12:14-18.  Christians must choose their leaders from among the people who want to serve them with a parental type leadership.  Parents don’t serve their children because they expect them to pay them back someday.  Parents love their children even though they may be unlovable at times.  False leaders will leave the flock when their selfish needs are not being attained (II Cor. 10:12).

We need leaders in the church and other aspects of our lives; however, we need to be aware that religion is “big business” for many people.  There are a large number of people who decided at a young age they do not want to work with their hands for their living (I Cor. 9:6).  They learn they can get a certificate from a university, college or preacher’s school and certain religious groups will support them to conduct worship services.  Many people make large sums of money and attain satisfaction for their need for glory because of their connection with religion.  They make religion their business (II Cor. 2:17).  See Part IV, Lesson Three.  Jesus warned us about a person who sets himself forward as a preacher or teacher of His word.  We need to give them (us) the fruit test before we accept them in a leadership role in the church (Matt. 7:15-20).  Ask this question; Do they walk their talk (I John 2:6)?  Is it their profession for making a living in lieu of working with their hands?  The Lord’s church offers financial support to Christians who qualify as the “ox” Moses described (I Cor. 9:9; I Tim. 5:18).  It is the responsibility of the church to make this decision.

If a Christian presents himself as a preacher and, or teacher, and seeks financial support, the church who supports him has the responsibility to make sure he does what the word preach means, he proclaims the gospel to the lost people in the world.  Preacher does not mean leader.  His responsibility is not to preach to the saved people in the church.  A teacher, on the other hand, has a great task to teach the members of the body of Christ to become teachers and preachers.

II Cor. 12:19-21.   Why do people claim membership in a church and willfully sin?  As ridiculous, or perhaps ironical, as it might seem, it is practiced.  Why don’t the church leaders tell them Jesus did not shed His blood for willful sinners (Heb. 10:26-29)?  Why did the leaders of the Corinthian church boast about the man who had his father’s wife?  Religion in general is packed with the ridiculous; however, there is a truth for those who seek the pearl of great value (Matt. 13:44-46).  It is revealed to the disciples of Jesus by diligent Bible study and practice (II Cor. 13:8).

Finally, brothers, good-by.  Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace be with you all.

Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the saints send their greetings.  May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  II Cor. 13:11-14

Questions for Discussion

  1. Describe the change in the tone of Paul’s letter in the text for this lesson.
  2. List the endowment mankind possesses so Christians can know we are walking by faith.
  3. Explain how the words “imaginations and pretensions” help us understand how a false prophet can start what is called a church.
  4. Explain how faith in the various terms that Paul used to identify the church has “divine power to demolish strongholds.”
  5. Why is it impossible for institutions to assume the teaching and administration of the body of Christ?
  6. Why is it so very important for each Christian to use the basic principles for our study of the Bible as we do when we read secular literature?
  7. At what point in a person’s life do we need the word of God to keep us informed about what is good and what is evil?
  8. When Christians are naïve about the fact that religion is “big business” in the world realm, what are some of the pitfalls they may encounter, according to II Corinthians 11:19-21?
  9. What is the type leadership a Christian should seek out according to II Cor. 12:14-18?
  10. How have you benefited by your study of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians?

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