Demolish Every Pretension

Tuesday, October 29, 2013, 5:17 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Who Believes?” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 44 and 2 Corinthians 10.

By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 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… We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise… ~ 2 Co. 10:1-5, 12

The Standards of this World

Evidently there were those critics of Paul’s ministry who were trying to discredit him and his ministry by accusing him falsely of operating out of the flesh of man rather than from the Spirit of God, so he wrote this to correct their faulty thinking. It was important for Paul to defend his ministry and his calling against his opposition because the credibility of the gospel of Jesus Christ was also at stake and was brought into question by these accusations, since Paul was an appointed minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Then, Paul explained the manner in which he and his fellow apostles conducted themselves as true ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They did not live or operate in the flesh or by the standards of this world. Amen! While it was true that they lived in the world, they did not use worldly methods to win a spiritual battle against the flesh, sin and Satan. And, they did not promote the gospel of Jesus Christ using worldly means. Amen! Do you hear what this is saying? Why is it, then, that today’s institutional church here in America relies so heavily upon humanistic philosophy, business marketing schemes and techniques, entertainment, and the teachings of humankind on how to build their “churches”?

We are not supposed to live by the standards of this world. God has called us out from the world to be separate and to not love the world’s system or the things of this sinful world. So, what are some of the standards of this world we might tend to live by? There are many, but some that come to mind are feeling as though we have to lie, cheat, steal, step on people, manipulate, and discriminate based upon human philosophy on how to get ahead and to be successful in this life. There is also the sense or belief that we have to entertain the world with worldly means and methods in order to attract the world to the (worldly) church. We think we have to use gimmicks and advertising techniques and have giveaways and make everything fun, comfortable, and appealing to human likes and wants.

We tend to tolerate sin and are even entertained by it ourselves, because we think we are supposed to be more like the world if we want to win the people of the world to Christ. After all, reason says, “Who will we win if we separate ourselves from the ways of this fallen world? People will think we are holy-rollers, better-than-thous, superior, know-it-alls, crazy, etc., and they won’t want to be associated with us.” We also think we need to make the gospel less offensive and more acceptable so that more people will want to “accept Christ.” But, is Christ really who they are accepting?

The Gospel of Salvation

What does the Bible say concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ and how to win people to Christ? First of all it says that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the entire world so that the world might be saved from sin and have the hope of eternal life with God. It says that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, and that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. It says that no one can come to Christ, though, unless the Father first draws him, i.e. this is of the Spirit, not of the convincing of man. It says that salvation is a free gift that we receive by faith and it is not of the works of humans, so none of us can boast that we earned our salvation. It says that when we come to faith in Jesus Christ that we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, the old life of living for sin and self is crucified with Christ, and we are raised with Christ to newness of life. In other words, this is the work of the Spirit of God, and cannot be accomplished using worldly means, methods or standards.

Yet, we must accept God’s free gift of salvation by faith. Jesus said that if anyone wants to come after him, he must deny his self-life, die daily to sin and self and follow Jesus in obedience and surrender to his will for their lives. He said if we hold on to our old lives of living for self and sin we will lose them for eternity, but if we willingly die to our old lives of sin, for the sake of following Jesus Christ, then we will gain eternal life (See Lu. 9:23-25). Paul said that the way we come to know Christ is by putting off our old lives of sin, by being transformed in heart and mind (of the Spirit of God) and by putting on our new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like Christ in true righteousness and holiness” (See Eph. 4:17-24). He also said, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin” (Rom. 6:6-7). So, faith means death to our old lives of living for sin and self, transformation of heart and mind, and new lives in Christ Jesus – all the work of the Spirit of God as we yield to his work by faith.

Power to Demolish Strongholds

Jesus told his disciples that by the authority of Christ they were to go and to make disciples of Christ of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey Christ’s commands. He also said that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us - I believe in regeneration when we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God - that we will be his witnesses throughout all the earth. Although this was spoken to his disciples at those specific times in history, I believe scripture teaches that we, as his disciples today, have also been given a divine commission to spread the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to people throughout the world. We are told that we should not hide our lights, but that we should let them shine before all people. We are also told that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death.

Paul was given the commission to open the eyes of the blind and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are being sanctified and made holy in Christ Jesus (See Ac. 26:16-18). I believe each and every one of us have been given this commission, for the Spirit dwells within us, and he lives Christ’s life out through us, and that is exactly what Christ would be doing. Jesus Christ said we would do even greater things than he did.

Yet, we don’t do this in our own strength, willpower, and/or knowledge, etc. No weapons against evil, which are fought by this world’s system, have the power of God to demolish the strongholds of sin that have people in bondage. They have no power to wage war against Satan and his evil forces and against his evil schemes which come against us and that come against Christ and his gospel. We may supply people with fun, entertaining, comfortable, non-threatening places of “worship,” but if we don’t preach the true gospel of salvation, in the power of the Spirit of God within us, then we are trying to win people with the standards of this world instead of using the spiritual weapons with which God has supplied us to win this spiritual battle against evil and for God.

So, instead of waging war the way the world does, and rather than conducting our lives by the standards of this world as a means of winning people to Christ, we should demolish (defeat; annihilate) every argument and pretension (trick; con; deception; charade; scheme; gimmick; fantasy – false gospel) which sets itself up against the true knowledge of God found in the scriptures and in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, we should take every thought – every human device and intellectual thought or idea or notion that comes against the true gospel of salvation, and we should take it as a captive and make it obedient to Jesus Christ, i.e. it should have no sway in our lives.

Who Believes? / An Original Work / October 3, 2013

Based off Isaiah 53

Gospel message, who believes?
Jesus Christ died on a tree,
Saving us from all our sin,
So we might be cleansed within.

Had no beauty found in Him,
That we should desire Him.
Man of sorrows, suffering;
Crushed for our iniquities.

Surely He has borne our griefs;
From our sadness, brings relief.
Bore the stripes; forsaken, He,
So forgiven we might be.

We, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us turned his own way.
Jesus calls, “Repent today;
My commandments, now obey.”

Jesus said, to come to him,
We must die to all our sin.
Crucified with Him, we live,
Walking in His righteousness.

Suff’ring servants, we will be,
Taking His identity on us,
When confessing Him
As our Savior, Lord and King.