Firm in Your Faith

by Mike Ratliff

3 Ἐν σαρκὶ γὰρ περιπατοῦντες οὐ κατὰ σάρκα στρατευόμεθα, 4 τὰ γὰρ ὅπλα τῆς στρατείας ἡμῶν οὐ σαρκικὰ ἀλλὰ δυνατὰ τῷ θεῷ πρὸς καθαίρεσιν ὀχυρωμάτων, λογισμοὺς καθαιροῦντες 5 καὶ πᾶν ὕψωμα ἐπαιρόμενον κατὰ τῆς γνώσεως τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ αἰχμαλωτίζοντες πᾶν νόημα εἰς τὴν ὑπακοὴν τοῦ Χριστοῦ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NA27)

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not warring according do the to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful through God to the overthrow of strongholds overthrowing reasonings 5 and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God and leading captive every thought into the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

All believers who are still in this life also live and walk in the flesh in a physical sense, but the goal must be to grow into maturity and no longer walk that way in a moral sense (Romans 8:4). Christians who are obediently doing this must actively war according to the spirit, never the flesh, in the battle to free souls from the forces of darkness and bring them to maturity in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-4). Therefore, those whose ministries are based around appealing to the flesh are actually warring according to the flesh and that does not work, at least not in an eternal sense. What is done in the flesh may look impressive to those who walk in the flesh in a moral sense, but they are impotent and powerless to free souls from the forces of darkness and bring them to maturity in Christ. Why? They cannot successfully oppose satanic assaults on the gospel or any of God’s truths. 

In v4,5 we see that the work of ministry must be seen as warfare. The weapons that are effective are not fleshly, but powerful through God and in their use, they overthrow what? What are these strongholds, reasonings and every high things rising up against the knowledge of God? This is false doctrines, therefore, the effective weapons Paul is talking about here is what? These are correct doctrines, that is, the doctrines given to the Church by our Lord himself, such as the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

6 Ταπεινώθητε οὖν ὑπὸ τὴν κραταιὰν χεῖρα τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα ὑμᾶς ὑψώσῃ ἐν καιρῷ, 7 πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν ὑμῶν ἐπιρίψαντες ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν, ὅτι αὐτῷ μέλει περὶ ὑμῶν. 8 Νήψατε, γρηγορήσατε. ὁ ἀντίδικος ὑμῶν διάβολος ὡς λέων ὠρυόμενος περιπατεῖ ζητῶν [τινα] καταπιεῖν· 9 ᾧ ἀντίστητε στερεοὶ τῇ πίστει εἰδότες τὰ αὐτὰ τῶν παθημάτων τῇ ἐν [τῷ] κόσμῳ ὑμῶν ἀδελφότητι ἐπιτελεῖσθαι. 10 Ὁ δὲ θεὸς πάσης χάριτος, ὁ καλέσας ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν αἰώνιον αὐτοῦ δόξαν ἐν Χριστῷ [Ἰησοῦ], ὀλίγον παθόντας αὐτὸς καταρτίσει, στηρίξει, σθενώσει, θεμελιώσει. 11 αὐτῷ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν. (1 Peter 5:6-11 NA27)

6 Therefore, be humbled under the mighty hand of God, that you may be exalted in due time, 7 casting all your anxiety upon him because it matters to him concerning you. 8 Be sober; watch for your adversary the devil who walks around as a roaring lion seeking whom to devour. 9 Oppose him, firm in the faith, knowing the same sufferings are being laid upon your brethren throughout the world. 10 Now the God of all grace, the one having called you into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, he himself will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him is the dominion into the ages, amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Peter gives us another perspective of how to minister in the spirit. We are to oppose our enemy firm in the faith (v9). This means we “stand up against him.” The way to resist the enemy is not with divination, incantations, formulas, or words directed at him and his demons, but by remaining firm in the Christian faith. This means we must continue to live in accord with the truth of God’s Word, that is, according to those doctrines given to the Church by the Lord himself. The call by many popular (with fleshly, man-centered, so-called, Christians) is “deeds not creeds.” That is shallow works-righteousness that creates religious workers who know nothing of God’s truth and Satan can deceive them into all sorts of false doctrines and does so. On the other hand, when God’s people know sound doctrine and obey God’s truth, Satan is withstood (Ephesians 6:17). This is how Christians walk firm in the faith and cannot be shaken no matter how severe the fiery tests and trials they fall into.

Be forewarned, those who do walk firm in the faith will come under attack and their faith will be tested. Satan hates the truth and God uses this to test us to strengthen our faith as we have seen in earlier posts.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

14 thoughts on “Firm in Your Faith

  1. Dear Mike,

    With each passing day John Bunyan’s words in Pilgrim’s Progress are more precious to me. Mr. Bunyan grasped spiritual truths that few ever really do in this life.

    This world is like an elaborate circus that is constantly demanding our attention using distractions, allurments and enticements to oh so gently ease us off the narrow path. Therefore it is imperative that we have the guidance of faithful saints to lead us on this expedition.

    Pilgrim’s Progress : “2 The experience of other saints is very encouraging, for the soul finds that others have gone before him in dreadful dark, and dreary paths.” p. 71 notes

    My husband has an interesting way to try and discern where a new acquiantance may be in their walk with the Lord. The question is do they see life as a playground or a battleground? The longer I have been on this road the steeper the incline and far less scenic. Not that I don’t continually Thank the Lord for everything because we know every gift comes from God to his children, but I long for my heavenly home where robbers can’t break in and rust doesn’t form [I wonder if that works for dust too:]

    Thanks for being a faithful light that is not hidden and shines in the darkness!

    Ever in His unending grace, charisse

  2. Charisse, yes indeed, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is a treasure. It seems that as each day goes on, God uses the circus going on all around us to show me how dark the world and how we must be in battle mode not fun mode within in. The Word says that we cannot love the World or the things in the World and have the Love of God that comes from saving faith.

    Please continue to pray for me that I remain faithful in the battle.

  3. Thanks for this, Mike…
    Praying for you, that you will faithfully dispense all that the Lord has revealed to you in your spiritual battle against all the false teachings and attacks from those with no love of the truth..

  4. As I told the elders of my current church during the membership interview, I only doubt my salvation when I look at myself and see how wretched I am. When I fix my attention and faith on the Lord Jesus, more and more I see how firm the foundation – and the end – of the my faith it. Nothing else will suffice. No false Christ, no effort of man, not all my tears and sighs can bear the awful load.

    From a great hymn – Not What My Hand Have Done:

    Thy work alone, O Christ,
    Can ease this weight of sin
    Thy blood alone O Lamb of God,
    Can give me peace within.
    Thy love to me O God,
    Not mine, O Lord, to Thee
    Can rid me of
    This dark unrest,
    And set my spirit free!

    Thy grace alone, O God,
    To me can pardon speak;
    Thy power alone O Son of God,
    Can this sore bondage break.
    No other work, save Thine,
    No other blood will do,
    No strength save that,
    Which is divine,
    Can bear me safely through.

  5. Manfred, what you just shared is, sadly, so alien to most of what calls itself Christian in our time, which is all about coming to a particular ministry and being transformed. Yes, we are regenerated and are transformed through the renewing of our minds, but we are only complete in Christ and can only do good as we abide in Christ, never on our own. Amen brother.

  6. Mike, I appreciate you handling of the translation from the Greek as you work through these passages. I can see that you do not dance around certain parts to achieve a greater following by concensus. This is refreshing to say the least.
    Your commentary also adds to the understanding as you guide the reader from experience. This is the essence of “eldership” and I appreciate that of you as well.
    I’m reading a solid book by J. Gresham Machen, written about 90 years ago, and frankly, his writing style is tough to follow. He attempts to present the truth of the difference between true Christianity, and Liberalism. while it appears he is also trying to appeal to a broader audience. I appreciate his description of many modern preachers of his day:

    “The fundamental fault of the modern Church is that she is busily engaged in an absolute impossible task-she is busily engaged in calling the (self) rightious to repentance. Modern preachers are tryingto bring men into the Church without requiring them to relinquish their pride; they are trying to help men avoid the conviction of sin. The preacher gets up into the pulpit, opens the Bible, and addresses the congregation somewhat as follows: ‘You people are very good,’ he says; ‘you respond to every appeal that looks toward the welfare of the community. Now we have in the Bible-especially in the life of Jesus-something so good that we believe it is good enough even for you good people.’
    Such is modern preaching. It is heard every Sunday in thousands of pulpits. But it is entirely futile. Even our Lord did not call the (self) rightious to repentance, and probably we shall be no more successful than He.”

    Mike, with this I see again how true God’s Word is, asthere is nothing new under the sun… Wheat have been planted, and along with them, tares. There are ministers of His Word who, as Elders in the faith function as guides for the less familiar, and there are blind leaders of the blind, who have a broad following, and do all these “things” in His name, but are works of wickedness. Also that His sheep know His voice, and in no way will follow another shepherd…One is a very narrow way, and few find It…The other is a broad road to destruction and many enter in thereby. He for knew us, He called us and He predestined us…The broad counterfeit is lead by the cry who so ever will make a decision for Him are declared (falsly) “saved.” Those few the Father gave to Him He is able to deliver. Many follow for what He can do for them, few follow for who He is..I am at peace knowing that none self rightious can be called for they will not be called, yet the repentant have been made alive to see their sin, and grieve. He alone is my peace!
    I appreciate your faithfulness brother!

  7. Thank you Mickey. I and Machen have much in common theologically. You are right about their not being anything new under the sun. We are still battling the same old attacks on God’s truth, just dressed up more “culturally relevant” for our time. It’s still darkness and we cannot give in at all, hence, we must know Doctrine, that is, God’s truth, and never compromise. There is black and there is white. There is light and there is darkness. There is truth and there is everything else that isn’t. Is that narrow? Sure it is and that causes those committed to leading God’s people down this narrow path to become quite lonely yet, not alone because we have Christ our Lord and good brethren who are also faithful. Continue to pray for me and this ministry my brother.

  8. Mike,
    Do you see the transformation that is taking place in the lives of those He is ordering?!?! Even in this post and in the thread of comments?!?! Please re-read the thing as a whole, and be encouraged as you start at the top and read your post,right down through the comments of Charise, Celine and Manfred, as well as our my comments… Amazing how He is working and we all fit in One Accord! :)
    God is so GOOD!!!

  9. Amen,much appreciated Mike.

    “Jesus, priceless treasure, fount of purest pleasure,
    Truest friend to me; ah, how long in anguish shall my spirit languish,
    Yearning, Lord, for thee? Thine I am, O spotless Lamb!
    I will suffer naught to hide thee, naught I ask beside thee.
    In thine arms I rest me; foes who would molest me cannot reach me here,
    Though the earth be shaking, every heart be quaking,
    Jesus calms my fear. Lightnings flash and thunders crash;
    Yet, though sin and hell assail me, Jesus will not fail me.
    Satan, I defy thee; death, I now decry thee; fear, I bid thee cease.
    World, thou shalt not harm me nor thy threats alarm me
    While I sing of peace. God’s great power guards every hour;
    Earth and all its depth adore him, silent bow before him.
    Hence with earthly treasure! Thou art all my pleasure,
    Jesus, all my choice. Hence, thou empty glory! Naught to me thy story,
    Told with tempting voice. Pain or loss or shame or cross
    Shall not from my Saviour move me, since he deigns to love me.
    Hence, all fear and sadness! For the Lord of gladness,
    Jesus, enters in. Those who love the Father, though the storms my gather,
    Still have peace within. Yea, whatever I here must bear,
    Thou art still my purest pleasure, Jesus, priceless treasure”
    Author: Johann Franck, 1655

  10. I like what D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones stated in this short excerpt regarding truth, doctrine, and unity:

    “The purity of doctrine is paramount…In other words, we must realise that true unity can only be obtained in terms of truth. Yes, you can have your unions, you can have your amalgamations, you can have your coalitions apart from truth; but it is impossible to have the unity of the Spirit except in terms of truth. The Holy Spirit binds people together who are agreed about the doctrine…” – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Life In Christ – Studies in 1 John ppg 237-238).

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