Standing 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 NA28)

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not warring according 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 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

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, which explains why the “seeker” oriented “churches” continually morph into more and more bizarre forms. 

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 ἐπʼ 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 κόσμῳ ὑμῶν ἀδελφότητι ἐπιτελεῖσθαι. 10 Ὁ δὲ θεὸς πάσης χάριτος, ὁ καλέσας ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν αἰώνιον αὐτοῦ δόξαν ἐν Χριστῷ, ὀλίγον παθόντας αὐτὸς καταρτίσει, στηρίξει, σθενώσει, θεμελιώσει. 11 αὐτῷ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν. (1 Peter 5:6-11 NA28)

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 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

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 (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.

Here is an example from our time that many reading this will recognize because they are dealing with it themselves on some level.  A Christian couple has a child who grows up into teenage or post-teenage years and informs mom and dad that they are “gay” (I hate that term) and that they know that what they were taught in Church while growing up was that homosexuality is sin and that no homosexual will inherit the Kingdom of God. However, they then inform mom and dad that all that is wrong.  They belong to a new church in town that is full of loving Christians who are LGBT and “all are welcome.” The pastor(s) tell them all that God loves everyone and no one is going to Hell, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. This is a test. It is a fiery trial. I have read of and heard of so many, supposedly, solid Christians stumbling very badly here over these lies. Why? They don’t want to lose that relationship with their children. I heard one pastor in Arizona preach a sermon saying he had been wrong all those years in ministry about homosexuality being a sin. He was officially changing his stance on it and the church’s stance as well. Why? His son had told him that he was “gay” and was going to marry his partner. Those parents or relatives or pastors, et cetera who compromise when this happens have not “stood up against” the enemy when he attacked. Instead, the fiery trial, the attack from our enemy has revealed that they were not genuine Christians at all, that their faith was not grounded in Christ, but was elsewhere.

On the other hand, there are many reading this who have had to deal with something similar to that situation who did not compromise. Instead they “stood firm against” the enemy in the power of the Lord knowing that suffering is part of being a true Christian. 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!

 

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