Sufficiency in Christ - Message 8
November 7, 2021
I. Introduction: Continuing our series, Sufficiency in Christ
- C/R: 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:3-4)
A. The title of today’s message is, Warfare.
- Theme: 2 Corinthians 10:3 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do.
- Paul wrote to Corinth to challenge the false teachers and church members who continued to follow them. (Repentance in ch.7 was not the entire church; rebellion still existed.)
- In today’s passage (10:1-11:15), Paul defended his authority as apostle over the church in Corinth and confronted the accusations of his opponents—Judaizers, who were combining law and grace into a different gospel and their Corinthian supporters.
- This theme of warfare may sound overly-aggressive and unrelated to you, but Paul knew he was in a life-and-death battle for the souls of people—and, there is a spiritual battle raging around us for people’s lives and for our culture.
- Paul described his adversaries in 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (NLT)— 12But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. 13These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.
- As you a Christian? If so, you are at war, whether you recognize it or not!
This battle is waged on many fronts in our culture: attacking Biblical morality and standards of marriage and sexuality, restricting freedom to practice our faith, resisting cultural corruption, refusing the influence, even the onslaught, of anti-Christian, immoral behaviors in media, movies, television, books (in schools), and medicine.
- As soldiers of Christ, you can’t be constantly in retreat or always remain silent.
- Be aware that whenever you discuss any of these issues of spiritual importance with another person, often a family member or close friend, you are engaging in battle.
- Let’s gather some guidelines for waging spiritual warfare.
II. Waging spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10:1-18)
A. #1. Rely on God. (2 Corinthians 10:1-6; C/R: 2 Corinthians 6:6-7; Ephesians 6:10-12; James 1:19-20; 1 Peter 3:15-16)
- 2 Corinthians 10:1a (NLT)—Now I, Paul, appeal to you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ— [Jas. 1:19-20; 1 Pet.3:15-16]
- Paul intends to defend himself, but not in an angry manner, because he wants to display the character of Christ, because he doesn’t just want to defeat them in an argument, he wants to influence them back to Christ.
- When we encounter disagreement over our beliefs in God, faith, the Bible, judgment or eternal life, we must gently and kindly, never angrily, declare God’s truth, but do so with personal stories and questions, so that people aren’t merely convinced of our opinions; rather, their minds and hearts are opened to the influence of God’s Spirit.
- 2 Corinthians 10:1b-2 (NLT)—though I realize you think I am timid in person and bold only when I write from far away. [apparently how some Corinthians perceived of him] 2Well, I am begging you now so that when I come I won’t have to be bold with those who think we act from human motives. [fleshly; selfish, not spiritual, motives]
- Some Corinthians questioned Paul’s motives and character to justify their disrespect.
- 2 Corinthians 10:3 (NLT)—We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do.
- Paul acknowledged his humanity, but asserted his approach to dealing with this dispute was spiritual, because the real enemy was Satan, who had manipulated these people through the words of the false prophets; only the Spirit of God could defeat the devil!
- 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NLT)—We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
- Paul used spiritual weapons, such as the gospel, faith, truth and prayer, to do battle.
- The Holy Spirit works from within people, by-passing pride and stubbornness, revealing truth in a way they can’t resist. [Eph. 6:10-12; 2 Cor.6:6-7]
- APP.: Will you stop arguing, start asking questions, and pray repeatedly over conflicts?
- 2 Corinthians 10:6 (NLT)—And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient. [Persistently rebellious would be dealt with directly.]
Waging spiritual warfare…
B. #2 - Refuse to retreat. (2 Corinthians 10:7-11; C/R: 1 Corinthians 15:58; 16:13-14; Philippians 1:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:14-15)
- 2 Corinthians 10:7 (NLT)—7Look at the obvious facts. Those who say they belong to Christ must recognize that we belong to Christ as much as they do.
- Some Corinthians judged Paul inferior, according to Greek standards of speaking.
- He wasn’t eloquent or polished in his style of speech, such as in rhetoric and logic.
- He also wasn’t accepted by groups and communities they respected and admired.
- Today, you need a web presence, some style! Likes! Followers! (“You don’t have any presence on the web!” “My people know me and so does God. That’s enough for me.”)
- 2 Corinthians 10:8 (NLT)—I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. [apostolic authority from God, not people] But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority.
- Some people accused Paul of using his authority to control and intimidate them.
- He answered that he used his influence to strengthen their faith, not to dominate them.
- 2 Corinthians 10:9-10 (NLT)—9 I’m not trying to frighten you by my letters. [at least 4: 1 and 2 Corinthians, 2 others (including stern one)] 10For some say, “Paul’s letters are demanding and forceful, but in person he is weak, and his speeches are worthless!” [According to Greek standards, Paul was not a strong leader or good communicator.]
- Paul’s opponents accused him of trying to intimidate the Corinthian believers from a distance with his letters, but being timid, unimpressive, unconvincing, in person.
- Paul’s letters boldly confronted situations in the church—not to needlessly and cruelly hurt them, but to cause them to repent; he would also confront them when he arrived.
- 2 Corinthians 10:11 (NLT)—Those people should realize that our actions when we arrive in person will be as forceful as what we say in our letters from far away.
- In our culture, we will meet resistance when we support Biblical standards of morality, marriage, relationships and business, but we must persist, humbly, but firmly, asserting
- God’s opinion in each situation (because God’s wisdom is disappearing from culture).
- APP.: Stand firm in the faith! Keep a strong grip on what you believe. Say it…Gently!
Waging spiritual warfare…
C. #3 - Respond to God’s calling. (2 Corinthians 10:12-18. C/R: Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 2:10; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; Hebrews 6:10)
- 2 Corinthians 10:12 (NLT)—Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant! [That’s the wrong measure for ministry—and also for life, because Christians are intended to carry God’s plan for our lives, not copy someone’s.]
- The false teachers argued that their skills and gifts were superior to Paul’s. (2 Cor.11:5)
- He responded, 2 Corinthians 11:5 (NLT)—5But I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these “super apostles” who teach such things. 6I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way.
- Paul said that such comparisons proved nothing and were of no value because they only expressed people’s opinions, but his calling, his authority, came from God. (Acts 9:15)
- 2 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)—We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you.
- Paul considered the Corinthian church to be his God-given ministry; he was sent by God to be the founder, so he was working where God wanted Him to.
- 2 Corinthians 10:14-15a (NLT)—We are not reaching beyond these boundaries when we claim authority over you, as if we had never visited you. For we were the first to travel all the way to Corinth with the Good News of Christ. [2nd missionary journey; Acts 18]
- Nor do we boast and claim credit for the work someone else has done.
- Paul did not take credit for or interfere with churches other missionaries had planted; he expected others, like these false teachers, to respect his missionary field; they didn’t.
- These Judaizers had descended on the Corinthian church and attempted to recruit the converts into following them, instead of following Paul. (2 Cor.11:13).
- 2 Corinthians 10:15b (NLT)—Instead, we hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended.
Paul’s ambition was the Corinthian’s spiritual growth would expand what he started.
- 2 Corinthians 10:16-18 (NLT)—16Then we will be able to go and preach the Good News in other places far beyond you, where no one else is working. Then there will be no question of our boasting about work done in someone else’s territory. 17As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” [Jer.9:24]
18When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.
- APP.: Are we engaged in spiritual warfare using God’s mighty weapons to prevail?
- Does the Lord commend the work and warfare of our church? The efforts of your life?
- APP.: Pray for our people to persist spreading Good News, promoting biblical guidance!
- Continue to pray (5 mins each day) for revival and against cultural corruption.
APP. Pray for our pastors to lead with conviction and courage!