Our Warfare

“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
—II Corinthians 10:4,5

THE APOSTLE PAUL makes reference in this text to a glorious warfare in which he was wholeheartedly engaged. Guided, instructed, and blessed by the Lord, he was indeed “a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”—II Tim. 2:3

There was a time, when he, as Saul of Tarsus, was not so employed, having been directed in life by his own human ideas. He then zealously used carnal or fleshly methods, and in his ignorance, was fighting against God. In persecuting the members of the Early Church he was, in effect, persecuting the Lord Jesus. He then formed his judgments, and directed his way of life, not upon truth, but upon his own human imaginations and ideas.

Today, mankind in general is still forming judgments, not upon truth or facts, but upon human ideas and imaginations, promoting ideological warfare. This war of ideas is worldwide. In political, social, and religious thought there have been, and still are, very disturbing conflicts respecting ideas. How true it is that instead of wisdom prevailing, there is mental unsoundness. As a result of the fall of the human race into sin, and its condemnation—death—the whole world is unsound mentally as well as physically, but in varying degrees, according to circumstances and heredity. The Scriptures declare, “There is none righteous [none perfect, sound, either in mind or body], no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”—Rom. 3:10,11

Satan, the god of this world, has certainly been very busy with his deceptions throughout the history of man. He has blinded the minds of them which believe not. (II Cor. 4:4) But the Scriptures reveal that in God’s due time Satan will deceive men and nations no more, and eventually he will be destroyed.

For the humble and the meek, God has provided true wisdom in Christ, who said, “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart,” with the result that we accept him as our personal Lord and Savior. (Matt. 11:29) Being justified by faith, and fully consecrating ourselves to God, we are begotten by his Holy Spirit, and by the inspired Word of truth.

We receive the spirit of a sound mind, and experience, as it is written: “Ye [are] in Christ Jesus who hath been made wisdom unto us, from God.” (I Cor. 1:30, Rotherham) In all this “we have received, not the spirit of the world, but that Spirit which is from God, that we may know the things graciously given to us by God; and which things we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but by the teachings of the Spirit; unfolding spiritual things to spiritual persons.”—I Cor. 2:12,13, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott

Our concern now is the mind and the will of God. We have devoted our lives to study and obey this will, and are glad to be exercised in experiences mostly opposite to our own human will. This includes our imaginations and ideas. We trample courageously upon our own will to deaden it, and deny self utterly. We exclaim with the apostle, “I severely discipline my body, and make it subservient [I lead it captive].” (I Cor. 9:27, WED) The apostle was waging a war within himself.


To consider first the question of weapons, the Scriptures assure us they are not to be carnal or fleshly—not swords, guns, bombs, or anger, malice, hatred, strife. Whenever these are used in defense of the Lord’s glorious cause, they do it injury instead of good.

Those who fight carnally with anger, malice, bitterness, resentment, strife, misrepresent our Captain. Like our Master, we must love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who despitefully use us and persecute us, hoping for Divine mercy upon them, in the opening of the eyes of their understanding—if not now, at a later date.

The weapons we are to use are mighty through God. In Hebrews we read, “The Word of God is living, energetic, and more cutting than any two-edged sword, cutting through even to a separation of life and breath, and of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12, WED) This weapon, ‘the Word of God’, is described elsewhere in the Scriptures as “the sword of the Spirit,” and is a vital part of the whole Christian armor which God supplies.—Eph. 6:11-18

Our weapons are divinely powerful for the pulling down of strongholds, demolishing imaginations and every high thing rearing itself up against the knowledge of God. A fighting spirit we must have, but this combativeness must be rightly directed. The Lord is seeking and calling out a fighting class who are to be conquerors, victors, overcomers; and from the moment we enlist as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, our combativeness is to be directed into particular channels.

We are to learn, first of all, that our combativeness is not to be exercised against the Lord in resisting his will. On the contrary, we are to make a full surrender to him of our thoughts, words, and conduct. We are to remember also that our fighting spirit is not to be used against the brethren, because to fight against them is to fight against God, and against the truth. Nor is our combativeness to be exercised either against our friends, our neighbors, or mankind in general.

Our fighting spirit is to be turned against sin, error, and the power of darkness, and its first exercise must begin with ourselves. “He that ruleth his spirit [his own mind, will]” is better “than he that taketh a city.” (Prov. 16:32) There are strongholds in ourselves that are to be demolished. Pride, selfishness, and various other kinds of sins are entrenched in our minds, in our imaginations, resulting from the long centuries of the downward tendencies of the human race. These sins in us have dug deeply into our system; they are firmly fastened there, but sin is not to have dominion over our mortal bodies. Their stronghold is to be destroyed, and our entire being brought into subjection to the will of God.

Our combativeness, which is now directed by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, is used first on oneself, continually keeping the body under, conquering self. This includes contention with sin and self-will, mortifying it, killing its depraved affections and desires. It is a real fight to demolish through the Spirit and the Word the entrenched strongholds, and casting down imaginations.

Our imaginations may be of different kinds—various false doctrines and superstitions that have come down to us from past ages, including hell torment; the immortality of the soul; the mystery of the trinity. The sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word, can effectively cast down these imaginations, and enable us to see God’s real character, his glorious purposes, and his gracious promises to the church and to the world.

The Word of the Lord, illuminating our minds by the Holy Spirit, is the ‘sword’ that will demolish ignorance, superstition, pride, idle speculation, and every form of thought that would lead us astray, and hinder the work of grace in our hearts and minds.

It is after we have had considerable experience in battling with sin, selfishness and error in ourselves, in casting the beam out of our own eyes, and in subduing anger, malice, hatred, and strife in our own heart and the flesh, that we can become useful to God. By means of this severe battle and experience we will be prepared to assist others in their difficulties, helping them to overcome their besetments and weaknesses, and assisting them to wage a good warfare.

Whoever starts out by fighting the sins of others, before he has made a vigorous campaign against his own weaknesses and errors, is making a mistake. He needs humility and sympathy. He needs to be defeated on occasion in some of his battles with self, in order to have a clear appreciation of his own personal inability to overcome, and to force him to go to the throne of heavenly grace to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

All the remaining energies that we can spare from the severe disciplining of self, will find ample opportunity for usefulness in battling for the Lord and for the brethren. Such energy can be used for earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered to the saints, being steadfast in the conflict against sin, error, and darkness, courageously opposing all the wiles, or crafty ways of the Devil, being aware that we wrestle against not merely flesh and blood “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”—Eph. 6:12

As the poet has written:

My soul, weigh not thy life
Against thy heav’nly crown;
Nor suffer Satan’s deadliest strife
To beat thy courage down.

The battle soon will yield
If thou thy part fulfil;
For strong as is the hostile shield,
Thy sword is stronger still.

Thine armor is Divine,
Thy feet with promise shod;
And on thy head, ‘ere long, shall shine,
The diadem of God.

The great conflict still continues throughout the world between righteousness and sin, light and darkness, truth and error. The true church is valiantly to hold high the light of truth—the true Gospel, as declared in the inspired Word. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless [Margin, ‘sincere’], the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the Word of life.”—Phil. 2:14-16

Seeing that our fight includes our defense of the Word of God, and also of our Father’s character, we must be willing to stand for the truth at any cost, and also we must fight against any number of assailants, against the creeds and theories and imaginations of men, which would misrepresent the “good tidings of great joy,” (Luke 2:10) which shall be unto all people during the Millennial reign of Christ and his glorified church.

Meanwhile, as in the case of the Apostle Paul who said, “I am set for the defence of the Gospel” (Phil. 1:17), we should be alert to defend the truth. And so long as the opportunity is ours, we are to courageously use the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Experiencing his guidance, strength, and blessing, we are to assist in “the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds. Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defense that men erect against the true knowledge of God. We even fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ.”—II Cor. 10:4,5, J. B. Phillips

Dawn Bible Students Association
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