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SECOND CORINTHIANS 10:3-6

 

How to have victory in our thoughts!

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

2nd Corinthians 10:3-6

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for 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; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled."

 

LESSON 1:

The Text we are about to begin is one of the New Testament's very best when it comes to the "thought life" of the Believer in Christ!

Some folks have trouble with dirty thoughts.

Others with bitter and angry thoughts.

Still others with thoughts of worry and distraction.

Then there are thoughts of doubt too.

Really, there's no limit I guess!

But the Bible addresses this great issue.

Just to what degree does God want to be in our thoughts? Let's allow the Psalmist to tell us: "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts." (Psalm 10:4) If God wants to be in "all man's thoughts," even the thoughts of the wicked ... how much more does He expect to infiltrate and control the minds of us Believers? Believers in His darling Son, Jesus Christ!

Paul plainly tells us that one of God's goals for His saints is to "transform" their minds! Listen to him preach: "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:2) That verb "transformed" is the scientific word for "metamorphosis." You know, when a worm or caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly and soars heavenward!

And, to cap it all, listen to this almost dictatorial statement. God tells us even WHAT to think! "Brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

Jesus, quoting Moses, demanded of His little children, His followers: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." See that last one? "All thy mind!" That includes our thoughts!

"Lord, through the Power of Thy Word and the Presence of Thy Holy Spirit, help us to conquer the wrong kinds of thoughts ... and think in ways that constantly please Thee!"

Amen!

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 3:

Paul's Ministry at Corinth was in some ways one of his best.

He surely loved those dear Believers!

Yet there too Paul met a great many of his adversaries!

It seems a group of preachers, false teachers really, moved into Corinth and began to infiltrate the Church.

They literally despised Paul and the Gospel he preached.

They of course said some terrible things about the great Apostle too.

They apparently accused him of not being a real disciple of Christ!

He lacked the credentials, they alleged, of the true Jerusalem-approved men of God!

He also had a weak "bodily appearance!" He did not even look like a preacher to them!

And his "speech" was contemptible! "Not a good preacher at all," they retorted!

They questioned the fact that Paul chose not to take a salary from the Church, deciding rather to make tents to supplement his income!

Even his honesty may have been doubted, honesty in how he handled offerings and gifts for the poor saints at Jerusalem or elsewhere!

In 2nd Corinthians Paul of necessity has to defend himself against such lies and hatred.

He had to go to war for the Gospel's sake!

He once said: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh." 2nd Corinthians 10:3

One of Paul's favorite word pictures for the Christian life is comparing it to a long "walk." The Greek verb, "peripateo," here means "to trample or tread" all "around" the pathway of life. At times Paul has the Christian life as a race to be run, a fight to be fought, or even a love affair to some day be properly and purely consummated! Here, it's just a "walk."

All the accusations being hurled at Paul reminded him how very human he really was! He lived, or walked, in the flesh. In a human body! Breathing air and eating bread and sleeping each night ... just like all other people!

BUT ... since the detractors in Corinth had challenged Paul and attacked him and sought to destroy the Gospel he so clearly preached ... war must be declared!

Spiritual war, that is!

And though admittedly Paul "walks" in a human form, he will not "battle" that way!

No sir!

The word "war" translates "strateuomai" and is a present middle indicative verb meaning "to serve as a soldier, to engage in battle or to wage war!"
 

Paul will fight the enemy!

These in Corinth who hate God's Grace and belittle God's Men will be challenged ... and defeated!

Not defeated with guns or missiles or tanks ... but by the power of God!

That's the only way to overcome false doctrine!

Or false teaching and preaching!

False thinking!

False living!

In the next few lessons we shall, Lord willing, follow "General" Paul into battle. We shall observe him at work and at war!

There is much to learn!

And, having graduated from the Apostolic war college ... we shall be better equipped to fight the devil and his demons, the world and its philosophies, and the flesh and its desires!

Remember: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh."

Amen!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 4:

Paul is doing battle!

He wants us as Christians to know that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal." 2nd Corinthians 10:4

The enemy in this war is not necessarily physical!

This is primarily spiritual conflict.

The enemy, the target of Paul's weaponry, consists of wrong thoughts, plans, theories, mindsets and worldviews!

The noun here for "weapons" is "oplon," pronounced "hoplon" due to its punctuation. Likely the word's "root" is "hepo," meaning "to be busy!" While it can refer to any tool or implement, it usually suggests military armament. 

In John 18:3 the arresting soldiers who came to take Jesus into custody had "lanterns and torches and weapons." Then Paul in Romans 6:13 surprises us: "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." See the word "instruments?" Both times it's "hoplon!" Think of your "body parts" or "members" as weapons against sin and the devil! Eyes, hands feet, and so forth. Again in Romans 13:12 Paul introduces us to "the armour of light!" And later, in 2nd Corinthians 6:7 he speaks of our "armour of righteousness." We as Believers are well equipped to enter this spiritual confrontation.

The term "warfare" is "strateia," our word "strategy." It actually indicates not just a single battle, but a war, a campaign, an expedition. It focuses on the long haul!

This "thought" battle in which we are engaged will last until we get to Heaven! It will also require every strategy the Lord shares with us ... and each weapon He places at our disposal!

Now notice the adjective. "Sarkikos" means "of the flesh." Worldly! Not under the control of God's Spirit!

We fight, but not with guns and hollow point bullets and switchblade knives!

We fight with the Word of God, fervent prayer, spiritual fellowship, the power of the Lord and the presence of the Holy Spirit!

These are spiritual weapons, not carnal fleshly ones!

And Christian friend, know this.

This is not a "volunteer" battle.

Out thoughts MUST be controlled!

If not, defeat is sure.

Come back tomorrow, this is important material!

Paul is eloquently soaring heavenward here in one of the greatest sermons in all Scripture! At least when it comes to victory in the Christian life!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 4:

The Christian is at war.

We daily battle wrong thoughts and worldly preconceptions and ungodly theories of all kinds!

In a real way a specific paragraph Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians chapter 10 describes this battle, a battle against prevailing worldly opinions. These must also include gossip, slander and verbal arrows of bitterness and hate.

But, to encourage us all, Paul teaches us that our weapons in this war are "mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds." 2nd Corinthians 10:4

We Believers have been given of God all we need to combat and defeat these verbal and spiritual barrages!

The adjective "mighty" translates "dunatos," meaning power! Precisely, "inherent" power is in view. Power God has placed IN us through His Holy Spirit! Imparted power resident in our very hearts! Ready to be used at a moment's notice! Keep in mind that the English word "dynamite" is derived from this "dunamis" stem.

Our power to defeat wrong thoughts is given us "through God." These Greek words "to theo" are in the dative case. The preposition "through" is simply implied in the grammatical case here used. The Dative case suggests "personal interest" and "position" and also "instrumentation" within a given context. Our power comes from God because He is personally interested in our victory over sin! It comes from the Lord also because He is above us and all powerful Himself! And such mighty power is allowed us because God is its Source. He is the Means of our overcoming ability!

The term "pulling down" pictures the destruction of these bad ideas! "Kathairesis" means a "lifting up" (from "airo") then a throwing "down" (from "kata"), adding extra momentum and devastation to the act! In both 2nd Corinthians 10:8 and 13:10 this word is translated "destruction" in the King James Bible. Here's something interesting too! The noun form here is feminine in gender! We can't build too much on this fact since grammatical gender is rather arbitrary it seems. But at least we can say that the ladies also are soldiers in this war, this spiritual conflict where God's people are seeking to abolish wrong thoughts and opinions and hearsay!

But what are "strongholds?" Entrenched positions into which the enemy has embedded himself! Like the secure position evolution now holds in the American educational system! Our the credibility most church "gossips" seem to hold over nearly all the membership! Or the clout certain Universities wield over the whole nation! "Ochuroma" can mean a castle! Or a fortress! Any seemingly unconquerable place of refuge!

See! Even habitual thought patterns can be defeated! The devil's best arguments can be refuted! Depression, worry, fear, doubt and any other negative mental cogitations can be logically decimated by the Power of God and the Truth of Scripture! This includes the latest gossip too!

Praise the Lord!

God is faithful!

For the Christian, right along with the occasional temptation to think badly, comes the armour to demolish those wrong ideas and replace them with absolute Bible facts!

Yes! "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds."

That's our Text for today.

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 5:

The battle rages!

The Christian is under attack!

Sometimes the weapons used against us are rather subtle too!

In 2nd Corinthians 10:5 Paul challenges us to resist then demolish certain systems of thought and false ideologies and wicked speeches!

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God."

The verbal form he uses, chosen of course by the Holy Spirit Himself, is "casting down."

This word is spelled "kathaireo," except here it's a present participle. It means "to lift up" something ("airo") then to throw it down violently ("kata") and deliberately!

Grab these things, these useless thoughts, and hurl them to the ground!

This is the same Paul who in Colossians 3:5 urges us to "mortify" certain sins; fornication, uncleanness, covetousness and other forms of sensuality. To "mortify" pictures someone taking a sharp sword and hacking that sin to death! Pulverizing it! This Latin verb actually means "to make dead."

Again, here are Paul's very words from 2nd Corinthians 10:5. "Casting down imaginations ...."

But, what are "imaginations?"

This noun, "logismos," almost defines itself when you look at it for a second. See therein the word "logic." It means a thought, a supposedly serious and well-reasoned one. Maybe a series of arguments that oppose the Christian faith! Or a barrage of gossip directed against some good Christian brother or sister! Or an assortment of lies liberally packed into a sermon by some Bible critic! Or a bunch of doubts with which the devil is harassing you!

The same idea is found in Proverbs 6:18 where we're told that God hates, among other things, "wicked imaginations." Also ... in the Greek Text of Jeremiah 11:19 the word is translated "devices."

Now, let's apply this command from the pen of Paul.

Some Corinthians had said that Paul was not a true Apostle! Down with that thought, thunders the great Preacher!

Others had apparently accused him of wrongfully handling money, the church collection.  No! Perish the thought! Kill it ... then bury it!

While a few even mocked Paul's appearance and speech and manner of preaching! Dethrone such words and the men who spoke them! Strip them of their influence!

More seriously, false teachers had crept into the assembly and were no longer accenting the Grace of God! Now it's back to Moses and good works to please the Saviour! Jerk such lies to the earth! As the men loyal to Jehu threw Jezebel to the earth below, so grab those heresies and drop them into their graves!

That's what these words mean: "Casting down imaginations ...."

Lord, help us to practice this way of thinking!

Then help us practice it some more!

Until it becomes habit, Holy Spirit induced habit!

In Jesus' Name, Amen.

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 5:

We as Christians are demolition experts!

I mean in the areas of sin and wickedness!

We, like Jeremiah of old, are commanded ... "to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down" ungodliness! That's part of Jeremiah 1:10.

To put this concept in New Testament terms, Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians 10:5 that we are to be ... "casting down every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God."

Grab those high wicked things and dash them into the ground! That's the idea behind "kathaireo," casting down.

But what are "high things?"

"Hupsoma" means anything that is elevated or raised to an extreme. One lexicon or dictionary says that the word even covers watchtowers, bulwarks and ramparts or anything else that's above the battlefield! Here in this context we definitely have a military or combat  motif.

As far as I can tell our word here is used only one other time in Scripture. In Romans 8:39 where Paul is telling us that nothing can separate us from the Love of God ... "height" is listed as one of the perceived but powerless dangers. This is "hupsoma." In both New Testament locations, "hupsoma" stands against the Believer in Christ!

Notice that these fortifications "exalt themselves" against Jesus! This verb is spelled "epairo" and means "to raise" (Greek = "airo") "up" (Greek = "epi") oneself. The eyes can be "lifted up" and so can the human voice, using this very same verb to depict the action. So can one's head, for our redemption draweth nigh! And one's Hands, as when Jesus ascended to Heaven! Judas lifted up his heel against Jesus! This also is the verb the Holy Spirit uses to describe the bodily Ascension of the glorified Christ to Heaven! "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." Acts 1:9

"Against" is just a little preposition, but it is so important here! "Kata" means "down upon" Someone! At least that's what it means when used with a genitive object, which we have here. It even implies being "over" Someone in authority! See the battle taking shape?

Against what are these thoughts and plans and ideas standing? Or Whom are they fighting so violently?

Jesus!

Yes, they oppose "the knowledge of God."

Each word in the phrase is common, nothing unusual. "Kata ho gnosis ho Theos." Against the knowledge of The God!

The spirit of our rebellious age wants to obliterate all knowledge of God! All reverence and worship toward Him! They even want to erase His dear Name from the public record!

He this week, including September 11th, is unmentioned ... even on the very day our nation remembered a national tragedy!

How sad!

I long to take all these lies of the devil and his helpers, demonic and human, and pull them from their high places! Hurling them to the depths below, I cry for the day Jesus will return to earth ... as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! To reign and lead and judge!

Lord, hasten that glorious Hour!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, VERSE 5:

Is it possible?

Can a man or a woman really control his or her thoughts?

Paul thinks so!

And he might even be talking about more than our individual mental patterns too!

I believe he also has in mind ideas, philosophies, bits and pieces of news, hearsay, and anything else that does not glorify the Lord!

Anyway, the great Apostle clearly suggests that we "bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ!" 2nd Corinthians 10:5

Let's stop for a minute and ask a question.

What is it that dominates your mind? What is foremost in my thinking?

What keeps us from mentally dwelling on Christ Jesus the Lord?

What occasionally overtakes us and controls our minds and hearts?

Fear?

Worry?

Lust?

Anger?

Doubt?

Senseless daydreaming?

The latest bit of slander we heard on the phone or at Church?

Whatever it might be, Paul classified such as part of our "thought" life.

Remember our goal now: "Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ!" 2nd Corinthians 10:5

The noun used here for "thought" is spelled "noema." The Greek word for "mind" is "nous." Therefore, a "thought" is that upon which the mind is centered or focused. It means "a mental perception."

In the King James Bible "noema" it is translated three different ways. I will underline the English words that represent "noema." Second Corinthians 2:11 says: "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." Then Second Corinthians 3:14 reminds us of the Jews: "But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ." Second Corinthians 4:4 records: "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." Then in Second Corinthians 11:3 Paul continues: "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." Then, the last occurrence of the word in the New Testament: "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

Three words used for "noema:" one's thoughts, the content of one's mind and the devices of the devil. Paul has actually suggested here that we know the thoughts of the devil! I am sure he means that we know such things by studying the Scriptures.

What am I to do with my thoughts, my mental patterns?

"Bring them into captivity to Jesus!"

The verbal expression here ... "bringing into captivity" ... is quite dramatic! It is spelled "aichmalotizo" and contains the Greek word for "spear." That's spelled "aichme." The remaining part of the word, the "alosis" section, means something like "to capture" or "to seize!"

To arrest at the point of a sword!

Surprisingly, this term is found three times in the New Testament.

Here in a prophetic Text it is translated "led away captive." Luke 21:24 says: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

Then comes Romans 7:23 with its "bringing into captivity" again: "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" says Paul! This is Bible doctrine.

Then our very practical and personal Text: "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." 2nd Corinthians 10:5

Think of this amazing concept! The very possibility is thrilling!

Every thought I have ... being seized and forced to come into the presence of Jesus! Where it will glow brightly if it's noble and holy ... or melt away and vaporize if it lacks purity!

And just exactly where do I bring these thoughts?

"To the obedience of Christ!"

The noun "obedience" is spelled "hupakoe" This word combines the Greek preposition for "under" ("hupo") with their word for "hearing" ("akouo"). Combine these components and you get this word picture: bringing every thought at knifepoint ... bringing it to Jesus ... and making it sit there at His feet to be evaluated ... or converted!

Powerful Scripture!

We may have just been studying the single greatest passage ever written on controlling one's thoughts!

Master this Text!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, VERSE 6:

The Apostle Paul was a kind gentle man.

At least most of the time he was ... to the people of God.

He thought of the new converts in the Churches as his "little children."

He "fathered" them and occasionally "mothered" them, once even saying he "nursed" them.

He would have died for them, and several times nearly did.

But Paul could be vicious ... if forced to do so!

Vicious in defending those young Believers in Christ!

Or ferocious in fighting wickedness or the devil!

Once, in 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6, Paul was teaching ... really preaching ... about our minds, our very thoughts.

He instructed us how to conquer impure thoughts and lies and gossip and false doctrine and doubt and every other thing that exalted itself against Christ our Lord.

He, simply stating the facts, said "attack!"

Go on the offense!

He reminded us that we war in the spiritual realm. These manifold "thoughts" that enter our minds are either devilish ... or godly!

And our "weapons" must be both supplied and empowered by God Himself!

Because we all have some mental and intellectual and philosophical and so-called scientific "strongholds" to pull down, to demolish! These strongholds are the secure and fortified dwelling places for these "suspect" thoughts.

Yes, we must dislodge them from their proud places of security and place them under arrest! Bringing them captive to Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord!

But ... even after all that is done, Paul is not finished!

Here ... he gets even more fierce!

He now wants to talk "revenge!"

Don't misunderstand me now.

Not "revenge" against a personal enemy, or as far as I can tell ... not even against any human being, but against these wrong thoughts!

These wicked imaginations!

Read with me: "Having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience" says the great Preacher! Those words are from 2nd Corinthians 10:6.

The verb "having" translates "echo" as a present participle. "Holding onto" readiness, never letting it go! Constantly and vigilantly being prepared to fight evil theories and ideas and speech!

The noun itself for "readiness" is spelled "etoimos." It is derived from "heteos" which means "fitness!" We hear a lot today about being "physically fit." Well, now Paul says we're to be "spiritually fit!" This same Paul also told us that physical exercise profiteth little. Always on "standby" to deal with bad thinking! On "alert" status! This word is used to describe a meal that has been prepared and awaits the guests to arrive!

The verb "revenge" is represented by "ekdikeo." It's a forensic term, from the courtroom or police station! It means "to carry out justice." To execute a judge's righteous and legal sentence! The other 4 times "ekdikeo" is used in the Bible, it's rendered "avenge." And Paul's Holy Spirit inspired "sentence" upon these kinds of useless thoughts ... "mortify" them! Kill them! Take the sword of justice and hack them to pieces!

That's what we do ... not to people, not even to the devil ... but to the less than godly thoughts that come our way!

Thoughts that are "disobedient" to our Lord Jesus Christ! Those pesky little sins that keep reappearing in our minds! Any big sins too, by the way! Again, let's listen to Paul in Colossians 3:5-7. "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them." To "mortify" something means to make it dead!

Well, kind old Paul became rather ruthless against sin today, didn't he?

Oh, how we need more preaching against iniquity and unrighteousness!

Christians, we must police our thoughts ... all the time.

                                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, VERSE 6:

I think Paul, perhaps without even realizing it, often shares life-changing truth in his preaching and teaching.

For example, read this verse: "And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled." 2nd Corinthians 10:6

The "context" in which this single verse "sits" deals with our thoughts, our fears and worries and even the things we hear ... and can't get out of our minds!

Paul likens these "thoughts" to enemies, perched high above our heads and lurking in their impenetrable fortresses, attacking us at will!

Such a condition would be spiritually dangerous, being bombarded with unfit thoughts all the time!

So the great Apostle teaches us how to go on the offense!

How to attack those thoughts and destroy them!

Then ... as our verse today explains ...

After those old wicked and ungodly thoughts have been dethroned, we are still not quite finished!

Paul asks one more thing!

Take revenge on them!

Decimate them!

Slice them into pieces with the two-edged sword of God's Word!

Mortify them!

And ... here's today's lesson ... we can best punish the disobedience of those thoughts and meditations and reasonings and imaginations WHEN OUR OBEDIENCE IS FULFILLED!

We fight best when we live best!

We most efficiently overcome the devil and his wicked goals when we are closest to God and His plans!

Yes ... "we revenge all such disobedience when we are fully and completely obeying!"

That's one reason Jesus defeated Satan at their every meeting!

Jesus is sinless!

His obedience to the Father was always perfect, complete, overflowing!

The noun for our "obedience" is beautiful! "Hupakoe" is derived from two Greek words. "Hupo" means "under" and "akouo" means "to hear!" Thus, obedience pictures the Believer sitting at the feet of Jesus, under His authority, listening to His Words ... with proper follow-through in mind!

When we can fully do this ... we will be deadly to the wrong kinds of thoughts!

So ... the way to fight the devil is to draw closer and closer to Jesus!

Let's let James tell us: "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." (James 4:8) Little wonder that in the same context James also says: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

Christian friend, I hope you see this vital Truth! When we are obeying fully, we more powerfully can overcome the devil and those terrible thoughts and fears and worries and lies and doubts and rumors he wants to sent our way!

Say it again Paul: "And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled."

Thank you!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10, AN OVERVIEW:

Paul apparently was quite familiar with warfare!

With military tactics and strategies.

How so?

He had spent a lot of time in the company of infantrymen and cavalry and apparently even artillery specialists!

He knew centurions and captains and commanders as well as common fighting men.

He was even personally acquainted with some of Caesar's elite bodyguard corps.

Having been imprisoned so many times in such diverse locations and guarded by such an array of fighters, Paul overheard ... and learned much!

He sure did know how to "take" a city!

In fact, Paul's instructions in 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6 reflect this military expertise!

The great Apostle is teaching us how to overcome an enemy!

It's just that this enemy is not a human being necessarily, or an army ... but a bunch of wrong thoughts!

Paul likens these thoughts, when they have multiplied, to some despised adversary who wishes to harm us ... maybe even cripple us in our Christian walk!

Worry, gossip and slander, empty daydreams, vain meditations, false teachings, godless theories, mockery and the like ... all would ruin us spiritually if allowed to do so!

These mental enemies are occupying an imaginary fortress, a castle, high above us. They constantly throw fiery darts of doubt and lethargy and even apathy into our very hearts and souls and spirits!

The only thing to do?

Attack!

And using concentric circles of resistance ... tightening gradually and progressively toward enemy "headquarters," Paul drags such devilish lies to the ground, stomping them to death!

Then after that, he stays around to quench any smoldering embers that might flare up again!

The godly old Preacher means to "mortify" these bad thoughts indeed!

And, as Paul elsewhere wrote: "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

Praise God, the victory is ours!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11, THOUGHTS ... AND THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH:

The Apostle Paul often lets us observe some of his personal habits, especially those that reveal his methods of fighting sin and wickedness!

He also openly tells us what motivates him to such a high level of godly living!

In 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6 he discusses his awesome strategy in overcoming wrong thoughts.

Personal thoughts, unbiblical thoughts, bitter thoughts, misguided thoughts, and yes ... even sinful thoughts!

To learn how Paul reasoned, what a blessing that would be!

But what kinds of thoughts would cross the great Paul's mind? I mean thoughts that needed to be challenged. Wrong thoughts that needed to be made right.

Based on the Epistle of 1st Corinthians, the Letter that occasioned the writing of 2nd Corinthians, we can tell some of the thoughts and imaginations that the Church at Corinth needed to overcome. Therefore Paul, in helping these young Christians, had to tackle these thoughts as well.

1st Corinthians chapter 1 ... "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you." Argumentative thoughts!

1st Corinthians chapter 2 ... "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God." False teachers had come to Corinth. They belittled the Apostle Paul, mocking him often! Here are proud thoughts that disrespected the Man of God. "Looking down" on people! Paul readily admitted that he lacked superb Greek-Roman rhetorical skills, "excellency of speech or wisdom," but rather hungered for the "testimony of God!"

1st Corinthians chapter 3 ... "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ." Immature thoughts!

1st Corinthians 4 ... "Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you." Angry and jealous thoughts!

1st Corinthians 5 ... "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife." Immoral thoughts!

1st Corinthians 6 ... "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?" Thoughts of litigation, lawsuits against the brethren!

1st Corinthians 7 ... "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." Sexual thoughts!

1st Corinthians 8 ... "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." Thoughts about separation! How far can I go in a given "gray" area, and still not be wrong?

1st Corinthians 9 ... "Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?" What kind of thoughts might Paul have battled when these folks were calling him an imposter? A fake? Such talk could arouse feelings of hatred, even in a Preacher!

1st Corinthians 10 ... "But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils." Thoughts about worship! Can I go back to the heathen temples?

1st Corinthians 11 ... "For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken." Thoughts about Church life, here the Lord's Supper! And some have abused it!

1st Corinthians 12 ... "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant." Ignorant thoughts! Especially concerning Christian service.

1st Corinthians 13 ... "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." Thoughts about the proper priorities! Some apparently bragged on their faith!

1st Corinthians 14 ... "Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy." Thoughts about preaching! The "primacy" of Preaching one Man of God called it! Many in Corinth coveted the secondary gifts!

1st Corinthians 15 ... "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" Thoughts about the Resurrection! Both Jesus' Resurrection and ours at the Rapture! A few in Corinth denied such doctrine!

1st Corinthians 16 ... "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." Thoughts about money! Especially the offering at Church! Some had been stingy!

What dangerous thoughts these pose to the Christian mind!

These wrong meditations and false opinions, having been common in Corinth for years, had to be confronted, attacked, and defeated!

Annihilated!

And our Text here, again that's 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6, tells us how!

Oh, the power of God to conquer sin!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12, MAKING IT PERSONAL:

The primary New Testament Text about "thought control" is found in 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6.

By the term "thought control" I mean the process by which a Christian regulates his or her mind so that wrong ideas are not allowed to become dominant.

A fleeting thought may not be stoppable, but an enduring word picture can be absolutely dangerous, maybe even deadly! And even passing thoughts, if not controlled, can become enduring word pictures!

Let's take this great Passage and "personalize" it, applying it to our everyday lives. Again, here's what Paul says:

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for 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; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled."

The whole paragraph is set in a military context. Battle lines are drawn everywhere. "War, weapons, pulling down, captivity, revenge" ... just listen to the tension!

The "heart" of Paul's sermon here is found in the words "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ!"

Every thought!

Let's say I ponder a thought that strikes needless fear into my heart! Some worry producing possibility! Something I can't control anyway! Something my God can control! Yet that thought "lords" over me, tormenting me time and time again!

I am to go on the offense! Attack! As if that thought is a machine gunner in a bunker on top of a mountain, I am to scale the heights and grab that thing by the arms and jerk it to the ground, dashing it on the jagged rocks below!

Then I am to remove my sword and arrest that thought, forcefully bringing it into the presence of my Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ!

By the way, once any unfit thought gets into Jesus' Presence, it will vaporize in the light of His Holiness and Glory! Sin just can't exist around Him!

Vile immoral thoughts?

The same tactics apply!

Hatred?

Lust?

A lie?

False Doctrine?

Gossip?

Whatever!

Handle every thought precisely according to Paul's instructions here and ... victory will be yours ... through the Power of the Holy Spirit of God!

Folks, it works!

This is simply applying the Word of God to our practical situations!

Being "doers" of the Word!

How many of you will try it?

                                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

CONCLUSION:

We have been studying the "thought life" of a Believer in Jesus Christ, one who seriously lives for the Lord.

He or she has disciplined his or her mind so that every thought is carefully evaluated. And if sinful ... in fact, if less than honorable ... that thought is attacked and demoted and taken captive, being brought "under arrest" to Jesus!

In other words, every single mental impression we have ... if it's the least bit substandard, will cause us to approach our dear Lord, bringing in tow that rebellious idea!

Every erroneous thought ... involves a trip to Jesus' Side?

Yes!

And every bit of gossip!

And every lie!

And every bit of false teaching!

And all slander!

Including empty imaginations!

Preacher Bagwell, I sure would be making a lot of trips to see Jesus every day!

That's my point!

We would nearly be living in His Presence!

That's called, I think, "abiding" in Christ!

Being "filled" with Him!

Constant "communion!"

Sweet "fellowship!"

(Isn't that the way we are supposed to be living anyway?)

And, I'll guarantee you this too.

The more the devil sees that those various worries or bits of gossip or angry reflections or whatever ... send you to Jesus, He may not want to continue harassing you with those kinds of thoughts!

Believe me. The devil does not want you living in conscious contact with the Lord of Glory!

So ... bring your thoughts to the Lord. I mean after you have crippled the questionable ones. Then stay a while and enjoy fellowship with Jesus! Thank Him for dying for you! Express gratitude for that last prayer He answered! Worship Him sincerely!

And in so doing you will certainly frustrate the devil!

Live a life of victory!

Grow in grace!

Have a pure mind!

Enjoy God's best for your life!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

THIS WELL COULD BE A LIFE-CHANGING BIBLE STUDY FOR ANY SERIOUS STUDENT OF GOD'S WORD!

 

 

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