A “mystical union of ever-deepening proportions” is one of many descriptive banners over life’s journey. This presents us with the grand opportunity of ongoing new horizons. I’ve never known a new horizon that did not require an adjustment of some kind on my part; and more often than not, a battle or two along the way.
As a new believer in Christ, I can remember early on becoming acquainted with 2 Corinthians 10:3 – 5. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down (demolishing) strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” The commonly understood genre for this passage is spiritual warfare, and the application is certainly a sound one. In context however, the Apostle Paul is defending himself against lies and accusation.
The Corinthian church was infiltrated with false apostles, whom the people were comparing against Paul. Influenced by these false teachers, they were forming opinions about Paul that were not true. This is such a critical issue, that Paul spends the last four chapters of the epistle dealing with it. It was more than simply defending his reputation. His concern was the believers being deceived by those “masquerading as apostles of Christ.” He likened them to Satan, who “masquerades as an angel of light.”
Paul’s heart is revealed in two key verses. “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” (11:2) “For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.” (12:14-15) This was the core motivation of his heart: a pure, fiery zeal for the integrity of their faith, and a father’s heart that would gladly pour out for their sake’s, even if the love was not reciprocal. Naturally, his heart was but a reflection of the Father’s heart towards us today.
Just as Paul defended himself, we need to do likewise. There may not be false apostles personally attacking me but I find myself warring against many forms of false programming – opinions that I have of myself, drawn from a stream of input over the years – authority figures, peers, and of course my self. We may have been defenseless at one time, having no tools or weapons to use. The strongholds were simply a way of life; the arguments were convincing and sounded true. I had no other way to gauge my thought process and so I lived under the weight of its’ oppression. But having found a “better way” in Christ, I will never be swayed from the truth, not if I can help it!
To be continued…