we are called to a spiritual war. Yes we are. But you don't fight that war by chasing demons, you fight that war by knowing the Word and you fight that war by assaulting the fortresses of lies that men have built up against the truth and you do it compassionately but you do also courageously. You want to be patient, you want to be gentle, you want to give people time to comprehend and understand, but you also engage in the battle relentlessly and when they are entrenched, you go to war. And only the truth can do that. That's why Paul said to Timothy, "Preach the Word"...That's why he said to Titus, "Speak the things that are concerning sound doctrine, and speak with all authority and let no man disregard you."
The good soldier, the noble soldier is compassionate, courageous and competent. One last point very brief. A very, very important part of being good in war, he is calculating...he is calculating. The good soldier understands you have to take everything into account...timing, very important. Who is your enemy? Recognizing him, getting him when he's vulnerable, all of that essence of strategy. He knows there's an appropriate propitious time and place when the enemy is clearly in sight and clearly defined. He doesn't just go into the village with his machine gun blazing in mow-down both the enemy and the innocent. He's not going to get somebody caught in friendly fire. Verse 6, he's calculating. "And we're ready to punish all disobedience." Hold it there for a second.
We're ready, he says...I mean, he's ready, he's trained, he's armed, he's ready...prepared to the hilt, the delay has nothing to do with cowardice. He is ready. By the way, that word verb for "we are ready" is a military term. We are ready to punish all disobedience. Ready to avenge. A direct threat to those who know they are to be obedient to Christ but refuse to do it. We're ready when they've entrenched and they've dug their heals in and they will not respond and they will not repent and they're going to destroy the church, we're ready to move in against them. He will not let them destroy the church. He'll act in severe ways against them. He's done it before in other circumstances in the New Testament. He did it in Ephesus as we read about in 1 Timothy, he'll do it again. He's prepared to get in there and purge out those false teachers and those hypocrites.
Why is he waiting? Why is he waiting? Very important, verse 6, "We are ready to punish all disobedience whenever your obedience is complete." Your obedience, he's talking to the church. He is saying this, whenever the church collectively is complete in its obedience. What does that mean? Everybody who is true to the gospel has taken his stand. When you people are all finally agreeing to be obedient, and it's clear who the remainder are, then I'm going to act. I don't want to get you in the line of fire. I don't want to blast you in the midst of the fray. I don't want you to be a casualty. I'm waiting and I'm going to give you a few more months until all of you who are obedient are complete and the rest are clearly the recalcitrant entrenched incorrigibles. I want that enemy clearly defined.
He would wait until it became fully manifest who among the Corinthians would submit to the truth and who would finally reject it in a fixed posture. And he says when I come I'm going to do battle with them and I'm going to force them to surrender or to accept their tower as a tomb.
This soldier doesn't shoot everybody. This soldier is compassionate and gracious and gentle with those who respond and with the rest he comes with a fierce warlike attitude. Compassionate, courageous, competent, and calculating. You better be ready.
How do we deal in this world in the spiritual warfare? Tenderly, patiently, compassionately, courageously and when it comes to the war you better know the Scripture because the only way to smash the ideological strongholds is with the truth and you want to do it at the appropriate time to the appropriate people. (emphasis mine)
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Sunday, September 4th
Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 22 - Joel 1 - 2 Corinthians 9
The first part of our 2 Corinthians passages gives us insight into the spiritual battle we face every day.
In his sermon Winning the Spiritual War Part 2, John MacArthur says....
An effective soldier is compassionate, and only engages in battle as a last resort.
A good soldier is courageous, and has the courage to enter the battle if he has to, but he'd rather not.
But both compassion and courage would be useless in the battle if the soldier wasn't competent, if he wasn't capable. We cannot be competent in spiritual battle if we don't know the Word.
And finally, a good soldier is calculating, able to discern those working their way into obedience from those who have become entrenched in the lies - and at that point, going in with the Word of God as a weapon and forcing them to either surrender to Christ or retreat to their fortress of lies.
The truth is absolutely the only thing that can demolish strongholds built on lies. It cannot be fought with human wisdom or arguments. Only the very Word of God.
So we need to know it!
Tomorrow's passage: 2 Chronicles 23, Joel 2-3, 2 Corinthians 10