November 7th

Inner Fortresses

1   Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!
2   I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh.
3   For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,
4   for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
5   We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
6   and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.
7   You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ's, so also are we. 8   For even if  I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame,
9   for I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters.
10   For they say, "His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is  unimpressive and his speech contemptible."
11   Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present.
2 Corinthians 10:1-11 NASB 

In this passage Paul was writing to the Corinthians, among whom some had been challenging his authority as an apostle.  Apparently the challengers had been saying that Paul was bold in his letters, but weak when it came to dealing with issues in person.  Though he was addressing the immediate arguments against him, his response revealed important aspects of spiritual warfare that can help us in our walk with Christ.  

Paul mentioned warring against “fortresses” using spiritual weapons as opposed to physical ones.  What were the fortresses that Paul was attacking?  The fortresses were speculations and thoughts that were both directed against Paul and ultimately, God.  The people had been saying things about Paul that were malicious, false and divisive in the local church.   

Paul used the weapons of truth and authority in Christ to refute the arguments against him.  Likewise, in the battles we face, we have the weapon of truth to destroy evil thoughts: the truth from God’s word.  The truth destroys the power of the lies behind the evil thoughts and sets us free from their grip!  A second weapon we have is the authority of Christ, which God has given us through our faith in Christ (John 1:12). We can use this authority to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.   We also have the Holy Spirit living in us to help us take control of our thoughts and bring them into obedience to God (Romans 8:10-13).   

Such “thought control” actions are key disciplines that we can use in combating the evil thoughts that compete for our attention each day.  The concept of thought control might be new to people who have allowed their minds to run freely in sexual fantasy or other sinful patterns.  Physical actions, such as masturbation, promiscuity, or looking at porn, only compound the difficulty of bringing our thoughts into obedience to Christ.  Stopping the physical actions is important, but even more important is controlling the thoughts.   

Paul highlighted the importance of our thoughtlife in verse 7 (above).  He encouraged the people not to evaluate their relationship with Christ from the outward appearance, but rather, from the inner condition, i.e. their inner thoughts of the heart.  It’s no secret that our hearts are certainly capable of producing all kinds of evil thoughts.  The typical daily struggle for committed Christians is to put the evil thoughts of the “old self” to death and to focus our minds on pure things.  As Paul suggested, if we are truly Christ’s people, our inner thoughtlife will confirm that allegiance.   

I encourage you to look inward and take inventory of any sinful fortresses in your thoughts.  Are there pockets of pet sin that you are tolerating or protecting, such as idolatry, lust, love of money, etc.?  If so, you can ask God to reveal the truth about lies the fortresses are built on.  Armed with the truth, you can then begin destroying the fortresses and bringing your thoughts under Christ’s authority.   

Questions for further thought

Prayer

“Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of following you in the knowledge of the truth.  Thank you for providing the means for me to live as a new creation through faith in Jesus.  Thank you for giving me spiritual weapons such as truth and the authority of Christ to bring my thoughts into obedience to you.  I repent from giving any evil thought a place of refuge in my heart.  I repent from any habitual practice of sin that has resulted in a fortress being built in my heart.  Please forgive me, Lord, on account of your sacrifice for me on the Cross.  Please now shine the light of truth into my heart to dispel the lies that I have believed.  In the name of Jesus Christ, I take authority over every thought in my mind and command it to submit to Jesus.  Lord, please heighten my conviction of any thought that is against you from this point forward.  Please help me to no longer give place to the devil in any way.  Thank you! I praise you now and forever!  Amen.”