2 Cor. 10:4-5: Let Earth Receive Her King
All Christians are soldiers in the army of God (Phil. 2:25, 2 Tim. 2:3, Ph. 1:2). He is the Lord of Hosts, and we are His hosts (Rev. 19:11-16, cf. Ex. 12:51). Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but we are at war. We fight against principalities and powers, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, and therefore we must put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:11-12, cf. Rom. 13:12). We fight the good fight of faith in order to lay hold of eternal life to which we have been called (1 Tim. 6:12). Our weapons are not of the flesh, but we have been given divine power to destroy strongholds, arguments, and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5). In this new year, 2017, we want to renew our commitment to wage this warfare against every manifestation of sin, the flesh, and the devil.
The Gospel is the Good News that God Reigns
One of the most striking things about the way God works in history is that He loves announcing things as finished before anyone can see it. He does this because He is the Lord of All. When Abram was not yet a father of anyone, God revised his already awkward name to “Abraham” in order to underline this Lordship (Rom. 4:17). Likewise, when Isaiah was commissioned to proclaim “Comfort” to Israel, He commanded Israel to go up on the high mountains and announce the good news of God’s salvation before God’s salvation had actually arrived in history (Is. 40:9). They were to tell Israel to “behold” their God, to believe that He was coming for them with might and power (Is. 40:10), and that He would be tend His flock like a good shepherd (Is. 40:11). The Good News/Gospel of the New Covenant is similar. Jesus was born, lived, died, rose again, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, putting all things right in principle, and we announce this as a present reality before it can be obviously seen (Heb. 2:8). Paul specifically quotes Isaiah 52 to describe the task of preaching the gospel: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’ (Is. 52:7, Rom. 10:15-17). Preaching the gospel is announcing the good news that Jesus is Lord now. This is the center of our warfare and how we take every thought captive to obey Christ.
The Peace of the Lord
When you wake up each day, you do so as a servant of the King. You are a man or woman, boy or girl under orders. How is the Lord directing your days? How does the Word of the Lord direct your parenting? Your household management? Your financial planning? Your schooling and vocational pursuits? Your love life? Jesus is the Lord of every thought, and therefore every thought is either an act of obedience or an act of treason. In a wonderful juxtaposition, the central Word of the Lord to all men is peace. When Jesus rose from the dead, He said, ‘Peace be with you’ (Jn. 20:19, 21, cf. Lk. 24:36). As Isaiah had foretold, Jesus was announcing that Israel’s warfare was ended (cf. Is. 40:1-2). This is because the driving force behind every human conflict is our war against God. Every human being born in this world is born shaking his/her fist at our Maker. But God in His great love and mercy sent His Son to make peace with His enemies, and He made that peace by His blood (Rom. 5:1, 9-10). It is this peace that drives the Christian warfare against all remaining evil. The love of Christ that has reconciled us to Himself compels us to take every thought captive to this peace of Christ. Paul models this wonderfully when he speaks of his ministry as a treasure in jars of clay (2 Cor. 4:7), in which they carry around in their bodies the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be manifest in their bodies (2 Cor. 4:10). Paul and the other apostles do not lose heart in the trials and tribulations of life because “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison… for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18). When we fight the good fight of faith, we are fighting for that eternal weight of glory. Every word, every action, every thought either bows the knee and blesses Christ or it resents Christ and shakes an angry fist.
Living For Christ
Paul describes this way of life as living for Christ: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:14-15). This “living for Christ” is living out the peace of Christ, which is a “new creation” way of life (2 Cor. 5:17-18, cf. 6:3ff). In other words, obedience to Christ looks very different from the way unbelievers live: What partnership does righteousness have with lawlessness? What fellowship has light with darkness? What portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols (2 Cor. 6:14-18)? This means that it will not do to thoughtlessly mimic the ways of unbelief around us. We are soldiers under orders. In order to live for Christ, we live each day asking Christ to rule over every inch of our lives. We want every thought taken captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5). How does Christ want you to use your time? How does Christ want you to use your money? How does Christ want you to teach your children? How does Christ want you to organize your home? How does Christ want you to study, computer program, shovel your driveway, do your hair, spend your free time, watch movies, post on Facebook? How does Christ want you to think about all of these things? If the love of Christ controls us then we do not live for ourselves but for Him who died and was raised for us.
In this new year, may our firmest, fiercest resolve be to live for Christ, to be controlled by His love, to be holy as He is holy, to walk in His light, to fight the good fight of faith, and to take every thought captive to obey Christ. We want every thought, every word, every action to be a full-hearted profession and confession that all things have been reconciled in Christ, that He has made peace by the blood of His cross – even though we don’t see it yet. We want every thought to acknowledge that He is Lord. Which is why we sing: Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King.