Telling the Gospel as Spiritual Warfare III

3  For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  4  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  5  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…  

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV

Previously, I have argued that Gospel telling is a kind of spiritual warfare.  It is not the only thing that fits in the category of spiritual warfare but it is oft over-looked.  In part II, I explored how it is the collision of world views and ideologies that Paul has in mind in 2 Corinthians 10.   I’ve recently gotten a little backup when it comes this idea.*  I’ve even been invited to share some recent thoughts on evangelism elsewhere.

Here I’m going to share how entering into the warfare of telling someone else about Jesus need not be rude or combative in tone.  This is important to say because the very metaphor which Paul uses is one of combat.  It could be assumed that all spiritual warfare could manifest as ugly confrontation except for Paul’s very important qualifier, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  This is obviously not a physical or violent confrontation.  But does the very image of warfare and combat not invariably set the other up as an enemy?  Paul asserts that it is not the case.


We are not waging war according to the flesh, says Paul to the Corinthians.  In a nutshell, the person in front of you is never the enemy.  The ideology they embrace may raise itself against the knowledge of God but they themselves are not necessarily an enemy.  The Muslim, atheist, feminist, materialist, agnostic, etc… sitting with us in the cafe or living next to us or even in our own family is not who we are to war against.  The beliefs/ideologies they hold, in so far as they oppose the knowledge of God are.  This is does mean that we can’t listen and seek to understand where they are coming from.  In fact, by questioning and listening, we can both better explain the Gospel and *gently* destroy arguments and lofty opinions.  Francis Schaeffer used to say that if he had an hour with someone, he would spend the first 55 minutes just questioning and listening.

The non-fleshliness of our opposition is precisely the reason why we can treat every person with dignity and respect.  We can do this even as we challenge their beliefs and persuade them to consider the Gospel.  In fact, the weapons of our warfare, being non-physical as they are, are far more persuasive when they are respectful, compassionate, and kind.

My hope and prayer is that each believer would be empowered to combat the false ideologies of they see in the people around them.  As well as every non-believer encounter a Christian who will winsomely, lovingly speak to them about God and Christ.

*  Craig Keener has a chapter on Paul and Spiritual Warfare in his new book ‘Paul’s Missionary Methods:  In His Time and Ours’.  The chapter is free online via Justin Taylor.  A good read!


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