We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. —2 Corinthians 10:5
This passage answers critics among the Corinthians who claim Paul's brash letters and calm people's personas are evidence of hypocrisy or weakness. Their intent seems to have been undermining authority as an apostle. They would particularly have objected to Paul's right to rebuke or correct those in Corinth regarding God's knowledge and the Christian faith's practice.
Paul takes this challenge seriously. He sees himself at war with these false teachers. He has written that he fights not with physical weapons but with spiritual ones. These tools, such as prayer and Scripture, are powered by God. This makes them potent enough for Paul and his fellow workers to destroy strongholds of resistance to the true gospel of Jesus. The last verse used terminology referring both to military fortresses and debate—combining imagery to make a strong point.
The battlefield in question is not an earthly region but the hearts and minds of the people in Corinth. In God's power, Paul and his co-workers for Christ can destroy all the arguments and impressive-sounding opinions his opponents put forward against the knowledge of God. Paul and his associates destroy the weak arguments using godly tools, but they capture the people's thoughts to motivate them to obey Christ.
In posing this as the spiritual war for the mind, Paul reveals an essential truth. Wrong teaching leads to flawed thinking, which leads to disobedience to Christ. Understanding the actual knowledge of God leads to right thinking, which leads to obedience to Christ. In going to war against the false arguments of his opponents, Paul's final goal is that God's people would obey Christ. Paul doesn't fight for his glory or the sake of victory alone but to bring more and more obedience to Christ among the Corinthians.
We must stop looking to other people, to other ministries, to the church, to the philosophy of others, and especially to our own understanding if we are to destroy the arguments, perceptions, and pretensions that set themselves up as the authority of God and which so often become an authority against God.
Our concern is to bring our heart and our thoughts in line with Christ and to place every thought under the authority of Christ in obedience to Him: "Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."
Our spiritual safety and strength do not lie in our own knowledge or the wisdom of others but lie in identifying and eliminating those thoughts that have anything to do with putting someone or something in the place of Christ, in our lives and our minds. God may use our own knowledge and the wisdom of others but only so far as Christ is preeminent in our hearts, for the measure of our own self-respect, esteem, and wisdom lies in inverse proportion to that of Christ.
When we cast down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, the finger is too often pointing inward. Every prideful thought of the heart, every inflated egotistical word, every haughty look, and every vain and scornful attitude, every foolish imagining of the heart, is exulting itself against the knowledge of God and a defiant advance against the gospel of Christ.
Every notion that invades from the outer, and every thought that is conceived within, is to be taken captive so that we are in obedient submission to Him and not to our own arguments, perception, and pretensions. Taken captive implies a conscious decision to bind that thought and march it, handcuffed, to Christ, where it cannot escape and re-enter our imaginings.
The more we think of the Lord Jesus, the less we think of ourselves. The greater He is the central focus of our thoughts, the more we have captivated every imagination in obedience to Christ.
The superabundance of Christ in our thoughts means there is less influence from others and less inflation of self until Christ is all in all.
The apostle Paul knew he was in a war against spiritual forces opposed to God (cf. Ephesians 6:10-12). While these forces might have a great deal of influence in the world, Paul was determined that Satan's deception wouldn't rule in God's churches. He was committed to the truth in an age obsessed with many different gods, beliefs, and choices. Can we be any less vigilant in our day and a culture obsessed with many of the same ideas?
PLEASE PRAY WITH ME: Holy God, please forgive our lack of spiritual vigilance and cowardice in the marketplace of ideas. Stir us by your Spirit to speak the truth in love. Convict us of the need to confront ideas detrimental to faith, righteousness, and truth with sound and godly wisdom. Arouse us from our lazy stupor and call us again to be your holy and committed people. In Jesus' name, I pray. AMEN.