I suppose the more that we look at the world around us, the more it seems like Satan has set up his strongholds in our culture. Certainly we see it the moral shifts that have occurred in America over the last 10-20 years. And in Japan, the spiritual strongholds are just as strong, keeping people in spiritual darkness with less than a percent of the population being church-going, born again Christians.
It’s enough to discourage us and make us want to give up. For other Christians, it stirs up anger at what Satan has done to our culture. And it makes them want to fight the way that the world fights: with viciousness and a stomp-you-down mentality.
But that’s not the way we are to fight. That’s not the way to tear down the strongholds Satan has set up.
Paul had to deal with some strongholds in the Corinthian church. Strongholds set up by false teachers. Strongholds of division. Strongholds of rebellion against God and against Paul.
How did Paul respond?
By the meekness and gentleness of Christ. He didn’t come with an attitude of tearing apart those who opposed him. Rather he came with a gentle spirit. This is not to say that Paul could never be “bold.” He could, and he told the Corinthians that if they didn’t repent, he would have to come in boldness and strength. But that was not what he desired to do.
But even in coming in boldness, it was not to tear people apart, but to build them up (8).
He then talked about the kind of warfare we are to wage when attacking Satan’s strongholds. He said first,
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. (3)
Sometimes Christians come with the attitude of, “We need to fight fire with fire.” Or they get sucked into the idea that they have to use worldly means to fight the deterioration in our society, using things like politics.
Don’t get me wrong: we need to be involved in politics as Christians. We cannot just take our hands off of it. But if we think we are going to change our society through politics, if we think we are going to change the human heart through politics, we are sadly mistaken. We can have all the Christian values incorporated into our society, but while it may improve our society, politics doesn’t have the power to actually change the human heart.
If we want to effect long-lasting change, it needs to start with each individual Christian touching the individual lives around them. And we need to be using the spiritual weapons God has given us.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (4)
What are those weapons? Primarily they are the word of God and prayer. It’s speaking the words of God into the lives of the people around us, and then praying for them. That’s what has the power to change lives as the Holy Spirit works in us and through us.
For it’s through the Spirit, that
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. (5)
Ultimately, it is only God that can change the human heart, not politics, not our rhetoric, not our debating skills.
So I suppose the question we need to ask is twofold:
1. Are we joining in the battle to tear down Satan’s strongholds?
2. With what weapons are we waging this warfare?