“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 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).
Strongholds have a long history. Living in open fields make people vulnerable. Putting up walls around their settlements did the trick. People soon realized that they could launch attacks and retreat to the safety of their walled city. Their point of operation became a “strong hold.”
Strongholds of ideas operate the same way. Like-minded individuals tend to cluster. Sometimes they form their own stronghold to “protect” themselves from those who threaten their way of thinking. When a stronghold of ideas gains more power, it often demands silent acquiescence. Strongholds cause us to accept as unchangeable something we know is contrary to God’s will. They overwhelm us with hopelessness and cripple our ability to obey God.
But Paul tells us that we “have divine power to destroy strongholds” of ideas that are antithetical to the gospel of the kingdom. What is he talking about? How do we tear down strongholds of ideas? Take a look at the verses surrounding this passage (I’m using The Message version).
- “I write in the gentle but firm spirit of Christ” (10:1b) = steer conversations in the gentle but firm spirit of Christ
- “I hear that I’m being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I’m with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters” (10:1c) = brace yourself; you’ll likely be misunderstood
- “Please don’t force me to take a hard line when I’m present with you” (10:2) = try to avoid drawing a hard line in the sand with people
- “You stare and stare at the obvious, but you can’t see the forest for the trees” (10:7a) = work at seeing the big picture
- “If you’re looking for a clear example of someone on Christ’s side, why do you so quickly cut me out? Believe me, I am quite sure of my standing with Christ” (10:7bc) = side with the gospel of Christ and clothe yourself in Christ
- “You may think I overstate the authority he gave me, but I’m not backing off. Every bit of my commitment is for the purpose of building you up, after all, not tearing you down” (10:8) = share your convictions in such a way that builds people up, not tears them down