Updated: Sep 18, 2022
Whether preaching to the lost or professing Christians, a large part of our work as an ambassador for Christ is warring spiritual warfare.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5).
This chapter was Paul starting to deal with the slanders and personal attackers against him. Paul, and the other apostles exemplified this aggressive stance against error, as we see in their epistles, continually fighting the good fight of faith, and contending for the truth.
They were on the warpath against errors pertaining to the resurrection (1 Cor 15:12, 35-36; 2 Tim 2:17-18), false christs and false spirits, (2 Cor 11:1-4), false gospels (2 Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6-9), ministers of Satan who transform themselves into the ministers of righteousness (2 Cor 11:14-15), false apostles and deceitful workers (2 Cor 11:13); errors pertaining to Israel (Rom 9-11), against every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14), errors pertaining to philosophy and the tradition of men (Col 2:8) and the rudiments of the world (Col 2:18-23), errors pertaining to doctrines of devils (1 Ti. 4:1-3), errors pertaining to worldliness (Jam 4:4; 1 Jn 2:15-17), evil men, seducers & deceivers (2 Tim 3:13), profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called (1 Tim 6:20), those who have a form of godliness that denies the power thereof (2 Tim 3:5), apostates who turn away their ears from the truth (2 Tim 4:3-4), heretics (Ti 3:10-11), cunningly devised fables (2 Pet 1:16), damnable doctrines and false teachers (2 Pet 2), scoffers (2 Pet 3:1-7), antichrists (1 Jn 2:18), ungodly men who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (Ju 1:4), those who teach false doctrine (Rom 16:17), errors pertaining to man-centred church “leaders” (3 Jn 1:9-11), church discipline (1 Cor 5), the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11), the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12), and tongues speaking (1 Cor 14).
Every preacher and church must follow this example and make warfare on every false thing. “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Ps 119:128). Those that don’t, do not belong in the ministry (Ac 20:28-31; 17:11; Titus 1:9-16). The Bible commands earnestly contending and fighting for the faith (Ju 1:3; 1 Tim 6:12), to “war a good warfare” (1 Tim 1:18) as “a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim 2:3-5). Obeying this critical matter, one that consumes the NT more than any other doctrine and absolute crucial for true Biblical unity, makes one “pure from the blood of all men” (Ac 20:26) and is never an option. It is much more crucial within the church than without.
Pauls bodily presence might have been weak, as his enemies claimed (2 Cor 10:10), but he was a great warrior for truth, always opposing, fighting and striving against false doctrine and those compromising and corrupting doctrine, including those in the churches he started or ministered in (Ac 9:22-23, 29; 13:6-12; 15:1-2; 17:17; 19:8-9) exposing many by name, some of which were close to him (1 Tim 1:19-20; 2 Tim 1:18-20; 2:15-18; 4:10, 14-15; Gal 2:11-14), and commanding all believers to the same (Ti 1:9-16; Rom 16:17; Phil 3:2, 17-19; 2 Tim 2:15-21; 1 Cor 4:16-17; 11:1).
What a warrior for God’s truth, exposing every type of error and sin! Yet Paul wasn’t any different than other saints in scripture such as Enoch, Jeremiah, Amos, Jude, John, Peter, Stephen, etc. Following his example is critical for church purity and Paul commands believers to follow in his his doctrine and ways (1 Cor 4:16-17) which is the same ways as Christ’ (Matt 10:25). Paul was an unwavering disciplinarian (1 Cor 5; 1 Tim 5:20). He was huge on rebuking and reproving (2 Tim 4:2; Ti 1:13; 2:15) as Solomon was (Proverbs) and expected it from true believers, those “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge” (Rom 15:14).
Unlike many preachers since then, Paul never backed down, never softened his stance, never regretted or repented of fighting for truth’s sake. He wasn’t afraid of opposition, and was well aware of the opposition and conflict this would create. At the very end of his life, Paul summarized his life with these words, “I have fought a good fight” (2 Tim 4:7). Indeed!
These things can come across harsh sometimes to those who compromise and live disobediently, as we note in scripture (Ac 9:22-23, 29; 13:8-12; 15:1-2; 17:17; 19:8-9; Matt 23; Jn 2:13-17; etc) but it doesn’t negate the importance of obeying it.
Without testing, judging, admonishing, reproving, exposing and separating, there is no mechanism of correction and protection and error can grow apace like leaven until the whole is leavened (Gal 5:9; 1 Cor 5:6). Though people will hate it and falsely accuse, as they did with Jesus (Lk 6:6-11; 11:53-54; Matt 26:60) and Paul (for example, the first seven chapters in 2 Corinthians contain some blatant false accusations), it’s done out of love for and obedience to Christ (Jn 14:23-24; 1 Jn 2:3-5) and love for the brethren (Ac 20:26-31; 1 Th 4:9). Any preacher who is not doing these things is not walking in obedience to Scripture. And those that despise this are not despising the messenger but God (1 Th 4:8).
Throughout history, God calls those who preach His unadulterated truth as valiant men of God. They aren’t cowards, keeping silent in the face of error and sin. Silence means acceptance or approval (Lev 5:1; Pr 28:4) but we are commanded to “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” (Pr 31:8-9). Indeed there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ec 3:7) but in the face of error, heresy or sin, it’s time to speak. “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak” (2 Cor 4:13).
What Jesus did and taught in creating conflict and opposition for the truth is exactly what the apostles and prophets have always done. It’s the certain consequence of being filled with the Spirit. Paul’s ministry exemplified this and he was greatly used and loved by God. Paul commanded all saints to be followers of him as he was of Christ, “Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am” (1 Cor 4:16-17; 11:1; Phil 3:17; 4:12). You wouldn’t know that in the lives of most professing Christians today. People that believe warring against all sin and error is wrong, do not understand what Scripture teaches on this critical subject. Instead of studying and then believing what Scripture says, they are teaching out of their feelings and opinions.
Anyone who loves God and His truth (Jn 14:15-24; 1 Jn 2:3-5) who “believe[s] and knows the truth” (1 Tim 4:3; 1 Jn 2:20-21, 27; 2 Jn 1:2) should be actively and “earnestly contending for the faith” (Ju 1:3) and not give any heed to false teachings, doctrines and movements but rather reprove them, contend against them and expose them (Ro 16:17-18). The word “contend” means “to argue and dispute earnestly; to reprove sharply; to chide and strive to convince and reclaim; to strive against and in opposition; to dispute fiercely, to wrangle, to do it eagerly, zealously, intently, fervently.” (Webster’s 1828).
Gods Word commands it and it brings glory to Him. It’ll also proof our allegiance and love for Him (1 Jn 2:3-5; Jn 14:15-24). Though it may bring hatred, conflict, tribulation, and shame as Gods Word indicates (1 Th 3:1-4; Pr 9:7-8; 15:12; 19:25), it is greatly blessed of God (Pr 24:23-25). Those that despise reproof and reject truth and sound doctrine will be of those who are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” and “resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” (2 Tim 3:7-9).
God gave us armour and armour is required for battling spiritual warfare (Eph 6). We "wrestle not against flesh and blood." (Eph 6:12) but spiritual forces of wickedness. These forces are deceiving people in their minds, setting up imaginations that exalt themselves against God (2 Cor 10:3-5). The weapon is the Bible. The rest of the armour is for using the sword. So let's start with that. Do you use the Sword? In English, that is the King James Bible.
In Acts the manifestation that most corresponds with the Holy Spirit filling people is boldness. Boldness in what? Boldness to preach the Bible to people and contend/fight for the faith. Most churches are not encouraging their people to be bold; they are trying to get people to stop offending anyone. Why do you think we are called to suffer in the Bible? Not enough people are suffering anymore. We are too busy attempting to impress the world or those we fellowship with and not to offend the world and those we fellowship with.
I'm going to stop there, but you ask yourself what the armour of God is all about, and why it makes any difference for you to have it on. Then put it on and open your mouth boldly as you ought to speak, “that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;” (1 Tim 1:18). It’s the warpath agains error and sin, by the faithful soldier of Jesus Christ and God is glorified in it! Though this isn’t all there is to being a soldier of Jesus Christ, it is an important component.
Click on the picture to read more, through the answering of questions that often come up on this subject: