Holy Weapons
2 Corinthians 10:4
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

One style of weapon for one kind of conflict, another for another. For the common battlefield, cannon and rifle with their horrid din, the bayonet, and the sword. For contests of opinion, weapons of argument and intellectual precision - writings, lectures, and debates. For successes in the sphere of spiritual thought and life, spiritual weapons mighty through God. St. Paul was much addicted to the use of military metaphors. To him a zealous missionary was a good soldier of Christ; a well-equipped and disciplined Christian was a man armed in the panoply of God. His own course of service in combatting errors and publishing the truth of the gospel was as the march of a warrior, nay, of a victor, triumphing in every place. So be regarded both the ordering of things within the Church and the aggression of the Church on the world around as parts of his military duty, in which he was bound to war, but not according to the flesh. There is still need to make war. On every side are obstinate hindrances to the gospel of grace, and to the health and peace of the Church. The most formidable of these are in the region of thought and feeling; strongholds of prejudice and self-righteousness, and entrenchments of unbelief. And those who propagate the gospel, and guard the purity and peace of the Church, must surmount those obstacles, or pull down those strongholds, so as to lead away the convictions of the delivered ones as happy captives to the obedience of Christ.

I. NOT BY CARNAL WEAPONS OR ANY FORM OF PHYSICAL COACTION. Though St. Peter drew his sword to defend his heavenly Master, he was bidden at once restore it to its sheath. When Pontius Pilate interrogated our Lord about his being King of the Jews, he received for answer, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight." Extremists have inferred from this language that the followers of Christ may not, in any circumstances, wield a weapon of war; but this is mere folly. The subjects of the kingdom of Christ are also for the time subjects of an earthly kingdom also, or citizens in an earthly community, and have the same natural and civil rights as other men, and the same warrant and obligation to defend them. They may not delight in war; but even to that dire extremity they may proceed if there be no other way to keep order and secure justice and liberty. To do otherwise would be tamely to surrender the earth to the most unscrupulous and aggressive of its inhabitants. But weapons of worldly warfare do not advance that spiritual power which is the highest of all; nor is it permitted to use them for direct furtherance of Christ's kingdom of the truth. This, of course, condemns all forms of persecution; and when we say, "all forms," we mean, not merely imprisonment, pillage, and death, but the imposition of civil disabilities, or social and educational penalties, or any abridgment of political rights. On all such coercive measures the gospel frowns. Equally inadmissible is the use of misrepresentation. Those "pious frauds" which have been practised and propagated for the supposed glory of God have been very carnal weapons. So are all the misleading phrases and cajoleries by which it is still attempted to draw men into adherence to some form of religion without conviction of the understanding or real allegiance of the heart.

II. BUT BY WEAPONS THAT ARE AFTER THE MIND OF CHRIST. See the catalogue of such weapons as they had been used by St. Paul at Corinth: "In pureness, in knowledge," etc. (2 Corinthians 6:6, 7). Come honour or dishonour in this world, good report or evil, with such weapons must all the soldiers of Christ be content in the warfare to which they are called. The strongholds they assail may make a formidable resistance, but nothing is gained by changing the spiritual weapons for the carnal. They are mighty in God's sight and in God's strength. Paul knew them to be so. With them, though he was but one man and a man reproached and afflicted, he had pulled down many strongholds and won many victories. It is not a simple question of conversion. The truth has many a struggle in the heart after conversion as well as before. When Jericho fell, the holy war of Israel was well begun; but there still remained many holds and fenced cities to be taken. So, when the first opposition is surmounted, and a sinner yields to the power of the saving truth as it is in Jesus, much is gained, but not everything. The work of grace has to be pressed further ere every thought is brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Little worldly stir or eclat attends the warfare of which we speak, but it awakens in heaven and through all the heavenly kingdom the liveliest interest and the noblest joy. There are shouts and Te Deums there, when evil is defeated and pulled down in the world, in the Church, in the breast of the individual man; when sinners repent; when rebels submit to God; when thoughts that were lifted up in scorn are cast down at the feet of Jesus, and affections that sin had beguiled and the pride of life enchanted, are fixed on truth, on duty, and on the things which are above. - F.

Parallel Verses
KJV: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

WEB: for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds,

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