Carnal Weapons of Warfare By Babatunde Olugboji
In 2 Corinthians 10: 3–4, Paul writes on the subject of spiritual warfare: “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (NKJV). The word carnal refers to human physical weapons.
There were false teachers within the Corinthian church who rejected Paul’s apostolic authority. These teachers boasted about their natural talents and achievements, meaning that the weapons of their warfare were carnal. It’s not clear the precise nature of their accusations against Paul, but In 2 Corinthians 10:1, it appears that the false teachers’ primary contention revolved around Paul’s perceived inconsistency. They claimed that Paul was bold when writing to them, but he lacked the courage to follow through on his threats of disciplinary action. In other words, he was all bark and no bite.
In response to this, Paul responds by first appealing to the meekness and gentleness of Christ (2 Corinthians 10: 1–2). And in doing so, Paul deftly defends his own gentleness against their criticisms. He enjoins them, however, to refrain from giving him a reason to demonstrate the boldness that he had purposed. Paul had no desire to exhibit boldness and severity when administering discipline, as stated in 2 Corinthians 10: 1–2.
Second, he assures the church that the “[his] weapons of warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Corinthians 10: 4 KJV). This means that Paul’s weapons were spiritual, not fleshly. Carnal weapons, such as manipulation and deceit, will not succeed against spiritual enemies. For this reason, Paul appeals to the strength of God, which demolishes strongholds and anything that stands in opposition to the truth of God’s Word (Ephesians 6: 10).
A stronghold is anything on which one relies. The false teachers in Corinth relied on human reasoning and argumentation to attack Paul and fortify their position against him. Paul would have none of this. Instead of relying on similar tactics, Paul took up the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6: 10–17).
The false teachers’ reliance on carnal weapons caused them to manipulate and deceive, but Paul equipped himself with the belt of truth. They fought with sinfulness of heart and mind, but Paul put on the breastplate of righteousness. They fought with eloquent words, but Paul walked in the shoes of the gospel. They fought with human strength and wisdom, but Paul defended himself with the shield of faith. They fought with human authority, but Paul had the helmet of salvation. They fought with demonic schemes and strategies, but Paul wielded the sword of the Spirit.
Christ relied on spiritual, not carnal, weapons when He fought against his enemies (Philippians 2: 6–8). After Peter “struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear,” Jesus told him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and He will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:51–53).
The false teachers at Corinth, who were carnal minded, would have viewed Jesus as weak and feeble. However, Jesus demonstrated that the best way to fight against our enemies is to humble ourselves and allow the power of God to work in and through us.
Have a great week.
Join me live on FACEBOOK & YOUTUBE every Sunday at 7am (EST) for an insightful time of the word.