The Bible and our Sanctification

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The Bible and our Sanctification

 

Almost everything we do daily ultimately involves spiritual warfare. Are we depending on the human weapons, or the spiritual weapons God has provided?

Our battle is not with flesh and blood (Eph. 6:10ff; Matt. 16:18). No battle with the unseen is easy. We cannot fight such a spiritual battle with carnal weapons.

One of the marvelous things the Holy Spirit does in the Christian’s life is to apply the Scriptures to the deep recesses of the mind over a period of time. As we meditate and memorize the Scriptures the Holy Spirit brings them to our conscious mind and we are able to put our confidence and trust in the Lord during trials, temptations, difficulties, and turbulent times. I am convinced the Spirit also uses His Word in that part of our mental life that is not within the immediate presence of our conscious mind and from which we cannot always recall the feelings and thoughts to our conscious mind. The Holy Spirit uses those Scriptures we have studied and memorized to conform even our subconscious mind to the likeness of Christ.

The Psalmist David wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way to me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24).

The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:1-7 tells us that we are in a spiritual warfare and the Christian’s weapons are not “according to the flesh” (v. 2). “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh” (v. 3). We do not act on purely human, abilities and worldly standards. Flesh is the willing human instrument of sin. We live in this frail, human body of weakness, but our spiritual “weapons of warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (v. 4).

Goodspeed described these “fortresses” or “strongholds entrenchments and fortifications of opinion, in which men strengthen themselves against the gospel.” They belong to the realm of the will and intellect. This metaphor recognizes the defiant and mutinous nature of sin.

The apostle Paul tells us how God destroys or tears down and overpowers these forces that are against the kingdom of God. “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (v. 5). In the next verse Paul tells us to act on what we know to be the truth of God. “And we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete” (v. 6).

What are these “fortifications” against the kingdom of God? They are “speculations,” reasoning, a thought which are the things we reckon or count on. The word suggests the contemplation of actions as a result of the verdict of conscience. Every evil act begins with a desire which was at first only a feeling in the heart, but which, being nourished long enough, became an evil act (James 4:1-3).

The “lofty things” are the metaphor of a summit or mountain, a high thing lifted up as a barrier or in antagonistic exaltation. It is anything that “is raised up against the knowledge of God.”

They are also “every thought” that is opposed to Christ. What are you saying to yourself about Jesus Christ, the LORD God, the Holy Spirit and His will for your life? It is in the realm of the thoughts, cognitions, and intentions of man’s mind, our thinking processes, design, that produces our emotions and behaviors. The apostle admonishes us to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Are we “ready to punish all disobedience”? That is where the battle is won or lost. We tend to focus on the outward visible works of the flesh, but the battle is spiritual, that which is unseen to the human eyes.

These prisoners the apostle Paul has in mind are the thoughts—the cognitions of man’s mind, and they are everyone led captive into the obedience of Christ.

It is imperative in this spiritual warfare that we submit our minds daily to the Word of God. Our understanding should be brought into captivity, led submissive, as though bound with handcuffs. We take captive every design to make it obedient to Christ. We make them a prisoner of Jesus Christ. As a person thinks in his heart so is he. Our thinking controls our emotions and behavior. “Every thought of whatever kind” refers to the perceptive or intellective center of our being and they must be brought into submission to Christ.

“Once the walls of the mind have been torn down, the door to the heart can be opened,” says Warren Wiersbe. “Paul is the most daring of the thinkers,” says A. T. Robertson, “but he lays all of his thoughts at the feet of Jesus.” The great apostle is academically free in Christ.

It is our responsibility as we abide in the Spirit to take captive in the hidden realms of our personality, which are the imaginations, that can take over and we find ourselves involved in a thousand things that we would be embarrassed for our friends and family to know (Matt. 15:19-20). It is this principle of evil in the heart that must be brought into subjection to Christ. Bring into submission to Christ all that is not holy and all that is not true in your mind and heart. God works in our souls to increasingly take control of our total being. When we acquaint ourselves with God He gives us a deep peace of mind and heart that passes all understanding. Thus He gives us a purity of heart, and that is where the spiritual battle must take place daily. Our whole being can thus be filled with God, even in the hidden areas of our personalities. “Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defense that men erect against the true knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5, Phillips).

  

Selah!


Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.

 

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