Return to Me - Day 5 - Part 2
I wanted to touch base on two passages - 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Proverbs 23:7- a couple of days ago but ran out of time. Plus, what I'm going to discuss here is more of a "side note" to the study than related to the topic for the day. The awesome thing is, I learned something new!! :-) And this is surprising because these are passages I've been familiar with and used all my life - to realize that I never really applied my own teaching of "everything IN CONTEXT" to these verses was a bit of a revelation. So grateful the Holy Spirit still teaches! And, yet another reminder to anyone who reads this - EVERY human teaching should be measured against Scripture and EVERY Scripture must be observed in it's textual and cultural context! :-)
So - on to my thoughts. Specifically, I have used the "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" ( 2 Cor 10:5b, NASB) as a reference for teaching that we are to be mindful of our thoughts and not let ungodly or inaccurate thoughts settle in our minds. This is a daily struggle and I still believe that this is ESSENTIAL to holy Christ-like living. I have supported this with Proverbs 23:7, which tells us, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (NASB).
Now - both of these verses teach the principle of being careful of what you think about & dwell on - HOWEVER - that is NOT their PRIMARY meaning when you look at them IN CONTEXT!!!! Surprise, Surprise!! (to me, anyway). Let's look & learn, shall we?? :-)
Let's go back to verse 3 of the 2nd Corinthians passage (get out your Bible or click on THIS link, I'm not going to re-type the whole thing here). I think verses 3-6 give us solid context for the phrase we are looking at.
Here's the key - "taking every thought . . . " is NOT a command - which is how I have used it in the past. It is a RESULT!! The passage is a specific reference to engaging in spiritual battle using the weapons of spiritual warfare. The insinuated instruction is to make use of the spiritual weapons we have been given and, in so doing, we will NATURALLY end up "taking every thought captive"!! So - the question becomes, what weapons do I have to use in order to battle well and get this desired result? The obvious answer lies in the Ephesians 6:11-18 passage that delineates our spiritual battle armor.
I won't go into these in detail but I do want to share a couple of thoughts for consideration. I've always heard it taught that all the pieces of the armor are defensive except for the sword - which is our "offensive" weapon. But ponder the image of a warrior in battle missing any one of those pieces of defensive armor . . . feet bare or chest bare or no helmet . . . the lack of the piece reveals a weakness to the enemy and emboldens them. A fully clad warrior, on the other hand, presents a much more intimidating foe and gives the enemy pause - making our "defensive" armor a weapon as well. Also consider the difference in perception of a soldier clad in worn and unkempt armor - maybe fully clad, but the armor is in obvious need of repair . . . again, the enemy will see an opportunity to attack at weak spots and will be emboldened. If we want to be true warriors for Christ, we must not only have our armor on and sword in hand, but it must be well maintained armor & a shiny, sharp sword . . . . Also consider that every "defensive" piece of armor can be used offensively - a helmet "butt" against an enemy's unclad head is deadly; a breastplate or shield used to deflect an enemy's attack leaves them open to counter-attack. Just think about actual hand-to-hand combat as it was done in the time this passage was written. Every bit of the soldier and his armor was honed to defeat the enemy. . . .
Also, I've always heard this passage taught through verse 17 - but 18 is an obvious continuance, which means PRAYER and VIGILANCE are weapons as well!
All this to say - dust off your armor, ensure it is in good repair, sharpen up your sword, and go forth into battle with prayer and a watchful eye and you WILL take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ - and probably not just YOUR thoughts. Notice the first part of 2 Cor 10:5 - this is spiritual warfare at it's finest!
Lastly, a brief note on Proverbs 23:7. Context (verses 6-8) shows us that the "as he thinks, so is he" teaching is not a generically applied statement. I've always thought it was "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." But "a man" is not in the passage. It is a statement specifically referring to a selfish, miserly man and is a warning to consider the character of a man before having anything to do with him. More globally applied, it is an instruction to avoid being deceived by the seeming kindness of one who has proven him/herself to be self-centered. You will regret it. This is akin to the warning of Matthew 7:6 , "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." (NASB).
I hope you have found these thoughts interesting and challenging. I would love to hear what the Lord is teaching you - please feel free to leave a comment here or in the Facebook post :-)