Summary: Learn to tell the difference between real spiritual power and fake power. Paul tells us that being impressive doesn’t mean you are effective. Learn too how to take your very thoughts captive.
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Real Spiritual Power
Pastor Tom Fuller
A man’s grandfather worked in a blacksmith shop when he was a boy, and he used to tell his grandson how he had toughened himself up so he could stand the rigors of blacksmithing.
One story was how he had developed his arm and shoulder muscles. He said he would stand outside behind the house and, with a 5 pound potato sack in each hand, extend his arms straight out to his sides and hold them there as long as he could.
After awhile he tried 10 pound potato sacks, then 50 pound potato sacks and finally he got to where he could lift a 100 pound potato sack in each hand and hold his arms straight out for more than a full minute!
Next, he started putting potatoes in the sacks.
It must have been an impressive story to tell. But looking a little under the surface you find out it’s all talk and no potatoes! Everyone wants power – to be strong, to have an effect, to make an impact. No wonder Californians recently elected Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor – the former Mr. Universe is an impressive guy. The Governator!
When it comes to spiritual power we are no different – we like the show of power but don’t understand what true spiritual power is, as opposed to fake spiritual power. The Corinthians didn’t understand it either. They had a bunch of guys who came in wearing impressive suits and driving Mercedes with body guards surrounding them and sounding so authoritative – and the people were awed.
But as we’re going to find out this morning, true spiritual power is often disguised as weakness – and its aim is not to impress the people, but attack the true enemy.
10:1 By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you-I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away! 2 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
• Real spiritual power comes from meekness and gentleness of Christ - not the loud boastings of the world or the enemy (vs 1)
The old saying goes – if you’re going to lie, lie loudly so you’ll be convincing. The more sure you seem about something, well, the more sure you will come across. That’s how the enemy does it – he goes about LIKE a roaring lion. He isn’t a lion – sure he has some power – but that’s nothing compared the Lion of Tribe of Judah. But he is scary. And those that are being used by him will have big bold voices. Don’t be fooled by that.
In one of His few autobiographical statements, Jesus said “I am gentle and humble at heart.” That’s how Paul appeals to the Corinthians – what a contrast to the boisterous false apostles. Paul says: I’m not going to be like these guys – making an impression. But make no mistake – I am your apostle. I have the authority, just because I don’t show it in a way that impresses you.
Paul was accused of operating by the world’s principals – the world’s methods. “not true,” he says:
• Real spiritual power doesn’t come from the world’s standards or tactics (vs 2-3) but is tuned to destroy the enemy’s strongholds using divine, not human power. (vs 4)
What passes for spiritual power in this world is like people in a play. They take on a role and are very convincing in it. Every time I see Dustin Hoffman I never know what I’m going to get because he is so convincing in his roles – he makes me believe that he is a lawyer or a disease specialist, or a pirate captain.
People put on the mask of spiritual power – but in reality they are playing a role.
True spiritual power isn’t impressive – but it is effective. We don’t go out and mow down demons with some kind of super sword – what we do it destroy that which holds out against the truth of the gospel.