We ascend into the heavenlies in our worship and meet with our God there (Heb. 12:22). But this heavenly worship is not something that has somehow run fearfully away from the enemy on earth. Rather, as the book of Revelation shows in great detail, the worship of the saints in heaven accomplishes God’s judgments on earth. The twenty-four elders worship God in heaven (Rev. 4:10), and the seven seals are opened in heaven (Rev. 5:5). But this does not leave the earth untouched or unaffected. What happens in heaven drives what happens on earth.
So if you want to fight the culture war, you have to fight from the high ground. And the only high ground we can successfully fight from is the high ground of Heaven, where our Lord Jesus is seated at God’s right hand.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3–5).
Summary of the Text
Paul here tells the Corinthians that we still live our lives in the flesh but we do not conduct our warfare according to the flesh (v. 3). Our lives are still material without being worldly. It is the difference between being on earth and being of earth. The fact that our weapons are not carnal weapons does not make them ethereal, impotent weapons. Just the reverse. They are mighty (through God) in the toppling of the devil’s castles (v. 4). Unbelieving man erects two things against the knowledge of God, and those two things are “imaginations” and “every high thing.” These always exalt themselves, but the weapons of our warfare cast them down, and take them captive (v. 5). And the warfare is described as total—we are engaged in taking every thought captive.
Relate This to Our Worship
First note that in our text we are expressly told that we do not accomplish this mission by means of physical weapons. One of the things that has disturbed our local secularists is that they have heard us saying things like “all of Christ for all of life for all of Moscow.” This seems to them as though we want to get a row of howitzers up on Paradise Ridge, and to start dictating terms like we were the Taliban of the Palouse. They have also quoted us as saying that Moscow is a “decisive point,” to use our military phrase, a point that is simultaneously both strategic and feasible. But we are talking about spiritual warfare. However, spiritual warfare has real time consequences. Spiritual warfare is not ethereal warfare, or some form of make-believe warfare.
Secondly, we know that Jesus Christ has ascended into the heavenly places, into the court of the Ancient of Days, where He was given universal dominion (Dan. 7:13-14). He bought all the nations of men with His own blood, and He intends to have them (Ps. 2:7-8). He told His followers that He had been given all authority in Heaven and on earth, and that was why they were to fan out and disciple all the nations on earth (Matt. 28:18-20). That includes planting churches, centers of worship.
And third, our worship services are a weekly celebration of that great coronation that happened two thousand years ago. And coronation celebrations always spell trouble for all pretenders to the throne. This is what Adonijah discovered to his dismay. His coronation party was quite overshadowed.
“And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon. And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them. And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it as they had made an end of eating . . . And Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king in Gihon: and they are come up from thence rejoicing, so that the city rang again. This is the noise that ye have heard. And also Solomon sitteth on the throne of the kingdom . . . And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way.”
1 Kings 1:39–49 (KJV)
One celebration ruined the other celebration.
Warfare Through New Eyes
God established the antithesis at the very beginning of human history (Gen. 3:15). There is therefore a constant state of war between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The Lord Jesus crushed the serpent’s head in His crucifixion and resurrection, but by His grace He permits us to participate in that struggle (Rom. 16:20). He crushes the adversary badly, bruising him under His heel. But remember, as His body, we are that heel.
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.”
Eph. 1:22 (KJV)
But there is more. Jesus promised us that in this conflict, the gates of Hades would never prevail against us (Matt. 16:18). But please note that the gates of Hades are not an offensive weapon. We are not besieged by the gates of Hades. We are the besiegers. We are not manning our tiny little Alamo, fighting desperately until we finally go under. It is the other way around.
This does not mean that our warfare is easy. Far from it. The first men up the scaling ladders can find the fighting pretty hot at the top of the wall. But it is the top of their wall.
Proclaim the Lord’s Death Till He Comes
Every faithful sermon that declares Christ as Savior and Lord is a proclamation, but not just to the gathered believers. The message is also for unbelievers, as well as all the principalities and powers. Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, which we do every seven days, we proclaim the vicarious death that conquers the whole world (1 Cor. 11:26). And every time we open our mouths and our psalters to sing, we want to do so in a way so that Adonijah can hear it.
What is it that overcomes the world? Is it not our faith (1 John 5:4)?