For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh.
— 2 Corinthians 10:3
You have been delivered from Satan’s power through the victorious, redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Make sure you keep that wonderful truth in mind the next time you have to deal with the devil’s attack on your life. And don’t try to defeat a spiritual enemy with fleshly weapons and techniques because fleshly weapons are for fighting fleshly adversaries; they were never intended to defeat a spiritual foe. Spiritual adversaries must be fought with spiritual weapons!
Paul makes this point in Second Corinthians 10:3 when he says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh.” The word “walk” in this verse is taken from the Greek word peripateo. This is a compound of the word peri, which means around, and pateo, which means to walk. When these two words are compounded together, the new word means to walk around or to habitually live and carry on in one general territory. It is the picture of a person who has walked in one general path for so long that he can now almost walk that path blindfolded. He knows that area well because he has habitually lived and functioned there.
By using the word peripateo in Second Corinthians 10:3, Paul is making a very strong statement about his humanity. He’s saying, “Nearly everything I do, I do in the flesh. I eat in the flesh; I sleep in the flesh; I think in the flesh; I study in the flesh. My life is primarily lived in this earthly realm.” Although he was a spiritual man, he still lived in a body made of flesh.
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Paul knew that he was locked into his fleshly body and couldn’t get out of it — nor could he trade it for another! I’m sure he would have taken that option if it had been available because he had been brutally beaten and terribly abused during the course of his ministry. His physical body permanently bore the scars, marks, wounds, and disfigurement of those beatings (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-25 and Galatians 6:17). Having a body free of scars and disfiguring wounds would have seemed like a terrific prospect to Paul!
In addition to the beatings he had endured, Paul was naturally a man of small stature. In fact, the name Paul means “little one.” Although he was an intellectual giant who was highly educated, cultured, and even skillful in the political arena before he came to Christ, he did not have a striking physical appearance. Even historians record that he was a small and unimposing man.
It seems that the appearance of Paul’s body was even an issue in the Corinthian church. Those who were against his ministry and wanted to eliminate him used his physical appearance as a reason to discredit him. In response to this, Paul wrote and said: “…In presence [I] am base among you…” (2 Corinthians 10:1). Because his adversaries were judging him according to the flesh, he asked them: “Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?…” (2 Corinthians 10:7). Finally, Paul actually quoted what they were saying about him: “For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak…” (2 Corinthians 10:10).
Notice that Paul never argues with them about the condition of his body. In fact, it seems that he agrees with them, even stating, “I am base among you.” But whereas some may have judged him according to the flesh, Paul’s confidence was not in the flesh but in the spirit. That is why he told them, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh” (2 Corinthians 10:3).
I think this message is important because we live in a day when people tend to judge themselves by the appearance of their bodies. If they are skinny, they feel good about themselves. But if they gain just a little weight, they are tempted to think that they are ugly and disgusting. Because of modern movies and advertisements, people are continually inundated with thousands of subliminal messages that say, “If you’re not skinny and youthful-looking, you don’t rate!”
Amazingly, even believers get caught up in judging themselves by their outward appearance. Although it’s true that we should do what we can to stay in good shape physically, there are millions of people who are in great physical shape but couldn’t win a spiritual battle if their lives depended on it!
You see, physical muscles make you look great in the natural, but mere flesh and blood has no effect on the devil or the spiritual realm. Spiritual battles are not to be fought or won with flesh, because the flesh is no match for spiritual foes. This disadvantage of the flesh is the reason God has supplied spiritual weapons for the believer.
Paul was aware of the weakness and futility of his flesh. He knew that when it came to dealing with the devil, he had to turn his attention to the realm of the Spirit where supernatural assistance was available and spiritual weapons existed for him to use against the devil. He knew his greatest weapons did not lie in his mind, his talents, or his flesh, but in spiritual weapons that exist in the realm of God’s Spirit.
In Acts 19, a group of exorcists, whom the Bible identifies as the seven sons of a man named Sceva, attempted to cast an evil spirit out of a demon-possessed man. But when they commanded the evil spirit to come out of that man, the spirit answered them: “…Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” (Acts 19:14,15).
Think of it! That evil spirit knew who Jesus was and who Paul was! Even though Paul lived in a small body that had been mercilessly beaten and abused, he was so powerful in the spiritual realm that hell knew his name! Perhaps the limitations of Paul’s flesh turned out to be to his advantage! Because he couldn’t lean on his flesh, he had to learn how to function in the realm of the Spirit — and that’s the reason the evil spirits knew who he was!
That’s exactly what you need to do as well. Yes, you may live in a fleshly body that has all kinds of limitations, but you can go forth with spiritual weapons to do warfare in the Spirit! Regardless of what you look like in the natural realm, you can be a holy terror to the devil in the spiritual realm. So reach out and take the loinbelt of truth, the shoes of peace, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. When you’re clothed in the whole armor of God, you can win the victory over the kingdom of darkness every time!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, help me remember that real spiritual battles are fought and won in the Spirit. I’m so often tempted to focus on my physical appearance and the condition of my body. I even frequently judge myself by how physically “in shape” I am. But the fight I need to win isn’t going to be won by my physical appearance. Yes, I want to be in good physical shape, and I ask You to help me achieve that goal. But please keep me from getting distracted by the less-than-pleasurable aspects of my physical body. Help me stay focused on the spiritual realm where the real battle is being waged
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I proclaim that regardless of what I look like in the natural realm, I am a menace to the devil in the spiritual realm. In that sphere, I am anointed and powerful, with the ability to pull down strongholds from peoples’ lives and minds. I am so mighty in the Spirit that the devil and his forces flee when I resist them!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Do you tend to accept or reject yourself on the basis of how much you weigh or how you look physically? Be honest!
2. Do you spend as much time focusing on your spiritual development as you do fretting and complaining about your physical appearance?
3. How much do you think you could grow spiritually this year if you invested the same amount of time you now spend worrying about your body in developing yourself spiritually?