Spiritual Barriers

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

(Second Corinthians)

The church at Corinth had recently been struggling with divisions and quarrels; however, for a majority of the believers, the problem had been solved by the time Paul wrote 2 Corinthians. Many had repented of their sinful ways and had come back into unity with one another and with the leadership of Paul; nevertheless, Paul still felt the need to articulate his defense of his apostleship and his message. Some in the church had apparently taken his meekness among them to be a sign of moral weakness or lack of authority to lead and to apostleship (2 Cor10:1–2). These accusations led Paul to defend himself by arguing that he was on the same level of importance as the other apostles, that he had deep knowledge of the Christian faith, that he had suffered profound physical punishment in the name of Christ, and that he had received visions and revelations from God (11:1–12:13).[1]

Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians stands out for its themes of comfort in the midst of affliction, strength in the midst of weakness (as exemplified by Paul himself), and the discerning of true teachers from false ones. Paul’s example and teachings recorded in 2 Corinthians serve as a call for all Saints to remain true and faithful to the eternal covenants they have made with God, the Eternal Father, no matter the circumstances or the consequences.[2]

While Paul was in Macedonia, Titus brought him news from Corinth that an earlier letter he had sent had been well received by the Saints there (see 2 Corinthians 7:6, 13). The Corinthian branch was making progress, but Paul also learned of false teachers there who were corrupting the pure doctrines of Christ. Sometime after Paul’s initial visit to Corinth and a probable second visit, when Paul seems to have chastised some of the Saints (see 2 Corinthians 2:112:21), preachers from the Jerusalem area came to Corinth and began teaching the Saints that they must adopt Jewish practices, contrary to Paul’s teachings. Much of 2 Corinthians addresses the problems caused by these unwelcome teachers. Paul referred to them as “false apostles” and “deceitful workers,” who were “transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13). Some of these men accused Paul of dishonest actions and even challenged his authority as an Apostle.[3]

INTRODUCTION

Scriptural Reading:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Cor 10:3–6 NKJV).

TEACHING OUTLINE

Topic: The Barriers to Spiritual Warfare

Part One

  1. SPIRITUAL BARRIERS:

A. Strongholds called ochuroma, in Greek, is defined as strong defense or fortress. Example, a military stronghold or a heavily fortified containment is a stronghold. Hints; philosophies, calculated arguments or proud opinions are stronghold figuratively speaking in this context (2 Cor. 10:3–6).

Strongholds are false arguments in which a person seeks shelter (safe place) in order to escape reality. Hints; relativism and secular humanism are strongholds.

1. 2 Timothy 2:16; 2:20–24

2. Titus 3:9

Strongholds are defined in the scriptures.

1. 2 Samuel 22:2–3

2. 2 Cor 10:4

B. Arguments called logismos, in Greek, is defined as reasoning, thought, thinking, a conception, or a bottom-line reasoning that reflects someone’s values or thought. It is a thought that emphasizes a personal opinion (relativism). Such reasoning is always hostile to the Christian faith.

Arguments are defined in scripture.

  1. Proverb 18:2; 6:18
  2. Romans 14:1; 2:15
  3. James 1:19
  4. Mark 6:22
  5. 2 Cor 10:4
  6. Jer 11:19
  7. Psalm 32:10
  • C. High thing called hupsoma, in Greek, is defined as that which is lifted up against, opposed to, a barrier, or a presumption. Hints; The theory of Evolution, secular humanism, existentialism, cults, occults or false religions are examples of high things.

High things are defined in scripture.

  1. Romans 8:39
  2. 2 Cor 10:5
  3. Judges 10:8; 12:4
  4. Lev 7:14
  5. Num 18:24
  • D. Thought called noema, in Greek, is defined as the mind, design, purpose, the heart, soul, feelings, the personal verdict that comes out of using the mind, mental perception especially associated with the evil purpose in this context (2 Cor 10:3–6). Hints; philosophies of this age, dogma/traditions of men, religious ideologies contrary to God, selfism/self-gratification, relativism, naturalism, human autonomy etc. are associated with personal verdict.

Thought is defined in the scriptures.

  1. 2 Cor 10:5; 2:11; 3:14; 4:4; 11:3
  2. Phil 4:7
  • E. Disobedience called parakoe, in Greek, is defined as that which springs from negative attitude especially the refusal to listen properly or unwillingly to listen to the word of God. Hints; such category includes lover of self, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors,  heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures, displayed form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, and never able come to the knowledge of the truth (apostatized).

Disobedience is defined in the scriptures.

  1. 2 Timothy 3:1–8
  2. 2 Cor 10:6
  3. Heb 2:2

Part Two

II. THE DIVISIONS OF THE SATANIC KINGDOM (Eph 6:12):

  A. Rulers called Arche, in Greek, are the origin, the beginning of the entities. They are kings or magistrates (Eph:6:12).

 B. Authorities called exousia, in Greek, are authorities derived from later Judaism of the spiritual and earthly power. Authorities are delegated and conferred power to act on behalf of rulers (Eph 6:12).

C. Rulers of this dark world called kosmokrator, is the ruler of the world that refers to Satan and his demons influencing the lives of the worldly people in power or authority (Eph 6:12).

D. Spiritual forces in heavenly places called pneumatikos is an adjective describing the invisible realm where all the evil or wicked spirits dwell (6:12).

III. HOW TO DEAL WITH SPIRITUAL BARRIERS:

A. Put on the full armor of God

  1. Armor called panoplia, in Greek, is defined as the complete set of defensive and offensive armor (weapons) that is necessary for spiritual resource the Lord has given to the believer so that he or she can wage war against the devil while inflicting defeat that has been won. Believers do not fight for victory; instead, they fight from victory won by Christ (Eph 6:10–11).
  2. IV. THE PARTS OF THE ARMOR (Eph 6:13–18)
  3. A. Definitions:

Defensive Weapons

  1. The belt of truth (Greek, osphus aletheia): Osphus is used figuratively to refer to capacity of the renewed mind and the seat of generative power while aletheia refers to the truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in moral sphere, and divine truth. The belt of truth indicates that the believer can depend on God’s truth or word in that, it is not possible for the believer to be defeated because this is a post battle that has been won some 2000 years ago when Christ died on the cross; however, the believers has the responsibility to put on the belt of truth through active obedience.
  2. The breastplate of righteousness (Greek, thorax dikaiosune): The thorax is that which protects the chest and extended down to the hips. Figuratively, it protects the heart which is our capacity of moral preference while dikaiosune refers to righteousness that comes from God. It tells us that we made a choice to believe with our heart before righteousness was imputed to us through faith. The heart is the vulnerable part of the body; therefore, we cannot fight the war when we have unforgiving spirit or bitterness against people who have wrong us.
  3. The shield of faith (Greek, thureos pistis): Thureos is the shield that provides full protection from attack for the believer during spiritual warfare (Eph 6:16) while pistis (faith) assures the use of the shield. This is God kind of faith that does not fail; therefore, believers are admonished to pray with faith to change situations to their betterment.
  4. The helmet of salvation (Greek, perikephalaia soterios): Perikephalaia is the protection of the soul that consists in the hope of salvation (Eph 6:17) while soterios is an applied salvation. It tells believers that the pre-requisite for spiritual warfare is salvation. The unsaved cannot fight the war or it will be termed as spiritual suicidal.

Offensive Weapons

  • 5. The gospel of peace (Greek, euaggelion eirene): Eauggelion is good news of the coming Messiah or God’s good news while eirene is the peace of mind or God’s gift of wholeness. Preaching the gospel of peace through evangelism is the act of preaching wholeness to dying souls. Winning souls for the kingdom of God is the spiritual war fought through the preaching of the gospel of peace.
  • 6. The sword of the Spirit (Greek, machaira pneuma): Machaira is a sword or dagger or slaughter knife for stabbing. Figuratively, it is an instrument of exacting retribution while pneuma refers to the Spirit. This sword of the Spirit as mentioned in the passage is the word of God known as the rhema, the spoken word. The word rhema used in prayer by believers moves the Holy Spirit to do the usual. What we speak is what comes to pass. Prayer cuts or hurts Satan because it is the working of the Holy Spirit.
  • 7. Prayer (Greek, proseuche): Proseuche is a prayer used by Jews when there was no Synagogue. It tells believers that prayer should be offered everywhere and at anytime despite of the location. Prayer is the Christian mandate.

TEACHING NOTES

Strongholds

The Greek word for stronghold is ochuroma. Ochuroma in Greek is a stronghold or a fortress, a military heavily fortified fortress or containment. The word is not common in classical Greek; however, it occurred frequently in the Apocrypha. Apostle Paul used the word in 2 Corinthians 10:3–6 as he envisioned his native land of Cilicia being attacked and pulled down by the Romans military. Pompey, the Roman General, inflicted a crushing defeat upon their Navy off Rocky stronghold of Coracesium on the confines of Cilicia and Pisidia (108 833). Figuratively, strongholds are false arguments in which a person seeks shelter (safe place) in order to escape reality. The Holy Spirit used Apostle Paul to layout and to explain the nature of the warfare believers are involved in 2 Corinthians 10:3–6 using metaphorical languages to explain spiritual reality. At the time, Apostle wrote 2 Corinthians, there was false teaching that sprang out during the First Century early Christianity. False teachers came from Jerusalem to teach doctrines which undermined what Apostle Paul was teaching contrary to scriptures. The doctrine of Gnosticism has spread during this time to undermine the deity of Christ and to confuse the universality of the existence of God. Gnosticism is a collection of religious ideas and systems which originated in the first century AD among early Christian and Jewish sects. These various groups emphasized personal spiritual knowledge over the orthodox teachings, traditions, and authority of the church. Gnosticism says that humans are divine souls trapped in the ordinary physical (or material) world. They say that the world was made by an imperfect spirit. The imperfect spirit is thought to be the same as the God of Abraham. The Gnostics, in their reading of Scripture, acknowledged no such debt; for they believed that the Hebrew Bible was the written revelation of an inferior creator god (dêmiourgos), filled with lies intended to cloud the minds and judgment of the spiritual human beings (pneumatikoi).[4] Having such proliferation of false teachings, Apostle Paul had a lot to tell the Christians at Corinth about false apostles and their teaching. These are strongholds and calculated arguments executed by Satan through his agents.

            In the passage, Apostle Paul explained the nature of the war to be a spiritual one; therefore, this cannot be fought using physical weapon, because it is a spiritual one; fortunately, the weapons we fight with have divine power to demolish strongholds associated with humans’ opinions that define their values. The values that define philosophies, human dogmas or the traditions of men, and humanism that goes against Christian beliefs and practices are all strongholds. People are held captive as the result these beliefs systems that oppose the belief in the Bible. Some go to Church; unfortunately, they have belief that God no longer works miracles in our time because miracles ceased when the apostles died. The doctrine of cessation theology proliferates in this time. Some pastors or theologians who have attended seminaries and have obtained degrees in various disciplines carry such beliefs. The enemy has sowed seeds of disbeliefs in their hearts; therefore, the spiritual warfare cannot be fought by these because they already stand defeated. The acceptance of homosexual identity in the church as ordained minister is the calculated arguments or strongholds in churches today; unfortunately, some churches have allowed homosexuals and lesbians to be ordained in their churches as ministers of the gospel. Why a dysfunctional Church? The evil spirits that control such activity, Apostle Paul admonished believers that those are the powers they are fighting. People live according to their opinions not by what the Bible says. Strongholds are calculated arguments controlled by human ideologies and influenced by evil spirits that control people today. Naturalism is birthed due to the presence of false arguments (strongholds). Naturalism is the belief that there is no spirit and since God is Spirit; therefore naturalists believe that there is no God. Naturalism is equated to atheism.

Imaginations

The Greek word for imaginations or arguments is logismos. Logismos is defined as reasoning, argument, or thinking. It is a bottom-line reasoning that reflects someone’s values. Example, how someone personally assigns weigh in determining what he or she finds reasonable, a calculated argument, thought that emphasizes reaching a personal opinion, such as hostile to the Christian faith. It is an imagination, judgment, or a decision of conscience that passes ( 2 Cor 10:4; Romans 2:15; Prov. 6:18; Jer. 11:19; Psalm 32:10). Apostle Paul unveils to the Christians in Corinth that the believer’s weapon is not a physical one, but the weapon has divine power to cast down imagination or argument (2 Cor 10:4–5). The arguments are relative to personal conclusion which is not based on what the scripture is saying. The arguments are mind games the enemy uses to defeat the Christian causing him or her to sin against God. It comes in the form of a question in order to dissuade or to mislead. In Genesis it reads, “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves [b]coverings” (Gen 3:1–7 NIV).

            The woman responded and said, we may eat fruit from the tree in the garden except the one in the middle of garden, God said we should not eat or we will die. The devil said to her, “You will not die. God knows that the day you eat this fruit, you will be like him knowing good and evil. She listened to the devil and sinned against God with her husband, Adam. Logismos is the calculated argument designed by the devil to mislead people. It can come through your friends, employers, wives, husbands, associates, co-workers, or religions. Spiritual wars are fought through the thought process. The devil usually comes with calculated arguments to defeat the believer so believer can be weak to pray once he or she has committed sin.

High Thing

The Greek word, hupsoma is defined as high thing that is lifted up against a system, opposed to, a barrier to or a presumption. Such high thing opposes the ideology of the Christian faith. The Bible declares in Genesis that God created mankind in His image and likeness. On the contrary, the Theory of Evolution opposes this biblical view of creation and raises an argument that man came from a single cell and this cell evolved into a chimpanzee. The Theory of Evolution, secular humanism, existentialism, and false religions are high things that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. These ideologies are controlled by demonic agents. Apostle Paul writes, “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Cor 4:4 NKJV). Evolutionists are scientist whose minds have been blinded by Satan so that they can comprehend the gospel of the Kingdom.

            As the Bible declares in 2 Cor 10:3–6, that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they have divine power to demolish strongholds, to cast down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and we bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, once our obedience is complete. Believers live in the world that is impregnated with secular humanism or false religions. These high things are cast down through prayer; therefore, believers should be prepared to deal with strongholds or arguments.

Thought

The Greek word, noema is defined as the thought, purpose, design, the mind, heart, feelings, soul or mental perception. It is the final output of the personal verdict that comes out of using the mind especially of the evil purpose (2 Cor 10:4; 2:11, 4:4; 11:3; Phil 4:7). The thought of mankind processes garbage (nonsense); as the result, mankind is laid vulnerable to the attack of Satan. We are admonished to renew our mind because our mind controls the heart and leads us to make decision (Romans 12:1–5). We are admonished in Proverbs to guide our heart because out of the heart comes the issues of life (Proverbs 4:22–23). To defeat Satan in warfare, the mind should be renewed and ready to fight demons during warfare prayers. When our minds are renewed and takes on the mind of God; then, we are ready to bring the thought of Satan into captivity. It means that the devil’s mind game does not have impacts on our minds or spirits when we pray.

Disobedience

The Greek word, parokoe, is defined as disobedience that springs from negative attitude. Example, the refusal or the unwillingness to listen to the scripture is parokoe. Apostle Paul writes that believers should be able to punish this disobedience (parokoe) once their obedience is complete. The effectiveness of our prayers depends on our obedience to the word of God. You cannot give out what you do not possess. God requires the spirit of holiness to enable us do the exploit. You cannot fight demons when you are practicing the deeds (sinful living) of Satan. The prayers of the righteous man is effective (James 5:16). Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness (Romans 4:4). God has made us able minister of the gospel…(2 Cor 3:6). Our prayers become effective when we carry the Spirit of holiness characterized by righteousness; then, will we become able minister of the New Covenant that is not based on the letter, but on the Spirit.

SUMMARY

BARRIERSEXAMPLES
Strongholds, Greek, Ochuroma Psalm 9:9 2 Sam 22:3Proud opinion, military fortified containment; Hints: philosophies, calculated arguments etc.
High thing, Greek, Hupsoma Ezekiel 17:24Thing lifted against, opposed to the word or knowledge of God; Hints: Theory of Evolution, secular humanism, false religions etc.
Thought, Greek, Noema Proverb 4:23 Isaiah 55:8 Romans 12:2Personal verdict that comes out of using the mind associated with evil purpose against God’s knowledge or his word. Hints: relativism, human autonomy, naturalism, self-gratification (lesbianism or homosexuality ) etc.
Arguments, Greek, Logismos Phil 2:14 Titus 3:9 2 Timothy 2:14–18 (Hymanaues and Philetus) Exodus 1:15; 7:10–12; Numbers 22:2 (Jannes and Jambres)–The sons of Baleem, the unwitting non-Jewish prophet of peor.  Reasoning that emphasizes personal value or thought which is hostile to the Christian faith. Hints: relativism  
Disobedience, Greek, Parakoe 2 Timothy 3:1–8Negative attitude or the refusal to listen to God’s word. Hints: lover of self, proud, blasphemers, hind minded, lover of pleasures
SATANIC KINGDOMSEXAMPLES
Rulers, Greek, Arche Proverbs 29:2 1 Timothy 2:1–2 Eph 6:12 Titus 3:1–2Kings, Magistrates, who decide cases in the court systems. Example; judges Hint: Spiritual formation
Authorities, Greek, Exousia Titus 3:1–2 Romans 13:14Judaism of the spiritual and earthly power delegated or conferred power to act on behalf of rules. Hint: Policeman or the military
Rulers of the darkness or the dark world, Greek, Kosmokrator John 14:30; 12:31–33, 44-47 Cosmos is the entire physical universe considered as a unified whole. In Greek, Kosmos signifies “order” or “harmony” and the world. 2 Cor 4:4  Satan and his demons including those worldly people in power controlled by Satan. Hint: President, Kings
Spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places, Greek, Pnematikos Isaiah 14:12–17 Ezekiel 28:13–19Wicked or evil spirits and the entire invisible realms. Hint: sorcerer, witch doctors, marine spirits or spiritual husbands or wives, voodoos or African signs associated evil dimensions.
OFFENSIVE WEAPONSDEFENSIVE WEAPONS
The gospel of peace (Greek, euaggelion eirene): Eauggelion is good news of the coming Messiah or God’s good news while eirene is the peace of mind or God’s gift of wholeness.The belt of truth (Greek, osphus aletheia): Osphus is used figuratively to refer to capacity of the renewed mind and the seat of generative power while aletheia refers to the truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in moral sphere, and divine truth.
The sword of the Spirit (Greek, machaira pneuma): Machaira is a sword or dagger or slaughter knife for stabbing. Figuratively, it is an instrument of exacting retribution while pneuma refers to the Spirit.The breastplate of righteousness (Greek, thorax dikaiosune): The thorax is that which protects the chest and extended down to the hips. Figuratively, it protects the heart which is our capacity of moral preference while dikaiosune refers to righteousness that comes from God.
Prayer (Greek, proseuche): Proseuche is a prayer used by Jews when there was no Synagogue. It tells believers that prayer should be offered everywhere and at anytime despite of the locationThe shield of faith (Greek, thureos pistis): Thureos is the shield that provides full protection from attack for the believer during spiritual warfare (Eph 6:16) while pistis (faith) assures the use of the shield.
 The helmet of salvation (Greek, perikephalaia soterios): Perikephalaia is the protection of the soul that consists in the hope of salvation (Eph 6:17) while soterios is an applied salvation.
  

GLOSSARY

  1. Relativism is the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relationship to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute.
  2. Ethical relativism is the theory that holds that morality is relative to the norms of one’s culture. That is, whether an action is right or wrong depends on the moral norm of the society in which is practiced.
  3. Existentialism is a philosophical theory or approach which emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining his or her development through the acts of the will.
  4. Secular humanism is the belief that humanity is capable of morality and self-fulfillment without belief in God.
  5. Gnosticism is a prominent heretical movement of the 2nd Century Christian church, partly of pre-Christian origin. Gnostic doctrine taught that the world was created and ruled by a lesser divinity, the demiurege, and that Christ was an emissary of the remote supreme divine being, esoteric knowledge (gnosis) of whom enables the redemption of the human spirit. Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge.
  6. Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable. In essence, human reasoning is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist. Agnostic person believes that nothing is known or can be known of existence or nature of God of anything beyond material phenomena.
  7. Realism is the attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.
  8. Nominalism is he ontological theory that reality is only made particular items. It denies the real existence of any general entities such as properties, species, universals, sets, or other categories. The opposite of nominalism is realism.
  9. Determinism is the doctrine that all events including human actions are ultimately determined by causes external to the will. It implies that individual human beings have not free will and cannot be held morally responsible for their actions.
  10. Fatalism is the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Swindoll, Church. “The Bible Teaching Ministry”, n.p [ cited 4 October 2020] Online: https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-pauline-epistles/second-corinthians.

________________________”Introduction to the Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians”, n.p [cited 5 October 2020] Online: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/new-testament-student-manual/2-corinthians/chapter-41-2-corinthians-1-5?lang=eng. ________________________n.p. [cited 4 October 2020] Online:https://biblehub.co


[1]Church Swindoll, The Bible Teaching Ministry, n.p [ cited 4 October 2020] Online: https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-pauline-epistles/second-corinthians.

[2]________________________Introduction to the Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, n.p [cited 5 October 2020] Online: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/new-testament-student-manual/2-corinthians/chapter-41-2-corinthians-1-5?lang=eng.

[3]Ibid., n.p.

[4]Oxford Dictionary, n. p [cited 5 October 2020] Online: https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&ei=6dx6X_XeF_ahytMP-eyCeA&q=define+gnosticism&oq=define+gnosticism&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQA1AtWOwoYJA7aABwAHgAgA.