we destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, [2 Corinthians 10:5]
i did something foolish yesterday–i engaged in a text string of theological/philosophical arguments with a friend who is walking away from Jesus. he is a really smart, educated guy–he has been to seminary, he knows all the “right” theological answers, but he has accepted universalism, has no love for Christ’s church and has rejected the exclusive claims of Christ. he disregards the holiness of God’s word. in word and deed, he has accepted the “arguments and lofty opinions” offered by this world.
so, what is paul telling me to do here? what weapons do i have to engage in this type of a battle? how do i “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion?”
paul’s first letter to the corinthians has a lot of help for us here:
the word of the cross is folly to the world:
for the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God [1 corinthians 1:18]
my friend will not understand if he is perishing, if he does not have the Holy Spirit–the cross only makes sense to those who have found life through the blood of Christ.
God destroys worldly wisdom
for it is written, “i will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning i will thwart.” [1 corinthians 1:19]
paul quotes Isaiah 29:14, showing that God destroys the supposed “knowledge’ that the world possesses, the “we” mentioned in 2 corinthians 10:5 is really shorthand for saying that we, by the Holy Spirit power and Word of God, can wage war and defeat any worldly argument with the word and Spirit he has given us.
where are the wise?
where is the one who is wise? where is the scribe? where is the debater of this age? has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? for since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. for jews demand signs and greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to jews and folly to gentiles, but to those who are called, both jews and greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. for the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. [1 corinthians 1:20-25]
this is an almost mocking, devastating argument. paul makes it clear that those who seem the most wise, are in fact fools. Christ crucified is the only lasting argument that matters–and will look like lunacy to our tiny minds. it does not make sense to the world. it only makes sense to those who are called to his glorious purposes!
we boast only in Christ!
for consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. and because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” [1 corinthians 1:26-31]
oh! this is how i must fight the battle, destroy arguments–weakness! lowliness! humility! taking captive every thought to obey Christ! my only boast, my only argument is “look at Jesus! look at him! see him in his beauty! see what he has done for you!” you don’t need to be seminarian or be an expert exegeter in order to do this. if the world sees his beauty and majesty and they have been called to him, they will receive the Holy Spirit and be compelled by this argument–if not, they will perish in the world’s blindness and foolishness.
when we are in God’s presence [1 corinthians 1:29] we do not boast. our arguments are obliterated, we will have no excuse. what I pray for my friend and for you, dear reader is that in his presence today you will submit to this truth:
that Christ was crucified for you. look at him, look at his cross…his blood makes you clean, all you must do is receive his gift of life. you have no argument, no boast. you have nothing to earn, nothing to prove, nothing to give. God chose what is weak, low, and despised in this world to shame the strong. God chose his only Son to atone for our sins. come to him like a little child. in his presence there is fullness of joy. glory be to Christ!
~ conor eastman