By Zac Poonen
In 2 Corinthians 10:4,5, the Apostle Paul speaks about the “fortresses that there are in our thought life”. The lusts in our flesh have built dirty thought-patterns and selfish thought-patterns, which are like strong fortresses. They make us live selfishly during the day, satisfying our own lusts. And at night, when we are asleep, dirty thoughts come out of these fortresses, like dreams. Is it God’s will that we should live like this forever? No. God’s will is, that we bring every thought to the obedience of Christ. With spiritual weapons given to us by God, we can destroy these fortresses. One of those great weapons is the word of God which is powerful for the destruction of these fortresses (2 Cor. 10: 4). Thus, we can bring “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
As we fill our minds more and more with the word of God, we will find that these fortresses get demolished one by one – and the soldiers (thoughts) inside these fortresses also get destroyed. As a young man, I too have struggled with dirty thoughts, like all of you. This was the solution that I found in my younger days. I read, meditated and flooded my mind with God’s word. Our mind is like a bowl full of dirty water, because we have put a lot of muck and rubbish into it in our unconverted days. But if we pour a jug of clean water into that bowl, gradually that water overflows and gets diluted. Thus the water in the bowl becomes clearer and clearer. This will take a long time. But pouring God’s word into our mind can clean up our minds slowly, over a period of years. But if every now and then we throw a little muck into that bowl again, then the cleaning process gets delayed. We can ask God to give us grace to bring every thought of ours captive to the obedience of Christ.
In 2 Cor. 11:2, 3, Paul speaks about how he wants to present those Corinthian Christians as a pure virgin to the Lord on the day of “the marriage of the Lamb”. And so, he was very jealous that they should not fall in love with anyone else along the way. Consider the story of Abraham’s servant Eliezer, taking Rebecca on a long journey (of about 1500 kilometers from Ur to Canaan) to present her to Isaac. On that journey, if any handsome young men had come and tried to win Rebecca’s affection, Eliezer would have warned Rebekah saying, “Don’t be attracted by these men. I have to present you as a pure virgin to Isaac.” Paul wanted to preserve the church in Corinth in the same way for Jesus. That is the holy jealousy that every servant of God must have for his flock. He must tell them, “You are reserved for Jesus. Don’t be attracted by money, illegitimate sex, or worldly honour. These will try to attract you. But you must resist their advances and keep yourself pure.” Then Paul goes on to say, “I fear that Satan will come like he did to Eve in Eden and draw your hearts away from that simple and pure devotion to Christ.”
When does anyone become a backslider or go astray? Is it when they start believing some false doctrine or when they join a cult? According to 2 Cor.11:3, we go astray the moment we lose our devotion to Christ. Every believer who has lost his devotion to Christ has already gone astray. Our job as shepherds of God’s flock is to preserve the sheep in devotion to Jesus Christ. That is the most important thing in the Christian life. The devil perpetually seeks to lead believers astray from loving Jesus fervently. It is no use engaging in evangelism or teaching or any other service for the Lord, if we have lost our fervent love for Christ. This was the Lord’s only complaint against the messenger and the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:4).