For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 / NASB).
The spiritual battle is a battle for the mind.
On an everyday practical level, the spiritual battle is not the mystical, cosmic conflict that occurs somewhere in the unseen spiritual realm. Rather, in our daily experience, it is actually a battle for our minds.
Notice all the military metaphors in 2 Cor. 10:3-5. It’s from passages like this that we get the term “spiritual warfare”. But exactly what kind of war is this, and whom—or what—are we battling?
To understand this, I use the RIOT strategy.
Terms such as “waging war”, “weapons”, “warfare”, “destroy”, “captives”, all serve to help us understand that this is serious. It’s a war—where casualties occur. So the “R” stands for Recognize this is a War.
“Arguments and every lofty opinion” represent flawed reasoning, faulty logic, incorrect belief systems, etc. They are sophistries “raised against the knowledge of God”. So the “I” stands for Identify the Enemy—Lies.
If lies are the enemy, then truth is our ally. Lies attempt to contradict the truth of God. Satan is the father of lies and Jesus is The Truth. Satan stands on one side bombarding our minds with lies, which if believed, govern our behavior. Jesus stands on the other side telling us that the truth will make us free. So the “O” stands for Open Fire.
Now, picture a military conflict. You’ve encountered the enemy, lies, and you lob in your heavy artillery, truth, destroying his major assault power. But you didn’t kill those who were hiding in foxholes or bunkers, so you must take prisoners. Otherwise, they could sneak into your camp at night when you let your guard down and execute a stealth attack.
For example, it’s one thing to say, “God has given me everything I need in Christ”. But it’s another thing if you believe that advancing your professional, financial, or social status will bring lasting happiness. Allowing those thoughts to wander into your mind without taking them captive is risky. Those subtle thoughts are what can lead you “astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Every thought must be taken captive in order to obey Christ without compromise. So the “T” stands for Take Prisoners.
Are you experiencing a battle for your mind? If so, perhaps you should start a “RIOT”.
R-ecognize this is a war
I-dentify the Enemy
- There exists the potential for spiritual captivity through deceptive reasoning (Col. 2:8). Ask God to reveal where there may be flaws in your thinking that may be governing your behavior. How will you then destroy the stronghold(s)?
- In what way can you integrate enough truth into your life so that you can use the RIOT strategy effectively?
- What would be a practical way for you to “take every thought captive” so that you don’t get deceived unwittingly?