Now I get it.

It happened again, as it should.

We read and live and think through God’s words and he speaks to us. Sometimes immediately, but sometimes (sometimes often) we have those texts that remain just beyond our reach, remains an enigma.

Enigma E*nig”ma, n.; pl. Enigmas. [L. aenigma, Gr. ?, fr. ? to speak darkly, fr. ? tale, fable.]
1. A dark, obscure, or inexplicable saying; a riddle; a statement, the hidden meaning of which is to be discovered or guessed.
2. An action, mode of action, or thing, which cannot be satisfactorily explained; a puzzle; as, his conduct is an enigma.
[ – Source: Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)]

A week ago Saturday, waiting to load another rail car with big, white rocks used to combat the washouts from our recent flooding, reading the words of God, my scheduled reading brought me to 2 Corinthians 10 and my enigma verse.

(2 Corinthians 10:6 ESV) being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Here is what I wrote that afternoon.

Do I finally understand this verse after so many years? Did it finally click?

“when your obedience is complete”

Until we are obedient to “the rules of war” as described here, then we are not ready to move against disobedience.

Until we bow before God’s process of taking our own thoughts captive to obey Christ, until we are willing to bring ourselves under the scrutiny of Jesus, until we are ready to submit our thoughts and thought processes before God. . .

Until we are ready to honor God in this way, we are not ready to do battle in Jesus’ name. We will not be moving in divine power but merely fighting as men fight.

Some years ago the earlier part of the text had clicked.

(2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV) We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

I’ve written about this in my book how without exception as I remember that this text had always been taught as “take every bad thought captive to obey Christ.”

The text was always used as a “how to fight temptation” verse, missing the main point of the verse. After reading this verse for years the obvious finally hit me – the text does actually say “every thought” not every bad thought.

We are not to do the editing, determining before hand what needs examined by Christ and what does not. Too much room for fallen human error.

This is not a verse on fighting temptation but a verse concerning spiritual warfare and properly representing the truth of Jesus Christ. And we do not properly represent Christ until we are willing to “run” our entire belief system and theology before him for approval. What we believe must come in obedience before Christ.

So all of that was a tremendous insight for me some years ago.

But then I would come to verse six and … ??? enigma time.

The temptation is a “make it fit” approach. Edit, trim, squeeze, push, rationalize until we get it into the box. You know the “box” of what we believe, our theology, the grid through which everything else must be seen through, even God’s words if necessary.

Whoops! That ain’t supposed to happen is it?

I mean, trimming and squeezing what God says to fit what we believe. Say it ain’t so, Sam!

But that is what we do, when we should just be waiting on God.

So back to last Saturday. I was just reading and it’s like the Holy Spirit said, “Now is the time” and bloop this insight
dropped into my lap.

The truth of the text was there all along, and I don’t see now why it wasn’t more clear before.

I could see before that so many of our efforts in spiritual warfare were self-defeating. “We had met the enemy and they is us” type of deal. We had the true words but were fighting like humans, not trusting God, not waiting on him, not depending on him for things beyond us.

And that is exactly what my enigma verse is saying.

(2 Corinthians 10:5-6 ESV) We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (6) being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

We are not ready to address disobedience until we ourselves obey. Duh, Amos!

Until our fighting methods change, we still fight like what we are – mere humans. And our fighting methods don’t change until and unless we submit them before Jesus Christ for approval.

We take all our thoughts, our entire belief systems, all our theology, all our intellectual wrangling and bring it in submission before Christ for obedience.

And until we obey, we are not ready to deal with disobedience.


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3 Responses to Now I get it.

  1. Mike says:

    Wow indeed.

    Complete Obedience is something that I continually struggle with – primarily due to a lack of diligence, I suppose.

    I don’t know that I actually realized my hypocrisy regarding verse 6 until you noted it above: “And until we obey, we are not ready to deal with disobedience.” I can find myself quick to point fingers and cast judgment, all the while not dealing with my own areas of disobedience. That just makes me a hypocrite and a Pharisee, doesn’t it? 🙂

    And I see it all the time in how I deal with my children. Do I insist that they obey without setting the proper example myself? I know that I can’t “wait until I have it all straightened out” before trying to straighten my kids out, of course… but it still points out how far I really am from being fully obedient to God.

    For example: As someone who is struggling with a current season of extra-busyness, I find myself predictably drifting farther from God. This makes me try to live in my own strength, which leads to frustration and depression… and I know that the key to getting this straightened out is repentance: turning back to God in a moment-by-moment way. But, at the same time, I expect my kids to see life from God’s point of view in terms of respect, responsibility, obedience, submission, etc. And they keep having the same struggles, week after week. And I can’t help but think that part of their problem is in fact *my* problem – I’m not showing them the blessing of a life that is changed by walking moment by moment in submission and obedience to God.

    Wow indeed.

  2. Hey Mike,
    None of us completely obey. I feel that I inadvertently placed an unnecessary burden on you. The obedience I was speaking to was specifically this text in 2 Cor 10 where we agree with Christ to drag all of our thoughts before him. We obey this but we also struggle and God knows our frames are but dust. It is about a mind set and submissive heart, allowing God to cleanse and transform us, allowing God to scrutinize anything and everything in our lives. I believe the obedience came when they agreed to this methodology or attitude, not in their perfect obedience.

    It seems this should be looked at in a more positive way than maybe I portrayed it. This is a good thing to drag our opinions before God, let nothing wiggle away from his light. And in the process we become different people. And that is the really good part. We become different people as God washes and cleans our minds and hearts.

    The disobedience is in the person whose pride does not allow them to even consider that maybe some of what they hold dearly to may be wrong, the arrogance that they wouldn’t be willing to bring everything before Christ for “review.”

    The disobedience is in holding sacred what God doesn’t call sacred, sectioning off areas that are untouchable, even for God.

    No, I believe that here in this text that Paul sends us down the path where we really start to “get it” because everything is open before God, even the areas where we falter, even our sin, everything is fair game for Christ to address.

    And we shouldn’t want it any other way. Divine feedback. And the confidence we have in our information as it has passed the strictest of tests as what we have left after bringing our thoughts before Christ is the confidence that what is left from that encounter is absolutely unshakable.

    Am I hearing an AMEN?!

  3. Mike says:

    Yes, you can hear an AMEN! 🙂 And, no, you didn’t place any burden on me that I haven’t placed on myself.

    My obedience analogy probably muddied the waters a bit. My key problem of obedience right now is in fact the bringing of all my thoughts before God. I am having a hard time getting alone with God, much less bringing my ongoing thoughts before Him and letting His light shine in all the corners that *I* don’t even look into. As Andrew Osenga wrote in a line from the Caedmon’s Call Song “Hold the Light”:

    “And I stay up late, ’cause I cannot sleep
    I don’t want to face the quiet, where it’s just God and me”

    I want divine feedback. I don’t want to “not let God in”. And as far as “looking at this in a more positive way”, I know and believe that God’s light is infinitely more positive to my soul than anything else, but I keep my real self mostly locked off – even from God. It’s a scary thing, and I know that what I really need to do is let him strip it all bare and show me what he wants me to be.

    Here’s an interesting song on that subject – “The Cut” by Jason Gray, posted as a “Song of the Day” on Andrew Peterson’s “Rabbit Room” website:

    In any case, I sometimes wonder if I’m just “looking for an opportunity to say something” as opposed to “having something to say”. But, I know there’s something inside of me screaming to get out… I think I’m just scared of the leap of faith. But isn’t that the sort of obedience that we’re called to in the first place? 🙂

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