LESSON 10
ARMED FOR MINISTRY
(2 CORINTHIANS 10:1-18)

Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984
International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations
from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes
the teacher uses a blackboard.


INTRODUCTION: This week Paul changes course in his letter to the
Corinthians. In our study this week and the next two weeks we will
find that Paul is defending himself and verbally "spanking" the
Corinthians. Let's see what lessons we can learn for our lives!

I. SPIRITUAL PROBLEM-SOLVING

     A. Read 2 Corinthians 10:1-5. When you have a conflict with
     someone else, do you find it easier to resolve the conflict
     with a letter or a face-to-face meeting?

          1. What are the advantages of a letter? (You can think
          very carefully about your words. The person who gets the
          letter can carefully consider your words without the
          potential conflict of you being present. Some people
          communicate better in writing.)

          2. What are the advantages of a face-to-face encounter?
          (You can see how the person reacts and make instant
          "corrections" or changes in your tactics.  Some people
          communicate better orally.)

          3. Based on what we just read, do you think Paul
          communicated better in writing or face-to-face? (His
          opponents suggest that he is a lot stronger in his
          letters than in person. If you skip down to v.10 Paul
          says that "some" say his letters are much better than his
          oral presentations.)

               a. How possible is it that Paul is being sarcastic
               here?  That he is scoffing at the idea (presented
               by his opponents?) that he is timid, unimpressive
               and a poor speaker in person?

     B. Leaving aside the issue of Paul's writing versus his
     speaking abilities, verse 2 gives us the problem that he seeks
     to address in the Corinthian church.  What is that problem?
     ("[S]ome people who think that we live by the standards of
     this world.")

          1. What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "living by
          the standards of the world?"

               a. When verse 2 refers to "some people who think we
               live by the standards of the world...," do you
               understand this to be an attack upon Paul?  Paul
               lives by the standards of the world?  Or is this
               Paul's criticism of some in the church? For
               example, if you said, "Some people in this church
               think we should live like animals," you would be
               criticizing them, not repeating a criticism leveled
               against you, right? (At first I thought Paul was
               criticizing others. Now, I am not sure.  Whichever
               it is, I do not think it matters to the underlying
               point Paul is trying to make.)

          2. Notice in vv.3-4 Paul speaks of using the world's
          standards to "wage war." Think of the last serious
          problem that you faced. How did you try to solve it?

               a. Did you use "world" weapons or "spiritual"
               weapons?

               b. What are "world" weapons as opposed to
               "spiritual" weapons?

          3. My most recent problem was that my son (an academy
          freshman) was the victim of a "hazing" incident that
          involved threats of physical violence and minor theft.
          My initial (and recurrent) solution was that I would find
          these kids and beat them up.  As incredibly stupid as
          this "solution" was (especially for a lawyer), I kept
          actually visualizing myself in fights with teen-agers!
          (Of course, in these mental battles I always won!)  My
          next "solution" was to use my influence and my "insiders"
          connections get these kids dismissed from school. It
          actually took me several days to realize that I should
          pray for the kids who were involved in what was probably
          a relatively harmless breach of the rules; that I should
          rely on the Lord's power and not my "power" to resolve
          this problem.)

               a. Is it "OK" to use your "influence" to solve
               problems? At what point do you cross the line into
               becoming like the world in "waging war?"

          4. Do you find that your first "solution" to a problem is
          to rely on your own power?

               a. Is there a logical connection between
               "righteousness by works" and using the "weapons of
               the world" to solve problems?

               b. Is the impulse to "fix problems" through the use
               of "power" an occupational hazard for lawyers,
               doctors or politicians? Is it a hazard for very
               large men? (Although lawyers, doctors and
               politicians have tremendous "power" over the lives
               of others, anyone who has the world's tools
               (weapons) to change things (for example money,
               influence, physical intimidation) faces the
               temptation to personally "fix" problems. This may
               be the reason why Jesus said in Matthew 19:24 that
               it was very difficult for a rich man to go to
               heaven.)

     C. Why do you think Paul is writing to the Corinthians about
     "waging war?" What can we learn by reading "between the lines"
     here? (There is certainly some conflict in the Corinthian
     church.  Whether this is a criticism of Paul that he is using
     improper tactics, or whether others are using the "weapons of
     the world" to attack Paul is not clear to me.  What is clear
     is that Paul suggests that we should use spiritual weapons
     instead of the weapons of the world to address the problems in
     our lives.)

     D. Verse 5 is very interesting. Should we follow Paul's
     example of "demolishing arguments and every pretension that
     sets itself up against the knowledge of God?"

          1. How would you "demolish arguments ... against the
          knowledge of God? How would you do this using spiritual
          weapons as opposed to weapons of the world?

          2. How would you "demolish ... every pretension ...
          against the knowledge of God?"

               a. Do you have "pretensions" in your life that
               interfere with others learning about God?

          3. Notice that Paul says that he wants to "take captive
          every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Is that a
          goal in your life?

               a. What methods, what spiritual weapons would you
               use to "take captive every thought?"

               b. What kind of activity in your life prevents or
               inhibits you from taking captive every thought?

                    (1) How is your television or your VCR involved
                    in this effort?

                         (a) How important is your remote control
                         to your salvation?

II. LOOKING BEYOND THE SURFACE

     A. Read 2 Corinthians 10:7-11. Paul tells the Corinthians that
     they are "looking only on the surface of things." When it
     comes to deciding what is truth, what does it mean to "look
     only at the surface of things?" (We give a great deal of
     regard to how a person appears. The attack on Paul (v.10) was
     that he did not have an impressive presence or an impressive
     delivery with his sermons.)

          1. If Paul's speech and appearance are not impressive,
          how can he say (v.11) that they are as good as his
          impressive letters? (Paul is directing the Corinthians to
          the underlying message -- which is the same whether he is
          writing or speaking.)

          2. What can we do to focus on the content of a sermon
          rather than the looks and speaking talents of our
          pastors?

          3. Should our pastors take Paul's advice to mean that
          appearance and speaking ability are not important? (No!
          We are out to reach the unconverted: people who judge
          based on ability and appearance. A pastor should strive
          to make both the "packaging" and the "content" of the
          sermon the very best.  On the other hand, the converted
          should realize that it is the message that is important.)

     B. In verse 7 Paul says that when we get into disputes in the
     church, we should consider that other members of the church
     "belong to Christ" just as much as we do. Is that our first
     impulse: to believe that the other person is just as converted
     as us?
 
          1. Or are we more likely to attack the sincerity of the
          religious beliefs of our opponents?

          2. How would controversies in the church be different if
          each side started out with the presumption (rebuttable,
          of course) that both sides were earnestly seeking to
          follow God's will?

     C. Read 2 Corinthians 10:12, 17-18. How could we (v.12)
     measure ourselves by ourselves? Can you give me an example of
     this?

          1. What effect does measuring ourselves by ourselves and
          comparing ourselves with ourselves have on our pride?
          (This is the center of the problem.  If we compare
          ourselves with our fellow church members (especially if
          we are looking on the surface) we may decide that we are
          really pretty good.  That results in boasting about what
          we have done.  Instead, Paul suggests that we make our
          Lord our point of reference.  We should ask, "How we
          measure up to His perfect standard?")

               a.  When anything is done to advance the gospel, is
               it because of our ability or the blessing of the
               Lord?

                    (1) If you are tempted to say, "our ability,"
                    who gave you your talents?

     D. What will you do this week to increase your arsenal of
     "spiritual weapons" and impose a unilateral arms control on
     your "worldly weapons?"

III. NEXT WEEK: "Engaged in Ministry." Study 2 Corinthians 11:1-33! nbsp;      who gave you your talents?

     D. What will you do this week to increase your arsenal of
     "spiritual weapons" and impose a unilateral arms control on
     your "worldly weapons?"

III. NEXT WEEK: "Engaged in Ministry." Study 2 Corinthians 11:1-33!