If you grew up in the conservative Christian community, as I did, and if you often attended worldview conferences, as I did, then this verse is perhaps one of the most familiar to you.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (Two Cor. 10:5).”
This passage presents such a vivid picture of what it looks like to engage with falsehoods. It is vital in both our inner man and our cultural engagement to embrace a disposition of demolition experts when it comes to lies, heresies, deceptions, etc. If lust is niggling at your mind, you must tear it down. If jealousy is crowding out all other thoughts, you must bring out the mental bulldozer. If our culture is parading lust down the street, we must engage it with all the gentleness of a polemic atom bomb. If jealousy is passed via legislative spending bills, we need to bring in the wrecking ball.
Imaginations and high things that exalt themselves agains the knowledge of God must be cast down, and brought into captivity. Note that Paul is writing to a congregation, not just an individual. Of course, within our own mind and inner man we must have this ruthless attitude towards internal struggles with sin, doubt, and falsehood. But this is addressed to a community. Thus, it is the community’s responsibility to do something about wicked actions and attitudes within our community, and those which are infiltrating our community.
All of this, though, has to do with obedience to Christ. It is not for the preservation of a peaceful community or a placid inner stability. It is so that our thoughts, both individually and corporately, are obedient to Christ. We don’t just want a pile of the rubble of our disobedience, we want revenge.
We don’t just want a pile of the rubble of our disobedience, we want revenge.The next verse states: “And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled (Two Cor. 10:6).” So, while we are commanded to demolish falsehood, we are not just to leave a smoking crater of destruction. We are to replace falsehood with the towers of truth. The rivals to Christ must be ground to powder, but in the end Christ must be exalted. It does no good to tear down your idols, but fail to obediently worship Christ. In fact, you’ll find more and worse idols crowding in if they are not replaced with adoration for Christ.
When we find that disobedience has been present within us or our community we are to be ready to revenge that disobedience. Disobedience to God’s law is sin, and sin has consequences. But Paul here is teaching us to turn a profit on our sin. You blew it? Great…don’t wallow it, but confess it, use it to drive you to have a greater love for a forgiving and cleansing Savior; let the bitterness of sin cause you to do whatever it takes to flee that sin in the future. If you stole, make restitution four times more than you should. If you are full of seething hate for your brother or sister, leave it and labor to love them sincerely. If we have embraced madness and murder in our laws, we must not only remove those laws, but work to never again enshrine sin in our laws.
Revenge your sin. When you fail, confess it, and do as the Psalmist teaches: “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it (Ps. 34:14).” We flee from evil, in order to do good. Confessing your sin and disobedience by tearing down the idol is part one of obedience. But, revenging your disobedience is that the next time you are tempted to do that sin, you do what is righteous instead. Obedience to Christ is two-fold. On one hand, we confess our sin. On the other, we…you know…actually obey. Christ doesn’t save us merely to forgive our sins and help us stop sinning, but so that we would actually do righteously (1 Jn. 3:7).
In short, in demolishing falsehood we mortify the disobedience, but by erecting the truth by vivifying the fruits of righteousness we revenge our former disobedience. Where once was a monument to sin and self, stands a monument to the exalted Christ. For instance, where there are now Planned Parenthoods, there must soon be birthing centers. This is the ultimate revenge. This is how we turn a profit on our disobedience.