Waging Peace

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(2 Corinthians 10, 1 Timothy 1, 1Peter 5, Acts 19)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 13

Waging Peace

(2 Corinthians 10, 1 Timothy 1, 1 Peter 5, Acts 19)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Last week we studied Ephesians 6:10-17 and the spiritual battle armor that Paul says we need to be able to “stand against the schemes of the devil.” We noticed two important things. First, that our battle was “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” Ephesians 6:12, and second, that almost all of the armor was defensive in nature. That might cause us to decide that we are exclusively “waging peace” in our relationship with other people, as the title of this study suggests. But then Paul said something that did not quite fit. He requested prayer to help him “boldly” (he uses the term twice in Ephesians 6:19-20) proclaim the gospel. Perhaps “waging peace,” is more about the “waging” than the “peace.” Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and see what it says elsewhere about the nature of our battle against evil!

  1. Peaceful Destruction
    1. Read 2 Corinthians 10:1-3. What do you think is the reason why Paul claims to be humble in person, but bold when he is away? Is this an ancient version of social media where people write things they would be unlikely to say to your face? (I think Paul is repeating the allegations made against him. His opponents claim he is only bold when he is not present. The suggestion is that he is a coward.)
      1. What do you think is Paul’s opinion about being bold face to face? (He says he may well have to be bold in person. He does not say that is improper.)
      2. Let’s relate this back to Ephesians 6:19 where Paul refers to “boldly” declaring the gospel in the context of a defensive battle. Is waging peace inconsistent with speaking plainly? (Apparently not.)
      3. What does Paul mean when he says (2 Corinthians 10:3)that we are not to wage “war according to the flesh?” (Humans are obviously, “flesh,” but Christians have much more powerful spiritual weapons.)
    2. Read 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. This gives us an answer as to the kind of spiritual war we are waging. How does the Christian wage war compared to the person of the world? (We use divine power. We use the knowledge of God. This tells us that our weapons against the falsehoods of the world are presentations made in accord with the leading of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the Bible.)
      1. What is the end goal? (Destruction and captivity of false arguments and false opinions. We “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion” and we “take every thought captive to obey Christ.”)
      2. Does this sound anything like “waging peace?”
      3. I have read sections of the Quran and the Hadith, which are central to Islam. Islam says that it is a religion of peace. I’ve read the road to peace for Islam and it involves conversion or destruction of those who do not accept the teachings. After all opponents are either converted or silenced, you have peace. Is that consistent with what we are studying? (Paul does not seem to be writing of physical destruction. He is not coercing people. Rather his spirit-powered arguments destroy opposing arguments and opinions.)
    3. Read 2 Corinthians 10:6. Paul is going to, he says, “punish disobedience” when “obedience is complete.” Can you explain what he means? Can you explain how this is “waging peace?” (This highlights a very important procedural point: Paul will not punish the disobedient if most of the church is disobedient. In order for the church to move forward, most have to be obedient and the lines clearly drawn.)
    4. Read 1 Timothy 1:18-20. Does this help us to understand “waging peace?” (I think so. Paul will take firm measures against those who are teaching false doctrines. The result would be peace in the church.)
      1. At this point we need to see if we can make sense of Paul’s caution in Ephesians 6:12 that we are in a battle against “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” How can we reconcile this with taking strong measures against fellow church members? (Armed with the teachings of the Bible and the leading of the Holy Spirit, an important church leader like Paul can restore spiritual harmony to a church by ousting those who oppose the plain teachings of the Bible and promote demonic principles.)
      2. Are we only talking about opposing church members? What about waging peace against unbelievers? (Look again at 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. Paul advocates destroying arguments and opinions “raised against the knowledge of God.” Presumably more of this exists outside the church than in the church.)
    5. Read Acts 19:8-9. What is this approach to waging peace? (Recall Paul’s strategy that the majority need to be obedient for him to move against the disobedient? Sometimes we just need to withdraw. We claim victory for those who are converted and we start somewhere new.)
  2. Resistance and Suffering
    1. Read 1 Peter 5:8-9. How would we resist Satan? (We need to be alert. We resist Satan by relying on our faith.)
    2. Read 1 Peter 5:10. What note of realism does Peter bring to our discussion of spiritual warfare? (We might suffer. There is no promise that every spiritual battle will go perfectly. Rather, we have an enemy who wants to hurt us.)
      1. Will those who are in accord with God end up prevailing? (Yes. God will “restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”)
    3. If you have been a Christian for some time you have undoubtedly seen conflict in the church. How do you know who is on the right side? (The first lesson we learned is that the right side will be supported by the Bible. The right side will reflect the power of the Holy Spirit. Second, we need to pay attention to the leaders who God has put in place to direct the church.)
    4. Read Isaiah 59:14-15. Will our leaders always be righteous? Will they always be truthful? (Isaiah tells us that sometimes doing what is right makes you a “prey” (victim) of leaders who are evil.)
    5. Read Isaiah 59:16-18. In situations like that, what should the faithful pray will happen? (God will intervene. He will “repay” evil with vengeance.)
    6. Read Romans 8:36-39. This speaks of terrible things happening to God’s people. How can they be called “more than conquerors?” (Our confidence in terrible times is that God loves us. No one will be able to separate us from His love. He will ultimately rescue us.)
  3. Obstacles to Victory
    1. Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. What is a major difficulty in sharing the gospel? (Satan blinds the minds of those who do not believe in Jesus.)
    2. Read Romans 1:20-22. How does this suggest that Satan damages the brains of those who resist God? (Those with damaged minds have consented to this by refusing to honor God.)
      1. As you are “waging peace” to promote the gospel, what encouragement do we find in the two verses we just studied? (We should not feel that we are failures if our opponents or unbelievers are not converted by our Spirit-guided arguments. The grounds for unbelief run deep.)
    3. Read Acts 19:11-12. Look at how Paul seems to effortlessly defeat evil! If clothing just touches his skin, that clothing will be able to cast out demons. How is that possible?
    4. Read Acts 19:13-16. Who are these people? What is the warning to us in our spiritual battle? Is it to avoid being overconfident? Is it a warning to understand our “role?” (It appears, because they are called “Jewish exorcists,” that they have been able in the past to drive out evil spirits. But, it does not say they are followers of Jesus.)
    5. Read Acts 19:17. Was it not the demon possessed fellow who beat up the sons? Why is Jesus’ name being extolled and feared?
    6. Read Acts 19:18-20. What is the problem among believers that is now being fixed? What does that tell us about the sons of Sceva? (Acts never says that the sons of Sceva were Christians. Even if they were, some of the new Christians had not put away their “magic arts.” The lesson here is we must not only be believers to claim authority to overcome demons, but we must examine our life to see if we are ready. That is why Paul could effortlessly cast out evil spirits, but the sons of Sceva (even when they invoked the name of Jesus) were beaten for it.)
    7. Friend, waging peace for the gospel does not mean that we have to be meek or timid. We can be bold. Our boldness arises from our spiritual weapons. Will you determine today to ask the Holy Spirit to guide all of your efforts to promote the gospel?
  4. Next week: Ephesians in the Heart.