3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.
False teachers judged Paul’s ministry by his outward appearance as a weak personality of small stature. However, the apostle did not depend on human approaches in conflict. He fought spiritual battles with divine weapons.
3 For though we walk in the flesh,
Christian warfare does not take place by physical or sinful means. This is a weak approach to spiritual warfare. Paul did not operate by the standards of this world. He did concede that the sphere of conflict is in the human sphere. Paul conducted his life “in the flesh” but not by or according to the flesh (Ro 8:9).
“Walk” is a Greek idiom for living, referring to conduct or a fixed pattern of behavior. The idea is to conduct one’s life in a particular manner. Paul and his team operated as human beings with ordinary life on earth—”in the flesh.” Neither Paul nor his team members were supermen, either.
we do not war [campaign] according to [norm or standard of] the flesh.
The word “war” carries the idea of advancing an army in war. The battle in which Paul found himself was not a physical but a spiritual war. His weapons were the truth, doctrine, and the gospel—all given by divine revelation. His system of warfare was not by misguided finite human methodology; that system is limited by physical limitations.
The words “according to” mean norm or standard. Paul’s team did not function by conforming to the standards of the “flesh.” They served by “meekness and gentleness of Christ” (v. 1).
Far from the wimp that Paul’s enemies claimed him to be, he would go to war with his opponents when he arrived in Corinth.
Christians do not wage spiritual war in human strength and means.
God does not want the believer to rely on or trust in human resources to do divine work. Our power is God’s power. Our belief comes from a supernatural source, not a finite origin. Our Lord has put an arsenal of divine weapons at our disposal. We may be weak, but we have divine resources. God’s soldiers use divine armaments, not those of the flesh or of Satan. Although our war is within the physical sphere, we do not use the norms of the world in spiritual warfare.
There is an inherent clash between the biblical worldview and human viewpoint. Our culture in the 21st century is imbedded with subjectivism: We think it is fundamentally wrong to criticize another system of thought; the only ultimate value is that there is no absolute truth. Truth is the victim in this climate, and the gospel is rendered ineffective. The very nature of truth is that it is exclusive. The gospel is non-negotiable. It falls outside the human standard of evaluation, a presupposition that stands on its own. This means the gospel cannot be interpreted by the assumptions of our culture but from something completely outside it—the revelation of God’s thoughts via the Bible. From a scriptural viewpoint, to think otherwise is pagan.
The thrust of our conflict with the finite worldview is that non-Christians claim a presupposition that human viewpoint is ultimate, and the Christian presupposes supernatural intervention of truth into time and space via the Bible. The fleeting assumptions of finite thought will conclude with time. These perspectives have eternal consequences.