THE WEAPONS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
2 Corinthians 6:1-10
1. Experience teaches us that where religion is concerned...
a. The wrong war
b. With the wrong weapons
c. Leads to unimaginable tragedy.
2. Yet, Scripture teaches us that there is a war.
a. 1 Corinthians 10:3-5
b. Not to fight it would be irresponsible of us.
c. It would also introduce terrible ruin into so many lives.
3. The weapons which are used us the key to understanding this concept.
a. Our text is going to tell us that “the weapons of righteousness” are both our offence and defense in any attack from any quarter.
b. The term for “weapons” in verse 7 is a different word “armor” in Ephesians 6:13.
c. 2 Corinthians 6:1-10
1. The nature of the battles in this war. In verses 4-5, nine trials are mentioned in three groups of three. They are preceded by the supreme quality of “great endurance,” the one “by” which a Christian may thrive when he is “in” any of the others.
a. First there are the external adversities, the things that just happen to us in life even while we are trying to serve the Lord.
i. “Afflictions” are pressures, the physical, mental and spiritual demands that seem to press upon a person.
ii. “Hardships” are the distresses, the “necessities” from which there is no apparent relief.
iii. “Calamities” are straits, narrow places from which there is no escape, frustrating situations.
b. Next are the difficulties caused by other people, things that may be suffered at the hands of the very ones we are trying to help.
i. “Beatings” were experience by the apostle “countless” times (11:23). Five times he had been through the most severe kind of beating (11:24).
ii. “Imprisonments” had come as a result, not of any crimes, but of his labors (cf. Acts 16:23).
iii. “Riots” were the tumults, the episodes of civil disorder and confusion that had been stirred up by his opponents. (Cf. Acts 13:50; 14:5; etc.)
c. Then there are the things endured voluntarily, the sacrifices one may make in order to further the news of God’s grace.
i. “Labors” are efforts that bring physical and mental fatigue, weariness.
ii. “Sleepless nights,” or “watchings,” are the times when one goes without rest because he has used the time to teach, or because of the conditions in which he had to travel to teach, or because he has tossed and turned in anxiety over those whom he has taught. Paul had been through many of these (11:27).
iii. “Hunger” is going without food in order to complete a good work, starving.
1. The weapons it takes to fight such battles. You can tell what kind of war it is by the fact that its battles have to be fought with “weapons of righteousness” (v. 6-7). The spiritual weapons mentioned here answer the tribulations of the previous verses. These are the things “by” which a soldier of Christ is able to endure triumphantly.
a. “Purity” is moral integrity, especially in the sense of sincerity. It is single-heartedness in motivation. It is often called for in the New Testament (1 Jn. 3:3; Js. 3:17; 2 Cor. 11:2)
b. “Knowledge” is recognition of God and obedience to him, especially of the truth he has made known in Christ. (4:6; 10:5; Col. 1:9-10; 2:2f)
c. “Patience” is forbearance with the shortcomings of people, the ability to bear with people without irritation or retaliation. It is a Christian virtue. (Heb. 6:12; Col. 3:12)
d. “Kindness” is treating people with the same graciousness God has extended toward us (Eph. 2:7; Tit. 3:4). It is interesting that the word is “chrestotes,” a term which appropriately sounds so much like “christos.” (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4; Gal. 5:22)
e. “The Holy Spirit” may refer to the soldier of Christ’s being “strengthened with power through his Spirit in” his inner being (Eph. 3:16), or it may be that the phrase here should be taken as “a spirit that is holy,” something which is a must in the Christian life (cf. Heb. 12:14).
f. “Genuine love” is unconquerable benevolence and good will. It’s the same phrase as heads the list in Romans 12:9f. It is love which is not merely an outward show put on to cover the furthering of one’s own desires or self-interest.
g. “Truthful speech” is faithful in its content as well as open and honest in its manner. There are no half-truths or diplomatic lies to it. This may be a response to what some were saying about him (cf. 11:16; 10:10).
h. “The power of God” makes weakness which depends on him sufficient (cf. 12:9).
i. “Righteousness” may the sum of these weapons, or it may be a separate one, a quality which enables one to stand regardless of what any critic or accuser says.
2. The victories these weapons can secure. These are spiritual triumphs that come while one endures. They come whether challenges come from the right hand or the left hand, whether they come through honor or dishonor, through slander or praise (v. 8-10). They are such that no matter how the soldier of the Lord is treated, how he is regarded, or what he has said about him, he stands the victor. Notice the contrast:
How he is treated or regarded How it actually turns out for him
a. “As impostors” “Yet are true”
b. “As unknown” “Yet well known”
c. “As dying” “And behold, we live”
d. “As punished” “Yet not killed”
e. “As sorrowful” “Yet always rejoicing”
f. “As poor” “Yet making many rich”
g. “As having nothing” “Yet possessing everything”
1. The only war in which Christianity is ever involved must be understood in the context of these kinds of battles, with these kinds of weapons, with these kinds of victories.
2. It is a war of reconciliation!
a. 2 Cor. 5:20; 6:1-2
b. 2 Cor. 6:11-13
3. Our text must be read, and preached, with “I” in place of “we.”