Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ begins the process in uniting and reconciling the inward and outward areas of life. Otherwise, we compare ourselves to others instead of seeking approval from God.
Use Spiritual Weapons
Paul said he did not wage war like the world since his weapons were divinely power to demolish strongholds, arguments and every pretension set up against the knowledge of God. He took every thought captive so it would obey Christ and punish disobedience. The Lord gave him authority to build up even though some said his letters were weighty and forceful but he was unimpressive in person. Paul said he was consistent in his letters and in person. He did not compare himself to those who commended themselves as it was unwise to measure or compare themselves with others. Paul did not boast beyond the field assigned to him that included his gospel ministry to the Corinthians. He hoped their faith grew so Paul's team could preach the gospel in regions beyond them. Let people boast in the Lord and get their approval from Him (2 Cor. 10:1-18). Use spiritual weapons to destroy strongholds with every thought obeying Christ so you receive approval from Him and not others.
Be Devoted to Christ
Paul feared they would be led astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ like Eve being deceived by the serpent's craftiness. They received a false gospel and Paul said he was not inferior to those "super-apostles." He preached the gospel free of charge because of his love for them. He robbed other churches and Macedonia supplied his needs because of his love for them. He warned them of false apostles pretending to be real ones. Like Satan pretending to be an angel of light, his servants pretended to be servants of righteousness. They accepted deceitful apostles who enslaved and exploited them but Paul was too weak for that (2 Cor. 11:1- 21). Be devoted to Christ so you are not deceived and enslaved by false teachers.
Boast About Your Sufferings
Paul boasted he was a Hebrew, Abraham's descendant and servant of Christ He worked harder, in prison more frequently, flogged more severely and exposed to death frequently than the false apostles. Five times he received 39 lashes from the Jews. They beat him with rods three times, stoned once, shipwrecked three times and spent a night and day in the open sea. He experienced constant danger from rivers, bandits, countrymen, Gentiles, city, country, sea and false brothers. As Paul labored, he was often without sleep, knew hunger and thirst, cold and was naked. He faced daily concern for every church feeling their weakness and sin. He boasted of his weaknesses so God would be praised. He was lowered in a basket when the Damascus governor tried to arrest him (2 Cor. 11:22-33). Boast about your sufferings, pressures and weaknesses so God is praised.
Delight in God's Grace and Power
Paul had a vision of a man in Christ caught up to the third heaven in Paradise who heard inexpressible things. To stay humble, Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment him. Three times he asked God to remove it, but said His grace was sufficient since He made perfect His power in weakness. Paul boasted about his weaknesses so Christ's power rested in him. For Christ's sake he delighted in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties. He was strong through his weaknesses ( 2 Cor. 12:1-10). Delight in God's grace and power through weaknesses, hardships and persecutions.
Pursue Loving Relationships
Signs, wonders and miracles marked Paul as a genuine apostle. He wanted to visit a third time desiring them, not their money. Since parents save for their children, he invested with love and gladness to strengthen and not burden them. He feared there may be quarreling, jealously, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder causing him grief over their unrepented impurity, immorality and sensuality (2 Cor. 12:11-21). Pursue loving relationships to strengthen others so they repent of their sins.
Pursue Church Discipline
Paul gave a warning in his second visit, but in his third visit, every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just as Christ was crucified in weakness and lived by God's power, Paul's team lived with Him in serving them by not sparing any who sinned earlier. They must examine themselves to test whether they were in the faith and realize that Paul's team passed the test. No one could do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. He prayed for their perfection and hoped he could eliminate harshness in his God-given authority to build up and not tear down. They should aim for perfection, listen to his appeal, be of one mind and live in peace so the God of love and peace would be with them. May Christ's grace, God's love and the Holy Spirit's fellowship be with everyone (2 Cor. 13:1-14). Practice church discipline by building up and not tearing down sinning believers as you are being perfected in your weakness through God's power.
Consider the following process to unite and reconcile the internal and external areas of your life so weaknesses, hardships and persecutions don't upset you:
1. Use spiritual weapons to destroy strongholds with every thought obeying Christ so you receive approval from Him and not others
2. Be devoted to Christ so you are not deceived and enslaved by false teachers
3. Boast about your sufferings, pressures and weaknesses so God is praised
4. Delight in God's grace and power through weaknesses, hardships and persecutions
5. Pursue loving relationships to strengthen others so they repent of their sins
6. Practice church discipline by building up and not tearing down sinning believers as you are being perfected in your weakness through God's power