When we give our thoughts to Christ, we become equipped to act like Christ. Paul demonstrates this as he responds to some in the Corinthian Church who speak against his character. The Apostle Paul is known today for his bold letters and instruction to Churches, but many today do not realize that Paul’s in-person demeanor was quite different. While he was known to be gentle and meek in the presence of people, his letters were very bold and, to some, severe in style. Because of this, some in the Church at Corinth considered Paul to be deceitful in character. These people accused him of being two-faced, of walking “in a fleshly way.”
This put Paul teachings into question. And so, it was important for Paul to address the claims of these people. Paul speaks to these claims against him by exhibiting how to respond to others. He displays humility by admitting his shortcomings. Paul affirms that he, like all other believers, walks in the ways of the flesh. In other words, Paul acknowledges that He is human, imperfect. But he doesn’t just exhibit humility. He also corrects the Church in truth. He teaches the Church that while we all are human, we should not handle conflicts in “a fleshly way.” We should not act according to the ways of the world. Instead, we are responsible for acting in Christ-like fashion. When engaging in conflicts or “warfare,” we do not fight fire with fire, but instead, quench it with the Spirit of Christ.
How do we accomplish this? While our approach may vary to different degrees depending on the situation, we always start with Christ. We begin by “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” examining every thought and situation not against what we think we should do based on our gut feelings, our emotions, or our own point-of-view, but against the Word of God.
The Word of God teaches us more about God and what He expects from us as His followers. The Word of God destroys our own perspectives and assumptions (which are as finite as we are) and replaces them with God’s Wisdom and Character. It reminds us that the conflicts we face, even within the Family of God, can only be truly addressed in God’s Way. The more we bring our thoughts and situations to Christ, the more we go into our circumstances equipped to be a Christ-like example to others.
Paul shows that we are not to walk in the human ways which promote rumors, judging, conflict, and unfounded accusation as he is experiencing from his brothers and sisters. Instead, he shows the Church in Corinth through his actions and teaches them in truth that the Christian response is the Christ-filled response. While the types of behaviors mentioned, along with others that are not Christ-like, will always exist within imperfect humans, they can be addressed by the perfect Word which was embodied in the spotless example of Christ.