Mental strongholds, flesh patterns, or defense mechanisms have been raised up against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5a). That has happened in the past and will continue if we conform to this world, which we are encouraged not to do (Rom. 12:2). This fallen world can negatively influence us if we let it, and so can the devil. The apostle Paul switched from the past tense to the present tense when he wrote, “and we take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5b). “Thought” in this passage is the Greek word, noema. It is used sparingly in the New Testament, but five times in 2 Corinthians. How it used and translated is very revealing.
The first occurrence is 2:10,11, “Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs (noema). Other translations say "schemes,” but it is the same word translated as “thought” in verse 10:5. I will have a lot more to say about forgiving others later, but for now keep in mind the seriousness of what the apostle is saying. If we don’t forgive others as Christ has forgiven us, we are giving Satan an opportunity to attack us, and it will be by way of mental assault.
The second and third occurrences deal with people coming to Christ. “But their minds (noema) were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away” (3:14). “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds (noema) of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (4:3,4). Obviously noema is a difficult word to translate (thought, designs, schemes, mind), but the contexts clearly reveals the spiritual assault on our minds as does the last verse where noema is used 2 Corinthians, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts (noema) will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (11:3).”
There is a very sober warning from the Apostle. The fact that good people could be paying attention to an evil spirit and not know it is not a new revelation. The apostle Paul goes back to the beginning of recorded history to make his point. Eve was deceived by Satan and believed his lies and that is happening today as well. Eve was deceived when she had not yet committed any sin. Good people can be deceived, which is why we have to know the truth.
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