Observe here, 1. That as the life of every Christian is a continual warfare, so the ministers of the gospel are more eminently men of war; they fight against principalities and powers; and the devil draws up his full strength to pull down the office of the ministry, which is erected for the pulling down the strong holds of him and his kingdom.
Observe, 2. The weapons which these spiritual warriors, the ministers of the gospel, do make use of in their conflict and combat with sin and Satan: The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual. They are not carnal or fleshly weapons that we use, neither fraud nor flattery, nor force; but spiritual armour, with which we batter the fortresses of sin and Satan; namely, the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, the plain and persuasive preaching of the gospel, the Holy Spirit, miracles of all sorts, eminent wisdom and patience, exemplary zeal and courage in executing and inflicting the censures of the church upon the disobedient.
Observe, 3. These weapons are called mighty; but mighty through God; that is, as quickened by the power and presence of God's Spirit. Then is our ministry mighty, when made mighty through God. The spirits of darkness cannot be conquered but by spiritual weapons. It is as possible to make an impression with your finger upon a wall of brass, as for the best sermon in the world to make an effectual impression upon a sinner's will, without the cooperation and concurring assistance of the Holy Spirit: The weapons of our warfare are spiritual and mighty through God. It is the Spirit that gives them their success and efficacy: There is a real spiritual power and energetical presence of Christ in his own institutions and appointments. When the sword of the Spirit is taken into the hand of the Spirit, it works wonders.
Observe, 4. The great and good execution which these spiritual weapons do effect and accomplish when thus accompanied with the power of God; they are mighty to the pulling down of strong holds.
By which some do understand a particular beloved lust; a special sin, by which Satan keeps and holds possession of the sinner's heart.
Others understand it more generally of every thing that opposeth, resisteth, and hindereth the success of the gospel; and particularly the stubborn will of the sinner, which is so strong an hold, that no power short of an Almighty power can influence it to surrender: Casting down imaginations or reasonings, and proud conceits, and particularly unbelief, in which sinners fortify themselves against the convictions of the word, disdaining to submit themselves to the abasing, humble, and self-denying way of the gospel.
But behold the glorious conquest which the gospel of Christ obtains over sinners thus fortified against it: It casts down imaginations, and pulls down every strong hold. Thus the ministry of the gospel spoils Satan of his armour, in which he trusted by shewing the sinner, that all this can be no defence to his soul against the wrath of God.
Observe, 5. The improvement of the victory: The gospel doth not only lead away these enemies spoiled, but brings them into captivity and obedience to itself.
Oh happy and blessed conquest! Sinners do not only lay down their arms, and fight no more against Christ, but they repair to his camp, and fight for him with those reasonings of theirs which before were employed against him. Oh! blessed victory! where the conqueror and conquered both triumph together.