Pastor’s Corner: “Pulling Down Strongholds”
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV) – 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
Stronghold is one of those Christian vocabulary words that we use often but sometimes don’t fully understand. What exactly is a stronghold? A stronghold is a thought pattern that forms a fortress around the mind, holding it prisoner to faulty thinking. It is formed brick-by-brick by repetitive faulty thinking and lies promoted by the enemy and others around us. It can also happen all at once by a onetime traumatic event. We are probably more familiar with strongholds than we originally thought.
In the Old Testament, a stronghold was a fortified dwelling used for protection from an enemy. David hid in wilderness strongholds when he was hiding from King Saul, who was trying to kill him (1 Samuel 22:4; 23:14). These were usually caves high on a mountainside or some other structure that was hard to attack. In the Old Testament, God is called our stronghold: “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).
The New Testament writers took this same imagery of a fortress to describe the spiritual tower of bondage, not protection, that we put ourselves in by developing thought patterns and ideas that hold us captive. I like this definition: “Anything that we hold onto that ends up holding onto us.” It is anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. A stronghold does not protect us, it protects the enemy who is manipulating our thoughts and suggesting our actions. When we talk about strongholds, we’re not talking about random thoughts or occasional sins. A stronghold is a thought pattern or habitual sin. It is a fortress built with the bricks of thoughts and held together by the mortar of emotions. Strongholds become our perception of reality.
A stronghold might be a thought such as: I’m no good – I’m damaged goods – Nobody loves me – Nobody cares about me – I can’t do anything right. A stronghold might be an addiction such as: Drugs/Alcohol – Sexual promiscuity/pornography – Over-eating – Gambling – Gaming – Social Media – Shopping – Workaholic – Gossip – Feeling sorry for yourself/self- pity. The enemy locks you up in hopes you’ll never reach for the key that is certainly within your reach. But you can.
The only way to expose the enemy and defeat him is to tear down the stronghold, the fortress where he is hiding. An ungodly habit becomes his habitation, his stronghold in our lives. Once you recognize a lie in your life—perhaps something that has even taken hold of your imagination and stirred ungodly feelings such as jealousy, worry, fear, or anger—with God’s help through Holy Spirit you reject the lie and replace it with truth. Each time you reject a lie, you knock one more brick from the enemy’s fortress, and pretty soon, he’s exposed for the liar and deceiver he is.
I do not want to give the impression that this is an easy process. Some of us are so comfortable with our strongholds we don’t even realize they are there. Many Christians who are saved have been walking around enslaved for many years. They drag around the ball and chain of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy around with them everywhere they go. They grow so used to their limp, they don’t notice it anymore. But Jesus wants to open our eyes to the truth and call us out of the fortress that has become our prison cells.
Destroying strongholds is not easy, but it is simple. Paul used words such as struggle, resist, tear down, and fight. The good news is that we’re not a one-person demolition crew. The Holy Spirit gives us the power, Jesus gives us the light, and God is overseeing the entire project. We simply agree to participate through obedience.
In my own life, replacing self-defeating lies with God’s truth through Holy Spirit’s work in my heart has helped me chip away at the stronghold of inadequacy that led to a cycle of discouragement, despair, and defeat. Rejecting the lie will tear down those strongholds, and after a time, even the ruins are removed. When we realize the enemy’s true identity, recognize the lies that have formed a stronghold, and tear down those strongholds with God’s truth and help of Holy Spirit, we’ll be free!
Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, show me any strongholds that I have in my life. Show me any areas where I am not totally free from the enemy’s influence. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to set me free. Now help me live free in every area of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
In His Grace,