Let's talk about strongholds. What are they? How are they built? How do we pull them down when we realize that a stronghold has been formed against us?
What is a stronghold? Well in short it is anything that holds a person back from walking in the fullness of what God has intended for their life and anything that hinders their freedom to do so. But in regards to Christianity and spiritual warfare it is more specific than this.
stronghold - 1. A strongly fortified place; a fortress. 2. A place of security or refuge.
Funk & Wagnalls
Standard Desk Dictionary
This dictionary's definition tells us that a stronghold can either be a fortified structure such as a fortress or prison, or it can be a place of refuge, a secured sanctuary. A place that can either imprison a person, or keep them safe.
For a Christian there are good strongholds and there are bad. Ones that oppress and ones that protect. Ones that God rules over and ones that satan does. Ones we should be diligent to have set up in our life and ones we need to be diligent to make sure they don't.
There are many scriptures that testify that God can be a positive stronghold for us, a safe place in times of trouble.
Psalms 18:2-3 NIV 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.
Psalms 9:9-10 NIV 9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
I want to testify that Yes, God can without a doubt, be the safest of a safe place for us when a storm, (hardship, oppression, attack of the enemy, etc.) comes our way, but I want to clarify, so that a Christian in need of God's protection will not become disillusioned, in order for God to keep us safe we need to learn how to make God our safe place.
I also want to clarify that whenever we do make God our stronghold and a storm comes, (a hardship, bad news, or trying circumstance), we will not be ignorant of that storm, but be fully aware of it's presence. We will see and feel the storm, but we will have the confidence to know that it will not personally harm us in the way it was hoping to.
An example of this would be like going into a secured room of your house when a tornado strikes. You will feel the rafters shaking and hear the damage being done as the storm moves over you, but the security of your safe place protects YOU. After the storm passes you will see where some clean up and repairs may need to be done around your home, but you will also see where things could have been worse. Where the hand of God had sheltered you from the worst of it.
This would be similar to when the storm arose for Jesus and His disciples while they were on the boat. Where did we find Jesus in this storm? He was comfortable enough to sleep. Even though it was a furious storm Jesus knew He was safe and in whom He could trust for His safety.
Note: If we can follow Jesus example when the weather forecast says that a furious storm is brewing it will save us a lot of worry and keep many doors closed to the devil. Storms will come and storms will go for us as a Christian, (for many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all Psalm 34:19), but if we can put our trust in God for those times and realize that many of our storms are created by satan in an attempt to get our eyes on the storm and not on God, we will do well.
Matthew 8:23-26 NIV Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
Sometimes we do come through our storms totally untouched and with a smile on our face, but sometimes we don't. I just want to prepare you for the possibility that sometimes there may be damage, but nowhere near what the devil was hoping to cause you and usually as a result you become all the more wiser for having gone through what you went through.
The hardships in our life with God's help are training grounds, opportunities for God to teach us how to overcome our weaknesses and so is good for us to realize that our hardships are apart of our growth process and a tool by which to strengthen us. I also want to clarify that God does not create our storms, the devil does, but God takes advantage of how the devil is fighting us to make us a better fighter than the enemy. Teaching us to master our storms instead of them mastering us.
More is talked about in other writings as to how we can make God our refuge when oppression rises up against us, but let's move on and talk about the type of strongholds we normally refer to and associate with spiritual warfare.
There are three basic types of strongholds, or ways in which satan can secure a dominating position of influence over a person's life, or portion of their mind and which we will be covering. 1- Stronghold of oppression. 2- Stronghold of sin. 3- Stronghold of ignorance.
Ok so what is a negative stronghold? 2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." The NKJV says, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds," Well a "stronghold" can be 1- a negative, or false belief one has come to form about themself and which their mind has now come to believe is more true than false and where that belief defeats them from fulfilling a desire, accomplishing a goal, overcoming a struggle, moving forward past a struggle etc.
A person may physically be able to perform a task, but if that person has come to believe, or has formed the idea in their mind that they are not able, or capable to do it then their own beliefs and feelings of doubt, unworthiness, inadequacy, fear of failure, fear of succeeding, anxiety etc. can create and become a stronghold against them. A stumbling block before their feet and a hurdle too high for them to jump.
Many people can be somewhat apprehensive (shy, self conscious, fearful) about trying something new for the first time, especially if someone is watching them, but with a little encouragement, or by mustering the courage to try can soon realize that yes indeed they are capable of mastering the task. But a person who has a stronghold against them in their thinking can be so convinced that they can't that they won't, or be so fearful, or anxious their own feelings will overwhelm them from succeeding.
When a person's life has been full of negative, or abusive events it can create within them many forms of insecurity, negativity, unhealthy feelings and emotions, and can create within them a lot of strongholds, (self defeating thoughts and beliefs).
Similarly to what I've just said a stronghold can be when a person does not believe that the circumstances of their life will ever change for the better because things have been so bad for so long.
For example: I don't know anybody who is happy living a life riddled with fear, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy. Knowing that their own thoughts and feelings defeat them and knowing that every time they try to overcome this stronghold and they can't that they are going to lose more of their joy, dignity and hope .
After years of this person trying to overcome it and seeing that the stronghold on them is just as strong if not stronger, a person can begin to lose hope of ever overcoming it and will begin to focus on living with it. They will begin to avoid the situations and places that causes them the most fear and anxiety to avoid the mental anguish of defeat, instead of confronting and trying to overcome them.
Another example: When a person has come to believe by the pattern of experiences in their life that nobody loves them, (that their life holds little importance, that people won't accept them, take them seriously, or will want to have a meaningful friendship with them) this learned behaviour can create within them a stronghold that these thoughts they have are much more a reality than a false assumption.
With this type of stronghold in place it will be satan's position to put any hope this person may have to live a life filled with love and meaningful relationships in a prison. Unattainable to them.
It is a sad day when a person comes to realize that not only did they experience more than their fair share of hardship in their past, but that because of their past hardship follows them even still today. That their past has left wounds and unresolved issues that are in dire need of healing and resolve.
But sadder still is when they realize that no matter how hard they try they can't overcome the overwhelming feelings and negative thoughts of inadequacy, rejection, fear, anxiousness, guilt, condemnation, defeat etc. that continue to plague their life. That the healing and resolve they so desperately need doesn't seem to be coming.
A "stronghold" can be 2- sinful thinking and wrong desires that dominate a person's mind.
Sinful thoughts once acted upon, or easily embraced can open a spiritual door to satan and give him a legal right to work in and hold a position over that area of thinking that a person's mind entertained and which they acted upon. Why? Because of the sin that was involved in those thoughts and desires. Whatever we invite satan into he will come into and sin is a standing invitation for him to come.
Once satan holds a position over an area of a person's thinking (because of sin) it will be his objective to keep that person in bondage to that sin, to sin more, to cause other people to sin and to create oppression to whose ever life he can create it against through this person.
With this stronghold in place and satan's dominating influence in this stronghold satan will be able to create great temptations and cravings within this person that will seem near impossible to resist to bait this person to sin more. And it will be satan's hope and goal in this stronghold that this person will escalate themselves in this sin. Increase their involvement and increase the intensity of the sins they commit.
A stronghold can also be 3- misunderstanding what God wants for a person's life.
At the beginning of this explanation I had said that in short a stronghold was anything that holds a person back from walking in the fullness of what God has intended for their life, (or any portion thereof) and anything that hinders their freedom to do so, and ignorance and deception create a powerful stronghold against a Christian.
Barry McLaughlin Freedom Deliverance Ministry
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