We all have blind spots in our lives. These blind spots are usually glaringly obvious to everyone else but, by definition, we can’t see them. Some people have lived with them for so long that they just assume their issues are part of who they are. Today, we are going to answer a series of questions about strongholds and learn how to walk free.
What is a stronghold?
Before we talk about spiritual strongholds, I want to give you idea of what a physical stronghold is. The definition of a stronghold is, “A place of security or survival.” In ancient times, kings, nobles and nations, built strongholds and took refuge in them from invading armies. These were very strong structures that were built using thick, solid stones. Strongholds were built up high on hills. This made a counter attack much easier. The guarding soldiers could rain down arrows on invading armies. The Great Wall of China, for example, was a stronghold.
What are spiritual strongholds?
Spiritual strongholds are wrong patterns of thought that come from lies. These unhealthy thoughts root down deep into our souls and keep us from hearing God and growing. They create places in our mind where we hide to protect ourselves. Ed Silvoso defines a stronghold as, “A mind-set impregnated with hopelessness that causes us to accept something that we know is contrary to the will of God.”
- Sinful thoughts
This is not an exhaustive list- there are many other possibilities. Do you ever felt like you’re hitting a brick wall when you are talking to God? Do you feel like you’ve struggled with the same sin for a really long time? You could be battling a stronghold. God made us body, soul, and spirit. Let’s take a look at what is going on in these areas as we grow in our relationship with God.
(Adapted from Priscilla Schrier’s book: Discerning the Voice of God.)
- Our spirits are not alive until we accept Jesus Christ as our savior (Romans 8:9-11).
- Ephesians 2:12, “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
- When we invite Jesus to be our Lord and savior, our spirits come alive and the Holy Spirit begins the work of sanctification (making us like Jesus). We begin to change from the inside/out.
- Salvation was paid for by Jesus’ death on the cross and means eternal life for the believer (John 3:16).
- At salvation, the fruit of the spirit are expected to be active in our lives.
- Galatians 5:22-24, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
- Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4, 19:6) refers to inviting the Holy Spirit to be involved in your life in a powerful way.
- The Gifts of the Spirit become available and our spirits begin to speak to the spirits in other people.
- 1 Corin 12:7-11, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.”
- Strongholds are like barriers between us and God.
- We can be saved, baptized in the Holy Spirit, blessing other people, and still be struggling with lies that we believe.
- 2 Corin 10:3-5, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Where do they come from?
Just like it takes a long time to build a physical stronghold, spiritual strongholds don’t happen overnight. You may not even realize that it is happening. Below is a diagram of the anatomy of a stronghold:
- A Negative Event Happens.
- These negative events can be anything from hurts, trauma or generational issues.
- Example 1: A woman was sitting in the passenger seat, running errands with her friend and they got into a bad car accident.
- Example 2: A child was made fun of in the lunchroom because he dropped his lunch in front of everyone.
- A Lie is Believed.
- Because of the stress and trauma from the negative event, we believe lies. They can be lies we believe about God, ourselves, or others.
- Example 1: I have to be in control.
- Example 2: I’m a loser.
- A Defense Mechanism is Established.
- We didn’t feel protected when the negative event happened so we create ways to protect ourselves.
- Example 1: The woman will no longer sit in the passenger seat. If she is going anywhere, she has to drive because no one else can keep her safe.
- Example 2: The child has decided that no one will want to be his friend, so he acts mean and puts up walls.
- Other people react.
- Other people react to our defenses in a way that often reproduces the event and perpetuates the cycle.
- Example 1: Because she is so controlling and full of fear, her friends have gotten annoyed and no longer want to go anywhere with her.
- Example 2: Because he puts up walls, other kids can’t understand him and don’t invite him to play with them.
(Adapted from the Gateway Church’s Kairos manual.)
What is the problem with having strongholds?
When I allow these negative events to shape my personality and identity, I have to ask myself the following questions:
- Who is my source of truth? Is it God or the enemy?
- Who is my source of security or comfort? Is it God or the enemy?
If God isn’t our source of truth and security, then we have unintentionally allowed idols into our souls. Strongholds are deceptive lies from satan that promise protection. They are a counterfeit of God’s protection.
1 Peter 5:9 says, “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.”
How do we get free from strongholds?
We have to understand truth. The Bible says that, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:32). The kind of strongholds that we have been talking about are demonic. They steal from, kill, and destroy us. But, there is another kind of stronghold in scripture… this is so exciting!
Jeremiah 16:19, “O Lord, my Strength and my Stronghold, and my Refuge in the day of distress and need, The nations will come to You from the ends of the earth and say, ‘Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies and illusion, [Worthless] things in which there is no benefit!’
2 Sam 22:33, “This God is my strong Refuge (same word as stronghold in Hebrew) and has made my way blameless.”
Ps 144:2, “He is my steadfast Love and my Fortress, my Stronghold and my Deliverer, my Shield and He in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”
Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a Stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.”
Psalm 9:9, “The Lord is a Stronghold for the oppressed, a Stronghold in times of trouble.”
Psalm 18:2, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take Refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my Stronghold.”
Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
God is my stronghold!
Isn’t that amazing?! The enemy tries to steal everything that God has for us by offering us a counterfeit. God didn’t intend for us to find comfort in man-made things. He designed us to receive comfort from Him.
Steps to Destroying Strongholds:
- Confess and receive forgiveness. When we believe a lie, we essentially are agreeing with the liar (satan) and have to start the process of healing by acknowledging our responsibility.
- Renounce the lie you believed as a result of the negative event in your life.
- Forgive any people involved in the negative event that hurt you.
- What is the truth? You’ve renounced the lie, now replace it with truth.
- Ask the Lord, “Where have I been protecting myself?”
- Repent for being your own defender and invite the Lord to be your defense.
- Ask the Lord to show you a picture of what His protection looks like.
- Tell the Lord that you believe Him and confess His goodness in the situation.
I taught this as a class in December but needed to pull it back out for myself this week. I try to post things that are relevant to me and hope that you can benefit from them too. We all have times when we operate out of strongholds and don’t realize it. I want us to be free. I have attached an “anatomy of a stronghold” worksheet for you. Pray and ask the Lord to help you before you begin. It is hard work to process through pain that we just wish would go away. It won’t go away until we heal from it. He will speak to you.
My favorite verse in the Bible is John 3:30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” That’s it. That’s the goal. If we will allow God to heal us of our strongholds, people will see more of Him and less of us.