Tearing Down Strongholds
What is a Stronghold?
Strongholds can be good places or bad places, depending upon what they are being used for.
Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
1 : a fortified place
2 a: a place of security or survival
2 b: a place dominated by a particular group or marked by a particular characteristic
The good places would be definitions 1 and 2a, fortified places of security. In the spiritual sense, God, or His presence, is that place of security.
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?
Psalms 27:1 ESV
David refers to God as his stronghold, or refuge. The interlinear bible uses the term, “the strength” of my life as a direct translation.
4581 – maoz or mauz (maw-oze’); noun – masculine
A place or means of safety, protection
An excellent study would be to find the verses declaring God to be our strength or our refuge. There are many such as the prophet Jeremiah declaring such of God.
O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble,
Jeremiah 16:19a ESV
While definition 2b can also be descriptive of a good place, it is the one definition that could also be a bad place. It would describe that place that is dominated by, or have the characteristic markings of, the enemy. These are the strongholds of which Paul writes, declaring they are to be torn down.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
2 Corinthians 10:4 ESV
The Weapons of Our Warfare
(see episode 12, Identity in Christ, Clothed in Christ)
The Primary weapon, most often, is the sword of the Spirit. We must learn to effectively use the Word of God, Scripture, when combatting the evil and wickedness in this world.
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
Ephesians 6:17 ESV
This is not a battle fought in the flesh, or physically, rather, it is a spiritual battle. Paul states as much in his letter to the believers at Corinth.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.
2 Corinthians 10:3 ESV
Paul goes on to describe the strongholds that are to be destroyed; that which is raised up in opposition to the knowledge of God.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
We are being shown that the spiritual warfare, on a personal level, takes place primarily in the mind. It is not only in the mind, however, as sometimes victory is gained through physical acts of faith.
A personal stronghold is just that – Personal! It is an ongoing battle that an individual struggles to overcome. But overcome it one must, in order to experience the fulness of life in Christ. The battle may be spiritual, emotional, or physical. It can have elements of all 3 battlefields.
Some strongholds we tolerate, believing it is just something we need to live with and deal with whenever it raises its ugly head. This is a deception as we are called to be conformed to the image of Christ.
For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be formed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:29 ESV
Those who have been born anew into the family of God are meant to be transformed from the sinner that once was into a person who exhibits the characteristics of Christ Jesus. He is the firstborn among the believers that are to look like Him, His brethren. Like Christ, we must give no place to the enemy in our lives. Jesus, our example to mimic, stated that the enemy had no place in Him as He talked to the disciples at the last supper.
I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on Me,
John 14:30 ESV
ESV: no claim on me
Interlinear: and in Me not he has nothing
NIV: he has no hold over Me
KJV: and hath nothing in Me
NASB: and he has nothing in regard to Me
NLT: he has no power over Me
The idea here seems clear to me that the enemy, the ruler of this world, Satan, has nothing of power or place regarding Christ Jesus. No power over Him and no place in Him. There is no sin in the life of Jesus through which the enemy can enter, whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual.
We must make some decisions.
- Do we recognize the strongholds in our lives?
- Are we willing to ask God to reveal them to us?
- Do we want to be delivered from the strongholds?
- Are we willing to do what it will take, what will be required of us?
- Are we willing to humble ourselves before God and a fellow believer(s) to help fight the battle?
- Are we willing to bring the stronghold from the position of its power in darkness to the position of power over it in the light?
Identify the stronghold and determine that you truly desire to be set free.
Humble oneself before the Lord. Tell Him, “Lord Jesus, I cannot beat this without you. I need help. Please guide me and help me. Holy Spirit, I welcome your direction in guiding me through this trouble. Heavenly Father, thank you for your great love for me even when I am in the depths of this struggle.”
Follow the leading of Holy Spirit concerning what you ought to do and with whom. Part of the direction may be praying with others for deliverance. Part of it may be acting in a step of faith, either individually or with the prayer partners as witnesses to the act.
Take the step of faith. Determine what is needed, if anything, to be done physically, either symbolically in faith or practically in life. Does a decree need to be made while symbolically cutting away the web that entangles you? Does a physical act need to be undertaken to remove the cause of the problem? Does a behavior need to be changed to prevent future entanglement? Perhaps one or all of these need to be done to truly be set free. There may be something else not listed here. The key is to ask God and follow the leading of Holy Spirit.
What are Territorial Strongholds?
Strongholds that are territorial are those which affect a geographic area in either or both the physical and spiritual realms. These are generally under the control of evil spirit beings.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
Or another translation puts it this way:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ephesians 6:12 KJV
This is spiritual warfare. Whether it be on the personal level or the territorial level, we are to put on the armor of God and wrestle against the spiritual wickedness that is all around us. We are to strive to be like Christ Jesus, fighting to get to the point where we too can say that the enemy has no place in us and no power over us. I believe we can do so through knowing who we are in Christ and the authority in which He calls us to stand, walk, and fight.
(See episodes 16 and 16.5, Identity in Christ, Who God Says I Am)
(See episode 14, Identity in Christ, A Matter of Position)
How do Territorial Strongholds Come About?
As with any occupying force, there is a hierarchy of the troops and leadership. In this case it is the kingdom of darkness of which Satan is the head, with his generals and others in command. The others in command are, as Paul wrote, Principalities, Powers, Rulers, and spiritual wickedness. They rule from the high places, they are in the spiritual darkness of this world. They are very territorial and are given a land or space or area over which they command the demonic realm in perpetrating evil and wickedness over and upon the earth. Jesus said:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
John 10:10 ESV
They are our opposition. They oppose the good that the disciples of Christ would do, and they instigate wickedness that we must overcome. This is truly a war that, unfortunately, many choose to ignore or who have little to no intellectual knowledge. We perish from a lack of knowledge as evil exists and flourishes in the darkness.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to Me.
Hosea 4:6a ESV
The priest was rejecting knowledge and the ways of God. God rejected him as being a priest as the people were suffering due to the behavior of the priest. Not only was he rejecting the knowledge of God, but he was also denying that knowledge to the people rather than instructing them in the ways of God. What is happening in our fellowships today? Are we receiving instruction as to how we fight this warfare and overcome the enemy, tearing down the strongholds?
The rejection of the knowledge of God leaves a vacuum that demands to be filled, and evil and wickedness is all to willing to fill the void. The apostle Peter gives this warning:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8 ESV
This is the same enemy who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy”. Peter goes on to tell us that we are to resist him, firm in our faith. We must maintain the central focus in our mind that we serve God, and that God is love as the apostle John tells us in his letter (1 John 4:8). We are to overcome evil with good. Paul writes to the believers at Rome about loving their enemy, living peaceably with all, and leaving vengeance to God.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21 ESV
That chapter tells of the marks of a true Christian. We are to be active in genuine love as we overcome evil. Some of the things we need to do may seem counter-intuitive, but we must follow the leading of Holy Spirit. We are called to obedience in love. We must fill ourselves with all the right things in advance, so we are prepared to live them out in the time of battle. We are responsible for the abundance of our heart, be it good or evil.
(See episode 24, Obedience in Love)
(See episode 18, Abundance of the Heart)
We must walk true to our calling, for if we fail to do so, the enemy will step in and fill the void. We have studied our identity in Christ, our purpose and calling and destiny. Do we believe what we have learned? I mean truly believe so that we are living that lifestyle by faith, being doers of the Word and not hearers only. What are the strong things of the depth of our heart, of our most inner being?
We need to overcome sin and trauma in our lives through the forgiveness offered by Christ Jesus and the deliverance He makes available to us. We need to lean on one another, the body of Christ, and love one another as He loved us.
(See episode 20, Loving One Another)
(See episode 17, Righteous Living)
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:16 ESV
We are to come together and work together, sharpening one another in the faith. Christ Jesus provides for our healing in every way, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, through the work of His sacrifice on the cross for our sake. We must draw near to God and love one another.