As believers, when we hear the phrase “stronghold” most of us think of demons, evil powers and maybe even demonic possession. The term stronghold has come to be used in our language as an almost blanket term for the things I just mentioned, and many times people use the word almost as a default for when they cannot label a bondage to be something else. This practice has led to a lot of confusion, frustration and even fear over the years as people begin wondering if they have a stronghold, and if so, are they demon possessed, or oppressed.

I have actually had people ask me flat-out if they had a demon (either through possession or oppression). The very fact that they would ask such a question, is an indicator that these subjects are not being talked about or clearly taught well enough. So today we will be studying the topic of strongholds, to see what the Bible actually says about them, and how to be free from them through Jesus Christ.

Let’s begin today by taking a look at an often read, but equally often misunderstood section of scripture… 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”

Verse 3 here begins with a very important point, that though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. We are in daily contact with the carnal world, its various aspects, undertakings and natural elements. However that is not how we wage war, spiritually-speaking. Many people are still trying to fight spiritual battles with carnal weapons… they are trying to fight sinful thoughts and actions with other thoughts and other actions. This comes through really clear when you begin to examine the language being used… “well, I just need to try harder.”, or sometimes they go for the more religiously acceptable answer of “I just need to seek Him more.”, or “I just need to press in more.” and really all of these are just verbal gymnastics for saying the same thing.

Take a look at verse 4, For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. Carnal means having to do with natural man, his strength, his weakness and all of the factors of your natural senses, including your thoughts, feelings and emotions. All of that is carnal. And the verse says here that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal; they are not in that realm and that is not how we are to come against the enemy. Many times we try to come against the enemy using natural carnal resources, and we are using the wrong weapons and then becoming confused, frustrated and disillusioned when we don’t see victory.

Notice the second-half of verse 4, while our weapons are not carnal, they are mighty through God. These weapons are not through ourselves, or anything of ourselves, nothing carnal, but through God. And what results do these weapons give? …to the pulling down of strongholds. The point here is these weapons are not hit-and miss; they are not a dice-roll, or a maybe, I hope so kind of thing. These weapons have a singular purpose and a singular result – to pull down strongholds. These are weapons of absolute victory, not weapons of sometimes win and sometimes lose… not weapons of equality, but of total domination.

The phrase “pulling down” used here in the verse is Greek καθαίρεσις, meaning absolute demolition, destruction and extinction. That should give you a clear picture of the force and power and also the intent of these weapons. They are mighty, through God, to the absolute destruction and extinction of strongholds.

Now, this is where we must ask the question… what exactly are strongholds? As mentioned earlier, most people think of them as demonic possession, however look at verse 5:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Strongholds are not demon possessions; this verse tells us exactly what they are imaginations, and high things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. Put simply, strongholds are lying thoughts, and wrong beliefs. Any thought that is Anti-Christ, Anti-Gospel, Anti-Grace those thoughts and those oppressions are strongholds which are to be cast down through God.

Notice that such things are to be brought captive to the obedience of Christ. We are not supposed to try and bring things captive to our own obedience. We are not on a solid foundation if we say “well, I have been really obedient lately, I have really been performing well”. No, the moment we start measuring our acceptance with God by our own performance, then we have already lost. Instead we are to bring them captive to Jesus’ perfect obedience. Recognizing that He has performed perfectly, He was and is perfectly obedient, and we are in Him. We died with Him on that cross, and we also live through Him. (Ephesians 2:4-16)

Every single day I talk to believers who are still feeling guilty and condemned – oppressed by feelings of shame and worthlessness, all of these things are Anti-Christ, because they are Anti-Gospel. These thoughts and feelings exalt themselves against the truth of Jesus Christ and what He has finished on the cross. Some people have tried to argue the point that we are supposed to feel sorry for our sin, and it’s true that when we first have our eyes open to see the truth of the Gospel, and realize who Christ is there is a place for that – however that is not where we live from, that is not where we are to dwell. The truth of the Gospel message is that Jesus Christ bore all of our sin in His own body – He carried the full measure of guilt, punishment and condemnation of our sins on that cross. (1st Peter 2:24, et al).

When we feel guilt, or condemnation we are saying that we are not forgiven, that we deserve punishment and judgment, which is not true in Christ Jesus Your righteous judgment, handed to you from God Himself is that you are now and forevermore forgiven in Christ (Colossians 1:22). Jesus was judged in your place, and as you; so that today you can be righteously forgiven and free in Him.

When we feel shame, we are looking at ourselves through the wrong lenses, as if that is still who we are. When the truth is that in Christ Jesus the old person we used to be, died with Him on the cross, and we are completely new creations in Christ – the very essence of being born-again (2nd Corinthians 5:17)

This is how all of these things are really Anti-Gospel and Anti-Christ because they run counter to the truth of what Christ has done, and many times I speak to people who defend these feelings as though they are somehow holy and right, and in-reality these precious people are bound under these strongholds and are actually hanging onto them and gripping them tight with both hands because they have believed a lie all of their life that these are good Christian feelings; that a Christian is supposed to continually feel guilt and shame to keep them humble about sin. However these thoughts are actually not of God because they nullify what He has actually done on the cross.

These thoughts and feelings of guilt, shame and condemnation are precisely what is being referred to in verse 5. These thoughts and feelings are imaginations, because they are not true. In Christ, you are not worthy of punishment. In Christ, you are not guilty, you are innocent. In Christ, you are never ashamed. So these thoughts and feelings are against the knowledge of God, and they are to be brought into the captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Let me show you what this looks like in a practical example. I struggled with incredible amounts of condemnation and guilt in my past, and the more I tried to do right, the more I failed, which snow-balled even more because every time I would fail, I would want to try harder next time and I would promise to do better, and when I failed the next time the guilt would come even heavier than before.

One person told me that I had a demon, and that I needed to have the demon cast-out to be free… but this was not a demon, this was an issue with bringing these stronghold thoughts, these wrong beliefs, into captivity to the obedience of Christ. To recognize, that indeed I cannot be condemned because I have already been righteously justified in Christ through His perfect obedience – God the Father, the only righteous judge, sees me in Jesus and not in myself, I’m free.

Please understand that this isn’t just replacing bad thoughts with good thoughts… this is not some kind of thought-warfare – no. This is about owning your true identity and status in Christ Jesus. Really possessing the truth of who you are in Him, personally, and living in that place.

And then as verse 6 says, when I lock-in and focus on Jesus and His perfect obedience and my true identity, then the wrong thought becomes captive and my obedience (to the truth) is complete and all of the disobedience (fear, worry, guilt shame, etc.) is revenged upon through Christ and I am totally victorious in Him.

Jesus said that you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free (John 8:32)
Often when I speak the truth of the Gospel, people will start having a little mini war in their soul, their mind will start fighting and they will become very uncomfortable. They may be sitting down, but Armageddon is going on inside of them. What’s happening? Is it a demon? No… but it is a stronghold being taken down by Jesus Christ. This is what sets people free.

It’s not about the devil, it’s about people, many of whom have believed a lie their entire life, and now they are being confronted with the truth of the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ and the lie begins to lose its power and is shaken down by Christ. That isn’t a reason to fear, it’s a reason to rejoice. Lives are being changed; people are being set free by the power of God and the ministering of His Spirit.

So this is the Biblical truth in Christ regarding strongholds and freedom… without mystery, and without complication. The truth is simple, yet powerful. It is part of our power in Christ because His Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13).

And now you have the truth, the very truth which makes you free.
Be blessed.

 

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