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Spiritual Strongholds

A castle on a cliff with a stormy sea

Audio Transcript

2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

One of the definitions for a stronghold is "a place where a particular cause or belief is upheld." It also means, “a place strongly fortified against attack.”

Spiritually speaking, a stronghold is a pattern of thoughts that shape our lives. These thought cycles affect our state of mind. A state of mind is “a person’s emotional state: mood.” (

According to Strong's Concordance the word stronghold derives from the Greek word oxýrōma and can be used figuratively as a false argument which a person seeks shelter to escape reality. (

See, when we find ourselves in a situation that produces anxiety, for example, our mind triggers an "alarm." This alarm alerts us to the possibility of danger. When anxiety becomes a cycle that is never addressed, we can find ourselves looking for a way to avoid the situation or feelings, finding other ways to comfort us.

We find ourselves in escapism, which is a coping mechanism that is used to distract us from the realities or unpleasant situations in life. It's a tendency to escape from the real world into a fantasy world. It provides comfort. Gaming is an example of escapism. Reading fiction/fantasy novels is another. Binge-watching on tv shows is another. Escapism becomes a problem when we use these things too much for too long. This is where addiction usually comes in. Many people associate addiction with drugs, but there are also behavioral addictions. The primary reason for addiction is to escape reality.

Those escape tactics only provide short term relief. It doesn't address the negative beliefs associated with the anxiety or sadness. When we avoid those triggers or alarms, our mind will remember to warn us when the situation occurs again and the feelings of anxiety can grow worse, especially when we haven't learn how to cope or deal with the anxiety. Anxiety disorder is a mental state. It means we are living in fear. It affects the emotions and can alter perception and behavior.

Visual perception is the ability to interpret, analyze, and give meaning to what we see. Visual perception allows us to understand, not just see. Visual perception allows us to interpret and analyze what we see, yet it can be distorted. We can have a false perspective, which can also mean a false understanding. Our perception is an interpretation that we come up with, through our awareness, of the environment around us.

The way we perceive something will determine our reaction towards what we have assessed. It can determine our attitude and how we respond. Our beliefs will highly impact our perception and can determine our reality, which controls our perspective, or our point of view (how we view people, our circumstances, and the world around us).

Many times, when we have become so wounded, we create our own defense mechanisms, or barriers, to prevent ourselves from being hurt again. It becomes a false form of armor that we believe can protect us. This can actually cause more damage than good. One example is numbness. A barrier of numbness is created around the emotional wound and all emotions shut down. When an individual goes emotionally numb, they shut down the ability to feel, even feelings of compassion because it hurts too much to feel pain.

Many of our struggles come from the wrong view of who God is, which is the enemy’s goal. To convince us that God is not who He says He is. The enemy will often use others to deceive or wound us with the intention of distorting who God is. The enemy can also use flattery as a way to gain access into our hearts. For example, when someone has only known rejection and is desperate for acceptance and love, it leaves them vulnerable to the enemy's tactics. Once access is gained into our hearts by those who have ulterior motives, then that opens the door for further damage to be caused and that creates a stronger hold. Because the feelings of rejection or worthlessness grow.

That is why it is important to continuously grow in the knowledge of who God is, which is revealed through His Word.

So, we know that a spiritual stronghold pertains to our beliefs. A belief is something that has been accepted as true. This controls what we think, those thoughts dictate what we say, and affects what we do. A stronghold can be built upon truth or false information. Knowing truth keeps us firm and allows us to endure difficult situations. A stronghold built upon false information or lies, however leaves us emotionally unstable and we find it difficult to endure. We can find ourselves wanting to give up.

When unaddressed, these negative beliefs can leave us stuck in a cycle, surrounded by thoughts of what was and what could have been. Dwelling on the past events that have led us to where we are today can prevent us from being able to move forward. We are left stuck in the past, and this keeps us from living in the present moment.

Jesus came to set us free by leading us into truth away from those false beliefs that hinder our relationship with Him and sabotage ourselves.

John 17:17 (ESV) Jesus prayed to the Father, "Sanctify them in the Truth. Your Word is Truth."

Jesus is the Word of God. He existed in the beginning with the Father as Spirit and became human. A word is a means of communication. A word begins with a thought that manifests as a spoken or written word. We speak and use words to transfer information to each other, to provide comfort, to provide wisdom and guidance, to teach, to correct, to encourage, and more. Words can also be used to deceive, to flatter, to lie, to criticize, to manipulate, and to intimidate. Our words can wound, or they can comfort and heal. With words we express ourselves and make known our wishes and desires.

Our words reveal what is in our minds and hearts. It reveals the condition of our heart. They reveal areas where we are wounded. For example, if we find ourselves triggered by something someone says, we may respond in anger and anger is usually a sign of an unhealed wound. The Lord may use these situations to reveal to us areas of our heart that He wants to heal.

Jesus as the Living Word reveals, or communicates, the mind, the heart, and the will of God. He is the revelation of the invisible God. Just as we express ourselves in words, God has perfectly expressed Himself in Christ. The Bible is the total message of God to man and Jesus embodies that total message.

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we begin a journey. The journey towards true freedom that leads to our salvation. Accepting Christ is the beginning of that journey that we receive through faith, which is a gift from God.

When we believe in Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit of God who dwells within us. We become new creations and we are continually being transformed as we grow in the knowledge of God (Col 3:10). This is a process and that process is sanctification. Our mind is like a computer that needs to be reprogrammed to change the old thought patterns so that we can have the mind of Christ.

The process of sanctification consists of God correcting us and teaching us His ways, of teaching us who He is. His Spirit works within us to separate/distinguish what is of the flesh and what is of Christ. This process allows us to grow in the knowledge of who He is and as we do, we become fruitful. It can be a painful process as He prunes, or cuts, those areas in our lives that prevent us from bearing fruit. In other words, that prevent us from flourishing. We will find people removed from our lives. We will find ourselves in situations that seem hopeless. These challenges give us an opportunity to know the Lord better.

In Zechariah 9:12 we are called to, "return to the stronghold of hope." When we set our hope firmly on the LORD, we abide within the stronghold of hope. He becomes our sanctuary. He becomes our stronghold. We hold on to Him when we know His love, His faithfulness, and His goodness, even when we make mistakes.

Psalm 91:1-2, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Proverbs 18:10 "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe."

As we abide in Him, despite the difficulties and pain that we endure through the process, we are taking refuge in Him.

As we read the Bible, meditate on it, memorize it, and pray we will begin to grow in our faith journey, developing a greater knowledge of who God is, and learn to distinguish between what is truth and what is a lie.

One of God's promises is that "He is with us always, even to the end of ages" (Matthew 28:20). Because we have received His Holy Spirit, we now have access to the Father, through Jesus Christ. This has given us the privilege to communicate with Him and develop a relationship with Him. He will take care of us. He will provide for all of our needs, spiritually and physically (Philippians 4:19). As we keep our mind fixed on His Word and who He is, He keeps us in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).

The right understanding of who the LORD is, through His Spirit, also allows us to see who we are in Christ, and this will fill us with light, hope, peace, and joy. And as we grow in understanding, we grow in the ability to tear down those negative strongholds by the power of His Spirit.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says that the weapons of our warfare, of the spiritual battles we find ourselves in, are not fought in the natural. We don't fight these battles with our own hands or with physicals weapons, but by using God's Word because His Word has divine power to destroy strongholds. This verse tells us that we destroy arguments and lofty opinions, those judgements that are formed that are not necessarily based on fact or knowledge, that are raised up against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ. It means guarding our minds and hearts by taking what we hear and running it under the light of God's Word to determine if its true or false. True discernment is found in knowing who God is. When we know who He is and His ways, we are able to take those thoughts into captivity rather than those thoughts taking us into captivity. So that we do not find ourselves pulled into bondage. The bondage of bitterness, the bondage of unforgiveness, the bondage of fear, and more.

I do this by praying. If I am unsure if something I heard or read aligns with who God is or if it's His will for my life, I will go into prayer and ask Him to reveal to me whether it aligns with His truth, with His will, or not. As I do this, He answers and He will reveal in His Word whether someone is attempting to deceive me, or if my own thoughts are deceiving me. Then, He will lead me into that truth, the complete truth. and away from the deception. This keeps us on a safe path because our thoughts affect the decisions that we make and where we go in life.

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