by Steve Sandberg
II Corinthians 10:3-5 – 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 exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
We all have habits that have become second nature to us.
Once I was driving through a local fast food taco restaurant. I paid when I got to the window after ordering, and as the cashier was handing me my order, she asked, “Would you like any hot sauce?” I started laughing and then she laughed, too. The only item that I had ordered was a Diet Coke! She had such a habit of asking this question all day long that she totally forgot that I would definitely not need hot sauce for my order!
Some of us have the habit of automatically looking inside of our refrigerators when we walk by them! Some of us drive home from work, making each turn out of habit, and find ourselves with no recollection of how we got home! Habits are similar to a warm bed on a cold night: easy to get into but difficult to get out of!
Some love their habits to the point that they become strongholds. Strongholds can be so resilient that some will give up on church, and eventually give up on God in order to keep them.
Galatians 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
A habit that we cannot stop or quit is a stronghold.
When we become in bondage to that habit, it holds onto us, entangling our lives that were once lived for Christ into the bondage of the devil’s will. A stronghold has ahold of us rather than us holding onto it. It keeps us out of church and out of our Bibles, and it prevents us from doing what is right. A habit is comparable to a weed. When neglected and allowed to run on and on, it becomes a stronghold which is more closely related to a tree, and is impossible to easily pull up and out of our lives.
Paul uses the words strong holds in II Corinthians 10 to describe a fortification. In verse 4 he says, (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) This is a fortress of spiritual entrenchment. Habits that have become strongholds are so imbedded in our lives that no matter how hard we try to run, they end up entrapping us.
Verse 5 of the same chapter says, Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; Here, Paul uses the words high thing to refer to the giant barrier of our thoughts and emotions. Most of our strongholds start in our minds.
Our thoughts become words; our words become actions; our actions become habits; and if we are not careful, our habits become strongholds in our lives.
If we have any hope of breaking free from a stronghold, we must take action according to directions given in the Word of God. The following are some tips to help us to overcome our strongholds:
We must recognize that we have a stronghold.
Sometimes we get so tied to a stronghold that we do not even recognize that we are being conquered by it! We must recognize our enemies before we can go to war. 2 Corinthians 10:3 says, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: Sometimes we launch an attack against those who are FOR us rather than those who are AGAINST us. We dabble in friendly fire, forgetting that we must fight the powers of another world and not others around us or even ourselves.
I Corinthians 9:27 says, But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. It is easier to look to someone else to cast the blame than to look at ourselves. Some will fight their spouses, their parents, their Sunday School teachers, and even their pastors instead of focusing on who the real enemy is—themselves!
The children’s church song is true: “It’s me! It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer! It’s not my brother, not my sister, but it’s ME!”
All in all, it is easy to find fault with just about everybody and everything other than ourselves. The enemy is our own will, our own thoughts, and our own bad habits.
We must FIGHT the strongholds!
Ephesians 4:27 – Neither give place to the devil.
If we do not determine to fight the strongholds, they will only grow larger and larger in our lives. Occasionally, in my house I will notice that small spider webs appear in the corners of the ceilings. I do not want those spider webs in my house, but no matter how many times I take a broom and knock down those webs, they will always reappear unless I get rid of the spiders that created them.
This verse in Ephesians is clear-cut and blunt, however, I know many Christians that not only answer the door when the devil knocks, but they also invite him to pull up a chair and stay for a while! We are in a battle AGAINST the devil.
Ephesians 6:12-17 – 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. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Imagine a soldier going to war without a weapon! Imagine a military without ships, planes, or tanks! We all want a strong military so that if war comes to our doors, we will be well-protected. Sadly we as Christians sometimes forget or completely fail to use the weapons with which God has given us to fight our adversary, the devil! If we do not use these weapons, we can be certain that the strongholds will take over and win!
James 1:23-25 – For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Picture how bad we would look if we did not have a mirror to look into every day. We would never know what was wrong with or what to correct about our appearances. The Bible is our spiritual mirror that we need to look into each and every day in order to correct the wrongs in our lives!
I pastored a church years ago in the High Desert in Southern California. In the High Desert, it is dry, warm, and ALWAYS blustery. One evening, I made a pastoral visit to a family who had recently visited the church. I had a nice visit with them standing out in front of their house. After the visit, I walked back to my car through the windy evening air, and as I prepared to back out of the driveway, I glanced up into the rearview mirror. My hair was standing straight up, like Bozo the Clown on a very bad hair day! I prayed that the windblown mishap on my head happened from the walk to my car AFTER the visit rather than from my car to their door right BEFORE the visit!
How sad that most Christians worry more about their outward appearances rather than the inward appearances! As independent Baptists, we certainly take special care and attention to the way we look on the outside, and rightly so. However, if the inside of us is right with God, the outside will be right also.
There are many who work hard to clean up the outside and forget that the inside needs much more attention.
Every military general who has fought in any war knows that if he does not attack the enemy and just sits around waiting that the enemy will most certainly attack him first! The Christian life is less about defense and more about offense against our enemy, the devil. We have our weapon, the Bible, and we must act now!
What are the strongholds we are battling today?
Let us think on what might be a stronghold in our lives. It may be that we have gotten out of the habit of going to church every time the doors are open. It could be that we have not been soulwinning as consistently as we should. Maybe we have been listening to gossip—or even worse, sharing that gossip. It could be related to the type of music to which we listen or what we look at on the internet.
Let us all be aware of those dangerous habits in our lives and make a change now so that they do not overtake us by becoming strongholds. If a stronghold has taken root, we must use the scriptural recipe to eradicate it from our lives as soon as possible so that we will be uninhibited while doing God’s will for our lives!