This past week I had the privilege to attend the annual KCM Ministers Conference. One of the speakers, Pastor Mac Hammond shared on the “Love of God.” He shared several points that may hinder a believer from receiving the Father’s love. I was thinking more about that message and about strongholds that either we allow, or that are coming against us to both hinder and block us from receiving from our Heavenly Father.
In a land war, whichever army takes the land wins the war. So, armies will build strongholds, which are places that have been fortified to protect against attack.
In our spiritual war against Satan, we also have territory- spirit, soul, and body. In Ephesians 4:26-27 Paul states, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” The word “foothold” is from the Greek word “Topos” which means “a place marked off from a surrounding place.” We get our English word topography or geography from “topos.”
When Satan takes territory, he builds a stronghold (with 5 steps).
In Ephesians 4, Satan starts with anger and builds a stronghold of resentment, then unforgiveness, then bitterness, and finally, that moves us to rejection.
Three Questions Regarding Strongholds
What is a stronghold?
1. A spiritual stronghold is a thought pattern built on a lie or anything known to disagree with God; but life experience says it won’t change.
2. Example, God says this about you… but I say that! “God says that everything works together for good, but I say that nothing good can come out of this situation.” Every time we agree with a lie, we lay another brick in our stronghold.
How are strongholds built?
1. Event. The catalyst for a stronghold is an event. It can be a divorce, death, emotional or physical trauma, abuse, loss of a job, accident, illness, or rejection. The more emotion which is associated/tied to the event, often the greater the stronghold will be.
- It is not a singular moment in time. It can be a family system. Growing up with an alcoholic parent, or parents who were controlling and demanded perfection, or being raised in poverty.
- It can be a religious system. A person is raised in a legalistic or performance-based church where it is all about rules with no grace.
- At some point, we begin to ask “why?” This initiates the next phase.
2. Lie. Satan helps interpret events by lying to us about the event.
- Why did God let this happen? Why are my parents so mean? Why did I lose that job? Why did my friend die? These questions may or may not ever be answered this side of heaven, but Satan is quick to help us answer those questions with a lie. At the worst moments of our lives, he is there with a plausible explanation.
- “The divorce was your fault because you were bad.” “This means God doesn’t care. He doesn’t hear your prayers.” Satan’s voice doesn’t sound demonic; he sounds remarkably like you!
- When we buy in and embrace the lies of the evil one, it is the foundation for a stronghold. The event doesn’t cause the stronghold. The stronghold comes when we interpret the event apart from God.
- All of us experience negative events, and these events try to produce pain and fear within us. We do not like pain and fear, so we naturally move forward to the next phase.
3. Defense/comfort. We defend ourselves because we don’t want to experience pain again. We find ways to comfort ourselves because we don’t like the way we feel. So, we develop self-protection and comfort strategies.
- A couple divorces and a child feels abandoned or rejected. The lie: I’m not good enough. That lie goes to identity. Out of identity, there is a self-judgment: if people see the real me, they will reject me. Out of the judgment he or she makes an inner vow: I won’t let people get close to me.
- Defense depends on the personality. A person can be standoffish, or the opposite, the class clown.
- Anger (a clear-off attitude), or trying too hard to fit in. The reality is that when we believe a lie about ourselves, we become a mess because we are not functioning as the person we were created and redeemed to be. What is your defense mechanism?
- Self-comfort comes because we are out of alignment with God, so we comfort ourselves to cope. We comfort to minister to the pain. There are many ways to comfort: excessive exercise or food, smoking, drinking or drugs, pornography, promiscuity, spending or saving excessively, or work. When you are stressed or feel threatened. How do you seek comfort?
4. Reaction of others. When we act out of fear and self-protection, we almost always guarantee the very thing we’re trying to avoid. It’s human nature. For example, if I buy the lie that I will always be rejected, then I will make a vow to keep people out and will be defensive toward others. I act out in anger or insecurity or manipulation.
At some point, people will get tired of that behavior and they will reject me. Their reaction creates a new event which starts the cycle over again. Satan then whispers, “I told you that you aren’t good enough. That’s why your parents divorced…”
How do we tear strongholds down?
1. Focus on what we can and cannot control. Some aspects of a stronghold we can control; other parts we can’t control. We must focus on what we can control and leave what we can’t control alone.
- We can control what we believe. We can’t undo the event, but we can undo the lie we bought into concerning the event. The event doesn’t have us stuck; the interpretation does. We can control the interpretation.
- We can control where we look for comfort and security. Do we look for comfort in God or in the flesh?
2. Here is what we can’t control:
- Events- for the most part we cannot control what happens to us.
- The reaction of others- we cannot control how people respond to us. We cannot control what they say or do. The good news is that if we take care of what we can control, it will often change how people react to us. Strongholds must be addressed on the lie level, not on the defense/comfort level.
3. Solution to breaking strongholds.
- Identify the lie. Remember you have believed the lie as truth. Lies appear as truth until they are exposed to authentic truth.
- Repent- change the way you think. Corresponding actions follow.
- Ask God to be your source of truth.
- Confess. Repeat back to God what He is saying. “I know God says this, so I say this.”
- Fight Satan’s lies with the truth of scripture.
- Examine every thought in light of God’s truth. Does what I am thinking line up with God’s truth, and what I know to be true about God’s character and voice? If it doesn’t, repent and ask God to speak truth over that area of life.
Heavenly Father, I believe that Holy Spirit brings godly thoughts and inspiration to my mind. As these thoughts occur, He inspires me to do something according to the Word. The #1 thing He will have me do is stand on Your Word and confess the promises of Your Word over the situations in my life. As He nudges my spirit to do something, I can rest assured that He sees and knows something I don’t know, and is trying to guide and direct me according to the truth. He is always the Spirit of truth and will never mislead me. By faith, I determine now to surrender to Holy Spirit and His leading. In this act of surrender, I give Him permission to be my Heavenly Coach and Counselor, bringing me out of any lies that I may believe about myself, and into Your truth, which has the power to set me free.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen
EMIC Groups Pastor
This is VERY helpful. Thank you.
Thank you! This is great teaching.