Summary: How to demolish strongholds.
The message that I want to bring today is about strongholds. The first question that I want to ask is what is a stronghold? A stronghold is a fortified place. It can be a place that is fortified by either its location, its construction, or usually both. Throughout history strongholds are usually made of the strongest materials and are located in raised locations. At the same time they are places that are easily accessible by their inhabitants. They are places that provide their occupants with a highly defendable position against an opposition that wants to get rid of them.
Whether a stronghold is a good thing or not, all depends on who it is that is inside defending them. If we or our allies have access those strongholds, then they are a place of refuge in times of trouble. If it our enemy that has a stronghold then they are places of great danger. The apostle Paul talks about such strongholds in the book of Corithians.
2 Corithians 10:1-6
1 By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you— I, Paul, who am timid when face to face with you, but bold when away!
2 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be towards some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
Clearly the strongholds that Paul is talking about here are not physical locations, instead they are destructive, attitudes, mindsets and thinking patterns, that are in opposition to God. These kind of strongholds can exist on a personal level or corporately.
There are many strongholds in this nation. The advance of Islam, attitudes towards sexual practice, the turning of many people towards illicit drugs to overcome feelings of low self esteem, the acceptance of evolutionary teaching as fact, and many others. These are all things that oppose God and His desire to see His Kingdom come on this earth. The great adversary, Satan, is trying to set up as many of these strongholds as he can in order to turn this nation completely against God.
A church can also have strongholds. They can be ideas of how things should be done, or fixed traditions. These things may not be morally wrong, but are certainly not Biblical commands. Churches can often be so fixed with these preconceptions of how church should be, that they become strongholds, preventing the church from moving and growing in the way that God wants.
A stronghold can also affect the individual. Many people have strongholds in their life’s including those that they don’t even recognise. Alcohol abuse, pride, pornography, and many others are areas in which Satan has got a stronghold in his or her life?
Paul had recognised a lot of these strongholds when he wrote to the church in Corinth. Paul had stayed in Corinth for eighteen months and in that time had set up a church. From reports that Paul was receiving after he had left, he had started to recognise certain strongholds creeping into the church. He had already written to them once before, warning them of, amongst other things, divisions, and the acceptance of sexual immorality. Corinth was a very sinful city, and some of that immoral behaviour, was gradually creeping into the church.
Paul recognised the need to demolish these strongholds. Demolishing strongholds is a messy, and often painful process. It often requires the exercise of discipline. Because of the painful nature of that process is must be tempting to put as much distance between yourself and the person receiving the discipline. It can be easier sometimes to tell somebody off in writing than it is to do it in person. This is exactly what Paul’s critics accuse him of doing.
In the chapter we have just read, Paul starts by quoting his critics, ’I, Paul, who am timid when face to face with you, but bold when away!’ Paul is being accused of being a coward. They are saying that he is bold in his letters, but afraid to raise his voice when he is with them. Paul is forced to explain why he is so gentle with the people.
In verse one and two Paul makes clear that he is appealing to the people so that he might not have to be tough with them when he arrives. The word appeal, in the Greek, commonly refers to one who has the authority to command but chooses not to. It is like a judge who is lenient in judgement or a king who is kind in his rule. Paul is giving the people a chance pull down the strongholds that they have allowed Satan to erect in their lives and their church before he has to come and forcefully do it himself.