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Summary: In this message we will demonstrate from a prominent example of a believer with a stronghold, the pain strongholds cause, and strategies for breaking strongholds.

Pulling Down Strongholds in Believers

PPT 1 Sermon Title

Intro: In this message we will demonstrate from a prominent example of a believer with a stronghold, the pain strongholds cause, and strategies for breaking strongholds.

PPT 2 Main Text

Ac 8:13 And even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip; and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.

Ac 8:23 "For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity."

In our last message on strongholds we talked about strongholds in unbelievers, in this message we will talk about strongholds in believers.

In our previous message on strongholds we talked about how unsaved people will not endure sound doctrine. Part of the reason for that is that they have spiritual strongholds that prevent the word from getting through. I used the illustration of a spiritual bug zapper or mosquito netting that they have around them that hinders them from hearing the truth. In the same way netting keeps mosquitoes out, strongholds of darkness work to keep the word from getting in. Proof of this concept is found in the parable of the sower where the birds (defined by Jesus as satan) immediately steal the word that is sown into their lives.

I don't believe Christians can have demons, but I do believe they can be under the control and influence of demons and or strongholds.

Let's try to define a stronghold.

A stronghold is a fortification from which territory is controlled and protected. It has special attributes that give it an advantage in its own defense. It usually involves a mindset and pattern of thinking that keeps a person in sin or theological error.

Strongholds evolve, they aren't built in a day. Because they evolve the strategies that keep them in existence evolve and become stronger. Even as bacteria learn to adapt against antibiotics they adapt against deliverance strategies. As they grow, they grow more impervious to being torn down. But the very gates of hell... Our weapons are better than theirs. Our allies are stronger than theirs. Our truths can tear out their lies.

3 Types of strongholds

Mental, physical and spiritual. These represent ideas, desires, addictions, and people and spiritual entities that have sway over a person, they sway the person in an unbiblical, ungodly way.

Review key text

Ac 8:23 "For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity."

KJV uses the phrase gall of bitterness. NAS says the same and the NIV says full of bitterness.

KJV and NAS are literal interpretations and the actual Greek word means bile, excrement, crap. Simon was enmeshed in the excrement of bitterness, and bound in sin. That understanding of the meaning of the word bitterness should be enough to make believers flee from bitterness and yet the very opposite is often true and many are caught in the bile of bitterness. Bitterness should have no place in a believer and yet many like Simon are bound, and have a stronghold of bitterness in their life.

Chapter 8 v. 13 makes it clear that Simon had become a believer and so much so that he was baptized. It may be that Phillips interaction with Simon led him to the very thorough questions of the Ethiopian Eunuch in the next story, or this was his normal practice to refuse baptism until he was convinced a person was genuinely a believer. (Acts 8:37 though some manuscripts leave this text out.) Whatever the case Philip was sufficiently convinced of Simon's faith enough so that he was baptized as a believer.

Though a believer the apostle Peter when he shows up perceives by the Holy Spirit that Simon is caught in bitterness and bound in sin. For me that is a clear example of a believer who has strongholds in his life. Peter recognized the extreme danger and makes a statement that shocks us to read:

Ac 8:22 "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.

If possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. If possible?!!!

It seems strange that Peter spoke of forgiveness as a remote possibility when the bible is clear that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9). The only reasonable conclusion we can come to concerning Peter's doubts about Simon being forgiven is that the nature of the stronghold of bitterness in Simon's life was so pervasive that if Simon repented it might only be lip service, and Simon Magus' repentance would not be true and sincere. That seems to be the case as we see Simon's response to Peter.

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