Summary: Third in a series on spiritual warfare. This message examines strongholds in our minds that keep us from being truly free.
This is week three in our series, “Operation Enduring Freedom.” If you missed either of the first two messages, you can obtain a copy of the audio tape, or find the sermon manuscript at our home page on the internet. We are seeking out God’s word to find out how to grab hold of a lasting, enduring freedom.
Have you been memorizing our key thought? Freedom starts with the name of Jesus on our lips. It is completed with the nature of Jesus in our hearts. Let’s say it together – Freedom starts with the name of Jesus on our lips. It is completed with the nature of Jesus in our hearts.
Last week we looked at how in the midst of exhaustion, fatigue, frustration, fear, challenge, whatever the case, we may desire to avoid the battle. We may be confronted with an area of our life where God desires to bring victory, but we attempt, and continuing to try skirting the issue. And we explored how God just might bring about circumstances in our lives to ensure that we face the enemy, and allow Christ through us to bring about a complete victory.
The challenging quote for the week came from Erwin McManus, “Often it is God who forces circumstances upon us in which it becomes necessary for you to rely on God’s goodness.” Like Moses with King Sihon, God may orchestrate your life in such a way as to force you to face that battle that you have been looking at throughout your life and saying, “Maybe I just don’t want to fight this battle.”
A number of you raised your hands during our prayer time, acknowledging that such areas existed in your life. I’m praying with you that God will bring about that victory in your life. Don’t back down. Don’t shrink away. Follow God’s call to engage the enemy. And I am here to help if you desire to share more about those areas of your life.
For many of us, those areas of struggle center around something that Paul refers to in the book of II Corinthians. Turn with me to II Corinthians 10 (read through verse 6).
In this passage, Paul is talking once again about how we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, rulers of the air. And since our battle is not with flesh and blood, Paul wants us to know that our weapons our not earthly, fleshly, physical weapons. This isn’t about swords, and shields. This is a spiritual battle.
And Paul utilizes the word “strongholds”. Those spiritual fortresses that Satan can build in our lives. Those road blocks, that if not eliminated, will make true enduring freedom impossible. That’s what our spiritual weapons of warfare are for. For pulling down these strongholds.
So what is a stronghold? Way back in the book of I Samuel, David is on the run from King Saul who is trying to kill him. And we read in I Samuel 23:14 that, “David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness.” These were physical places, such as caves up on a mountainside which were very difficult for an enemy to access and attack. Protected places. Fortresses.
David wrote about such places in the 18th Psalm when he writes, “I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
So you have this Old Testament picture of this place of protection. This place of safety. But Paul is clearly taking that word “stronghold” and flipping it for us to show how these same fortified places can be places of defense for the enemy. Strongholds that are bastions for Satan and sin, and all kinds of demonic activity in people’s lives.
So Paul defines these “strongholds” in II Corinthians. Verse 5, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” And then he tells us how our weapons are victorious, by “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Kind of sounds like the nature of Christ in our hearts, doesn’t it?
Where do these strongholds come from? Maybe not all of them, but many of them are formed in one of three places. One of three sources –
A. THE WORLD
Francis Frangipane writes, “The steady stream of information and experience that continually shaped our childhood perceptions is the greatest source of strongholds with us. The amount of love (or lack of love) in our home, our cultural environment, peer values and pressures, as well as fears of rejection and exposure – even our physical appearance and intelligence, all combine to form our sense of identity and our view of life.”