4. DESTROYING STRONGHOLDS
THIS SERIES: A HEALTHY HEART
My husband and I live in the beautiful borderland between Scotland and England. The region is dotted, on both sides of the border, with the ruins of castles and peel towers. These were fortified strongholds, built to withstand attack both from rival neighbours and cross-border advancing armies, and were good or bad depending on which side you were on!
As a result of the Fall, the Evil One was able to establish his ‘strongholds’ in human lives, strongholds which reflected his character and motivations: addictions, anxiety, anger, greed and immorality to name just a few. The Bible teaches us that on becoming a Christian, we were translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God, and we were reborn, becoming new creations. So many things change, however, we also find that some old habits prove difficult to dislodge, causing guilt and shame, discouragement and distress.
Identifying and destroying these interior strongholds is an important part of maintaining heart-health. And just as assailants in the border wars would aim to find the weak points in the fastness under attack, the place for us to start is with our belief-system.
It was a faulty belief-system that stopped Israel entering the Promised Land; and a faulty belief-system which stopped many of Jesus’ hearers receiving what He was offering to them. In both cases this stemmed from a flawed worldview, and an incorrect or incomplete understanding of the nature of God.
Belief—or faith (it’s the same word in Greek)—is a choice based on the revealed character of God, rather than an emotion. Faith grows as our revelation of our amazing God and Saviour increases. However, our adversary, is the ‘father of lies’ [John 8:44], and unwittingly we often retain, or pick up these deceptions which form the basis for strongholds.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
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.
[1 Corinthians 10:3-5]
GLISTENING WITH HOPE!
A few years ago, I heard a quotation attributed to Francis Frangipane, “Every area of your life that does not glisten with hope means you are believing a lie and that area is a stronghold of the devil in your life.”
This quote is a life-changer!
It is a great spiritual barometer—and can be transformational if acted upon. Take time for a heart examination, and ask the Lord to show you the areas of your life and circumstances which are not ‘glistening with hope’; then ask Him to reveal the lies that are at the root. You might well be amazed—I have certainly been shown deep-down wrong beliefs that I didn't know were there—and I am sure there will be more!
These lies need to be confessed as sin, because a lie attacks the very nature and integrity of God; and then they need to be replaced with truth. We anchor truth in our hearts by declaring it over ourselves [Proverbs 12:14, 13:2].
I have been believing that……..
I have sinned against You because……….
Please forgive me and cleanse me now, through the precious blood of Jesus.
I release the truth that…………… over myself and my circumstances.
The fortified towers mentioned above were breached by two main methods: gaining access to the ground floor and building a fire—a speedy method of eviction; or much more slowly, by siege—the starving out of the garrison.
The strongholds in our hearts fall similarly. Sometimes they are dealt with quickly, other times it takes patience and perseverance to ‘starve’ the enemy out. If we persist in declaring truth over ourselves, eventually our emotions also get into line.
A PLACE OF SAFETY
If lies produce bad strongholds, truth produces good ones—the place of security and rest. We read that….
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
The Name speaks of everything that God is—His whole perfect, wonderful nature.
If we destroy the stronghold of lies which are an affront to His nature, we can take up residence in the strong tower of His love, grace and mercy, expressed in the wonderful Name of Jesus.
Sometimes, however, we will have to choose to trust in that revelation of His nature rather than the ‘evidence’ of our circumstances. We have all experienced times when prayers seem to be unanswered; personal words received from the Lord remain unfulfilled, or times when it appeared as though He didn’t ‘show up’ when He was needed. Because of our limited human vision, the walk of faith invariably includes disappointment. The issue is what we do with that disappointment when it occurs.
I have met many people who either crawl back into their spiritual shells and refuse to engage any longer with a faith-filled life, or those who wear disillusionment like a garment, and gradually lose their connection with the Source of Life.
Taking steps to deal with disappointment honestly before the Lord is essential to our heart-health.
Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.
[Matthew 11:6 NASB]
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any areas where you are disappointed or harbouring resentment towards Him, then confess these to Him honestly, asking Him for forgiveness for any ways you have maligned Him in your heart. Then ask Him to show you His perspective…
.....in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
NEXT TIME: THE FREEDOM OF FORGIVENESS
Because we live in a fallen world, living comes at a price. People wound us, unintentionally or deliberately; family, friends and strangers sin against us, in huge devastating ways, or needling pin-pricks; and if we neglect these wounds they fester and become a serious cause of ‘heart-disease’...
PASS IT ON
[Photo credits: Jan Tinneberg (door); Priscilla du Preez (girls) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
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