Breaking Strongholds – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

July 25, 2018

 

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

 

There exists a ruler of the darkness of this age, a principality of the deadliest order, who has been tolerated for so long by believers that his influence is considered normal for the church. He uses whatever tools at his disposal to keep the church weak, and seemingly helpless to affect restoration and revival.

All believers are in a war with this ruler, “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He dispatches and assigns his spiritual forces to perpetrate his wickedness throughout the world. Every believer wrestles with “Principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We are well aware of the evil characteristics of Satan, that he “kills, steals and destroys” (John 10:10). None of us is immune from his attacks.

But beyond his routine harassments, temptations and attacks, his forces of evil seek to establish long-term strongholds, in which he can dominate and hold us captive. These strongholds can be a strong influence, persistent oppression, obsessions, hindrances or harassments.

 

The Greek word for stronghold is, ochuroma, meaning, “a fortress, a strong defense.” It is only used here in the 2 Corinthians 10:5 in the New Testament. It has something to do with the mind of the believer. Something that has a “strong hold” over the mind of the Christian. And it seems that believers have little control over these strongholds to defeat them!  Ephesians 4:22-23 lists some strongholds: “Lying, stealing, corrupt communication, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamors, slander and malice.” Other obvious examples of sinful activity that can become strongholds are unforgiveness, bitterness, grief, disappointment, addictions, feelings of rejection, negative self-image, depression, illicit sexual activity and occult involvement.

 

Our enemy is firmly entrenched; these strongholds have been guarded for thousands of years, presenting a great wall of resistance to the Truth. God has given us, His children, the authority to overcome…to use His name to  expel the forces of evil. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).


The Christian warrior is not deterred, he charges forward, clothed in God’s armor to attack these treasured strongholds. With the miraculous power of the Lord, the walls are knocked down, and the bastions of sin and error are destroyed. Every stronghold will be defeated by God’s power!

Surely every believer must realize that God has already defeated Satan! And they must realize that God has equipped them with the power to overcome Satan’s strongholds. Our weapons are not physical, for our warfare is spiritual in nature. Our weapons are the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17). Our power comes from God alone! God is ready, available and willing to fight for us, “Be strong in the LORD and in the power of HIS might’ (Ephesians 6:10). As it was with Jehoshaphat when he was in battle, God will fight for us, “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem!  This is what the LORD says to you: `Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's” (2 Chronicles 20:15). Do not ever forget we are not in this war alone, God and I are a majority!

Let’s look at several “cherished strongholds” that bind far too many of God’s precious children:

1. The Stronghold of SELF: The terms, “Self-image, self-worth, self-aggrandizement, self-esteem, self-awareness,” all have one very obvious word SELF.

 

This stronghold manifests itself in acting superior to others, putting his personal desires above the needs of others. The selfish person demonstrates no consideration for other people's feelings, nor does he care about other people's thoughts or opinions. Domineering and controlling behaviors are prevalent with a selfish person. They are self-serving and self-involved. ”I want what I want when I want it!” “I’m trying to find myself.” “I will have your own way.” Can never see another’s point of view. Never satisfied with what you have. Not happy with other’s success. Favorite words. “I, Me, Mine.”

 

The SELF life is a miserable existence. They never seem to get it all together, and Satan loves for us to be completely wrapped up in ourselves, because he knows it is a rare thing for this person to bring others to Christ.

 

The SELF life must be brought under the control of the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God.

 

Listen to the Jesus: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me’” (Matthew 16:3 NLT). “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33)  “You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24 TEB).

 

Paul tells us that selfishness will increase in the last days, And just look at the ones he compares with the selfish!  “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). I don’t know about you, but I would not like to be included with that crowd!

How do I defeat this stronghold? “Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth” (Colossians 3;2). “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

2. The Stronghold of PRIDE: All human beings naturally have pride. You might be surprised to know that in all forty-nine places in the King James Bible, pride is never mentioned as being a good thing. Throughout the Old and New Testaments there are several words that are translated as “pride,” but, whichever word is used, pride is always considered a bad thing.

What is pride? It is having an opinion that you are more important or superior than those around you. This pride can be in the mind of the person or is displayed in their behavior. A high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority.

It's the sin which caused the Devil to fall from his privileged position as an angel of light. The devil then used the same sin to tempt Adam and Eve away from their fellowship with Almighty God.  Satan still tempts us today with the sin of pride.

Pride of Possessions: “My house, my car, my clothing, my jewelry, my money. Pride of Place: My job, my position, my authority. Pride of Face: My looks. Pride of Grace: My denomination, my church. A belief that my brand of Christianity is the only one that God recognizes. Pride of Race: Racial prejudice is an absolute stronghold in the church, the body of Christ. We are one in Christ!

Listen to God’s Word: Deuteronomy 8:14: “Your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.”  Obadiah 1:3: “The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’” 2 Chronicles 26:16: “His pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God.”  Psalm 10:4: “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”  Proverbs 11:2: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

Proverbs 16:5: ”The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Isaiah 2:11: “The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.” 1 Corinthians 13:4: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

 

3. The Stronghold of SEXUAL SIN: This stronghold will take away God’s power from the believer’s life, disqualify him for ministry, take away God’s blessings, break his fellowship with God, and he cannot even know the will of God when he is yielding to sexual sin. 2 Timothy 2:22, “Flee youthful lusts.” 1 Peter 2:12, “Abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul.”

 

“Sex is never just sex. God says sexual sin is like nothing else in the book. It can hurt you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It can screw up your life in ways you would never have dreamed. Blow it here and you blow it big-time. ‘If we persist in sexual sin with the thought that one day we will get right with God, we should remind ourselves that God may still be there to forgive and restore…but we may not be. You cannot compensate by sacrifice what you lose through disobedience.’” (Ed Cole) From,  The truth about sexual sin by Winkie Pratney.

 

What does God’s word say?

 

•Colossians 3:5, “Put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” 

•1 Thessalonians 4:3-5,”God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor–not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.”

•1 Corinthians 10:8, “We must not engage in sexual immorality.”

•Galatians 5:19, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures.”

•Ephesians 5:3, “Let there be no sexual immorality among you.”

•Matthew 5:27-29: “You have heard the commandment that says, “You must not commit adultery.” But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye–even your good eye–causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

•Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18 , “You shall not commit adultery.” 

•1 Corinthians 6:13, “You can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies.”

•1 Corinthians 6:18-20, “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

•Titus 2:12, “Say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” 

There are more spiritual shipwrecks in the sea of sex than in any other sea.

 

As a pastor for over fifty years, there have been countless temptations to commit sexual sin. I observed this in several pastors of my acquaintance. When I saw the devastation in their wives and children, I concluded that I could never put my family through that! When I saw the hurt in those wives eyes, I decided I could never do that to the one I love. I always must remind myself of what I lose for a few hours of sin. My relationship with God, my self-respect, my ministry, and my wife and family. It’s just not worth it! So I determined that I would never do that! Now I know that people say, “Don’t ever say ‘never,’ because that’s the very thing you will do.” I disagree! I believe that when you determine in your mind you will not do something, that determination is a positive commitment to do right. John Phillips said, “Do right because it is right until doing right becomes natural.”  Proverbs 21:3, “To do what is right and true is more pleasing to the Lord than an offering.” Galatians 6:9, We can't allow ourselves to get tired of living the right way…” Joshua 1:6,7 (ESV), “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” God says, in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘be holy for I am holy.” Leviticus 20-26, “You shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.”

 

You can only be holy if you are “In Christ.” Titus 3:3-5, “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  The Lord took us out of our former lifestyles. He saved us, cleansed us, and set us apart for righteousness. If we have believed in Christ for salvation, we have been washed by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and set apart from the world for godliness.

 

4. The Stronghold…Lack of separation from the WORLD:

 

“Many are perplexed by the word ‘world’ in the Bible because it sometimes seems to mean one thing and sometimes another. As a matter of fact the word in the original means “system or arrangement…” English has no good equivalent for the Greek ‘kosmos,’ which is broader in its significance, and refers, not directly to the individuals, but to the whole social system of which men form a part. God, the great Arbiter, has created all in the Son of His Love, Colossians 1:16, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” John 1:10, John 1:10, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him…” Concordant Publishing Concern.

 

The steady stream of worldly information and  experience that continually  shaped our childhood is a great source of strongholds within us. Our parents perception of the world has been passed on to us. Our teachers perception of the world has been passed on to us. Jesus said in Luke 6:40, “We will be like our teachers.” Our childhood entertainers’ perception of the world has been passed on to us. Our pastor’s perception of the world has been passed on to us. The amount of love or lack of love in our homes; our cultural environment; peer values; impressions; fears of rejection and failure; even our physical appearance all form our sense of identity and our view of life. Permit me a personal illustration. My father was a very angry man, I suffered many brutal beatings from him…but the most devastating thing he instilled in me was something he said to me frequently, “You’ll never amount to anything.” Bruises to our bodies soon heal, bruises to our spirit may never heal, and  very well may become a stronghold. Broken bones heal, broken spirits take a long time, if they ever heal. That one brutal act of my dad, fixed my perception of life, marriage, fatherhood and my image of God. It took Christ to change everything, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

 

There is an absolute difference between the believer and the world.

 

When we are told not to love the world, the Bible is referring to the world's corrupt value system. Satan is the god of this world, and he has his own value system contrary to God's (2 Corinthians 4:4). First John 2:16 details exactly what Satan's system promotes. ”The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.” Every sin imaginable can be summed up in those three evils; envy, adultery, pride, lying, selfishness, and more spring from those three roots.

 

The world is what we leave when we come to Christ. Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon…” 

 

“Loving the world means being devoted to the world’s treasures, philosophies, and priorities. God tells His children to set their priorities according to His eternal value system. We are to ‘seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness’ (Matthew 6:33). ‘No one can serve two masters’ (Matthew 6:24), and we cannot be devoted to both God and the world at the same time.” –gotquestions.org

 

1 John 2:15 tells us, ”Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…” Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” James 4:4, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

 

About Strongholds:

 

Strongholds are Stubborn: They may seem to be impossible to overcome. They cannot be torn down through religious activity. If we attack them in our own strength, they may appear to have been defeated temporarily, only to reappear, sometimes stronger than before. After years of struggling with these cherished strongholds, some just give up and try to live with them.

 

Strongholds are irrational: They don’t make sense. Their influence defies logic. For example: The depression stronghold can cause all kinds of health problems (mental and physical): Migraines, heart palpitations, some forms of arthritis and skin disorders. The stress involved has an ill effect on the colon. You are miserable, sick, in great pain, you hate yourself and everyone around you. You have messy, offensive habits. You carry bitterness every day toward someone, knowing full well that your bitterness is not affecting them one bit, yet you carry it, that defies logic. Yet millions of people go on day after day with no thought of getting help. Millions of people allow themselves to miserably continue in this depression stronghold, that defies logic.

 

Strongholds are uncontrollable: If you pinpoint a habit or pattern that seems to control you, you have discovered a stronghold in your life. It may be temper, bad habits, depression, illicit sex, pornography, pride, or bitterness. It may be gossip, or a problem with telling the truth. Whatever it is you can’t stop it. No matter how firmly you resolve to resist the stronghold, it always defeats you.

 

Strongholds are counterproductive: A stronghold may appear to be helpful, while actually destroying us. The abuse of drugs or alcohol are classic examples…Turning to these chemical means of escape only leads to a captivity much more cruel and powerful than the problems we were trying to avoid.  For  example, “I can’t stop smoking because I’ll gain weight.” I’ll never forgive___________for what they did to me, because if I did it would look like I was wrong and I wasn’t.”

 

Strongholds will always fail you: The strategies Satan has given us to cope with life’s frustrations only bring more frustration. Instead of solving the problem, they make life worse.

 

How to Break Strongholds and keep them Broken!

 

AUTHORITY: Every believer has the right to use the authority of Jesus' name to bind and take authority over Satan's activities. “No one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house” (Mark 3:27). Issue a spoken command to the devil that he is bound and he must leave the stronghold! Exercising authority in the name of Jesus will expel the Devil's influence. “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues...” (Mark 16:17).

 

INTERCESSION: Come together with other believers to pray and intercede against strongholds until you get results. There is intensified power in the gathering of more believers. Prayer with fasting intensifies faith, and faith will break strongholds. “Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast him out?’ However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:19,21).

 

DISPLACEMENT: Establish the presence of God. Where Satan has been commanded to leave, fill it up with God's presence. Where the presence of the Lord is, the Devil isn't! Satan doesn't want to hang around where people are lifting up Jesus in worship, in singing and prayer. The presence of the Lord displaces the Devil. “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

 

RESISTANCE:  Submit yourselves and draw close to God. The Bible says this is how we resist Satan and he will flee. The Devil runs from submitted, yielded Christians. He runs from your life, and will run away from where you go. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

 

OCCUPATION:  Give no place or vacancy to the Devil. With Satan departed, fill the void with God. Let righteousness be the standard rule and behavior. Provide no pocket of rebellion, corruption or immorality in which Satan can find refuge to rebuild his influence or strength. The scripture says to not “give place to the devil.” Do not give the devil an opening to invade your mind.(Ephesians 4:27).

 

FORTIFICATION:  Clothe yourself with God's armor. Take upon you daily, the full array of God's spiritual equipment that you may maintain battle-ready status. With the “shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit” (God's Word) and the other links of armor (Ephesians 6:13-17), you will be ready to resist any satanic assault, and will be ready to engage the strongholds.

 

–Copied and modified, Dale A. Robbins, Victorious Publications, Grass valley, CA

 

Destroying Strongholds: Commitments:

 

•Today, through the death and resurrection of Christ, I declare Satan’s power over any part of my life is defeated.

•Today, though the death and resurrection of Christ, I enter into holiest level of life

 

•Today, through the death and resurrection of Christ I become whole, complete, mature in Christ.

 

•Today, through the death and resurrection of Christ I will stand my ground. I will tear down the strongholds in my life.

 

•Today, I will picture the strongholds being piled up before me, then I will picture a flood of Jesus’ blood washing them away.

 

•When the ropes of bondage begin to tighten around me, I will picture Jesus in His great strength breaking the chains of Satan.

 

•When the gloom of the stronghold of depression darkens my world, I will picture the cross of Christ poking holes through the clouds of discouragement and allowing the light of God to shine through.

 

•Today, through God’s unlimited power, I will declare, “Greater is He who is on me, than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

 

I will name the stronghold that is lording  over my life and say to it, (name your stronghold), you will not be my lord, Jesus is my LORD.

 

•“Lust, you will not be my lord, Jesus is my LORD.”

•“Pornography, you will not be my lord, Jesus is my LORD.” •“Discouragement, you will not be my lord, Jesus is my LORD.”

•“Anger, you will not be my lord, Jesus is my LORD.”

 

Pray that prayer over every stronghold that has invaded your life and holds you captive. Greed, materialism, bitterness, anger, critical spirit, worries, doubts, and fears, coldness and indifference…”You will ot lord it over me, Jesus is my LORD.”

 

Here’s a praise chorus for you:

 

Satan has no authority here in this place, h\

He has no authority here.

For this habitation was fashioned for the LORD’s presence,

No authority here.

Jesus has all authority here in this place, all authority here,

For this habitation was fashioned for the LORD’s presence,

All authority here.

 

 

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English  bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

 

If this message was helpful to you, please let me know: pastorbigjohn@sbcglobal.net

 

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