It's likely you or someone you love has struggled with a recurring issue, addiction or weakness at one time or another. Maybe it's with food, lust or some emotional condition. These persistent battles are what the apostle Paul referred to as strongholds. And they're the enemy's most potent form of attack because they hold us in a trap that we can't get out of in our own strength or willpower (see 2 Cor. 10:3-4).
The Root of a Stronghold
What makes a stronghold so effective against us is how it starts. Of course, none of us would knowingly walk into an obvious trap. So Satan sets us up much more subtly. He begins in the mind with lies, doubts and what-ifs. It could be a lie about what your past means to your future: "You'll always struggle; you'll never be free." Or a doubt about your identity: "You're not married; you're not educated enough; you haven't achieved enough; you're just not good enough." Or maybe a what-if about your situation.
Whatever the case, what happens next is crucial to the development of a stronghold. Satan uses these mind games to lead you to an object, a substance or a person as the means of relief. But when you give in to these temptations, what was supposed to be a momentary escape from reality turns into intense guilt and shame. Then you're back to step one: hearing more lies, doubts and what-ifs. This time these might sound like "Look what you've done!" or "You're too far gone." Then as hopelessness and despair are added to the original stressors, you continue to search for ways of relief, often returning to those familiar crutches. And around and around you go.
Put God's Word to Work as a Weapon
Thankfully, God has not left us to be the devil's hostages. As I teach in my book, Activating the Power of God's Word, God has given us instruction in His Word for how to break up with Satan's supernatural vises. According to Paul, since these strongholds are rooted and grown in the mind, we must deal with them there, "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5b). Of course, only something with divine power can release the grip of something with a supernatural hold. That's why victory involves putting God's Word to work as a weapon. In other words, we confront the source of strongholds with the ultimate source of truth.
Though it does take intention, the way to do this isn't complicated. Take a moment now and think about the mental root of some of the failures and struggles in your life. Now ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to Scriptures that confront those thoughts. Maybe you need to make a habit of declaring Colossians 2:10a: "And you are complete in Him." Or "I am a new creature in Chris" (see 2 Cor. 5:17). Whatever the situation, over time, when you attack the root of a stronghold with truth, you'll find it loses its grip on you.
Kyle Winkler equips people to live in victory. His mobile app, Shut Up, Devil!, is the #1 spiritual warfare app and his book, Activating the Power of God's Word, uncovers 16 strategic declarations to transform your life. Kyle holds a Master of Divinity in biblical studies from Regent University. Get daily encouragement from Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.
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