Fighting Strongholds Together by April Williams
On Memorial Day weeekend, Sunday’s sermon from Pastor Stephen was entitled War & Victory and was focused on 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
There is so much to unpack in these three verses but what kept jumping out at me is the word stronghold. If you are like me, you can breeze over a word and not really get the power of the word. And that is exactly what I have done so many times when it comes to the word stronghold. But not today – today I decided to pause and really think about that word that God was clearing telling me to not breeze through and take a look at.
When I looked up the biblical meaning of stronghold, I found that the word in Greek means fortress. But where it really got interesting to me is when I read how the word is used as a metaphor in the bible to represent things that are based ONLY on our human confidence and pride, as opposed to relying on God’s input and guidance. Uh-oh, I was now paying attention as a Type A personality that has often prided herself on being able to do things “herself”. I now knew that this dive into one word was going to get real for me.
The commentary in my Bible really laid out the impact of our strongholds. First we need to understand how a stronghold even begins – because it’s subtle and insidious – it starts in our mind – with a simple thought. That is why it is no joke when Paul reminds us to take every thought captive – to hand it over to God and to not let it even begin to take a tiny tiny little root. Where a stronghold begins to take root is when our thought is based on a lie – where we have allowed our thinking to trump God’s word. We have allowed God’s word to be subjugated to our unscriptural ideas or personal beliefs that we are holding on to as truth – but it is not what God says to be true at all. Behind these lies is fear and behind these fears is an idol. An idol exists when we have chosen to not trust God’s provision for us.
So what started out as taking a look at such a “simple” word; stronghold, is clearly at the heart of what God is saying to us in this season that Pastor Stephen has declared as “The Year of Health”. I am now fully aware that destroying the strongholds in my life is paramount to my getting healthy. This felt overwhelming at first to me when it sunk in, that the thoughts that I have had since childhood, the thoughts that I have been holding onto, the thoughts that came out of years of fears and lack of trust in God – were weighing me down and holding me back from truly being who God created me to be.
I have learned to live by these two words… but, God. Because as you continue to read what Paul writes to the Corinthians, you begin to feel hope. Paul knew that strongholds are one of the key ways we can get off course and be deterred from being all that God created us to be. He reminds us that we are not to battle these strongholds in our strength – instead we are to rely on the power of Jesus Christ within us to fight these thoughts. Paul’s heart was to see people not be held back by the schemes of the evil one. He knew every day for us was going to be a battle of our own minds, of our strongholds. He was always reminding people of this. We see this again in Ephesians 6:10-18 he tells the Ephesians they need a full set of armor for this daily battle they are stepping into.
The Whole Armor of God
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” Ephesians 6:10-18
Pastor Stephen encouraged us to see that this battle is no joke. He left us Sunday with three ways to ensure we are winning the battle – for ourselves, our families and for our community that God is calling us to serve.
1. Be in the word. Read the gospels and know the character of God, so we can recognize the truth of God and not fall susceptible to the lies that can begin in our thoughts. We are easily taken out if we are not in the word.
2. Pray. We all need a joyful discipline of prayer and worship. A focus off ourselves and onto God so that we can be activated to live out his purpose and plan for our lives.
3. Team Jesus. We are to show up; at church, in community group, with one another so we can bless and serve others. It is not about us – not about how much we can receive. And we get to be on a team and work together to encourage one another and cheer each other on.
Let’s fight these stronghold togethers and be courageous enough to each pray in this season to see our strongholds, to know where our fears are and for God to shine a light on what we have made an idol, because we don’t fully trust Him. Yes this will be hard, but God…