Too often we fall into the trap of believing every thought that comes into our minds. We believe these thoughts are our own thoughts. They seem true when quite often they are neither ours, nor are they true. The enemy uses this trap to build strongholds.
What are the weapons we can use against strongholds?
Thinking about strongholds reminded me of Paul’s admonition in II Corinthians 10 to “tear down (spiritual) strongholds and take every thought captive.” As I read that passage, some questions arose: “What are the weapons with which we tear down spiritual strongholds and take thoughts captive?” “What is a stronghold in the sense Paul uses the word here?” Most often I’ve looked at this passage in light of spiritual warfare against the enemy, but this time I looked at it in light of what goes on in our minds.
When I think of a stronghold I think of a fortress with impenetrable walls that keeps things either in or out—something strong that holds things. Fortress strongholds can be good or bad depending on whether we are outside or inside, whether we are trying to be safe or trying to conquer. Paul is talking about spiritual strongholds that keep us captive, more like prison fortresses. We are not free.
Spiritual strongholds keep us imprisoned.
Spiritual strongholds often sneak up on us progressively. First there is a thought, the thought becomes a habit, and the habit becomes a stronghold. Most of us have spent years entertaining lying thoughts about ourselves and God. Believing those lies has turned into habits of belief about who we are and who God is, in spite of us knowing Jesus. Those habits are now strongholds that keep us imprisoned. We are kept inside the fortress by lies about ourselves and God where we are miserable. We need some weapons. But first let’s look at two versions of II Corinthians 10: 3-5:
II Corinthians 10: 3-5 Amplified Version—For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons of flesh and blood, but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds. Inasmuch as we refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God; we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ the Messiah, the Anointed one.
The Message: The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture (belief system). We use our powerful God tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
Tearing down strongholds will be tough.
Paul tells us that our weapons are not physical and he uses language that implies work on our part–refute, smash, tear down, tools, clear ground. Tearing down spiritual strongholds will likely be tough because they are ingrained as habits and deep beliefs. The thoughts, feelings, and lies feel true. We have agreed with them so long that the struggle at first will be similar to a new soldier in boot camp. But with perseverance in using our weapons, the hard work will pay off.
Our first weapon will be to depend on God’s power and turn to Him over and over as we walk against our old feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. We cannot fight this war on our own. Prayer will be another huge part of our arsenal of weapons. Through prayer we will stay in contact with our Captain as He renews our minds with His love. We will also need many rounds of Truth to combat the lies that come so easily; Truth given by others who have our backs (our minds) when we falter. These are three mighty and divine weapons to use against strongholds. The fourth is to take thoughts captive.
At first we might feel that we are working in our own strength.
When a thought or feeling does not fit “into the structure of life shaped by Christ,” it must be taken captive. At first we may feel that we are working in our own strength because tearing down these strongholds takes time and practice. Just as the soldier in boot camp learns to use his weapons, grows strength, learns discipline, and internalizes the rules of engagement, we must go to boot camp and “take” what God says is true about us and about Him.
It will not feel true or be easy to stand against the embedded lies at first, but think about that soldier in boot camp and how what he “takes” changes him. At the end, he can dismantle, clean, and re-assemble his weapon in seconds. He can run and march and go hungry with little strain. He can fight alongside his brothers and sisters while watching their backs. Anything we want to learn takes time and practice. Tearing down strongholds can be the same.
Four weapons–Power, Prayer, Truth, and Take thoughts captive.
In order to use these weapons—God’s power, prayer, Truth, and taking thoughts captive—we must know what God says about the weapons and what God says about us. We must know the scriptures; we must know what Jesus did for us and how He sees us after we have received His gift of eternal life. Our weapons are not physical, they are divine and ready to use when we admit our need and depend on God to bring down the strongholds. He wants us to experience the freedom and peace and joy that come from walking with Him. Our part is to be humbly teachable and practice “boot camp” until His timing is right to make the truth real in our experience.
“What you take, takes you.”