2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
The word translated “strongholds” in this passage also means “fortresses or to make firm.” Just like military forts are established in firm places such as hilltops, Satan also attempts to establish strong forts in our minds to hold our thought life captive.
Paul defines strongholds as arguments, pretensions, or thoughts that set themselves against the knowledge of God. Any beliefs entrenched in our own thinking and are contrary to God’s revealed truth are Satan’s strongholds. It is these strongholds that hinder our prayers.
Satan’s strongholds fill our minds with fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and failure. These are thoughts that tell us there is not hope for our current situation so why should I bother to pray…not even God can help me out of this mess. All strongholds make us doubt God and His power.
Consider these strongholds and Scriptures to counter attack these thoughts:
• My husband is hopeless. He’ll never change. 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
• I’m just a carnal person. I’ll never be free from lust. Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
• I’m getting older…I feel so useless. Feebleness and disease are inevitable. Psalms 103:5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
STRONGHOLDS in the mind are formed three different ways…as arguments, as pretensions, and as thoughts contrary to the knowledge of God.
1. Strongholds that are arguments contrary to the knowledge of God…these are not arguments with other people, but they are battles that go on in our minds and draw conclusions by our reasonings.
2. Strongholds that are pretensions contrary to the knowledge of God…these are when we exalt our own reasoning over God’s divine revelation and depend more on our own reasonings.
3. Strongholds that are thoughts contrary to the knowledge of God. This same word is used in 2 Corinthians 2:11 and refers to Satan’s schemes…these are thoughts that we allow Satan to plant into our minds and deceive us into thinking that they are own thoughts…but they are really thoughts against God’s will.
These strongholds are formed by:
• Justifying or reasoning situations of life without looking to God for guidance.
• Drawing our own conclusions without consulting God’s Word for validation.
• Setting our rationalizations above God’s revealed will in Scripture.
• Devising schemes for handling life situations contrary to seeking God’s purposes for living.
These strongholds can hinder our prayer lives by turning us into double-minded people. We, on one hand, profess to live by the authority of God’s Word, yet at other times, we allow our lives to be directed by our own human reasonings. Our double-mindedness tries to balance our competing agendas. We pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,”
Neil Anderson says, “Double-mindedness determines to have a Plan B of human reasoning to fall back on in case the Plan A of God’s revealed will doesn’t come through. As long as we hold a Plan B in reserve, we’re not able to pray with faith and confidence for God’s Plan A to come through. Double-mindedness leads to instability and weakness and makes us unstable in our faith and ineffective in our prayers. Much is at stake when we try to embrace God’s agenda without letting go of our own.”
Our only weapon to break a stronghold is God’s Word. Jesus used the Word of God as a weapon to defeat the “schemes, devices, reasonings” of the devil in the wilderness. With each of the devil’s suggestions to Jesus, he included a reason why Jesus should act upon his suggestion. He tried to use human reasoning to build a stronghold in Jesus’ mind.
James gives us four steps to demolish strongholds in our minds:
James 4:7-8. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
First Step: Submit to God…by submitting to God’s will and acknowledging His Word in our lives, we are more able to resist the devil.
Second Step: Resist the devil…by exposing Satan’s lies with God’s Truth and exercising our authority over him with God’s Word, we are commanding Satan to move over and make way for God’s will.
Third Step: Draw near to God…by drawing nearer to God in worship and resisting the devil, two things will happen…God’s will becomes stronger to us, while Satan’s strongholds become weaker.
Fourth Step: Be spiritually cleansed…by using God’s Word in prayer to spiritually cleanse our hearts, we can confidently enter God’s Holy Place with clean hearts to pray and to worship Him.