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Strongholds:
Things That Destroy

By Dr. Mary Craig

A stronghold is a defensive spiritual fortress behind which one hides and is protected. (1 Samuel 23.14, 19) When I conducted a spiritual warfare conference in Puerto Rico some years back, I saw a good example of a stronghold. There in Puerto Rico, the Spanish built El Morro. They built a stone wall 25 feet high and 18 feet thick to protect the port from raids by pirates and native Americans. It is a fortress. The world is full of many such fortresses built to ward off enemies.

A stronghold is a fortified dwelling used as a means of protection from an enemy. David hid from King Saul in wilderness strongholds at Horesh. These were usually caves high on a mountainside. They were difficult to attack. Such caves exist in Afghanistan and other regions where itís easy for people to hide out.

A stronghold is a powerful, vigorously protected spiritual reality. When God is the enemy or when we have thoughts, words, and deeds sympathetic toward the devil, strongholds become a defense for Satan against God. When Satan is the enemy, strongholds established by God and salvation through Jesus Christ protect us from him.

Godly strongholds include fortresses like the Lord, the Blood of Jesus, humility, holiness, the armor of God, and the walls of salvation. A demonic stronghold is any type of thing that exalts itself above the knowledge of God.

Christians cannot be owned by a devil. The devil does not own someone who has been bought by a price by Jesus Christ, i.e., redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. But Christians can have thoughts in rebellion against God and His Word, thoughts not brought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. These thoughts are lies we have swallowed, lying words we have believed, words which we have obeyed in disobedience to God. They are things like vain imaginations, sinful habits. They are fortresses keeping God out. They are fortresses protecting Satan and our sinful ways. They are fortresses protecting our very "selves." They are our defenses from anything entering from the outside that would threaten us and cause us to be overthrown. (2 Corinthians 10.3-5)

When we break down strongholds of Satan, we are tearing down our resistance to God. We are breaking our agreement with a foe which will fight to remain in our lives. We are turning, repenting. We are lowering our defenses against God and allowing ourselves to be open to God coming in to our hearts and lives. We are submitting to God. And then we build a fortress to keep the devil out. We turn and resist the devil. We build strongholds in the Lord so that Satan flees from us. We stay within the protection of the fortified city of God so that God can bless us for His glory and for our good.

Satan is an accuser, a deceiver, a destroyer. Jesus intercedes, tells the truth, and is truth. Jesus brings life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Timothy 1.10) Jesus is God. God is love.

Pride goes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction. (Proverbs 16.18) Proverbs 11.2 says that when pride comes, so comes shame. Only by pride comes contention. (Proverbs 13.10) A rod of pride is in the mouth of the foolish. (Proverbs 14.2) Pride brings us low. (Proverbs 29.23)

About this fortress of pride, God says that He will bring it down. "And the fortress of the high fort of your walls shall He bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, even to the dust." (Isaiah 25.11, 12) Pride is not of God (1 John 2.16). God gives grace to the humble. He resists the proud. (James 4.6)

Proud people seek to preserve their superior status. They have to maintain their self-esteem, their estimation of themselves. Proud people get angry easily. They attack others. They accuse others. They can be quite insecure, driven to become territorial, possessive, self-preserving.

Accusation is a huge problem today, especially in our churches. Satan uses the mouths of Christians to accuse the brethren. Isaiah 58 tells us to put away the pointing of the finger. The proud person is self-seeking. He seeks to preserve his own life. But Jesus said that we must lose our lives for His sake if we want to find life.

When we get angry, when we attack others, when we accuse other people, when we point the finger, we are saying we are better. We have that "holier than thou" attitude. We are seeking to maintain our own sense of greatness. We are seeking greatness, position, riches, and security apart from Christ and at the expense of others. (Galatians 6.1; James 4.11, 12; Matthew 7.1, 2)

1 Peter 4.8 tells us that love covers a multitude of sins. We are to set Christ above personal advantage, personal pleasures, personal ambitions. We never want to get between someone else and Jesus Christ.

Contention, condemnation, judging, accusation, and things like that are destructive to the Body of Christ. We are wounding our corporate self spiritually because we are the Body of Christ, individually and corporately. We are stabbing each other, knifing each other. We forget that to fight against the people of God is to fight God Himself.

The answer to this is to know who we are in Christ and to have our salvation securely resting in Jesus. When we are secure in our salvation, we donít have to preserve our own lives. The Holy Spirit preserves us. We have Jesus interceding as our Faithful High Priest in the power of an endless life. We walk according to the Law of Life as those set free from the Law of the Commandment. We have a new nature given to us by God that enables us to love God and to do His will. We are free to be humble servants of God, clothed in humility, meekness, love, and gentleness. We can be kind.

To have humility around us is the best fortress and stronghold we can have against Satan. If we will focus on the fruit of the Spirit, on being conformed to the image of Jesus, on life in Christ, we will have the right perspective and emphasis of the Christian life.

But now letís turn to something else that destroys. Witchcraft. Witchcraft is counterfeit spiritual authority in its most broadest definition. It is using a spirit other than the Holy Spirit to dominate, manipulate, or control people, circumstances, outcomes, destinies. It might be a human spirit exalting itself to the place of "god" or a demonic spirit. You can look for the possibility of witchcraft by heeding the following indicators:

      1. when guilt is being used to manipulate someone
      2. when pressure, high-powered sales techniques, magic, and fear are being used
      3. when a position as parent, boss, elder, leader, or any spiritual authority is being used for that personís personal advantage and gain
      4. when others are being thought of or treated as slaves
      5. when people attack, accuse, slander, and intimidate for the purpose of bending another to their will and to their way

We must all guard against falling into the use of witchcraft and yielding to the flesh. Christians operate in witchcraft when they offer up what I call soulish prayers. Those are the prayers where we try to "help God out." We use commanding and demanding prayer to "let another person have it" because we have judged that person as less than holy, less than what we have judged that they should be. We have played Holy Spirit and think we know better than God or more than God and can do a better job at being God.

The temptation to witchcraft comes from stressful circumstances. We feel out of control. We distrust God. We are ignorant of Godís sovereignty. We donít really think God is doing the God-thing the right way. He just thinks Heís God, but we donít agree. We donít like His timing or His patience or His perspective. We are self-seeking, self-promoting, self-preserving. We fear losing control and balk at submitting to God.

One time our then pastor, Rev. Mical Pugh, was sitting in a hospital cafeteria with a young mother whose two year-old son was about to undergo open heart surgery. Here, away from the family and hospital staff she could let her guard down and release some of her tears, thoughts, and feelings. "I feel so out of control. Thereís nothing I can do but wait and pray," she confessed. Then she added, "Itís really all an illusion, isnít it? While I may think Iím more in control when heís home or in the back seat of our car, Iím notóam I? God is really the only one in control." This young woman saw pretty clearly. She refused the illusion and surrendered control to God. God cares about us. That woman found the peace of God by making peace with God. Not that she sat by and did nothing, but she kept the right perspective.

We fall into the trap of witchcraft when we want to maintain control and assert our will against the will of God. Thatís why Jesus called Peter a satan when Peter rose up against the plan of God that Jesus would go to the cross and die. Jesus said Peter had not the thoughts of God in his heart, but the thoughts of a man. (Matthew 16) We may mean well, but yield to the pressure of the moment because we forget to fear God and trust Him. (1 Samuel 13.11; Proverbs 3.5, 6)

When we seek our own profit, usurp authority, yield to the use of political power and human persuasion, we must beware. It may indicate areas where we donít trust God to promote us, to protect us, to preserve us, to establish us. We can walk out of our anointing, out of true spiritual authority into a counterfeit, i.e., witchcraft. We are looking to another spirit, either our own or demonic. We come to fear anything or anyone we cannot manipulate or control.

We must ask: Where does my authority, my recognition, my security come from? GodÖor man? 1 Samuel 15.23 says that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Why? Because we turn away from the true Source and Supply of authority and security to a counterfeit.

Those who practice witchcraft use their gifts and use people for themselves. People walking in true spiritual authority use their gifts and give themselves for the people.

The greatest fortress against pride and against witchcraft, against things that destroy, is humility. God gives grace to the humble, and we really need the grace of God! Stay clothed in humility. Hope in God. Submit to the true authority of the one true and living God. Submit to God. Submit to Godís Word. Bless and donít retaliate. Keep in step with the Spirit. Seek to develop the fruit of the Spirit. Be an example to the flock, not a lord over it. Put off pride and witchcraft and learn from Peter:

All of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who has called us into His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5.5-11 KVJ

 
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