What does the Bible say about spiritual strongholds?
A stronghold is defined as "1. a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack; 2. a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld." Strongholds are designed to be a safe place. As believers in Christ, we need to make the Lord our stronghold. He is our safe place and refuge (Psalm 27:1).
Throughout the Old Testament, God speaks through the prophets about how He will destroy enemy strongholds (Amos 1:7, 10, 12; Hosea 8:14). While these referred to physical strongholds, we can draw metaphorical parallels from them. The word "strongholds" is used metaphorically only one time in the New Testament. In 2 Corinthians 10:3–5, Paul writes: "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."
This passage shows us that spiritual strongholds are arguments, lofty opinions, and thoughts that are raised against the knowledge of God, or, are held in esteem over Him. Strongholds are rooted in pride because they rely on the self. They lead to a prideful heart, unhealthy thought patterns, and habitual sins that we just can't seem to overcome. Anything that we trust in besides the Lord can become a spiritual stronghold.
Because strongholds are spiritual, our battle to fight them takes place in the spiritual-realm and needs to be fought with spiritual weapons. Ephesians 6:10–18 affirms that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal weapons, but spiritual ones that enable us to stand strong against the Devil's schemes. These are the weapons God has provided for us: "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 6:14-18a).
If we are wise, we will tear down spiritual strongholds in our lives using these spiritual tools, restoring our full trust in the Lord (Proverbs 21:22). Tearing down strongholds is not easy, and when we begin to fight we will most certainly experience resistance. There can be both carnal and demonic spiritual strongholds in our lives, families, and churches, but Christ's power enables us to be free from them and also gives us the ability to operate in His power to help others be free from them, too. Instead of depending on ourselves and being in bondage, we can fully place our trust in God and His love for us and make Him the only stronghold we have: "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold" (Psalm 18:2; see also Psalm 94:22).
Even though we will experience resistance when we begin destroying spiritual strongholds, we can remain confident that in doing this we are being used by the Lord to build His Church, and He will not allow Satan to triumph in the end (Matthew 16:18). Jesus has already won the war. Psalm 144:1–2 says:
"Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me."
It's our responsibility to be warriors for Christ to tear down spiritual strongholds and fight the spiritual battles here on the earth using the weapons God has given us. Though we are in a fierce battle, we can be confident knowing that we are on the winning side.
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