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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Strong Holds

What is a Strong Hold?

A Strong Hold is a sixteenth century English terminology made up of two words, which refer to either a castle, a fortified city or a structure deep within a castle sometimes called a Keep or a Fortress or Bulwork. 

Here are some scriptures concerning the use of Strong Holds: Numbers 13:19, Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 23:14, 19, 29; 2 Samuel 5:7, 24:7; 2 Kings 8:12; 2 Chronicles 11:11;  Psalms 89:40; Isaiah 23:11; Jeremiah 48:18, 41; Lamentations 2:2,5; Daniel 11:24, 39; Micah 4:8,5:11; Nahum 1:7. 3:12, 14; Habakkuk 1:10; Zechariah 9:3, 12; 2 Corinthians 10:4+5; Proverbs 21:22<Best read in the Revised Version of the Bible.

A Strong Hold is a place of security,  a place where people seek protection from an attack.  It is an defensive mechanism where people can regroup and mount a counter attack upon their attackers.

In the popular movie, "The Lord of the Rings / The Return of the King", there was a place where all the people who were being attack by opposing evil forces fled to.  They were secure there until  help  hopefully arrived.  That place located deep in the castle structure was their Strong Hold.

How does Strong Holds affect the Christian life?
In our Christian walk there are Strong Holds we have to attack and conquer (Matthew 16:18) within ourselves and outside ourselves (Ephesians 6:11+12) and there is one Strong Hold we are to take refuge in. That Strong Hold that believers in Christ take refuge in is the Lord (Nahum 1:7; Proverbs 18:10) 

The way believers should take refuge in the Lord is through prayer, studying God's word, seeking the fellowship of the saints and getting involved in the Church they chose to attend.  To do this we need to first arm ourselves (Ephesians 6:10-18) because whether we know it or not we are in a war.  This war is for each of our hearts and minds, it is for each of our very souls (1 Peter 5:8).  The reason for this is that Satan has lost a precious soul from his kingdom of Darkness and the number of souls he has under his control is important to him.  So he will do anything to get a soul back.  Satan stole mankind from God in the Garden, the cream of his earthly creations. So what has he done and is doing?  He is getting mankind locked in the Strong Holds, that he has devised to keep mankind from receiving the redemption of their souls.  God so loved us, the cream of his earthly creations, that He decided to sacrifice himself in the form of his only begotten  Son,  Jesus of Nazareth.   This is why the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8) and free mankind from the Strong Holds that the Devil has ensnared  each of us with.

Defending our faith

So how do we defend ourselves? It is very clear that we can not do it in our own strength, since the Devil is using stolen spiritual power to keep mankind in his grip, we need a greater supernatural power to free us from him and his Strong Holds.  We must seek refuge in the Lord (Proverbs 18:10; Psalms 61:3). How do we do this? We must study to show ourselves approved of God, that we may find the spiritual power and the strength to overcome Satan (Ephesians 6:11+12; 1 John 2:13+14, 4:4).  We must become wise to his devices, and the people who he uses, whether they know it or not, to keep people from knowing the truth.  That we might have an answer for the hope that we have within each one of us, who believes in Christ. (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 3:15). We overcome Satan by having faith in the sacrifice of God's Son, Jesus, the Christ, upon the cross for our salvation (John 3:16-18, 36). We overcome Satan by using the power of the name of Jesus in faith (John 16:23).  We overcome Satan by hearing the word of God and standing on the promises of God, through Christ (Romans 10:12-17).  We overcome Satan by the power of our testimony of the saving power of Jesus, the Christ (Revelations 12:11).  We over come Satan when we forgive  one another, pray for one another, speak the truth in love toward one another and make peace with one another (Matthew 5:9; Galatians 5:14-18).  Since the days when the Gospel was first preached until now, we believers have been overcoming Satan for years and will do so until Jesus returns to judge the earth.

The problem

Our problem is some of us are staying in the Strong Hold that Jesus has freed us from.  Why? Because to tell the truth, we are enjoying the Strong Hold that we are in, even though that Strong Hold is not of God.  Nor is it of God's will. We must come to the understanding that we can not have our cake and eat it too.  The longer each of us stay in a Strong Hold that is not of God, the further we get away from what God in his great love has provided for us.  Some of those Strong Holds that have us captive are people, places and things we have pleasure doing and pleasure doing with.  We have been fooled into thinking that having pleasure with people, places and things is a sign of the good  and perfect will of God.  The perfect and good will of God, is intimacy with God through Jesus Christ. Ask yourself this question: Is the thing or person that you are having so much pleasure with is bringing you closer to Jesus? Is it encouraging you to find your place in God's will? Or is it leaving you depraved lusting after more?  God's good and perfect will does not leave you depraved, it is a most fulfilling life, and He through Christ has this awaiting each of you in abundance,  but you will never know it because you are content to remain a captive in a Strong Hold that Satan has devised to keep you from achieving your fulfillment in God.   That sounds crazy doesn't it?  Each one of us have been set free from our Strong Holds by Jesus, so that we may enter into the Strong Hold of the Lord, but we have enjoyed the Strong Hold that we are in that we refuse the life that is awaiting us in the Strong Hold of Christ.  It is like a prisoner facing a life sentence, suddenly getting a pardon from the Governor, and is free to leave but he enjoys being in prison so much that  he refuses to leave the place or worse is so fearful of leaving the Strong Hold that Satan has devised that he remains in it.  

Now most prisoners in jail dream of the time that they are no longer locked up and they are finally free.  Not like some of us believers in Christ, who want to stay in that has such a Strong Hold upon us because we believe that there is nothing else better than the Strong Hold that we are in.   What should we do?  It is obvious that some things, places and people are going have to go in order for you to enjoy the fulfilling abundant life that Jesus promised.   Let us not be like the rich young ruler that came to Jesus to find out how he can have everlasting life. In that, he could not depart from the wealth he had accumulated in his life (Mark 10:17-22).  This wealth brought the young man pleasure and status and he sought Jesus out to learn how to possess them forever. That when he was instructed by Jesus, he could not depart from his wealth.  Now did Jesus want him to be poor? No, He did not want the wealthy young man to be poor,  he wanted him to have the fullness of the riches of God (Mark 10:30), but the rich young ruler had to give up that which held him captive for so long.  Each of us must ask ourselves what are we not willing to give up in order to have a more abundant life in the Strong Hold of the Lord, a fulfilling life in Christ? What are each of our Strong Holds? Is any one of them of God?  Once each of us has identified which Strong Hold is of God and which one is not, we must leave the Strong Holds of the Devil and enter into the Strong Hold of Christ in God.  How do we do that? We must start with the Word of God and find the promises that apply to our situation, stand on those promises until we see a result that is in accordance to God's will ( Hebrews 6:12). Also we must cast down every thought and imagination that do not line up with those promises (2 Corinthians 10:5).  We must allow God's Holy Spirit to be the stronger man in the temple of each of our bodies and let Him guide us in the eviction of those things that are not of God in each of our lives (Matthew 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21-26). Finally we must network and fellowship with believers who are overcoming the Strong Holds of Satan in their lives. ( 1 John 2:12-14; Philippians 2:1+2, 4:4-8; Ephesians 4:1-6)

One word of caution: Be vigilant because when you begin to leave the Strong Holds of the Devil in your life (1 Peter 5:8+9), be not surprised that the Devil will tempt you to stay in his Strong Hold just a little while longer.  Just long enough for you to lose sight of your salvation, your redemption in Christ.  Don be surprised when he returns with some friends after Jesus has cleaned you up and set your house in order. If you find yourself in this situation, go to the promises of God's word and remember that your salvation does not depend upon your faith on your actions, it depends upon your faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for your salvation.  Also make the Holy Spirit a welcome guest in your house and Satan will avoid coming in.

The Christian Offensive

Jesus told Peter that, "...Upon this rock, I will build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it..." (Matthew 16:18) Let me ask you this question: Have you ever seen a gate attack anyone? No one has, that is because gates is a defensive mechanism.  Gates do not attack, because gates control the flow of traffic from one place to another through a doorway or an entrance.  What kind of traffic are each of us allowing to flow into and out of our lives through these Gates? The kind that up to now, that has some believers captive in Satan's Strong Hold.  

Now Jesus, when he made that statement obviously had a vision of His Church overcoming the Strong Holds of the Devil by taking control of the Gates of Hell.   In any battle where the invading forces are attacking the walls of a fortress, the attacking force always seeks a way in.  The attacking forces understand  that as long as they can not penetrate the defenses of the fortress,  the defenders of the fortress can continue to hold out.  A good example of this is the historical fall of the City of Babylon in 539 BC.  The walls and the defenses of the City of Babylon were formidable, but the invading force found a way into the City. The invading forces took advantage of  the canal entrance in the wall, that canal ran through the entire City. the legendary City of Babylon fell to the invaders. So what are those Gates of Hell that has prevented the Church to move into what Jesus has prepared for us?  Those Gates of Hell are the limitations, the prevention of the progress of the Church.  Preventing the Church from invading all that is on the outside of the Strong Holds of Satan. Each of us believers in Christ are a part of the Church, which is the  mystic universal body of Christ.  Which brings this issue to each of us: What are the limitations that are preventing each of us from leaving the Strong Holds of Satan?  The Bible says, "My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge..." (Hosea 4:6) We often forget that we in a war for our hearts and minds,  it is a spiritual battle. We are not fighting flesh and blood, we are fighting spirits of darkness in high places and thereby breaking free of the Strong Holds of Satan in our lives ( Ephesians 6:12). However, the longer we remain ignorant of this fact the more power Satan gains over each one of us.  Let each of us not be ignorant of Satan's devices. We must continue to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12) understanding how we wage war largely depends upon the level of our faith. In other words, what each of us believes God can do through Christ in each of our situations dictate how much victory we will enjoy (1 John 5:4+5; Hebrews 4:6).  

Up to now some of us believers have been letting different spirits come and go as they please, invading our lives, plundering our faith and our substance through the uncontrolled access of these Gates. Thank God that Jesus gave us the power to overcome and  control them so that we might enjoy a life of victory. 

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