It’s time to clean up your mind and choose truth! We spoke of this in part 1, and know that dealing with strongholds can be overwhelming and confusing. Let’s face it; we are bombarded by temptation every day through the media, our jobs, friends, family, billboard advertisements, and almost everywhere we shop or vacation! It would be easy for us to think that if God didn’t want us to struggle with strongholds He would keep us away from things that might tempt us, but that’s not how He works. God wants us to trust Him with our strongholds and be honest with ourselves, and Him, about them. He wants us to demolish the lies so that He can fill our hearts and minds with Him and His truth.
I was reading Psalm 48 during my devotions one day and verses 12 & 13 spoke about the Israelites needing to walk around Jerusalem and check its defenses. I have a Life Application Bible so I often read the application at the bottom of the page. The application stated;
“After an enemy army had unsuccessfully besieged Jerusalem, it was important for the people to make a tour of the city, inspecting its defenses and praising God for the protection it had offered. In times of great joy or after God has brought us through some great trial, we ought to inspect our defenses to make sure that the foundations – faith in god, knowledge of his Word, and fellowship and prayers of the body of believers – remain strong. Then we should praise God for his protection.”
It occurred to me, that I need to evaluate how I’m doing and shore up areas I’ve allowed to be infiltrated by lies, or have refused to deal with. Like a computer, I need to check for viruses. Not all viruses are intentional, but they can result from spiritual battles in our minds. If Satan can get us to believe a lie, he gains control over our feelings, behavior and reactions.
Here are a few suggestions for “inspecting your defenses”:
Do a daily/weekly inventory – go over the things that happened in your day or week; what went right; what went wrong; what and where are some weaknesses that need to be addressed?
Evaluate if you have unforgiveness towards anyone. Nothing keeps us in bondage or creates strongholds more than unforgiveness. Satan’s greatest success is when people are unwilling to forgive those who have offended them.
Evaluate lies you may believe. Satan has a field day with those who buy into his lies. We have to keep in the forefront of our minds the fact that Satan is the father of lies, and he will work to destroy our concept of God and our understanding of who we are as His children. Satan can’t do anything about who we are in Christ but he can get us to believe that it isn’t true and encourage us to live as though it isn’t true.
Repent. If, in our inspection, we find that the thoughts running through our minds are lies we’ve believed and acted on, we need to repent of them so that we can experience freedom, and God’s presence. God cannot coexist with sin.
Rebuking negative thoughts won’t work. We are not called to drive away the darkness; we are called to turn on the light! We can only overcome negative thoughts by choosing the truth!
If you are finding it difficult to sort through the lies you have bought into and the truths in God’s Word, seek out godly counsel. Life In Abundance has safe, godly women who will walk you through this process and help you see who you are in Christ.
II Corinthians 10:3-5, “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,”
What is a stronghold? According to Webster’s Dictionary, it is described as a fortified place; a place of security and survival; a place marked by a particular characteristic. If we think about strongholds in relation to our lives, they may look like: addictions, unhealthy choices, polarizing fear and/or anger, shame/guilt, legalism, anxiety, worry, control, etc. Strongholds are the things we surround ourselves with. These are the things we keep going to time after time to justify, excuse, blame shift, protect and self-gratify. In effect, these are the lies we have bought into, believed and continue to live out each day. Instead of building up our faith and trust in God, we have built up strongholds/fortresses of hurtful, negative lies and behaviors.
God’s Word says that we must demolish these strongholds. We must demolish the arguments (reasons, rebuttals, and lies intended to persuade us) and every pretension (allegation of doubtful value, right, or intention) that sets itself up against the truth; the knowledge of God. Next the Bible says that we must take every thought captive (keep within a boundary) to make it obedient (willing to obey) to Christ.
This means that every time a thought of worry, anxiousness, blame, overeating, taking a drug not prescribed to us, watching or buying porn, self-gratification, anger, fear, or memory of a past unhealthy/ungodly relationship comes to our mind, we are to stop them immediately! We have to respond as soon as they come into our mind. If we allow ourselves to continue thinking tempting thoughts or ruminate over ungodly images/thoughts, we will continue to be overwhelmed and intimidated by them. Eventually we will act on them. If we allow that initial tempting thought to linger, even once, it will be very hard for us to turn away from it the next time it pops into our head. That’s exactly what Satan wants!!
Let me be clear at this point, just because an unhealthy or not so great thought pops in your head doesn’t mean that you have already sinned. Thoughts pop into our heads all the time. The world constantly throws things at us. We also have memories that may not be pleasant and are hurtful. It’s what we do next, after the thought occurs, that can become sin or victory. Sin comes into play when we choose to linger and ruminate on the thought, or choose to act out the thought, not in the initial thought itself but in the action following it.
The next time your thoughts wander or old lies/desires begin to fill your mind, try doing the following:
Stop the thought and pray!
Write helpful scripture on a 3 X 5 card and quote it out loud over and over. (Phil. 4:6-9, Ps. 119:9-11, Rom. 12:2, Col. 3:15)
Create a Gratitude list: write down things you are grateful for.
Call a safe, godly friend, mentor, counselor and talk it out.
Listen to good music and sing out loud!!
Find an activity that allows you to expend a lot of energy and do it when the thoughts threaten to gain control.
With God’s help, you can fight strongholds. The victory is in Him!
Faithful. I think we all hear that word often, but what does it really mean? The Merriam-Webster says that it is “loyal, firm in keeping promises or in fulfilling duties, true to the facts.” Wikipedia defines it as, “the concept of unfailingly remaining loyal to someone or something and putting that loyalty into consistent practice, regardless of extenuating circumstances.” I cannot think of even one time in my life that I was faithful as defined here. Can you? As humans, we may have moments that we are faithful to something or someone, but there is not really any person who is truly faithful.
Proverbs 20:6 says, “Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?”
God’s faithfulness is something we have all experienced, whether we acknowledge it or not. The very life we have and the breath we breathe are from Him and reflect His faithfulness.
Acts 17:25 says, “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”
It is unfathomable to imagine that He would not only give us life, knowing the terrible things we would do, but He continues to sustain our lives and even allows us to do and have things we enjoy, even when we do not accept the gift of the sacrifice of His own life for us.
2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.”
While it is so incredible to know that God is faithful to all people, it is also important to remember that He is especially faithful to His children. There are different promises for those of us who are in Christ than for those who are not. For example, in Philippians 4:19, Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, he says,
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” What a promise!
The Bible is full of reminders of God’s faithfulness that we take for granted each day. My prayer is that we will fill our hearts and minds with His promises and faithfulness, so that we may never forget to thank Him for everything and praise Him for His faithfulness.
Psalm 92:2: “It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening.”
Today, I challenge you to take a few moments to ‘bow in worship and praise His name for his unfailing love and faithfulness,’ while listening to the song posted below.
Psalm 183:2 “I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.”