The first thing we must do is define strongholds because we must have the basics to understand what strongholds are because if we lack this understanding we will not be able to overcome them.
First I will lay a foundation. A stronghold is something a person is bound by. It will grip you so tight and you do not have the ability to break free. Often when dealing with strongholds we try to bind the symptoms without dealing with the root cause, because for us to be set free we need to get to the root cause of why these strongholds have formed in our mind.
The dictionary defines strongholds as, “a place that has been fortified so as to protect it from attack.” So, to put this in context a stronghold is a fortified area in our mind and spirit where the power of darkness (Satan) operates and it has power over us, this is where Satan operates, this is where he has power over us. I am not talking about someone who is possessed by a demon. I am talking about an area in our spirits, in our mind where we are under attack by the enemy and we are bound in our mind and we are bound in our spirit and we cannot fulfill our purpose in God.
These fortified strongholds in our minds are formed by the enemy, Satan. They are formed through lies and they are formed through deception. They are formed because we open a door and we allow the devil in, we allow him to come in and we allow him to operate in our minds. When Satan forms these strongholds in our minds and spirit he does everything he can to protect this area from attack.
I would like to conduct an exercise with you. Imagine that someone has gripped you tight, they have come up behind you and they are holding you real tight and you are trying very hard and struggling to get away but you are not able to break free. Just think about this for a moment. You are bound and you cannot get loose, you cannot get free. Think about how you felt; imagine the emotions this situation evokes. Trying with all of your strength to break free but are unable to.
Now I want you to do the same exercise but this time imagine yourself fighting and this time you are able to break free. You use whatever you have at your disposal to break free and this time you are successful. You break free from the person who has you bound. Think about this for a moment. Think about how you felt, imagine the emotions this evokes.
I conducted this exercise with a woman I have been counseling and this was her reaction. During the first exercise she said it made her feel powerless, in the second exercise she felt powerful, and she felt mighty. I explained to her the reason she felt powerful was because she had the tools she needed to break free. She used everything she had to break free from that situation and she was no longer bound. Now imagine this is a spiritual fight which because this is exactly the fight we are in. The weapons we use are not fleshly but they are spiritual, but if we do not know what weapons are available to us we will not be able to win the fight.
II Corinthians 10:4-5 it says, “(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.” What does this mean? It means we have been given weapons to fight the enemy which is Satan. These weapons are not carnal, they are not fleshly, but they are mighty through God. We must recognize that the weapons we have been given to fight the enemy are mighty, we have been given mighty, powerful weapons through God and these weapons are for the pulling down of strongholds. God has given us these weapons for the pulling down of imaginations and to cast down everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ.
Now let us look at Ephesians 6:11-18 which lists some of the weapons God has given us. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” These are some of the weapons we have at our disposal but for these weapons to be effective we must put on the whole armor of God. Above all take the shield of faith. Your faith is very, very important because by faith we can quench all the fiery darts of the enemy, any fiery dart that Satan sends our way. We have faith when we trust in God; we know that what the word of God says is true.
We also need to take the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. Now, if we do not have the word of God, if we do not know what the word of God says then we will not be able to defeat the enemy. We must learn the word of God; we must study the word of God because this is what Satan respects. He respects the word and if you notice in the Bible when Jesus was tempted of the devil he always used the word, he always said: “it is written.” Every time Satan came to him with temptation Jesus said, “it is written.” Therefore we must learn to use the word on the enemy. We must tell him “Satan it is written” this is what the word of God says. This is how we overcome the enemy, this is how we pull down strongholds, and this is how we pull down wicked imaginations by knowing the word of God.
Now often we are not aware that we are bound by a stronghold, we are not actually aware that there are certain areas in our life in which we have found ourselves in bondage to the enemy. We are not aware this often because it takes the Spirit of God to shed light on the situation, it takes the Spirit of God to shed light on these strongholds and show us how they are operating in our life. As I mentioned earlier, I am not speaking about someone who is demon-possessed. I am talking about someone who has been bound in a certain area or areas of their life and that person is not operating freely. The person is not living how God says they should. God wants us to live an abundant life.
Often we do not know strongholds are operating in our lives because of ignorance. It is not because of something we have done, it is because we do not realize the strongholds are there. However, God wants to shed light on the situation today. He wants to shed light on these strongholds we might have in our life. But for the light to come forth we must be willing to pray and seek God, we must be willing to ask God to show us and pray Lord if I have any area in my life where I am bound, if there is anything that I am bound by then I need you to show me so that I can break free. We break free through prayer and supplication to God. We also must understand that we have the power, we have the authority to break the bonds of Satan through the Holy Spirit; we do not have to stay bound. This is why Jesus came, this is why he died and rose, to set the captive free.
As I mentioned earlier strongholds form in the mind and they bind our spirits. Often these strongholds begin to form in childhood and they continue on through adulthood because Satan knows the areas in our lives where we have been wounded, he knows the areas in our lives where we have been hurt. We can be in different situations, crises situations, things can happen in our life such as physical, emotional or verbal abuse. We can be in situations where we are not popular and different thoughts come to our mind about ourselves and we begin to believe these things; we begin to believe that these thoughts are true not realizing that everything he is speaking to us is a lie. Satan is saying these things and they are not true but we do not realize it because we have become accustomed to listening to these thoughts and we have not been taught that these thoughts are being planted in our minds by the devil. Therefore we accept it and believe that these thoughts are true. This continues on and on and eventually the hole is so deep that it takes the spirit of God to set us free, it takes the spirit of God to break us free from the bondage and captivity we find ourselves in, we must be “renewed in the spirit of our mind” Ephesians 4:23.
Now these situations we find ourselves in can create open doors in our minds and they create open doors in our minds. They create open doors in our spirit and what we must do is close the door. We must shut the doors through prayer, seeking God and asking him to set us free. This is how we close the door, we must keep the door closed and not allow Satan to come in and operate and have free reign in our minds, Ephesians 4:27 says, “Neither give place to the devil. We should not give the devil any opportunity to rule us. We should not give him any opportunity to have control over our minds and our spirits.
If you think about it long enough I am sure you can identify some area in your life where you know there is something wrong. There are things that have happened to you and it has formed something in your mind or in your spirit and you hear the word of God and go to church, get prayer yet somehow it seems that you just cannot break free from these thoughts or actions. You just cannot get deliverance from what you are seeking deliverance for. God is concerned about each individual person; he wants each person to be set free. For that reason to be set free from bondage is not about what someone has done to us, it is not about what someone is doing to us. But it is about our reaction, how we handle the situation, how we go through our test, how we go through our trials. God is concerned about these things. To reiterate it is not about what people do to us, but it is about our reaction.
One stronghold Satan uses is fear. The spirit of fear is a very strong spirit and it is something God wants to break us free from. Fear does not come by itself, it comes with low self-esteem, insecurity and doubt, and it comes with thinking you are not good enough. All of these things are connected to the spirit of fear. These are different thoughts Satan brings to your mind, these are different emotions this spirit makes you feel about yourself, but God does not want us to be bound. He wants us to be set free from everything we have been bound by because of different things that have happened to us over the course of our lives. Fear brings torment of the mind and it brings torment of the spirit. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7.
When we fear we lack faith; faith in ourselves and more importantly we lack faith in God. We lack faith in what his word says about us and what it says he will do. If you are bound by a spirit of fear today know that God wants to set you free. God wants you to enjoy life. But when we are bound we cannot enjoy it the way God intended for us to. God has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness, but we have to believe that we can be set free.
I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
In conclusion, you can be set free today, pray, seek God and ask for deliverance. It will come to pass.