Saturday, September 15, 2012

Strongholds: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

In my Bible reading lately I've run across the word strongholds. Now, typically when I hear about strongholds, I immediately think of something negative--an area of my life where the Enemy loves to work. Places of unforgiveness, low self-esteem, fear, doubt, worry, pride, etc. are all considered strongholds that believers hold onto for one reason or another. I've never really considered what the term stronghold means.

Here's an outline of biblical usage which comes from the lexicon:

Place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold
a) place of safety, fastness, harbour, stronghold
b) refuge (of God) (fig.)
c) human protection (fig.)

The Bible usages refer to it as a fortified place. The same root word as Fortress (2 Sam. 22:33) and Strength (Neh. 8:10) and Defense (Ps. 27:1) and Refuge (Ps. 52:7) and Helmet (Ps. 60:7) and Protection (Is. 27:5) and Safety (Is. 30:3)

So if a stronghold is actually a place of safety or a refuge, then how has it become associated with sin? I don't think the strongholds mentioned above start out as sin. We worry about finances when times are lean. That's a normal human thought. But it's when we stay in that place of worry--we camp out there--that it becomes a place of sin (a stronghold). That's when we are essentially saying we don't trust God to provide. That's only one example of a potential stronghold.

What I found really interesting is the connection between the definition of stronghold and our (my) own sins. I started thinking about what I turn to for safety, for refuge, for strength for comfort. If it's not God first, has it become a stronghold in my life? Hmmm. Ouch!

"A stronghold is an area of thinking
in which we allow Satan entry.  
Satan cannot force his way into our mind.
It's our private space." ~ Charles Stanley

I don't have a lot of answers here. I'm just sharing my thought process as I grapple with issues. However, I do know that only God's Word can break down those strongholds. Truth defeat lies. So here is a bit of truth to hold onto as we think through this issue. And if you have any thoughts on this subject, I'd love to hear it.

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.~ 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

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