The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds- 2nd Corinthians 10:4 NIV
The world is a flaming-hot-dumpster-fire of a mess right now.
Addiction, divorce, sexual sin, rage, hate and offendedness have all become routine in our increasingly unhappy and unhealthy culture. Government leaders everywhere are failing to meet the needs of those they were elected to serve. Corporations are filling the leadership gap and are quickly becoming weirdly authoritarian taskmasters with zero checks on their worst impulses. Social unrest is at an all-time high and no one really seems to know what to do about any of those issues.
The question we should all be asking ourselves is why?
Why are people so much messier and more evil than they were just a few years ago? Why does the world seem to be teetering on the edge of madness all the stinking time? Why has evil taken root in the hearts of so many? Why are so many becoming despotic? Why are people so easily offended? Why are people so incredibly vindictive and cruel when they are offended?
The short answer to all those questions is of course sin. People are sinners and fewer and fewer people care about sin or putting any kind of restraints on their own corrupt inclinations these days. As a result, the world and the people in it are becoming more immoral, more sinful and more wretchedly unhappy.
The longer answer is much more complicated, as longer answers always are. Due to sin in the church Christianity has lost much of its moral authority and spiritual influence in the world. This has left people without a roadmap to figure out life. People on their own rarely make good choices which always leaves a moral vacuum and evil inevitably finds a way to fill moral vacuums.
This has led to a proliferation of spiritual strongholds in the lives of those both inside and outside of the church. A stronghold is a place where Satan has gained a foothold in the life of a person and sin has taken root. A stronghold is a place in a person’s life that has become a fortress for the enemy. When someone has a spiritual stronghold in their life they become controlled by unhealthy behavior or thoughts.
The Church and the people in it cannot do anything about what the world chooses to do or not do. We cannot force non-Christian people to make healthy or wise choices about how they live life. However, Christians can make healthy choices that empower them to get and stay free of addictions, life-controlling behaviors and thoughts. In the process, we can lead other people to a better place. But, first we have to be free of our own spiritual strongholds. The most common strongholds include unforgiveness, offendedness, shame, perfectionism, anxiety, rage, addiction, productivity, insecurity, unbelief, deception, critical spirit and control.
The only way anyone can be the influence God intended us to be in this world is to get free of the strongholds in our lives. We get free through the following four practices:
No one can get free of anything they refuse to see or acknowledge. Because the human heart is both naturally wicked and self-deceptive it is sometimes difficult to see our own sin (Jeremiah 17:9, Proverbs 21:4). For that reason, is critical we examine our hearts and lives frequently for sinful behaviors and attitudes that have taken root (2nd Corinthians 13:5) or sin that we have never really dealt with (Acts 8:23).
Once we become aware of a sin or sinful stronghold, we must:
Make prayer a priority-
Sin that it is not confessed and prayed through can never completely be eliminated from our lives (Mark 9:29). The longer a behavior has been a part of our lives the more entrenched it will become and the longer it will take to effectively deal with it. There is a temptation for Christians to turn to worldly means to deal with spiritual issues. Christian counseling and coaching can be useful in helping us to understand why we do the sinful stuff we do and in keeping sinful habits broken. However, prayer must be our first line of defense when it comes to dealing with a sinful stronghold.
Always choose obedience-
In Luke 11:24-26 Jesus makes it clear that new habits and behaviors are the key to staying free of spiritual oppression and strongholds. Too often Christians who have been set free from life-controlling behaviors stupidly believe they can live any way they choose without spiritual consequences. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anytime we make the choice to willfully sin we invite demonic oppression into our lives (1st Peter 5:8, Ephesians 4:26-28). Making the choice to become increasingly more faithful and obedient to Jesus is absolutely necessary if we wish to stay free of demonic strongholds. Period
Immerse ourselves in a community of believers-
The Christian life is all about working out our brokenness after we receive salvation (Philippians 2:12). However, we were never meant to do that solo (Ecclesiastics 4:9-12). We all need a core group of people in our lives who will spur us on to better choices (Hebrews 10:23-25).
Authentic Christians have a natural desire to make the world a better place. However, for too long too many Christians have tried to skip over the necessary step of working through their own junk before they tried to assist the world with theirs. This has been a miserable failure. It is time for the Christian world to face the hard reality that we can only help others with their sin after we have broken the strongholds in our own life.