Thursday, August 8, 2013
Five foundational freedoms: Known strongholds
WHO ARE WE FIGHTING?
YOU would be surprised at the way quite experienced Christians become confused over life’s battles and who they are fighting. Strongholds in others take a more strategic intercession approach, and we cannot control those people (and should not seek to – that would be witchcraft) because they have free will, but faithful intercession does bring God’s order and beneficial change.
However, it is not only legitimate, but commanded, that we take control of our OWN attitudes. Satan’s scheme to rob us of Christ’s abundant life is simple and oft-repeated. He deploys spiritual forces of darkness to keep us in as much bondage as possible. Ignorance and inaction (passivity) keeps us there, but once we realise that we are empowered people because of our new identity, we can start dismantling the prison!
DISCERN THE STRONGHOLDS
Some strongholds are easily identified and overcome. Others are more hidden and involve a battle. Your prayer triplet friends or those in your growth group have been in a few battles themselves, and will stand with you in yours.
Jim was a young dad who accepted Christ, a sincere Christian with leadership potential – except for his unfortunately tendency to ‘fly off the handle’ with family members when things got to him. He asked some Christian brothers to pray with him about his anger issue. As they did some listening on his behalf, the word ‘pornography’ came up. Jim agreed that this was a word for him – a helpful, if uncomfortable, piece of revelation. It was clear to him that there was no judgment going on, and there was a peace and security on the Holy Spirit which helped him. Pornographic addiction had allowed Satan an entry into his life, and as sometimes happens, the oppression manifested in an apparently unrelated area – as anger. He confessed the addiction and the resulting anger as a sin, renounced pornography in his life and destroyed all the material he owned. God delivered him from his rage and he began a journey in God’s grace of walking out his deliverance and staying free.
The weapons in this story were submission to other believing, discerning people he trusted (godly submission, which is so contrary to the way the Satan works, is a mighty force in seeking freedom), and prayer which brought insight. These are good underlying principles.
Let’s build on those with some specifics. Here are four practical steps you can take, having first arranged some uninterrupted blocks of time, to pray and let God speak to you.
1. Claim Christ’s victory. This is your protection. Read 1 Corinthians 15:57 and pray: “Father God, I thanks You that the full price has been paid and complete victory is mine because Jesus died for me and rose again. As I do battle with the enemy and take hold of Jesus’ overcoming triumph, I claim your full protection over me and my family, in Jesus’ name.”
2. Receive God’s cleansing. Read 1 John 1:9 and confess any and all sins that are not rooted in strongholds in your life.
3. Surrender your will to God’s will. Tell Him that you want His wholeness and freedom. Invite His Holy Spirit to direct your thoughts and show you His plans (laying down any of your own) as He brings to mind specific areas in your life and points the path to freedom.
4. Confess sins as God brings them to mind. Where there’s a stronghold there is an entry point – a sin or experience that gave the enemy opportunity to put a stronghold into you. Search your heart. Let the Holy Spirit bring possible strongholds toi mind.
Here are some common ones:
Occult involvement. The Bible repeatedly condemns all forms of witchcraft, spiritism and ancestor worship. In our world, having your fortune told, using an Ouija board, involvement in false religions or seeking any spiritual power apart from Jesus Christ is putting out the welcome mat for the enemy. Confess and renounce your involvement in any of these things and receive God’s forgiveness.
• Anger. God intends us to demonstrate peaceful love rather than violent hate. Do you have difficulty with violent outburst? Do you harbour bitter feelings towards a certain group or type of people? Confess any uncontrolled temper as sin, following the steps above.
• Addiction. People struggle with many forms of addiction: alcohol, drugs, sex and pornography are common ones. Do you? Is it cyclic i.e. you break free only to return a short time later. Confess your adiction and seek God’s full cleansing and release.
• Resentment. Who has hurt you? Who do you need to forgive? Family members, friends… yourself? Don’t wait till you feel like it (you won’t) but choose to forgive to remedy the sin and break the stronghold which is affecting you.
DEMOLISH THE STRONGHOLDS
God’s weapons, His Word and His Spirit “demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). You are learning to allow God to highlight areas, and to respond by confessing sin and acting on the confession e.g. by renouncing an involvement or forgiving others. Now you can participate with God in demolishing strongholds. Pray like this, speaking it out:
“Lord Jesus, I thank You that through Your power I can pull down and destroy all strongholds in my life in the areas of (name them) _______________.
“Wicked spirits, I forbid you to work in these areas again or for any other wicked one to take your place. I declare all your works destroyed in the name of Jesus.
“In the power and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, I bind and command you to depart from me. I consider all your thoughts destroyed and will not allow you to put any false assistance or reasoning contrary to the Word of God in my mind. Amen.
DECLARE CHRIST’S VICTORY OVER THE STRONGHOLDS
Read aloud this Scripture declaration and prayer:
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
“As Your child, O God, I declare that You have overcome and defeated Satan. I overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb, the word of my testimony, and a total surrender of my life. I now ask You for a fresh empowering of Your Spirit in every area of my life.
“Thank You, Lord, for dying for me and for guiding me into receiving Your freedom. In the blessed name of Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.”
• In tackling strongholds, this has taught you to take responsibility for your life and also to pray in a bold, assertive way that goes beyond simply asking, to declaring the truth of Scripture. It is in line with the direct way Jesus modelled prayer for us (Luke 11:2-4, Matthew 6:9-13). Start as you mean to go on!