Thursday, March 20, 2014
The Two Realms and how strongholds are formed
Unforgiveness is a classic example of a stronghold. We feel aggrieved because of the hurt – but the sin of not forgiving the hurt affects us and we are the ones imprisoned and disabled by it.
LIVING “naturally supernaturally” and other similar phrases can be a bit tiresome if overused, but they are all trying to convey the sense of living in these two realms, and being aware of where our day to day routines intersect with spiritual realities, both good and bad.
We’re not puppets and there are no control strings, but there is a sense of our movements, what we speak out and what we do, being followed, both by those who are for us (God’s angels) and by those who are definitely not for us, who are out to disrupt and harm and confuse and cause deception in our lives as much as they can, at the same time being very scared of us as those who have power and authority because of who we are in Jesus. If they can get us to forget that – and if they can get some occupation in our lives owing to past or present sin, they’ll have what soccer devotees call “opportunities”.
So to live in clarity about who we are, walking with God and ready to put right any unrighteous area He shows us, is a winning strategy for a battle already won at the Cross. Our job is to take possession of what is ours. If we are going to storm the gates of hell, snatch back captives and see them set free by God’s love – well, what else is church for, apart from fellowship and worship? – we’d better be free ourselves.
• Anger (Eph. 4:26-27). It’s not wrong to get angry – it’s just a feeling, a symptom. Some people are jerks (and some are feisty). However it is wrong to remain in a state where that feeling of anger remains. The enemy sows mistrust, leading to conflict, with the objective of anger causing separation and division – which it will, if we don’t deal with it. It is stronghold-surfacing time if we are (or if our friends detect that we are) angry inside – it will show in the way we express ourselves.
• Unforgiveness and bitterness (Matt. 6:14). If you can’t talk about it but you can’t move on from it, there’s a hold here. It’s the most common sin in the church. Most of us can explain God’s grace, which breaks through ‘the rules’ with its generosity. However, most of us want to quote our sense of the rules when someone has wronged us. Until we can forgive unconditionally, we remain chained to the hurt and the enemy has an easy target.
• Unbelief (Hebrews 3:12) Hebrews talks about having an “evil heart of unbelief”. We can be believers who, however, have strongholds of unbelief which block where God wants to take us, or how he might use us. This is how that verse is rendered in The Message:
So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God.
It is often ‘lying around’ quite well buried, with roots possibly in some long-past disappointment. We need the Holy Spirit’s gentle and sensitive way of revealing the hidden things, for us to see what came in and why – and then we can take an earthmover to that “place” where the enemy has set up a squat.
• Wandering walk (James 4:4-5). There are many others we could list, such as false expectations or sense of entitlement, but getting lost in the maze of this world’s distractions can sometimes result in the distractions becoming more real than the discernment. The reference points of glamour, celebrity, label and brand awareness, the TV created world, grandstanding individuals and always-on communication give us a lot of attractive-looking openings – but where do they lead? The Holy Spirit jealously longs for us to be faithful to God – why would he not do that? – but our insistence in looking to other attractions in an adulterous way (as James 4:4-5 puts it) sets out the welcome mat for other spirits to have a place to distract, deceive or just confuse us.
Strongholds are broken by saying no to the enemy’s lies and putting them out of our thought life, and receiving forgiveness and truth. The five straightforward steps,which we will look at further, are: