Spiritual Strongholds: A short look at 2nd Corinthians 10: 3-6
I have been pondering, for some time now, just how much authority Satan has in the life of the saved believer. I use the term "saved believers" because there are many who believe yet are not saved.
Those believers who, after accepting the Gospel of Christ, continue in their sinful life styles are, in my opinion, unregenerate. These folks are still under the enemies jurisdiction since they never left their worldly ways. They are not saved. They often blame their carnal ways of spiritual strongholds. When, in fact, they simply love themselves more than God.
I do not have a electronic salvation detector that tells me who is saved and who's not. But James 2:4 tells me that faith with out works is dead. Jesus said in John 14:15 "If you love me you will obey my commands". Paul instructed us in Roman's 6:12 not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies. In Matthew 7:21 Jesus openly confirms that there are those who believe themselves to be saved but are not because they are not doing the will of the father. If a believer has not changed since his conversion then most likely, he is not saved.
For the record, I am not making a case for
sinless perfection. I am saying that salvation is more then simply
prescribing to the Christian belief system.
If you are a saved believer, your actions will agree with your faith. You will be seeking to satisfy the desires of the Spirit of God, not the desires of the flesh. You will be remaining in the vine, Jesus Christ. There is no room here for question. The saved believer has been born again and is striving for righteousness. He is not perfect but he is growing spiritually.
Those that are saved have become a new creation. Through Christ they have been redeemed and set apart. Predestined to be conformed into the image of Christ. The process of sanctification is actively being worked out in their lives. This "process" is under the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit. He takes the circumstances of their life and orders them to bring about repentance. We have been promised that His Will shall be worked out in our lives and that He will keep us strong to the end.
1 Cor 1:4-8 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
I don't believe that Satan has open access to the saved believer. God has placed boundaries around our lives that he can't cross. He can not snatch me away from God. When I willfully sin, there will be consequences for my action. I will have to answer to God. He will disciplines me. I find this comforting because he is a good father who loves me and his chastisement will be with my best in mind. I am safe in His care. I am not worried that the Devil has just been given apart of my soul.
The problem I see with the stronghold teaching is it gives Satan authority in my life. It suggests that part of me belongs to God and that part of me belongs to Satan. I can see no scriptural backing for this notion. What I see is a relentless struggle between me and God. The real "stronghold" in our lives is not the addictions and sins of our past and present life. They are simply the byproduct of the stronghold. The Stronghold is the self centered desires of our own personal will. Our "self will" or "sin nature" is the real stronghold.
I need very little persuading from the Devil to convince me to appease my flesh. It comes naturally.
Stronghold teachers often teach that we have given ground to the enemy. That because of our opening doors and windows of sin in our lives, Satan was allowed to come in and set up a fort. They use this imagery to describe addiction and destructive habits. It is presented in such away that it leaves a question in the mind of the Christian. Is there a possibility that Satan, if left unchecked could snatch us out of God's hands little by little? This teaching leads to such teachings that suggest that the Christian can be demon possessed. Ultimately it calls into question God's ability to save and keep us.
I strenuously disagree with this position! I caution all to be careful when dealing with stronghold teachings.
Indeed Strongholds exist in the form of addiction, but do not make the mistake of believing that they are under Satan's Authority. They are not. They are in your control and under your authority until you give them over to God. If you, as a Christian, are an addict of any kind. You will remain an addict until you decide to do what is necessary to stop being an addict. If your life is a mess, an exorcist will not help you. You need to repent and turn from your wicked ways. Submit your self to God's Word and find a stable brother or sister in Christ to help you and encourage you in your endeavor to overcome your addiction.
People who come to Christ often come with addictions. Most often, their life is screwed up. But by the Grace of God they do not remain in this state. They begin to grow as the Holy Spirit works in their life. This is called sanctification and it is a life long process. I do not believe we will ever be sinless this side of Heaven. But we should be overcoming none the less.
Strongholds are those
area in our lives that we, our selves, cling to stubbornly refusing to allow
God to take control. Some strongholds require help and a great deal of work to
overcome such as drug addiction. Others simply require a change of understanding.
But all require a commitment to change. To submit wholly to God's Word. The
grace of God is there to give us what we need to tear down that stronghold. To
empower us to accomplish His will in our life. As we learn to totally submit to
Him, strongholds are broken down. It is that simple.
Stronghold teachings give birth to statements like" The Devil made me do it" I am here to tell you dear Saint, If you are a Child of God, The devil can't make you do anything. Satan has no authority in your life other than what God allows. Consider Job. A man that was afflicted in the flesh. Everything that happened to that righteous man had to be approved of by God.
With this in mind lets look at 2nd Cor 10:3-6
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
The battle is indeed in the mind. Paul points out that you can't fight this war the same way you would a tangible enemy. It must be done by walking contrary to our flesh and by submitting to God's Word. This passage identifies the enemy as Arguments or anything that exalts it self against the knowledge of God. Things such as humanistic reasoning or self exalting thoughts that are designed to justify sinful actions.
Paul instructs us, as saved believers, to take captive our thoughts. For it is there the battle is won. Not by rebuking demons in the Name of Jesus, but by turning to God's Word and submitting our minds to His control. By rejecting every thought that tempts us to walk after our own desires.
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Take a moment and consider your christian walk. Are you growing spiritually. Are you overcoming the sin in your life? I Hope you are. If not, man up and do what is right. Purpose today to stop hiding behind excuses and self justification. Do the things necessary to be victorious over your flesh.
Your Brother in Christ
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