We all have struggled strongholds–how can we break strongholds in our lives and walk in the freedom and victory we have in Christ?
Have you ever found yourself stuck in a negative cycle–a seemingly endless tailspin that leaves you hopeless and discouraged?
Do you find yourself constantly trying to find freedom from an area of your life that continually plagues you?
This is a stronghold.
Defining Negative Strongholds
The term stronghold in the Greek language is defined as a fortified castle or fortress.
It is also important to note that the Bible speaks of a powerfully GOOD stronghold–and that is God Himself.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.Psalm 18:2
Because God is our fortress and strength, the Bible has many references to God being our stronghold.
In this post, we will look at the negative strongholds in our lives that prevent us from resting and leaning on God as our ultimate strength and fortress.
We must tear down negative strongholds in our lives by renewing our hearts, minds, and souls through the power of the Word of God.
Tearing Down Strongholds–A Look at King Josiah
Take a look at seven powerful ways to break strongholds by studying the life of King Josiah.
By the time he became king at the age of eight, the nation of Israel was a divided kingdom that strayed from the commands of the Lord.
He was raised in a family that blatantly dishonored God. The beautiful temple that Solomon took such great care to build was no longer used to burn sacrifices to the Lord, but Josiah’s grandfather Manasseh built altars to false gods in the temple courts and inside the temple!
Josiah’s grandfather did great evil in the eyes of the Lord, even more evil than the surrounding nations who did not fear God (2 Kings 21:9).
Josiah’s father Amon also did great evil in the sight of the Lord. He was eventually assassinated by his own officials, which was how Josiah became king of Judah.
Talk about a seriously dysfunctional family history!
1. Break Strongholds by Identifying Generational Sin in your Family
You may have come from a family that did not honor the Lord. You may have been raised in a home where sinful acts of rebellion against God were the norm.
But that does not have to be your story.
Take a look at the contrast in Josiah’s reign:
He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. 2 Kings 22:2
Josiah decided not to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, and walked in the ways of God.
In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, he summoned the priest Hilkiah and other workers to begin repairing the temple, which had been left neglected for far too long.
In the process of the repairing of the temple, the Book of the Law was found (2 Kings 22:8).
Moses had instructed the people of Israel to place the Book of the Law in the Ark of the Covenant (Deut 31:26).
Unfortunately, the people of Israel did not follow God’s law. With each new generation, the words of the Lord were passed down less and less.
Josiah recognized the sins and mistakes of his family and took action to make things right.
2. Break Strongholds with a Heart of Repentance
When the Book of the Law was read to King Josiah, he tore his robes in grief and wept in the Lord’s presence (2 Kings 22:11, 19). He realized how far his people had strayed from the precious words of God’s holy law.
God in his grace and mercy saw the repentant heart of Josiah.
He did not pour out judgment on the nation because of this young king’s change of heart (2 Kings 22:17, 19).
Josiah then gathered together all of the people of Judah and he himself read the words of the Book of the Law to the nation.
The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.2 Kings 23:3
3. Break Strongholds by Demolishing Idols
After Josiah and the people of Judah pledged their commitment the Lord, he had one last matter of unfinished business to take care of.
He totally demolished all of the idols that had been erected in the temple of the Lord by his grandfather Manasseh.
He removed Baal and the entire starry host. He burned the Asherah pole and ground it to a powdery dust.
He tore down shrines, pulled down altars, and smashed to pieces everything that was offered as worship to anything other than God.
Josiah even went so far as to wipe out all the priests of these detestable gods. He got rid of the mediums and spiritists Manasseh consulted, the household gods, and all other abominable idols in Judah and Jerusalem.
Everything had to go.
After such a radical cleansing of everything that opposed the holiness of God, here is what was said of Josiah:
Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.2 King 23:25
Here is a young man who did a complete 180 degree turn in his life.
He heard the word of the Lord, and realized that he and his people had fallen drastically short of God’s standards of holy living.
He turned away from the things that dishonored God and turned to him with all of his heart, soul, and strength.
This is the nature of true repentance.
Throughout the Old Testament God continued to call his people back to him, urging them to love him with their whole hearts:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Turning our hearts away from sin and towards the heart of God is a powerful way to break the strongholds in our lives.
4. Break Strongholds with the Power of God’s Word
Have you truly loved the Lord with every ounce of who you are? Have you committed to love God with your entire being, your whole heart, soul and strength? Have you given him control of every aspect of your life?
What prompted Josiah’s drastic change of heart?
The Word of God.
God’s Word has the immense power to transform our hearts.
The living word of God is found not only in a written book, but on the pages of our hearts and minds.
What messages are written on your heart?
Josiah went through drastic measures to tear down and demolish the idols that took up residence in the temple of God.
If we are not careful, we can allow the worldly influences of our culture to write messages in our hearts that directly oppose the truth of God’s word.
These messages can slowly influence our thinking and begin to build up strong fortresses in the temple of our hearts.
None of us ever intend to invite these thoughts into our hearts, but before we know it, we start to believe these messages.
- “You’re not worthy of love.”
- “God could never forgive you for what you’ve done.”
- “You’ll never be good enough.”
- “Do what you want—God doesn’t really care about you.”
- “God isn’t good.”
We must break the power of these negative thoughts with the strength and power of God’s Word.
5. Tearing Down Strongholds in our Minds
What patterns of thinking, prideful thoughts, or worldly messages have written negative messages on your heart? Have some of these thoughts over time built up immense strongholds within your mind?
Paul in 2 Corinthians speaks boldly to the church in Corinth regarding their negative thought patterns:
The weapons we fight with are not 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 Cor 10:4-5
Some of the negative messages in our hearts can be so strong within us that they hold us mentally captive through a stronghold.
We can become prisoners of our own torturous thoughts, preventing us from living in the freedom Jesus died to give us. Listen to this same verse in the King James Version:
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…
The King James Version explains the word “pretension” (used in the NIV) as “every high thing” that elevates or exalts itself against the knowledge of God.
Think of an idol or false god described in the Old Testament.
What was it?
It was a wooden or metal object that was set up to be exalted, worshiped, and accepted as truth.
Josiah’s grandfather built “high places” and erected altars to Baal, set up an Asherah pole and bowed down and worshiped the starry host (2 Kings 21:3-4).
Do you see the same language used in 2 Corinthians 10:5? These “high things” were set up in order to be worshiped and exalted.
Exalted against who? Against the one true God.
The definition of exalt means to praise, acclaim, and pay tribute to. Worshiping these false gods was such an offense to God Almighty because he is the only true God worthy of worship, praise, and exaltation!
Spiritual strongholds can become negative messages written on our hearts and minds that are set up and exalted against the knowledge and truth of God’s word.
Josiah later demolished these idols that were set up against the truth of who God is.
He alone is holy.
He alone is worthy.
He alone is God.
Exalt the living God of the universe in the temple of your heart, and tear down any message, thought or attitude that is in direct opposition to him.
How do we tear them down?
With the Word of God.
Through Jesus we have been given the mighty weapon of the sword of the Spirit. This is the Book of the Law; God’s holy word.
Use your weapon to tear down and demolish any “high thing” that seeks to exalt itself above your Savior.
Instead of living as a captive to the lies of the enemy, capture every wayward thought and make each one bow the knee to the power and authority of Christ.
Let the demolition begin!
6. Tearing Down Negative Messages
To demolish the negative messages that have built up strongholds in our hearts, remember these three steps:
1. Capture the thought by identifying the lie.
2. Attack the thought with the truth of God’s word
3. Believe the truth of God and praise him for who he is.
What negative messages from your family, our culture, or from yourself have been written on your heart?
What lies have you believed about God and about yourself?
It’s time to tear down those negative thoughts and replace them with the powerful truth of God’s Word!
7. Pray to Break Strongholds
One of the best ways to demolish strongholds in our lives is through the power of praying God’s Word.
When we call upon the Lord in prayer, we have the victory through Christ!
Lord, I come to you with faith and confidence that you hear me. Thank you for forgiving my sins, and that I can now approach your throne of grace with boldness (Hebrews 4:16)
I come before you in the name of Jesus, and ask that you reveal to me any strongholds that are holding me back and keeping me from walking and living in the victory that I already have in you.
I thank you that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Through the power of your name I demolish, cast down, and completely shatter any stronghold that is keeping me from living in complete freedom and victory in you.
I destroy every stronghold of fear, anger, bitterness, and shame–they are obliterated in Jesus’ name!
Thank you that this is possible through the power of your Holy Spirit living in me. I abolish any other thoughts or negative patterns of thinking that are hostile to the Gospel and against your Word of truth.
I pull out every root of bitterness and lingering seed of despair.
Taking Every Thought Captive
Help me to actively and forcefully take captive every thought that does not line up with the truth of your Word.
I will no longer dwell, consider, or ponder these things. Instead I will meditate on whatever is true, noble, good, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8)
I choose to seek your face and renew my mind according to your Word.
Thank you that because of the finished work of the cross, these strongholds have no power over me, and I can walk in the fruit of the Spirit each day!
Praise be to your name!
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