For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 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…. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
What do you do about a stubborn sin? You have prayed about it; you have promised not to do it again; but once more you have succumbed. Your life has become a miserable cycle of temptation, surrender, sorrow, repentance, and recommitment—only to be repeated over and over. This is no longer only a sin—it has become a stronghold of Satan.
Paul’s use of the word here in 2 Corinthians is rooted in a term for a fortress or castle. A stronghold is a place where the Devil has a “strong hold” on you. The enemy is firmly entrenched. A castle is not constructed overnight. The foundation is laid when a sin is committed, and then brick after brick the fortifying occurs as the sin is repeated. For example, here is how a stronghold of pornography would develop:
You are surfing the internet. An advertisement catches your attention—perhaps some celebrity has been caught in a scandalous situation—photos included. You are curious and you click on it. Images are burned in your mind. Links take you to other sites, even more sordid—like a moth drawn to the flame. Then, you get a grip, and close it down. You confess it and ask God’s forgiveness. Still the images haunt your mind, and the next time you are online you feel the tug. Again you surrender—soon you become obsessed—accompanied by the inevitable guilt and shame.
Don’t think it cannot happen to you. It may be something else—greed, exaggeration, bitterness, anger, fear, gluttony, drunkenness, pride—the list is large. Has it happened to you?
The battlefield is in your mind—and that is where the spiritual weapons God has given us must be applied. There must be submission to the truth, confession of the stronghold, and dependence on God. We must put on the whole armor of God (see Eph.6:10-20), each piece put on with the prayer of faith. Take up the sword of the Spirit—the Word of God—and go on the offensive. This is how Jesus overcame temptation in the wilderness and put Satan to flight. He knew the Word, trusted it, submitted to it, quoted it, and stood His ground. He did that as a man to show us how humans can overcome. We do not argue with the Devil—he can always outtalk us—we rebuke those arguments. We bring our thoughts into submission to the Word of God. When our minds are full of Scripture, there is no room for Satan to flood our thoughts with evil. In fact, our thoughts will either be captive to the enemy or conquered by Christ.
Revelation 12:11 names three powerful weapons for overcoming Satan: the blood of Jesus, the word of our testimony, and a commitment unto death. The blood of Jesus cleanses and covers us. It seals us as belonging to God—the purchase price of redemption. We do not have to be mastered by sin anymore. We belong to Jesus. We testify to that—confessing God’s promises to counter the enemy. Our lives are no longer our own. The cross signifies our death to sin, and the empty tomb promises new life. The power that raised Christ from the dead is available to us!
Demolish that stronghold in Jesus’ name!