Walter Patrick Bissell (1 December 1957 – 29 December 1987) was an American Ballet Dancer who was known for his brilliant performance. He was a fine Athlete also. He happened to die at a very young age the age from Cocaine overdose. What happened?
As Patrick’s mother admitted later he was a victim of physical and verbal abuse at her hands for a very long time when he was a child. Many years of abuse left him emotionally wounded very deeply. Instead of seeking professional help he sought after Cocaine for temporary relief.
Many will blame the mother but there’s a spiritual aspect to this tragedy. Satan used Patrick’s hurts as a foundation to build a wall of lies about him, brick by brick. The Bible calls this a Spiritual Stronghold.
As God’s children, it’s crucial that we learn about Spiritual Strongholds in our own lives and how to deal with them because they are one of the highly effective strategies Satan use against us. I will share with you 5 core truths today.
Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (Core Bible Verse)
1. A Literal Stronghold is a Structure
A. Literally speaking a Stronghold is actually a reference to a fortified structure or a Fortress. In ancient times fortresses were built to defend great cities from invading armies. They were very strong structures constructed using thick and solid stones. It made a counter attack much easier as the Archers at guard on top of the fortress could rain down arrows on the enemy on the ground.
B. These structures were built on mountain tops or high places. Those that were built on the lower ground were often surrounded by a water-filled moat – often inhabited by carnivorous fishes like Piranha. Highly guarded at times of war no one could enter in or go out without prior permission (The wall of Jericho – Joshua 6:1)
2. A Spiritual Stronghold is a Mindset
A. In the New Testament Paul, the Apostle uses the term ‘Stronghold’ as a metaphor to refer to a false yet very strong state of mind. (It’s the fruit of Satan’s work within us.) This state of mind, in particular, takes the form of an argument, a false logic or speculation that underestimate the redeeming power of God. (…every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…)
B. For example, someone you trusted, who should have played a father-figure role in your life deeply betrayed your trust and hurt you. As a result, the devil lied to you that you are on your own because no one could be trusted. You in turn then become fiercely independent, so much so that you have trust issues, which has then resulted in a struggle to trust God for who he is.
C. So this mindset among other things can cause us to sin, inaccurately convince us about the person of God, urge us to live according to erroneous interpretations of Scripture, entertain pride of life, distort our perception of how God sees us and feels about us when we sin.
3. The Formation of Spiritual Strongholds
A. It often begins with an emotional wound we experience caused by hurt or disappointment that makes our heart fertile ground for seeds of lies to be planted. On this foundation, the devil then begins to build brick by brick walls of logical lies.
B. The moment we buy into these lies and agree with the devil, thereby ceding control, that area of our lives become a Spiritual Stronghold, which the devil vigorously defends and retains control of.
C. As years pass by these walls can become so strong the victim will not even want to be helped. The Paralytic by the Pool of Bethesda is a classic example of such situations. After 38 years of waiting he believed God cannot heal him unless he gets into the pool first when the water is stirred.
4. Common Roots of Spiritual Strongholds
Spiritual Strongholds differ from one person to another so are their roots. Given below are the most common roots.
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross provides atonement for all sins. However, Christ can’t atone for sins we decide not to confess, (Proverbs 28:13). Devil the enemy of our soul thrives on secrecy and will establish a stronghold in unexposed sin in our lives.
These are lies about God, about yourself and lies about how God sees you. Lies that the devil has been whispering over and over in your mind for years, which in your pain, you have unfortunately chosen to believe.
Engaging in the occult is nothing less of posting a ‘Vacancy’ sign on your life for evil spirits.
When we harbor bitterness against others the devil takes advantage by keeping us in bondage. The people who wounded us may not deserve to be forgiven, but we forgive because Jesus Christ forgave us for an even greater sin against God. Secondly, we forgive because it sets us free from bondage produced by bitterness.
5. Tearing down the Spiritual Strongholds
A. Many Christians fail at this because they don’t even know there is a stronghold. Therefore we need to prayerfully probe our lives for constant battlegrounds, unhealthy habits or thoughts patterns and struggles we don’t want others to know. Remember that Strongholds can take the form of good things also. Such as food, religion, a fierce-protectiveness. Although good they become toxic to your soul when the roots are in demonic lies that stemmed from a wound.
B. Spiritual Strongholds can only be destroyed through non-stop Spiritual Warfare. To wage such warfare however you need to abide in Christ. (…we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ…) Mentioned below is how to do that.
C. Spiritual Strongholds are built upon lies. You must replace those lies with God’s truth. To do so you need to start exposing yourself to God’s Word in a systematic manner and confess the truths you learned against the Strongholds you have identified. Any unhealthy habits and thought patterns that are foundational to known Strongholds must be replaced with healthy habits and godly thought patterns.
Finally, we need to guard our hearts closely lest the devil can rebuild his Strongholds that were brought down. To guard our hearts must remember one thing. Our identity is not rooted in our success or failures but in the work of Christ that was completed on the cross. Jesus saw every failure, shortcoming and every sin we would ever commit, and yet he laid His life down for us (Colossians 2:14). We don’t have to perform to earn God’s approval because Christ has already earned it for us. We only need to believe.
(If this sermon was helpful to you please consider leaving your feedback in the comments section at the bottom. It would be a great encouragement to me personally.)