House of Thoughts
By Francis Frangipane
There are satanic strongholds over countries and communities, and there are strongholds that even influence, to some degree, churches and individuals. Wherever a stronghold exists, it is a demonically induced pattern of thinking. Specifically, it is a "house made of thoughts" that has become a dwelling place for satanic activity.
Removing Satan's Armor
"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder" (Luke 11:21-22).
Before we were saved, Satan was like a fully armed "strong man" guarding the homestead of our souls. On the day of our salvation, however, "someone stronger," the Lord Jesus Christ, attacked and overpowered Satan and stripped him of his armor. Our born-again experiences may be widely varied, but in the spirit-realm, a very similar war was waged and won for each of us. If we could have seen into the invisible world, we would have observed the Holy Spirit working with the angels of God to overpower and destroy the enemy's "armor."
What exactly was this armor that protected the devil and kept us from salvation? The armor upon which demons rely consists of our own thoughts, attitudes and opinions that are in agreement with evil.
What Jesus described as "armor," the apostle Paul classified as "strongholds" (2 Cor. 10:1-4 NKJV). It is important to recognize that, in speaking of strongholds, the apostle was addressing the church. It is foolish to assume that there are no strongholds in our hearts and minds. Our salvation experience has overpowered the enemy, but it has not eliminated all the wrong ideas and attitudes -- the strongholds -- that are still influencing our perception and behavior. Yes, old things passed away; true, new things have come. But until we are walking in the fullness of Christ, we should not assume that the process of transformational change is over.
On an individual level, the foundation of our continued success in warfare comes from yielding to the Lord as He reveals these strongholds and agreeing with Him through repentance in pulling them down.
It is important to recognize that when we speak of strongholds we are not talking about random thoughts or occasional sins. Perhaps the strongholds that affect us most are those that are so blended into our thinking patterns that we do not recognize them nor identify them as evil. Remember, in our initial text, Jesus revealed that unclean spirits are seeking "rest." The sense of rest they seek originates from being in harmony with their environment. In other words, when our thought-life is in agreement with unbelief, fear or habitual sin, the enemy has rest.
It is significant that when the Holy Spirit enters our lives many changes occur suddenly. However, we should not be surprised if the process of deliverance should involve a season of inner conflict and turmoil. This is a good sign, signifying the individual's will desires to be free. We should expect a time where we must exercise our authority in Christ as we "resist" the devil (1 Pet. 5:8-9). Paul speaks of the "struggle" of the church against principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12). There will be a period of fighting involved in the process of pulling down strongholds, for you are breaking your agreement with a foe who will fight to remain in your life.
Taking Every Thought Captive to Christ
While we may find comfort in being Christians, being a Christian has not made us perfect. There are still many strongholds or unchristian attitudes within us. Therefore, let us identify some of these spiritual fortresses. Rare is the Christian who is not limited by at least one of the following strongholds: unbelief, cold love, fear, pride, unforgiveness, lust, greed, or any combination of these, as well as the possibility of many others.
Because we excuse ourselves so readily, it is difficult to discern the areas of oppression in our lives. After all, these are our thoughts, attitudes and perceptions; we justify and defend our thoughts with the same degree of intensity with which we justify and defend ourselves. As it is written, "As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7 KJV). In other words, the nature of who we are exists in our thought-life. Therefore, before any lasting deliverance can truly be accomplished, we must honestly recognize and confess our need and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, begin to capture our unchristlike thoughts.
Indeed, the first stronghold that God must remove is pride. For until one is willing to admit that he needs deliverance, he will never seek to be free from strongholds. However, at the same time, our journey is envisioned by the Holy Spirit. For as Christ emerges in our lives, the mystery of man's identity is unveiled: man in the image of God. Christ, the pattern Son, is the "firstborn among many brethren." He is the very seed of God growing in us (Rom. 8:28-29).
Let us also realize that only Jesus can be Jesus. As we yield to Him in increasing degrees of surrender, as we abide in Him and His Word abides in us, He brings forth life that is not simply like His own but is His very life. Christ Himself living within us fulfills the Father's eternal purpose. It is the presence of the Lord Jesus coming forth in us that makes the weapons of our warfare mighty, empowering our words with authority as we pull down strongholds.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, I submit to You. I declare, according to the Word of God, that because of Your power to subject all things unto Yourself, the weapons of my warfare are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Cor. 10:3-4). I repent for using the lie, "I will never be like Jesus," as an excuse to sin and compromise my convictions. In Jesus' name, I renounce my flawed, sinful old nature, and by the grace of God and the power of Your Spirit, I pull down the stronghold of unbelief that exists in my mind. Because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I am a new creation. And I believe that I will go from glory to glory, being continually transformed into Christ's image as I walk with Him in His grace.Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, The Three Battlegrounds, available at www.arrowbookstore.com.