Written by Duane Vander Klok

Whether you realize it or not, you are in a war. In fact, the Apostle Paul referred to the Christian life as “the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).

The source of every spiritual battle you fight is rooted in one of three things: the world, your flesh or the devil. And, a huge part of each battle takes place in your mind.

Your Mind
God places great importance on your mind, and He created you in such a way that you will always move in the direction of your dominant thoughts. The Bible says in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”What and how you think affects every area of your life.

It’s really quite simple: the way you think is the way you live. Your thoughts literally shape your habits and control your life. God’s intent is that all your thoughts and actions would be influenced by His words. Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God’” (Luke 4:4). That is what God says should be normal for us.

Most people assume the way they think is “normal,” but that is not necessarily so. Our culture, traditions, how we were raised, and the things we experience fill us with thoughts, ideas and beliefs. Unfortunately, many of these are far from what God says is normal.

Strongholds
The Apostle Paul talks about how God has equipped us to deal with thoughts that do not line up with His Word. He said, “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).

We need to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. What this means is that there are going to be thoughts that come into our minds that we need to reject. These thoughts – the ones we should reject but do not – can become strongholds.

Strongholds are the result of wrong thinking or beliefs that have taken root in your life. They are contrary to God’s thoughts and are most often inspired by the devil’s lies – lies you believe about yourself, God or others – and they give the devil a strong hold on your actions, behaviors and habits. The more strongly you believe these lies, the stronger the hold.

Example of a Stronghold
Several years ago a man came to me with tears in his eyes. He said, “Pastor, I want you to pray for me.  I have been in an adulterous relationship for over a year and a half. I’m torn up inside, but I just can’t seem to stop. I want you to pray that I will stop.” What he described was a stronghold.

I told him, “I’ll pray for you, but it isn’t going to do much good.” He had a look of shock on his face, but I continued on like I didn’t notice. I shared Romans 12:2 which says, “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.”

You see, the way you are transformed, the way you change your behavior is not by prayer alone. You can pray a thousand prayers, but if you do not renew your mind, your behavior will not change. If you do not change how you think, you will not change how you act, because as you think in your heart, so are you.

So, I said to the man, “I will pray for you, but you need to change the way you think.”

I recommended that he renew his mind by reading Proverbs 5 and 7 every day. Those two chapters talk about how you fall into sexual sin, the consequences of it, how to get free and stay free. I told him that, on a weekly basis, he needed to read Samson’s story about how sexual sin messed up his life. And I also told him to read David’s story about his sin with Bathsheba and the consequences it had on his life and family.

Those two men in the Bible had believed lies from the world, the flesh and the devil which led to strongholds of lust and adultery just like the man who asked me to pray.

Change What You Believe
Strongholds don’t just sit in your mind doing nothing. They produce actions, behaviors and habits that, no matter what you try, seem impossible to get rid of. It is like being in a boat that is filling up with water. You can grab a bucket and work really hard at getting the water out of the boat, but the water is not the problem.

The problem is that there is a hole in the bottom of the boat. Until you plug the hole, you are going to keep getting water in the boat. All the hard work in the world will not get the water out.

The hole in the bottom of a boat is like a stronghold. It is something you believe that causes certain behavior or habits. You can try really hard to get rid of the behavior but, like the water, it just keeps coming back. You cannot get rid of the habit until you change what you believe. That is how you plug the hole.

When you change what you believe, you will change what you do. As you think in your heart, so will you be.

God is Always Right
Many, if not all, people have strongholds in their minds that hold them in bondage by the way they think. There are strongholds of addiction, anger, fear, loneliness, rejection…the list goes on and on. No matter what kind of stronghold controls you, it keeps you from God’s best for your life.

The psalmist David said, “All Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128). He is acknowledging that God is always right about everything. He’s right about marriage, money, families, forgiveness, sex…anything you can think of, God is right. He also said “I hate every false way.” Every false way is every idea, every reasoning, anything you think or do that is contrary to God’s Word.

Perhaps as you have read this article, you have already identified some ideas or beliefs, habits or behaviors that are false ways. If so, you need to pull down the stronghold.

You Can Pull Down Strongholds
“But Pastor, how do I do that?” Here are some steps you can take to pull down strongholds:
1) Ask God to show you the lie you have believed.
2) Repent of believing the lie and receive God’s forgiveness.
3) Ask God to show you the truth.
4) Believe the truth and exercise your will to choose His ways over yours.

As God speaks to your heart, here are some things to remember:

• Allow the Holy Spirit to make God’s Word a reality in your heart and mind.
• Meditate on how this Word applies to your life.
• Place yourself in agreement with what God says about you (see yourself as God sees you).
• Dwell on how what God says changes your situation.
• Let what God says be your “new normal.”

Finally…
In Jeremiah 23:29, God says: “‘Is not My Word like a fire…and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?’” As you meditate on God’s Word, it will burn down and break apart the wrong thoughts and lies of the enemy that you have believed.

When you change what you believe, you will change what you do. As you think in your heart, so will you be.

You can pull down strongholds!

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(Scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless noted otherwise.)

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