Peninsula Community Church
May 1, 2016
Strongholds – The Finish
Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
As we come to the end of this series, I trust you have been encouraged and challenged to allow God to bring change into your life. No matter where you have come from or the events that you have faced, God can bring victory to you today and for the future. The goal of this series has been to help us in our journey and in our growth in Christ. The desire from the beginning has been to assist you in knowing what strongholds might be in your life and to give you the tools you need to live as free people in Christ. While we might be wrapping up the series we will continue to discuss the freedom that is ours in Christ. This discussion will continue to be a element of every message we share.
Paul understood the need for freedom and release from the strongholds of life. He understood the work that needed to be done in a person’s life. For that reason he encouraged and challenged the church at Ephesus to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. The idea presented by the word strong is to be empowered with strength. It is a power that is resident within us. Just as in a stick of dynamite there is power but it is not revealed until the fuse is lit. We are empowered by the work of Christ in us and that power is revealed when we need it.
This morning I would like to look at nine things we can do to assure that we are dealing with the strongholds we face. I will call these the 9 R’s*. Let me say from the onset that this is not some secret formula but rather it is an ongoing process of walking and living in freedom. I would also suggest that we need to apply all of these in our life so that we are fully and completely free. Acting on a part of these would be like leaving out key parts of a building process. For example, the building process will not be what it should be if you leave off the doors and windows. Without doors and windows the thief has easy access to our home. I would also suggest that applying these nine principles separates those who want to go through the motions of life as a believer and those who mean business about their freedom. I am not sure about you but I mean business today.
The first “R” is relationship. To truly be set free we must begin with a relationship. You see the one true relationship we need more than any other is a relationship with Christ (John 1:12-13). To know Christ is to know real freedom. This is critical because we know that religious acts alone will not set us free. We know that just keeping the rules will not bring freedom. The one thing that sets us free is our personal ongoing relationship with Christ. By having a relationship with Christ we live without condemnation (Romans 8:1). I shared with you a couple of weeks ago my personal journey with the strongholds I faced and continue to face at times. I can tell you today that my life radically changed the more I found myself in relationship with Christ and I accepted the fact that I do not have to be condemned by my past.
The second “R” is recognize. We must recognize and thus admit that we have a problem. The fact is we cannot change what we do not admit to or accept as a problem. We cannot trust completely in Christ to save us until we come to some awareness that we are helplessly, hopelessly lost, and unable to save ourselves by our own good works. In this case, we must admit that we have been living with a spirit of anger, self-pity, bitterness, being wounded, guilt, regrets, abandonment, lust, and so on. We must admit that we have allowed these negative emotions to control our life and that they have reduced our effectiveness to live life to the fullest.
The third “R” is responsibility. We must then take responsibility for our actions and for allowing the strongholds to control us. By allowing these things to control us, we in essence become a servant to the stronghold. But to be free we cannot blame others. We cannot blame our circumstances. We must however take responsibility for our actions and for allowing such things to dominate our lives. Refusing to lay blame means we come to the place where we accept the need to change and begin to take a course of action to change. That brings us to the next ‘R’.
The fourth “R” is repent. It is here that we must ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9-10). True repentance means there is a change of heart which leads to a change of action. Through repentance the heart is changed which leads us to change the way we act and the way we respond to the issues we face. By repenting we take a stand where we no longer allow these things to control us or to define us. When we take responsibility for our actions and for being controlled by false standards we will repent. Let me add one caveat here. Our repentance must be in the name of Jesus who brings life, hope, and the promise of a new day. So, what does repenting in Jesus’ Name mean for us? It means that we accept Christ’s authority and all that His name represents. In essence we are inviting the authority of Christ into our lives to assist us in overcoming the obstacles we face.
The fifth “R” is renounce. Not only do we repent but we must renounce these things so that they can no longer control our life. The term renounce is defined as to “formally declare one’s abandonment of a claim, right, or possession.” By renouncing these things in our life we are saying that we will no longer claim a right to these strongholds. We renounce their power to control us or to define us. By allowing them to continue to exist we are in essence allowing sin to dominate us. And in so doing, we will never experience full freedom.
The sixth “R” is remove. We must cast the work of the enemy from our life. How do we do this? Jesus who is our example. He spoke to the demons that existed and He commanded them to go in His name (Matthew 10:8, 12:28). We must remove the work of the enemy from our heart but we must fill it with Christ and a new way of thinking. Without doing so it will be too easy to fall back on what is natural or common for us. Without a new way of thinking or living we will be tempted to fall back to the way we use to respond or think about things. In so doing we will find ourselves trapped again.
The seventh “R” is resist. While it is important to repent, renounce, and remove these elements from our life; the fact is we can be tempted by the thing that we have dealt with. Once free we must continue to resist the enemy’s work in us because it is an ongoing battle. Continue to resist the devil and he will flee from you. Don’t give in and don’t surrender your new way of thinking to an old way of thinking. Refuse to go back to the way things were. The problem is illustrated by the Children of Israel who were delivered from Egypt and the ways of Egypt and yet they continued to want to go back to their old way of living. They desired the leeks and the garlic of Egypt more than the water of life that God was offering (Numbers 11:4-6, Exodus 14). It was a comfortable place of them as that is the place they knew and even though it was a horrible place they found comfort in that place. Don’t go back. Resist the devil’s temptation to recapture your thinking.
The eighth “R” is rejoice. We must give God praise and thanks for what He is doing and what He has done in us and through us. We praise God for our freedom and we praise God for giving us the wisdom to see that we need Him. We must give thanks for all that God has done in us and that we have the ability and the opportunity to live in freedom. The joy of the Lord is our strength and as we learn to rejoice in Him we are more likely to be free from the power of the strongholds that we face (Habakkuk 3:18-19, .
The ninth “R” is restore. We pray for restoration for ourselves but we also begin a ministry of restoration to others. We emulate the work done in our hearts and we promote the good work of Christ in others. We share what Christ has given us. Here is the beauty of this. Healed people will heal people. That is our goal and purpose. We are to experience the healing of God so that we can bring God’s healing to others.
As we close let me say this. While most of the statements that have been made today seem to imply that the success of breaking the strongholds in our lives is dependent on our actions but that could not be further from the truth. We must take advantage of the power of the Holy Spirit that is ready and willing to help us overcome. We must partner with and invite the Holy Spirit to break us free from those things that hold us bound. After all, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty and freedom. To be free, we must invite the Holy Spirt to reside in us.
Finally, we must take action. I would like to close today by having us take a particular step toward being free and delivered. I would ask that you take one of the small sheets of paper that we are now distributing. On the page I ask that you write down one or more of the strongholds you face. After you have done that I invite you to come here to the altar and present it to God. We do this through repentance where we turn this over to God and we take steps to resist the work of the enemy in us. As you do this I ask that you go through the steps that we have shared here today. Start with your relationship with God. Recognize that you have a problem. Take responsibility for the problem and then repent, renounce, and remove that stinking thinking from your thought processes. Then once you have surrendered this to Christ continue to resist the enemy’s attempt to recapture your heart. Finally, begin a life of rejoicing and one of restoration where we celebrate what God has done and we begin to share this work with others. Are you ready? Let’s do it.
- Adapted from Kim Karlson’s 9 “r’s” of freedom.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom