Peninsula Community Church
Understanding Spiritual Strongholds
September 30, 2018
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
Over the last few weeks, and especially this week, our eyes have been focused on the events surrounding Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. This has unsettled so many on both sides of the issues. The way this has been handled, the words that have been spoken, and the lack of substantial evidence should not surprise us. Let me say this, I believe that Dr. Ford has most likely suffered some traumatic event in her life, but it is unfair to accuse one that seems completely innocent. The Bible is explicit that in the last days we would find ourselves facing the truth that right would be wrong and wrong would be right. The enemy is having a hay day and is causing division on so many levels and not just politically. It is happening in government, yes, but, it is also happening in communities. It is happening in our relationships. It is happening within us. It is happening all around us.
With that in mind I would like to take the next couple of weeks to review the power of strongholds and the various aspects of spiritual warfare. During this time we will look at the spiritual influences that impact our life. We will examine the affect of these spiritual influences on us and on society. We will review the process of how strongholds are established in our life. I ask that you pray as we begin to discuss these things, as I know that we will face opposition and will face our own level of spiritual warfare in greater ways. But, I think it will be worth it.
As we begin, perhaps it would be helpful to define what a stronghold is and how demonic influences impact us. I love what Max Lucado says. A stronghold is a false premise that denies God’s promises and diminishes the knowledge of God. In our passage today, Paul states that a stronghold “sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” It attempts to magnify the problem and minimize God’s ability to solve it. That is the greatest impact of a stronghold in our life. It seeks to destroy or negatively impact the knowledge of God in our life. It’s goal is to distort truth and distract from that which is God’s word and God’s truth. Its goal is to keep us from seeing God for who He is and to see how He has created us.
In my opinion this is the bottom line for most of the issues we face. I remind you that these issues in their most basic understanding are not political but are spiritual at their core. The things we face today are a fight for rulership and authority in our life. It is a battle for control. It is a battle for the moral high ground. It is a battle that goes beyond democratic and republican parties. This is not a political battle but it is certainly a spiritual battle for the soul of mankind. It is not an American issue. It is a battle for spiritual dominance and a reset of the Biblical worldview.
Because these are spiritual issues, most of the problems we face are a result of the fact that God’s influence in our society has been reduced and in many cases has been removed. We have removed prayer from the public arena. We have removed God from our schools. We have not asked God to be at the forefront of our decisions and actions. In fact, in many arenas God is the problem and therefore He must be removed. The result of removing God from the public debate is that we are becoming more and more godless as a nation. We are becoming more interested in political power, self-exaltation, and selfish gain than being a God fearing nation.
I have argued for some time that most of the issues, if not all of the issues, we face today are a result of satanic influences that move men against God. Whatever the issue, it is spiritual at its core. Whether it is abortion, feminism, gay rights, abortion rights, sexual identity, pornography, or any of the many other issues that are at the forefront of our society, these issues are spiritual at their core. In reality it is an argument against God’s design for the world. Many of the issues we encounter are in reality contrary to what God desires and to His character.
In our passage today, we are confronted with the idea of spiritual warfare. We fail too often because we fail to understand that we are in a battle and it is a battle for truth and righteousness. It is not just any truth or righteousness, as defined by those around us. It is a matter of what God believes to be true and what He believes to be righteousness. You see once we move off center, in regard to God’s truth, we subject ourselves to strongholds and negative spiritual forces.
So what do we do. First, we must be aware that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. Here is the point we do not fight like others do. We fight with God’s arsenal. Look at what Paul says in Ephesians 6:12. 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. Notice here that our battle is with spiritual forces whose purpose is to destroy our view of God. If these forces go unrestrained, they will hold sway over this world and will control our thoughts.
Here is the truth, our battle is not with liberals or the unsaved. Our battle is against demonic forces that influence people with negative attitudes and false doctrine. When God and God’s truth is rejected long enough, God will allow man to believe whatever they want. He will allow man to do whatever he wants. That is what Paul says in Romans 1. Those who refused to acknowledge the truth and refused to acknowledge God, as God, have become futile in their thinking and their hearts have been darkened.
Sadly, today we are looking at hearts that have been darkened by sinful choices and their thinking is futile as a result of rejecting God. They have become futile in their thinking which blocks truth. It is noteworthy that the word futile comes from a Latin root word that means “leaky.” Because they are futile in their thinking, they are incapable of producing any useful result. Why do we scratch our heads at some of the decisions those without Christ and those who have been captivated by demonic influences make? It is because their thinking is futile and is not producing any positive results. Their hearts have been darkened. That is why many can do horrific things without batting an eye or thinking twice about it.
Secondly, in this process, we must not attack people but we must attack problems. That is why Paul states that our warfare is not of the flesh but it is spiritual. The enemy loves to get us to the point where we make the person the problem, but it is the spiritual dynamic that is at work and that makes the difference. Certain people are the tools of demonic influence but they are not the problem. The stronghold in their life is the problem. Rather than attack the person, we must address the spiritual influences that affect them so they are healed.
Thirdly, we must pray for those who are darkened in their thinking. Judge Kavanaugh’s daughter had the right idea. We need to pray for those who would attack righteousness and a Godly worldview. I wonder if we realize how powerful a tool we have through prayer. Here is the problem so often. We are quick to post our views on Facebook, and talk around the tables at McDonalds, and the water cooler at work, but how much have we really prayed? How much have we humbled ourselves so that we are coming from the purity of a heart that is focused on God’s will and purpose? Certainly we are angry and we a filled with sadness about a process that has become convoluted. We are dismayed at the level of spiritual influence that is working against the knowledge of God, but in all of that we must focus our attention on our own heart. Last week we talked about giving grace. Grace is given when we humble ourselves before God and focus our attention upon Him with prayer.
2 Chronicles 7:14 comes to mind in this moment. Listen to God’s words. Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. Did you notice what this says? If we do these things God will answer. There is hope in prayer.
Fourth, we must destroy the arguments and lofty opinions about the knowledge of God. How do we do this? We present the truth. We live the truth. We breath the truth. Truth is the best way to destroy arguments and lofty opinions. Paul continues to tell us that we must take captive those thoughts which diminish the knowledge of God in our life. This is both a personal response and a corporate response. But, we cannot have a positive corporate response if we are not willing to deal with our own futile thinking and the places where our hearts are darkened.
As we close, let me give you three things that help us take other thoughts captive and that should encourage us. First, God is the origin of all things. He is the creator of all the heavens and the earth. He has it under control. Secondly, He is the Lord of all things. Congress is not Lord! President Trumpet is not Lord! God is Lord. He has been and continues to be our Lord. The enemy’s work does not change the fact that He is the Lord of all things. Thirdly, we are accountable to Him for all that we do. One of the things that rubs man the wrong way is to present an authority higher than he is. We do not want to surrender to any one. We are our own god and we are self-sufficient to the degree that we do not need anyone else in our life. But we must recognize that we are not our own god. We live in authority to God who is higher than all of us. That brings healing and that brings us hope in a convoluted and a spiritually bankrupt world.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom