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Overcoming Strongholds

Peninsula Community Church

Overcoming Strongholds 

July 29, 2018

Joshua 6:1-7 Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.” And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the LORD.”

This morning we will continue to take a look at the battles of the Old Testament. How these battles were won will give us insight into how we should fight the battles we face. As noted last week, each battle described in Scripture is different in scope, different in how it was fought, and different in how God intervened each time. God used different experiences to show how He would intervene and work on our behalf. Each battle won was in fact a miracle that only God could do, so that His name would be glorified and honored. 

Today, we will look at the battle of Jericho. As we review this story, we find an amazing opportunity for God’s power to be revealed. To understand this story, we must begin with the truth that God had commanded Israel to take the land. They had been on the wilderness journey for forty years and had crossed over into the promised land. When they crossed over into the Promise Land everything changed. In the wilderness, God provided for all of their needs. He guided them with the cloud by day and the fire by night. He gave them food, water, and their clothes did not wear out.

You see while they had been given the land, they had to possess what already belonged to them. They had to drive out the enemies that lived there so that they could set up their homes and become the nation that God had called them to be. God would be there for them as He promised in Joshua 1. Listen to the words God spoke to Joshua.“Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.They are in the promise land, but they have to put into action what they had been told to do by God. They were to possess the land. 

This brings us to their first encounter which was the city of Jericho, an impenetrable city. History tells us that Jericho was a walled city with walls wide enough for two chariots to race around the top of the wall. Some historians have suggested that the walls were so reinforced that it would take even the most powerful force over a year to penetrate the wall. They also had enough provisions stored up to last them more than a year. It was a mighty fortress and Israel was ill equipped to take the city. To take the city, God had to intervene.

As Israel approached the city, we find that the testimony of God’s power and His exploits had preceded them. The residents of Jericho knew who they were and what they could do. They ran into the city for protection and safety because they knew the power of God. They knew that God was on their side. In our journey, we need to know that whatever enemy we face is more intimidated by God than we could ever imagine. 

As we look deeper into the story, we find that Joshua sends in a reconnaissance team to survey the land. He wanted to know the enemy and he wanted to know the odds that were against him. What they already knew was confirmed by the team. Their enemy was large, well equipped, and powerful. The city was well fortified and would not be easily taken. The odds were against them, but God was on their side. That is all that mattered. 

After the report is given, Joshua does what all of us need to do when we encounter an enemy that is too big and fierce. He prayed. He sought the Lord. And, because He sought the Lord, God gave him a plan to take the city. Even today, if I had received these orders I would have been concerned. I might have even laughed at the prospect of doing what He commanded. After all, no one had done this before and this was outside the parameters of known warfare methods then and now. Walk around Jericho once a day for six days and then on the seventh day march seven times without a sound or a word. Then on the seventh day and the seventh time they were to sound the trumpet and lift a powerful sound of worship to God.

They received unusual orders, from an extraordinary God. As we know, Joshua obeyed and the walls came tumbling down. Out of obedience to God’s will, the walls began to fall and they crumbled like match sticks. Not a shot was fired. Not a fist was thrown. Not a sword was used. Israel did nothing but be obedient to God’s way of doing things. Israel was victorious because God wanted His name to be made known and because of the promise to Israel that He would be with them and keep them. 

As we look at the city of Jericho, we find that it is representative of the strongholds we face. The way the battle was won was God’s way of saying that their battle was not against flesh and blood, but against the forces of darkness. This walled city represented the principalities and powers that Israel would face. But those walls fell. So will the walls and strongholds of our life, if we are obedient to God.

The question therefore is how do we overcome the strongholds we encounter? I believe that this story gives us some clues. First, we must know our enemy. Joshua wanted to know his enemy and that is why he used a reconnaissance team to spy out the land. He wanted to know the workings of the enemy. The Bible tells us that our enemy is not flesh and blood, but it is the principalities and powers in our life. The enemy we face is liar and he is the father of lies. Strongholds are developed most often by us believing and accepting his lies. Here is a truth however, the enemy of our souls seems to be a formidable enemy just like Jericho, but he will fall because he has already been defeated by God upon the cross. 

Second, we must know what the strongholds in our life are. To know the strongholds, we must know what a stronghold is. Strongholds are reoccurring destructive habits that ultimately lead to our demise. Spiritual warfare’s main playing field is our mind, our thoughts, and our imaginations (2 Corinthians 10:5). A stronghold is a controlling spirit. These controlling spirits come in all sizes and shapes. They come packaged in the form of fear, anxiety, addictive behaviors, false humility, regrets, failures, self esteem, and so on. Someone has said that the things we try to hide and do not want anyone else to see is the stronghold that most affects us. We try to hide our fear, anxiety, and sin. We put up a good front and yet these things left to themselves become the nemesis in our life. They develop into strongholds. That is why the enemy we most often face is not flesh and blood, but it is a power that overwhelms us. 

Third, we must fight God’s way. We must begin in prayer and then take every thought captive to the glory of God. The battles in our life most often begin in our thought processes. We entertain thoughts that do not honor God or serve to move us closer to His purposes. You see it works something like this. We see, hear, or read something that is negative or destructive. Rather than examining the thought through the template of truth, we entertain that thought. Rather than using Paul’s template, in Philippians, we meditate on the thought or idea and rather than consider God’s way we make other choices. How should we process our thoughts? Paul in Philippians 4:8 said this. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Do you see it? Our mindsets and our attitudes make all of the difference. Too often, we relive the lies and the falsehoods that have been propagated. These strongholds become the walls that surround us and the result is we do not live like we ought to. We do not respond to others like we ought to. We walk in discouragement and disappointment rather than in the victory that is ours through Christ. But, if we are obedient to God’s way, the walls can fall. Anxiety will be gone, fear will be dispelled, and sin will be forgiven. Down come the walls. 

So, what are the walls in your life? What walls have been built up so that you are captivated by the power of the stronghold? We must know that God loves us no matter what and he desires to set us free from every stronghold and bondage that is before us. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Body, Soul, and Spirit, The Soul Part 3

Peninsula  Community Church

The Body, Soul, and Spirit – The Soul Part 3

March 9, 2014

 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 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.

As we look at the first passage, we see a couple of truths that stand out. First of all while we walk in this flesh as human beings, as believers we do not wage war in the flesh. If we battle with weapons that are motivated by and nurtured in the flesh, the outcomes are not spiritual and are most often not productive. When we battle in the flesh, we are driven by what satisfies the emotions, the will, and the five senses. When we are motivated by the flesh, it is easier to accommodate false beliefs and to compromise biblical beliefs by surrendering to a false world view than it is to stand on Biblical truth.

To overcome the flesh we must be walking in the spirit, but what does that mean and what are the rewards. Some of this can be cleared up by understanding Paul’s writings in Galatians 5:16-26 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident:sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

When we walk in the spirit and therefore refuse to use fleshy weapons, Paul gives us a promise that we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Notice this is more of a promise than it is a command. To use fleshly weapons is to submit to the desires of the flesh but to walk in the spirit is to surrender our lives to Christ to His ways of living, thinking, and doing life. In the passage, we have a comparison of what the flesh looks like and what the spirit looks like. What a difference. Look at the comparison of the flesh as it defines the actions taken and the fruit of the spirit which deals with the character of the believer.

Let me ask you a question? Have you ever witnessed someone who has seemed to be a solid believer in Christ, only to find that at some point in time they do things that reveal that their inward life does not match the outward life they present in a big way. When this occurs, it is very possible that they were using the weapons of the flesh and not the weapons of the spirit to fight their battles. They were in essence facing a level of dissonance which brings their life into confusion. Too often, they live at a level of a hypocrisy. The reason most often for this is that they have been living and battling from the flesh and not a spiritual perspective. The fear of being exposed established parameters in their life where they only allowed you to have entrance into certain parts of their lives. The problem reaches a climax when we touch on a subject or issue they have not presented to God or for that matter they do not have a desire to surrender it God. The result is rejection, isolation, and ejection of the friendship. They would rather hide or run than deal with the truth.

The second idea presented here is, as believers, we have been give divine power to destroy strongholds. To understand this, we must understand what a stronghold is. In biblical times, Paul’s readers would have understood this terminology more than perhaps we do today. A city would establish a fortress around the city for two reasons. One it would protect the people within the fortress but negatively, it often closed the city off from the rest of the world.

Spiritually, a stronghold can be defined as a wall that has been built in the mind that protects the mind. A stronghold is a mindset or a point of operation within a person that holds the believer captive or he is incapacitated because of it. These things are initiated for several reasons. For one we have been hurt before and we decide that we will not allow people to hurt us again, so we wall up our minds to any future relationships. Because we have been hurt, it is extremely hard to let others in. This mindset may have been established because of a doctrinal position that minimizes the truth of God’s word or diminishes the value of God in our lives. This happens too often because the false doctrine appeals to our flesh and not the spirit of God within us. I could offer many other examples but I think you get the picture.

The ideas and thoughts that make up the stronghold in our minds are based on the lies that challenge the truth of what God has revealed about Himself and about ourselves. For our discussion today,  a stronghold is a mindset, an epicenter, of unbelief that exalts itself over God and keeps you from maximizing your potential in God in every area of your life. It’s possible to be active in the church and say the hallelujahs but be locked off from God’s glory which makes you a functional unbeliever in different areas of your life. 

I love what Mark Twain said about the thoughts we had. He wrote, “What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history.” (Reader’s Digest [1/93], p. 155).

Strongholds are also describe as an “argument or high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Strongholds are erected through our thought life and what we allow to be planted in our minds. Paul continues to express at least two of these strongholds that effect us. We destroy arguments and lofty opinions raised against the knowledge of God. Notice here that the scripture does not say against God alone but against the knowledge of God. You see the problem that exists is that once our understanding of who God becomes distorted, we find that we become mentally disabled emotionally and spiritually. 

These arguments most often are couched in terms of the lies that are spoken into our lives. I often  go back to the events involved in the creation but they are helpful reminders to us that lies and distortions have been a part of our existence before the fall of mankind. The serpent did not outright lie, he simply distorted the truth of what God had spoken. What lies keep the Gospel from dominating your thought life? What strongholds have been setup in your mind, that hinder the sanctifying work of God in your life? What sinful thought fortresses reside in your head? If you remember the story of creation, you will see that from the beginning of time man has dealt with the issue of the lies that are spoken. As we continue to focus on the truth, rather than lies dominating us we will find that we are more successful in following truth. 

To understand strongholds, we must understand what causes them to occur. As we have discussed before, we find that there are several sources for the strongholds that exist in us. These strongholds can be initiated because of the experiences we have had. If we are continual rejected, we tend to believe that we are rejected as a person and we will believe any negative act initiated toward us is an act of rejection. This view can lead to a mindset and therefore a stronghold that we are rejected. A second source is the lies and falsehoods that are communicated to us and in us. If we do not take these lies into captivity, we can begin to be controlled by the lies. A third source of strongholds are the beliefs and doctrine we hold to. And finally, the influence of our family can be a source of strongholds in that we experience a lack of love, acceptance and encouragement, so we begin to believe that we are unloved, not accepted which results in us walking in discouragement, doubt, and depression. 

Let us look at just one of these sources, lies. I would propose that are many lies that effect us.

For example, there are the lies you tell yourself: I have to be perfect. I can’t make any mistakes. I am a failure. I am a mistake. I must be happy. I need people to agree with me all the time. I can’t shake my past. 

There is a second level of lies that are communicated to us. These are the lies the world tells you:  I’m only human; everybody does this. Do whatever it takes to reach the top no matter who you hurt in the process. Your value is determined by what you possess, and who you know.

Thirdly, we are impacted by the lies communicated through our relationships: It’s your fault. If I had not married you… You make me so mad. Why can’t you be like so and so? I wish I was like so and so.

Fourth,  we must deal with the lies that distort the Gospel: I must earn God’s love. God won’t protect me. God does not love me. I can do what I want and God will forgive me. If I were more spiritual I would not struggle like this. God will bless me if I obeyed. 

And finally, we have the internal lies that come in the form of the questions we ask: Does God really hear me? Does God really love me? Has God abandoned me? Why does God not stop the pain?

So how do we deal with these things. We do so by taking every thought captive. We in essence lay these lies being spoken into our lives against the template of God’s word. It is the truth of God’s word that sets us free. We will look at this next week. 

 

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