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Today’s Truth

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Friend to Friend

A stronghold is one of those churchy Christianese words that is hard to wrap our minds around. It’s not a word we use everyday. So what exactly is a stronghold? Let’s take a look.

A stronghold is a thought pattern that forms a fortress around the mind, holding it prisoner to faulty thinking. It is formed brick-by-brick by repetitive faulty thinking or all at once by a onetime traumatic event such as a rape, molestation, or abuse.

In the Old Testament, a stronghold was a fortified dwelling used for protection from an enemy. David hid in wilderness strongholds when he was hiding from King Saul, who was trying to kill him (1 Samuel 22:4; 23:14). These were usually caves high on a mountainside or some other structure that was hard to attack. In the Old Testament, God is called our stronghold: “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).

The New Testament writers took this same imagery of a fortress to describe the spiritual tower of bondage, not protection, that we put ourselves in by developing thought patterns and ideas that hold us captive. Beth Moore calls a stronghold, “Anything that we hold onto that ends up holding onto us.” It is anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. A stronghold does not protect us, it protects the enemy who is manipulating our thoughts and suggesting our actions.

A stronghold might be a thought such as:

I’m no good.

I’m damaged goods.

Nobody loves me.

Nobody cares about me.

I can’t do anything right.

A stronghold might be an addiction such as:

Shopping.

Alcohol.

Sexual promiscuity.

Over-eating.

Feeling sorry for yourself.

The enemy locks you up in hopes you’ll never reach for the key that is certainly within your reach. But you can.

The only way to expose the enemy and defeat him is to tear down the stronghold, the fortress where he is hiding.

An ungodly habit becomes his habitation, his stronghold in our lives.

Once you recognize a lie in your life—perhaps something that has even taken hold of your imagination and stirred ungodly feelings such as jealousy, worry, fear, or anger—you reject the lie and replace it with truth.

Each time you reject the devil’s lie, you knock one more brick from his fortress, and pretty soon, he’s exposed for the liar and deceiver he is.

I do not want to give the impression that this is an easy process. Some of us are so comfortable with our strongholds we don’t even realize they are there. That was the case with me.

I had been walking around saved but enslaved for so many years. I dragged the ball and chain of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy around with me everywhere I went, and I grew so used to my limp, I didn’t even notice it.

I was comfortable with my weakness and served Satan a cup of tea every day I sat hidden away behind the wall he had helped me build. But praise God, Jesus opened my eyes to the truth and called me out of the fortress that had become my prison cell.

Destroying strongholds is not easy, but it is simple. Paul used words such as struggle, resist, tear down, and fight. The good news is that we’re not a one-woman demolition crew. The Holy Spirit gives us the power, Jesus gives us the light, and God is overseeing the entire project. We simply agree to participate through obedience.

When we talk about strongholds, we’re not talking about random thoughts or occasional sins. A stronghold is a thought pattern or habitual sin. It is a fortress built with the bricks of thoughts and held together by the mortar of emotions. Strongholds become our perception of reality.

In my own life, replacing self-defeating lies with God’s truth helped me chip away at the stronghold of inadequacy that led to a negative cycle of discouragement, despair, and defeat. Rejecting the devil’s lies will tear down those strongholds, and after a time, even the ruins are removed.

When we realize the enemy’s true identity, recognize his lies, and replace the lies with God’s truth, we’ll be free.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, show me any strongholds that I have in my life. Show me any areas where I am not totally free from the enemy’s influence. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to set me free. Now help me live free in every area of my life.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

A stronghold in the New Testament imagery is much like a prison.

What is one main difference between a stronghold and a prison?

Go back to today’s truth and break it down. This is one way I study Scripture. Write down your thoughts on each phrase. Then tell me if this was helpful.

  • For though we live in the world
  • We do not wage war as the world does
  • The weapons
  • We fight with
  • Are not the weapons of the world
  • On the contrary
  • They have divine power
  • To demolish strongholds
  • We demolish arguments
  • And every pretension
  • That sets itself up
  • Against the knowledge of God,
  • And we take captive every thought
  • To make it
  • Obedient to Christ.

More from the Girlfriends

You’ve heard the lies before. Maybe even whispered one or two to yourself from time to time. Maybe repeated them so often you’ve started to believe them. “Nobody loves me. I’m worthless. I would be happier married to someone else. I’m just not good enough.” The list goes on. It’s time to recognize the enemy’s lies and replace those lies with the Bible’s liberating truth. It’s time to renew your mind and think God’s thoughts rather than be held in bondage by the enemy’s deceptions. It’s time to be set free to see yourself as God sees you: His holy, chosen, cleansed, forgiven and dearly loved child. Now that’s a truth worth repeating. To learn more, check out my book I’m Not Good Enough…and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves. It’s a game changer!

13 Responses to “When You’re Struggling with Bad Thoughts and Habits”

  1. Nicole says:

    Today’s devotional was right on time for where I am in my life. I was subscribed to your devotionals and somehow I have stopped receiving them. I made a decision to stop a habit that I have last night and I told my husband so he could help me resist it, alcohol. I decided to look up your devotional this morning because I decided I needed one before work. Thank you for what you do. God bless.

  2. Sue Wilson says:

    Each day I am so amazed at how each of your devotionals are just exactly what I need. It may be something that I am struggling with, need for encouragement, or just for comfort and teaching. I thank God for this, I pray that He will continue to lead and guide each of you thru this walk. Again thank you and Praise the Lord. Sue

  3. Emily Anne Buck says:

    I am so thankful for this message because I could never hear it enough! Plus I feel like you just gave me new material for when I’m speaking to students about teen dating violence. When i was 15 i was in an abusive relationship where I heard all these lies from a human being through verbal abuse. After 1.5 years, I definitely believed them! Now I know it’s a “stronghold.” But now as a married woman, Satan attacks me on every level, and once he loses, he moves on to the next, and then they cycle starts over again. I repeatedly have to speak truth over myself, my marriage, and so forth. Again…it’s a stronghold! So i learned something new today 🙂 Thank you for your wisdom! Another great book to read about these battles, would be Fervent!

  4. Jacqueline says:

    I went through years of abuse, most of it was mental abuse, and very difficult to prove, which in some ways made it much harder, i thought i was to blame, but really i wasn,t, how ever i think of the scripture thats says Isaiah 52v 2 loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter, some say chains, so i began to realise that i had to recognise some of those chains were self inflicted too, i add ( some ) self pity, anger, despair, resentment etc. I have just recently lost my job through no fault of my own, and this has sent me into debt, so the anger and resentment was there, having joined an agency i was sent into a situation that was right out of my depth and the anger and frustration rose up in me then the despair which has been like a cloak around me for years, one thing that really helped me was the scripture ps62v8 Pour your heart out to me, that was a saving grace for me, i now know i can pour our all my heart to the Lord and tell him everything, and thats a welcome release for me, God has seen me at my worst and still loves me, all of it and the fact he still loves me gives me hope, nothing in our trials is wasted which is easy to say when your on a happy path, i often think that if Christians had a blessed wonderful never no trial life we would be very smug and very selfish and would never relate to a very deep hurting world and people,
    read today of a lady who was in a critical ward in hospital, her cousin came to visit and just held her hand, no talking, just held her hand, nothing was necessary but a touch of love
    much love Jacqueline

  5. Myra Reyes says:

    I’ve been struggling with this for a very long time and just recently I had experienced a downfall because of these strongholds. Lies that I believed and constantly internalizing every negative experience and negative, destructive things my father would tell me. Even lies from my own self and from the enemy. Constant intruding thoughts against God. It was awful. I’m asking God daily to help me confront those thoughts and toxic emotions with truth and to reveal to me the lies I have believed. The other day, I was listening to a study on Overcoming The Curse of Words by Nany Leigh DeMoss and she talked about words and how believing them or receiving them can actually put us under a curse. Whether it be from things people have told us or we tell ourselves. She says words do not have power over us unless we believe them. She says that is the way to break free from the curse of words. This devotional on strongholds is so timely and I know its not in vain that God allowed me to see it because He’s already been dealing with me about these matters for a little while now. Thank You, this was truly a blessing!

  6. K. Shelton says:

    Really needed this today! The spirit totally spoke to me through this and in perfect timing. The power of God is so real!

  7. Joy says:

    Your point about strongholds being a fortress built with the bricks of thoughts and held together by the mortar of emotions is so profound (especially the mortar of emotions part). Negative emotions can be so convincing and deceiving! also your suggestion to break down scripture into separate phrases was unique and very effective to help in understanding God’s word better. thanks for this Sharon!

  8. Abby says:

    Thanks for this devotion. I struggle with negative thoughts which I know are not from God.

  9. Joyce says:

    Thank you for this devotional and prayer. And yes as you have said it is a struggle for me. I have prayed for guidance. But I didn’t know I needed to pray for God’s help and the Holy spirit to reject those stronghold. Pray for me if you will I so look forward your devotions and prayers and the right verses to go with these devotions. Thank you so much for being in my life.
    Love you girls
    Joyce jewett

  10. Rochelle says:

    Thank you for this devotion. It was a great help for me to understand the meaning of stronghold. Satan is really at work in us and wanted to kill, steal and destroy us but thank God for He said that we are more than conqueror, so we just need to always remind ourselves that we are precious in God’s sight. God bless you more and looking forward for more of inspiring and heartwarming devotions from you girls.

  11. Cari says:

    My boyfriend broke up with me tonight. I read this devotional this morning and it came to mind after I started condemning myself and calling myself names after the breakup. Between God, this devotional, and some amazingly sweet friends, I haven’t let those harsh thoughts stick.
    Thank you for writing this!

  12. Linda says:

    Thank you for this! I have been struggling today! You ladies of faith ROCK!

  13. Becky says:

    Sharon, I just wanted you to know that I broke down the scripture within this post the way that you had mentioned. When I saw your recommendation to try it, I didn’t think that it would have much impact. I was wrong. Thank you.

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