Our lives can be changed if we are willing to demolish the strongholds we have allowed to be established in our hearts and minds. We can break free from encrusted attitudes, set old fears aside and know victory over behaviors that have become unhealthy habits. For me, I want to experience the Holy Spirit’s work of “restoring in me the joy of my salvation.”
How about you?
It is critical for us to acknowledge that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. Our enemy seeks our destruction and his tactic is to set up “strongholds” in our lives; places where we have allowed the seeds of sin to blossom into attitudes and behaviors that are at war with the values of the kingdom of God to which we belong.
If we want a different story to unfold for us, then we must understand two very important truths about our life with Christ. In this battle God secured the final victory, and God provides everything we need for daily victory.
We claim this victory and demolish the enemy’s strongholds when we deploy the weapons of spiritual warfare. A weapon is anything you use that destroys the enemy’s ability to wage war against you.
We will focus on five such weapons available to every follower of Jesus:
- Clear Conscience
First we will look at forgiveness. Why is forgiveness such a powerful weapon to destroy strongholds? Simply put, when we forgive we destroy Satan’s ability to wage war against us through anger, bitterness, alienation, hostility or revenge. Jesus expects His followers to follow His example of forgiveness. He expects us to have the same attitude and behavior towards those who hurt us as He had towards those who crucified Him. “Father, forgive them…!” Jesus takes forgiveness seriously. He never said, “If you don’t love, I won’t love.” He did, however, say,
If you don’t forgive, I won’t forgive. (Matt. 6:15 and Matt. 18:35)
Why is Jesus so concerned about forgiveness? He knows that forgiveness is the first step in establishing or re-establishing a relationship with the Father and then with each other. Forgiveness restores relationships and relationships are the one thing Satan works hardest to destroy. Nothing meaningful can take place in a relationship unless there is forgiveness. He also knows that it is going to cost Him His life to make forgiveness available to us. Through His death He secures for us the forgiveness that makes possible our relationship with Him and with the Father. Christ’s forgiveness is too costly for us who receive it freely only to fail to extend it to others. When we forgive others, we participate in His forgiveness and experience in a real way the fellowship of His sufferings. Our forgiveness of others brings us into fellowship with the One who forgave all.
Do not be deceived, the unforgiving heart is the playground of the enemy. It is a stronghold that creates division, breaks relationships, produces bitterness and feeds our pride. We must clean our hearts and minds of every vestige of it. Who today have you failed to forgive? From whom have you failed to ask forgiveness? As their names come into your mind, you will know in your spirit if a stronghold of the enemy is present. Strongholds rob us of peace, separate us from God, steal our joy and destroy our witness. They must be dismantled if we are to flourish.
Alienation is one of the enemy’s favorite weapons against us; alienation with the Father first, and then alienation with one another. Healed and restored relationships take the fight to the enemy destroying his kingdom of darkness with its alienation, isolation, and loneliness.
We can start by claiming a great victory in this area of our lives. When we forgive, we are set free and we set others free. We align our lives with Christ’s and His forgiveness of us flows to those around us. We find peace, rest for our souls and the world witnesses our love for our neighbor as Christ commanded.
Let’s start today with the destruction of this stronghold in our hearts. Let’s be set free that the Holy Spirit may restore in us the joy of our salvation.