There is tremendous power in the way we perceive things and the way we think. A stronghold is basically like a pattern that has been burned into our minds that cause us to think or perceive things in a certain way. I have seen conditions taken to deliverance ministers that are clearly demonic, but the minister can only go so far, and seem to hit a roadblock. Why is that? In many situations, it is a stronghold that needs to come down. Demons and strongholds are quite good friends and allies to each other. Demons often promote us to build strongholds in our minds, and they use strongholds to torment countless people around the globe today. From my experience of ministering to the oppressed, I have found that there are two common strongholds that hold countless believers in bondage. The first one is an incorrect perception of who God is, and the other is an incorrect perception of who you are. I feel it is important to recognize and understand both of these strongholds in not only our lives, but the lives of those to whom we are ministering.
Stronghold #1: Incorrect perception of God
This stronghold is where a person sees God incorrectly. They see Him as a cruel, distant and un-loving God, instead of the loving Father that He really is.
Some of the common symptoms of this stronghold include:
- Lacking the desire for an intimate and close relationship with God, and feeling that God is distant and cold, rather than intimate, loving and personal. Irrational fears of God will hinder a person from drawing near to Him. They have an irrational and unhealthy fear of Him, which prevents them from drawing close to Him.
- A lack of love in a person's heart for God. The reason the world doesn't care about God, is because they don't really know (perceive) Him correctly. If you find it hard or boring to spend time with God and would rather do other things, then you have an incorrect perception of Him that needs to be changed.
- Feeling unwanted, and unloved by God. Many admit to feeling like God is mad at them for one reason or another. If a person wonders if God still loves them, it's a good clue that the person needs to change their perception of God.
- Even OCD can be driven by irrational fears of God. It can drive a person into what they call perfectionism, so that God will love and accept them. It can also drive a person up the wall with obsessive fears of possibly committing the un-pardonable sin. I have seen this many times, where a person is harassed by irrational and compulsive blasphemous thoughts against the Holy Spirit, and then condemned for being hopeless. It seems the more they fear committing it, the worse and more compulsive those thoughts become.
- Anybody who has fears of the un-pardonable sin is pretty much guaranteed to have this stronghold. Anybody who can truly see God as the loving Father that He truly is will be virtually immune to fears of the un-pardonable.
- It can cause a person to find it hard to trust God. They may wonder if He will really come through for them as His Word promises. They would have a hard time giving up health insurance and a high paying job and trusting God for those areas of their lives if God told them to do so.
- It can cause a tremendous amount of legalism in a person's life. Legalism is where a person is driven to do what's right because they feel they have to do it in order to win favor with God or keep Him satisfied with them. This is living according to the law, and not the Spirit. The law of the Spirit is where a person does what is right because they want to, not because they 'have' to.
Stronghold #2: Incorrect perception of yourself
When a person has this stronghold, they feel unworthy, dirty (guilty) and often suffer from low self-esteem... just to name a few.
Some of the common symptoms of this stronghold include:
- Low self-esteem, where a person is constantly looking down upon themselves. How can a creature, who was hand-made by the creator Himself in His own image, look down upon them self? Strongholds play a very big part in a person's struggle against feelings of low self-esteem. Since thoughts drastically affect our feelings, if you're constantly seeing yourself as a failure, you will feel like one!
- A guilty conscience is often found when a person doesn't perceive them self as a new creation in Christ, who's sins have been washed away.
- Feeling worthless and condemned. Fears of hopelessness are usually strong signs of this stronghold. Fears of the un-pardonable sin can also be an indication of this stronghold.
- Shame based thinking is a sure sign of this stronghold. Guilt is where somebody looks at their failure, but shame is where a person looks at themselves as the failure.
- If a person has a dirty conscience, it will hinder his or her faith. One time the Lord spoke to me and said clearly, "You need to know that you're clean... your faith depends upon it!" If a person has a dirty conscience, he or she will feel dirty and unworthy, and this kind of thinking virtually kills faith.
- If a person feels worthless, they will be unable to walk in confidence to carry out the work that God has for their lives. We are not to have confidence in the flesh (pride), but we are to have confidence in who we are in Christ. There is a BIG difference! For example, far too many believers feel like God doesn't answer their prayers because they are 'unworthy' and don't deserve it (and we don't!), but in God's Word, we are told that it is proper for us to have confidence when we approach Him by faith:
Ephesians 3:12, "In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him."
1 John 5:14-15, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."
If you suffer from shame or guilt, then you'll want to read the teaching on Overcoming guilt and shame.
Some closing thoughts
While this article is discussing strongholds, there are also demonic factors to consider in many of the bondages and issues listed above. Demons often work hand-in-hand with strongholds to carry out their dirty work in a person's life. I have found that there are many cases where both strongholds need to be torn down, and demons need to be driven out before the person experiences complete and lasting spiritual freedom. Demons often hide and work behind strongholds, and work at establishing them in our lives, making it difficult to tear down. If a demon is behind a stronghold, and you are successful at tearing down the stronghold, but leave the demon remaining, you'll likely find that stronghold keep returning out of nowhere. That's because the root of the problem wasn't addressed. On the other hand, if you only cast out the demons, but don't renew your mind, you will be continually badgered by those strongholds. Maybe not near as bad as before, but none the less, they can remain and bring your mind much torment. Thus it is important to address both the demonic factors (if any) and tear down the strongholds as well. Anything less will often bring temporary relief and partial victory.
There are many teachings on this site about strongholds, as well as information on how to go about tearing them down, but the following teachings are some great places to start:
- Most popular strongholds (Part 1 of 2)
- Most popular strongholds (Part 2 of 2)