"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spiritual Battle: Learning How to Keep Thoughts From Turning Into Sinful Habits

In part 1, I ended the post after the article discussed the first key point about strongholds, "1. Strongholds are resistant to change." Continuing, we'll go on to the remaining key points and conclude. 2. Strongholds are restrictive to challenge. 3. Strongholds are ruled by a Commander In Chief. 4. Strongholds can be routed out. KEY POINT 2: Strongholds are restrictive to change. In the Middle East there are cities that have walls that are made of stone that is 15 feet thick and 25 feet high, enclosing the city, securing and fortifying it. When a person is bound in a stronghold, they find protection and security in that stronghold. One of the reasons why people will not give up their behavior, idea, philosophy, or opinion - even when it is contrary to God's Word, is because they find certain feelings of safety, security and familiarity in them. We've all heard of "comfort food". Well there is "comfort behavior" and "comfort thinking" and "comfort ideas and opinions". Folks will not give ukp these things because it makes them feel at ease with themselves. Some examples of this are: "I have a right to act this way because I was abused as a kid." "I have a right to act this way because my body goes though this change each month." "I have a right to act this way because I grew up without a father." "I have a right to act this way because I used to be on drugs." "I have a right to act this way because I am a single mother - he left me all by myself." You get the drift. Most of us are familiar with the Old Testement story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho. The words of a song go something like, "Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down." The Canaanites of Jericho had some very imposing walls that surrounded their city. But what they did not know, was that the very walls they built to protect them would be their destruction.
Joshua 6:1 says, "Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in."
When someone is bound by a stronghold, they will let nothing in and nothing out. They are well defended. Their walls are up. They are committed to protect and to defend themselves against all they deem as invaders or intruders. Thus, anyone who threatens the safety of their stronghold is the enemy and they will fend off all who come to challenge their spiritual, psychological and physical status quo. Have you ever tried to help someone out of a certain pattern of behavior such as addiction? Anyone or anything, no matter how truthful, that does not line up with their distorted view is to be resisted at all costs.
Proverbs 18:19 says, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle [fortress or stronghold]."
Strongholds are restrictive to challenge. When I was younger I learned that once you give a dog his food you had better not mess with him while he is eating. It is similar with strongholds. You had better be careful when trying to help someone out of their sin. Paul says it this way in Galatians 6:1 - "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you may also be tempted." But the benefets of trying outweigh the risks according to James 5:19-20, "My bretherine, if any among you strays from the truth and no one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins." KEY POINT 3: "Strongholds are ruled by a Commander In Chief." Every stronghold has a king or ruler governing the forces and reigning over the stronghold. The stronghold must be destroyed and the king must be defeated as well. If the stronghold is brought down but the king is not brought down, then the ruler will simply relocate, rebuild and continue his reign.
Speaking on the subject of spiritual warfare: Jesus said in Matthew 12:29, "...how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house."
When Joshua conquered Cannan to move the Israelites into the Promised Land, not only was he to demolish the cities located there, but also to defeat their kings. The Lord said to Joshua, "And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king." (Joshua 8:2) When King Saul was given instructions to destroy the Amalekites, he disobeyed God by sparing the king. The principal we need to observe is that the stronghold must be distroyed and the king over the stronghold must be defeated as well. But we are not battling against human rulers, we are wrestling "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12) Christians waste so much time, energy and effort because we have not learned to identify the real enemy. Who is the real enemy? The real enemy is Satan and his world view. It is the devil and devilish thinking that must be routed out and it leads us to our last point. KEY POINT 4. Strongholds can be routed out. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul tells us how to deal with strongholds. Listen to the paraphrase from the Amphlified Bible, "[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasoninngs and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive unto the obedience of Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One." This is exactly what our Lord Jesus did in the wilderness, Every thought, every purpose that Satan tried to fill Jesus' mind with was lead captive by Jesus with the Word of Truth. Every argument, every theory and every satanic reasoning that was hurled by the Prince of Darkness toward our Lord was refuted. Satanic reason sets itself up agains the true knowledge of God. Unless you know what that true knowledge is, you will be deceived and a stronghold will ultimately be set up in your life. It goes without saying that the best way to keep a stronghold from being built in your mind and heart is not to let it get built in the first place. Immerse yourself in the Word of God as often as possible - Read the Word of God; Listen to the Word of God; Meditate on the Word of God; Memorize the Word of God. Whenever and wherever the Word of God is being taught by your church---BE THERE!
Strongholds Can Be Dealt With - An Analogy: We are constantly bombarded with ungodly thoughts from the devil and his world system. We need to constantly, comparatively, analyze these thoughts, arguments, imaginations by the Word of God. I used to program computers. Software programs that run on ATM bank machines require the user to enter a password. Many of us need to use a password on our computers at work or home. Your password is stored on a mainframe or computer server. When you enter a password to access your data, the software compares what you've entered with what is stored in the system of the database. If it matches, you are granted acces - if it doesn't, you are denied access. Essentially, this is what the Scripture is commanding Christians to do when it comes to thoughts that try to enter your mind. The "knowledge of God" is like the password that is stored in memory. "...casting down arguments and every high thing that exhalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5) When a discouraging thought, unwholesome speculation, or deceptive imagination tries to gain access into your mind - you need the thought to be compared to or analyzed in light of the knowledge of God. If it doesn't match up with the knowledge of God, it is to be rejected, denied access and taken captive.
Tokyo police recently arrested a man who was upset over being denied entrance to graduate school 14 years ago. Since that day, he has averaged about 10 calls a night - between the hours of 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. to the former professor whom he blames for his lost opportunity! Those 14 years of annoying phone calls totaled up to over 50,000 calls. Sometimes discouraging thoughts, unwholesome speculation and deceptive imagination are like that man - nagging, harassing and pesky - they need to be destroyed. There are different kinds of thoughts that try to exalt themselves against the knowlege of Christ, Following are some of the kinds of thoughts that need to be taken captive to the obedience of Christ, cast down and destroyed. 1. Thoughts that come against the assurance of salvation. You can say, "He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him" (Hebrews 7:25). 2. Thoughts that come against your position in Christ, you are a child of God. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). 3. Thoughts that lower your self esteem (self depreciation). "I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me" (Philippians 13:4). 4. Thoughts that enlarge your esteem (self pride). "There is none righteous; no not one" (Romans 3:10). 5. Thoughts that come against God's plan and purpose for your life. You can say, "God knows the plans that He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm ne; plans to give me a hope and a future." 6. Thoughts that come agains your church. "Then Jesus came up and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age' (Matthew 28:18-20)." Also, we can remind ourselves, "He has called us to point the way to transformation in Jesus Christ". 7. Thoughts that slander the bretheren (especially your leaders). "The Bible says, I am to love my brother and encourage my sister. I am called to respect my pastors". 8. Thoughts that are sensual. "He has called me to be holy as He is holy." 9. Thoughts that tempt you to envy, covet... "The Bible says, 'Don't worry about food and clothes' - God is going to take care of the things I need." 10. Thoughts that tempt you to give up or to give in. The Word of God says, "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Christians, We are Fighting a Battle! We are in a War! We have been enlisted and we have been given a mission. We must use the spiritual weapons of the bible and prayer that have been assigned to us by our Commander in Chief. We must be part of a regiment that is spirigually disciplined. Did you know what you were getting into when you decided to follow Jesus? Just because you don't fight doesn't mean you won't be attacked. Just because you are timid, passive, or nonconfrontational doesn't mean you won't be killed by the enemy. In this battle, Satan comes to kill, steal and to destroy - he doesn't care that you are not commited in your walk with Christ. He doesn't care that you are not sharing your faith. Because you belong to Jesus, that's enough reason for Satan to make attempts to destroy you - so you might as well fight for you life, your physical and spiritual and eternal life. Engage the enemy with the armour of God. Destroy the strongholds and kill the kings as they are revealed to you. Every thought that exalts itself agains God must be cast down and destroyed. We can win the war within by destroying the influence of every stubborn argument, opinion, idea or philosophy that is formed and resistant to th knowledge of Jesus Christ. You demolish devilish thoughts that can form and create strongholds in your life by obeying the Word of God.
Psalm 119:9, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word."
(Chuck Brooks, Pastor of Ministry and Administration, GraceWay Church 6-8-08) Gracious and merciful Almighty God, bless me with the courage, wisdom, diligence, discernment necessary to tear down my strongholds. I want to bring myself into right relationship with you Father, and to be obedient to the teachings of Your gospel and of your beloved son Jesus Christ. Bless me Father, and work in me as strongholds are revealed in my life Lord. Temper me, shape me, mold me as you would have me so that I may emerge victorious against the dark one my enemy. Amen.

No comments: