Deep within you, is there a yearning for a closer walk with God? Do you find yourself growing weary of questioning the path you're on, repeatedly encountering obstacles that could have been avoided? The desire for spiritual growth, to discern His guidance, and to walk in the Spirit is a blessing. Yet, it's a blessing too few of us fully attain. You may not realize it, but hidden obstacles in your thought life could be holding you back. You're not alone in this. We all grapple with these obstacles, or 'strongholds,' that can stifle our spiritual growth if we don't recognize and address them.
What are strongholds?
Strongholds are deeply ingrained patterns of thinking that can either be rooted in sensible reasoning ("reason-based strongholds") or in unfounded fears and worries ("fear-based strongholds").
The apostle Paul provides guidance on this topic in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations…” Understanding what strongholds helps us to overcome them.
Reason-Based Strongholds: When Reasoning Becomes a Hurdle
Logical, reason-based strongholds are deceptive. They make sense, and that's precisely why they're so challenging to dismantle. Our reasoning abilities are an essential part of our God-given intellect. But when our logical thinking starts to dictate falsehoods—when it talks us out of obeying God or convinces us that we can't afford to trust in God's promises—that's when it becomes a stronghold.
Examples of reason-based strongholds: "I've prayed about this situation, but nothing seems to change. Maybe it's not God's will." "I'm a good person and I don't hurt anyone. I don't think I need to read the Bible or go to church to have a relationship with God."
Are you letting your natural reasoning control your obedience to God?
Fear-Based Strongholds: The Shadows of Unfounded Fears
Next, we have fear-based strongholds. These are usually fueled by irrational fears or worries about the future, rejection, or health, among others. Sometimes, these fears will play out and eventually fade away. But when they persist, and when they start controlling your emotions and thoughts, they turn into strongholds.
Examples of fear-based strongholds: "I can't share my faith at work; they might reject me or think I'm too religious." "If I fully commit my life to God, I might miss out on fun or opportunities."
Are there unfounded fears that have found a home in your thoughts, obstructing your walk in the Spirit?
Taking Every Thought Captive
But here's the good news, we are not powerless against these strongholds. We are equipped with divine weapons potent enough to demolish them. Paul encourages us to cast down these inhibiting thoughts and bring every thought into alignment with Christ's teachings.
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. 2 Corinthians 10:3–5
Paul does not speak of bringing the devil into captivity, but our thoughts. The adversary attempts to disrupt our lives through lies planted in our minds. These are thoughts that feed strongholds, lies we believe, fears that limit us, or doubts that challenge our faith. If we don't control these thoughts, they can form strongholds that keep us from living a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led life. Sometimes these thoughts are ingrained and deceptively obstructive. You can ask God to reveal them to you, but expect to meet Him in His word. It accurately divides and the Holy Spirit will help you wield it like a sword!
The Power to Overcome Strongholds
Whether you're dealing with strongholds rooted in human reasoning or those born out of unfounded fears, you have the authority, through Christ, to dismantle them! You don't have to be enslaved by every falsehood that tries to creep into your mind. Refuse to entertain the lies and instead, anchor your thoughts in Christ's teachings. Use the divine weapons God has given you to pull down every mental and emotional barrier that aims to keep you from walking in the spirit.
Can you identify areas where hidden obstacles may be impacting your spiritual growth? Are there times when your own reasoning or unfounded fears have held you back from stepping out in faith? What steps can you take to cast down these thoughts and make room for God's guidance?
Prayer to Recognize and Overcome Strongholds
Heavenly Father, I ask for Your help in uncovering any areas in my life dominated by hidden strongholds. Forgive me for allowing these barriers to infiltrate my mind, and equip me to uproot and cast down every one of them. I know Your Word will renew my mind to align with You, and I ask for Your help in making Your Word a priority in my life. In Jesus' name, Amen.