Greetings to all my sisters in Jesus Christ! This is a week to take time to be thankful for the love we have from the Father and the position we hold in His Kingdom as Daughters of the Most High King! Hallelujah! Lift your hands and praise Him, the one who give us life through His Son Jesus!
A beautiful sister in Jesus asked me to answer an important question a couple weeks ago, I felt in my heart I knew the answer, but I decided to do some research as well. That being said… these words are not all my own, but they do reflect what I believe God would have me share on the subject of Footholds and Strongholds.
I want to open up with a prayer for revelation not only for myself but for all of you who are receiving this word. I believe that we are all vulnerable to not only demonic oppression but also possession throughout our earthly life…believer and non-believer alike. Pray with me now…
“Heavenly Father, as we look to Your Word for answers, gather understanding from other godly believers, I pray that You God would give us the battle-ready armor and weapons upon which we wear to fight against the enemies attempts to distract and destroy Your chosen children. God give each one of us a hunger and thirst for only You God. We thank You God for how far You have brought us and now we look to go deeper in knowing You intimately and for You God to train us to use the weapons of spiritual warfare that You have provided for us. Reveal to us the strongholds in our lives and give us the courage to fight and demolish anything within us that is not of You! Thank You God for the men and women of God who have brought insight, bless them, and thank You God for Your written Word which fills us with hope and power to defeat the evil! AMEN!”
Let us begin by defining…Footholds and Strongholds.
Pastor Steve Berger defines strongholds as “A satanic lie, A generational mindset or a human wounding that you have listened to long enough, believed strongly enough and owned deeply enough that it has become part of your identity. It has fortified itself in you and dictates your thought, beliefs, actions, and reactions. It is an unholy filter through which all thoughts pass.” Strongholds can include feelings of shame, condemnation, unforgiveness, rejection, depression, addiction, pride, unbelief, anger, and defeat. This stronghold or firm grip on our mind, spirit, body, or heart will enslave you and I…motivating us to act out against God’s will through repeated sinful behavior.
Footholds are similar, however to me they might be considered a steppingstone before a stronghold is established or a foothold that feeds an existing stronghold. A foothold starts out as a lie that we believe to be truth, we haven’t tested it against what God says and so we let it fester which lead us into unrepentant sin. As the unchecked lie gains momentum in our life and we began making decisions based on the lie…Satan gains ground in our lives and soon that seemingly small untruth has become a stronghold making it harder to hear the voice of your Forever Father God. Your ability to see yourself and those around you through God’s eyes grows dim.
Ultimately, the false belief is so deeply entrenched in your thinking that Satan can safely operate your life as if he were protected within the walls of a strong fortress. You see, you will defend the sin, the thought, the lie by making excuses, walking in the shadow, and isolating yourself. All Footholds and Stronghold have their beginning in our mind, just as all sin begins with a thought.
Satan and evil spirits know that if they can establish a stronghold in your mind they can control your mind. Once they have control of your mind they can control all of you in other words when Satan has a hold of your mind, he blinds you to the truth. Unfortunately, unbeliever or someone who has not been Born Again has their mind already held captive by Satan. This is where physical manifestations occur including illness, sickness, self-destruction, and addictions.
There is good news coming…we overcome the devil’s schemes when we understand how he oppresses us and how we must defeat him. Paul tells us clearly one of the more common ways Satan gains a foothold, Ephesians 4:26-27MSG he warns, “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”
In this writing I will address two of the more common strongholds…Bitterness and Fear.
BITTERNESS: (long-held unforgiveness) is defined as “multilayered emotion that has been described as a mixture of disappointment, disgust, anger, and fear. Bitterness can be aroused in the face of insult, injury or trauma. If not quickly dealt with bitterness grows into hate, leading to hostile actions.” In the Bible bitterness is referred to as a posion, pungent, an acid which destroys.
Let us look at an example of how bitterness manifests into hate. When you are offended or emotionally wounded, becoming angry or embittered, you may think things such as:
- If I forgive the person who offended me, he/she will just hurt me again.
- By holding onto my anger, I can punish the one who offended me.
- The offense is so egregious i.e., traumatic, physical and or mentally appalling, I cannot forgive.
There is no truth in any of these thinking patterns. Wrong thinking leads to wrong behavior which is sinful disobedience of God’s instruction and in direct conflict of Christ’s sacrifice. Through unwillingness to forgive, the devil gains a foothold which quickly seeks out and builds upon other offenses or trauma you may have built a stronghold around. The walls of the stronghold harbor the lies, the justification and wrong thinking or behavior.
Only through complete forgiveness can we destroy the stronghold of bitterness and hate. The forgiveness required is not for one who hurt or offended you, it is so that no stronghold of bitterness can be formed within you. No matter how traumatic the incident, the abuse, verbal or physical we must go before our Lord and forgive them. God tells us he will take care of our transgressors. God gives us an amazing example of forgiveness found in Acts 7, Stephen had been speaking to a group of high priests, sharing the gospel using the history of the saints found in the Old Testament to bring the truth of Jesus Christ to them. We find in verses 57-60 they turned on him, drove him from the city where they stoned him to death. Verse 60 says it all, “Then he fell on his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.” Forgiveness is not a choice, it is an absolute, Jesus died for us allowing us to be forgiven, therefore, we MUST forgive.
Hanging on the bitterness is self-destructive and poisons the soul (the place where our mind, will and emotions exist).
Hebrews 12:15 says “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”
Ephesians 4:30-32 tells us, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
1 Corinthians 13:5 reminds us that if we say we love God we must also love people and with that we “do not keep an account of a wrong suffered.”
FEAR: is defined in the dictionary as, “an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined.” While this may hold some truth…the true definition of fear is “the absence of faith.” The absence of faith is nothing more than the absence of God’s Word, lack of an intimate relationship with God which is grounded in truth and trust, simple stated fear is nothing more that ignorance or laziness to find out what God’s Word says and walk in the fullness of who you are in Christ.
Romans 1:19-20TPT says “In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart. Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without
Jesus confronts the disciples when they were crossing the sea and “a great windstorm arose and the waves beat against the boat”, read Mark 4:35-40. The disciples quickly cried out saying “do you not care we are perishing?” Jesus’ responds with three questions:
- Why are you fearful?
- How is it that you have no faith?
- Where is your faith?
Anyone with a stronghold of fear MUST ask these same questions, the answers will reveal the source of the stronghold and how it was established. It is then that you can begin to take down the mental fortress of fear.
Let us look closer at the three questions.
- Why are you fearful? What is the reason for your fear, and does it have any rational truth to it? Most fear is nothing more than unintelligent or foolish reaction to something that may not even exist. If you do fear something you must ask yourself “Have I elevated this fear above God’s Word?”
- How is it that you have no faith? Jesus is rebuking the disciples, you and I included. When you read it in the Greek it screams of sarcasm. He is saying to us…Do you believe my Words?
- Where is your faith? Mic Drop! Here is the heart of the issue…what are you trusting in? If your confidence and trust is not in God’s Word then anything else is sure to disappoint you at some point. God NEVER disappoints, it is our skewed perspective, God tells us over and over He will never leave us or forsaken us.
Fear when left to grow within us causing us to isolate ourselves, become increasingly unable to be around other people, some suffer with not being able to leave their home or even room. This is mental imprisonment fueled by the enemie’s lies now believed and lifted higher than the truth of Jesus Christ and God’s Word.
In a separate writing I will speak of the manifestation of fear deeper. Here are examples where fear brought great difficult to God’s people.
Isaiah 36 is the account of King Hezekiah and his people being held captive by the lies spoken by the king of Assyria (Satan) this siege went on for 4 years, only God’s Truth could set them free.
Exodus 3 Moses was afraid when God told him to leave his humble profession of shepherding to confront Pharaoh to release the Israelites.
Numbers 13 The ten leaders Moses sent to scout the Promised Land were afraid of the giants they saw and that led to another 40 years of wandering in the desert.
Jonah 1 Jonah was a prophet sent by God to preach to the people of Nineveh but was afraid of the command. As such, he was swallowed by a big fish when running away and stayed there for three days and three nights.
Bitterness and fear permit the devil to infiltrate our mind, these footholds and strongholds rob us of the peace and joy God has for us, it keeps us at arm’s length of the intimate relationship God desires to have with you and me. There are the other ways in which evil spirits gain access to our lives making us vulnerable to demonic attack in part two I will address how deception, rebellion, pride, habitual sin, generational sin and the occult (false religions) are a gateway to strongholds.
The door for spiritual attack in our life is opened by sins we commit as well as the sins committed against us. There are numerous articles and books on the subject of “spiritual warfare” they reveal that there are several areas of sin through which the enemy finds entrance into our lives, so that he can as scriptures says, “A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy.” John 10:10TPT
However, the verse does not end there so right now claim this as a refreshing truth in your life “But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!” Let that sink in!
We have all we need to defeat any evil spirits and destroy any stronghold within us. Once we embrace this truth, we must go to the scriptures for freedom.
My life scriptures are those which bring the breaking of strongholds, so I will start with those and in Part Two I will bring more weapons and ways of dealing not only footholds and strongholds but defeating the strongman as well.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6NKJV personalized “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare (God’s Word, Prayer, Deliverance, Worship and Confession) are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments (lies, deception, opinions, theories, and philosophies) and every high thing (material possession, status, position, behavior) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”
For me I give special attention to 2 Corinthians 10:5, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Now this is an important stage it will require you to be disciplined in taking captive wrong thinking, the infiltrated thoughts by the enemy before they escalate and take hold.
That same scripture in The Passion Translation puts it like this “We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and breakthrough every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.”
Once we identify the thought be it cloaked in bitterness or fear, we know there is an evil spirit behind it. There is a two-step process…
First, we rebuke it out loud… you have the authority through Jesus Christ, Matthew 10:1 NKJV says “He gave them (you and I) power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. When addressing evil spirits or the devil we must speak it out loud, he cannot read our minds or spirit, he can only suggest to our mind.
Secondly, we now take control over your emotions if they are engaged, maybe even your physical body and tell them to be still. We shift our focus. Paul wrote the following scripture while in prison, he knew the battle in his mind needed to be obedient to God’s truth and not his physical environment. Philippians 4:8 tells us to give our attention to whatever is…
True: Truth combats lies, it gives us and keeps us free.
Noble: Honorable, honest, moral
Just: Innocent, holy
Pure: Modest, chaste, humble
Lovely: Friendly, welcoming, and accepting
Of Good Report: Reputable, well spoken, trustworthy
Virtuous: Excellence, valiant, right with God
Praiseworthy: Commendable, holy, and good
This is what Jesus did that night in the boat…He identified the wind or spirit behind it (the evil spirit attempting to prevent them from crossing the sea)and rebuked it (cast out). Then He spoke to the physical conditions wind and waves saying “Hush, be still.” Immediately the sea was calm, and the wind/spirit left.
In closing, I pray I have not given you more questions but answers!
Here is a basic prayer to get you started in defeating footholds and strongholds, speak to God without reservation, repent quickly and ask Him to restore you.
Father God, instruct the Holy Spirit who is regarded as the Spirit of Truth to reveal and guide me in all truth. I submit myself to You and ask that you would look deep within me and reveal any area of my life in which I have made vulnerable to demonic attack. (John 16:13) It is the desire of my heart to recognize and destroy footholds and strongholds that evil spirits may have established in order to influence my thoughts and actions. Once revealed help me to stand on Your Word, to use every spiritual weapon and destroy anything that would separate me from you God. God I give you all praise and glory and am thankful for all you have done in my life and continue to do. AMEN (Psalm 21:2, Ephesians 4:26-27; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Romans 8:39)
Blessings, Sister Laurie
Thank you to the following amazing men of God for their insight and inspiration.
Pastor Steve Berger, “Winning the Mind Wars, Tearing Down Strongholds Through Prayer”, Grace Chapel, Franklin TN
Pastor Gary Costella, Awesome Church, Sydney Australia