The apostle Paul enlists the word "stronghold" to define the spiritual fortresses where Satan and his legions go for protection. These fortresses exist in the thought-patterns and ideas that govern individuals in their homes, workplaces and churches, as well as in communities and nations. Before victory can be claimed, these strongholds must be pulled down. Only then can the mighty weapons of the Word and the Spirit effectively plunder Satan's house. As Paul states,
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2Cor. 10:4-5).
Here is an example of how a stronghold can develop and affect someone's working life. "Jerry" had grown up with a father who was successful and a workaholic. Although Jerry lacked for nothing materially, he felt a lack of closeness to his parents and had difficulty sharing his feelings with others as an adult. When Jerry was still in his early teens, his father died very suddenly. His large family was left with little support, and insecurity and fear became the dominating factors in the young man's life.
Vowing to himself that he would never again suffer financial need, Jerry worked hard at his business in his adult life, putting stress on many personal and business relationships. He became very successful.
His relationship with God was seen as a model among his peers, but when examined closer, there was something that just wasn't right. He often displayed anger in stressful situations and he would shame his employees into correcting their behaviors. Jerry had little accountability beyond his clients. A pattern began to emerge that motivated Jerry to place restrictions on those around him when they failed in the financial area. Finally, Jerry's marriage disintegrated and some major crises in his business led to financial difficulties.
However, through the counsel of some trusted friends who had an understanding of spiritual strongholds, Jerry came to realize that underneath some of these symptoms, a religious stronghold of insecurity and fear had been established. To reduce his anxiety level, Jerry (and his father and grandfather before him) had worked hard to control people and circumstances.
As the Holy Spirit convicted him of sins he had committed against people in his life, Jerry sought forgiveness and made restitution. His priorities shifted to God and family first, followed by close friends and business. God began to show Jerry that he could have true intimacy with God and others when these underlying strongholds were removed. Jerry became a new person, and for the first time he experienced a degree of intimacy and freedom in his walk with God. Today, Jerry sees the hand of God restoring all aspects of his life and can testify to God's miraculous hand in many of his everyday experiences in life and work.
I am pleased to tell you that I am Jerry. It is from first-hand experience that I can discuss the effect of spiritual strongholds that can plague our personal lives and, inevitably, our work lives.
By reading between the lines in the first two chapters of Genesis, as well as elsewhere in the Bible, we find that God created us with seven needs: (1) dignity, (2) authority, (3) blessing and provision, (4) security, (5) purpose and meaning, (6) freedom and boundaries, and (7) love and companionship. Whenever we seek to meet one or more of these basic needs outside God's design, we have set the stage for the development of a generational stronghold.
God wants to release the full measure of His love in our lives, so that we no longer need to operate out of old strongholds. In Ephesians 3:16-18, Paul prayed that we would experience this fullness:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
When I came into a greater understanding of the operation of spiritual strongholds, I did a thorough study of my family history. I interviewed family members to see what I could learn about the way my father and grandfather related to God and their families. I studied their work habits. I found that each of us had the same symptoms:
- a need for recognition from performance (civic projects, sports, business success)
- an emphasis on building financial security (we were workaholics)
-a lack of emotional intimacy
-a works-based relationship toward God
-a tendency to over-control people and circumstances
This was an amazing discovery for me. For the first time, I realized this stronghold had affected three generations of my family. I was being given the opportunity to break this generational stronghold through the power of Christ so that it would not get passed down any further.
Strongholds work at the subconscious level and are not easily recognized until a major crisis in a person's life forces him or her to look deeper at the root causes of the problem. I learned that one root of the religious spirit is control. Man does not want to give up control over his life, so he creates controlled systems designed to make him feel acceptable by God. Again, this is a works-based attempt to gain God's favor, which invalidates the work of the Cross. The sequence of how these strongholds develop in an individual is as follows:
1. Satanic-inspired thoughts are introduced into the person's mind.
2. The individual entertains these thoughts, which bring out emotions.
3. Giving in to these emotions eventually leads the person to take some sort of action.
4. Continual participation in the action causes the individual to develop a habit.
5. As the habit develops, a stronghold is built.
Imagine being born with a pair of sunglasses on. You would grow up looking at the world through those sunglasses. You would never know that you could see better without the sunglasses unless someone revealed this to you. Now imagine taking those glasses off for the first time and seeing the inside of a room much brighter and clearer. Strongholds operate this way. They masquerade as if they are part of our personality, and we accept them for our whole life. However, the truth is that Jesus wants to totally renew our minds and hearts. Strongholds keep us from getting restored.
Renouncing Spiritual Strongholds
Nearly all of us struggle to some degree with spiritual strongholds. But God does not want us to continue to be ruled by them or to impose them upon anyone else. If you recognize that you are operating under the influence of a stronghold, renounce it in prayer, repent for what you've done, ask God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of others, and resist the return of the spirit or stronghold. Receive God's power to forsake it, and ask Him to make you sensitive to the times when you are tempted to act in a wrong spirit. Move into freedom by asking God to fill you afresh with the power of His Holy Spirit.
When you encounter a person who is influenced by a stronghold, let your first response be prayer. Ask God for wisdom and love and for Him to set the person free. If the person has offended you, forgive him or her and don't let that person's actions or attitudes keep a grip on you. Let your life be based on a genuine faith rooted in Jesus' life and example.
Most of all, continually become transformed by the renewing of your mind, as we are told to do in Romans 12:2. This is your best insurance against any spiritual influences that do not come from God. As you develop a strong relationship with God through the power of His Spirit, not only will you become empowered to bring the Kingdom to those around you at work, but also you will be able to resist Satan's sabotage.
Prayer of Repentance to Renounce Strongholds
We must gain freedom by renouncing and repenting of the influence of strongholds.
Father in heaven, I come before you in the Name of Jesus. I recognize the power You have given me by the shed blood of Jesus to demolish spiritual strongholds in my life. I confess that I have given a foothold to the sin(s) of ____________(list them). I renounce the stronghold of ______________________________ by the authority of the Name of Jesus Christ according to Your Word. I take back through Your power that ground that I surrendered to the enemy. I pray that You will fill me with trust-grounded obedience to Your Holy Spirit so that this area of my life will be in conformity to the image of Christ. Amen.
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by Mike & Sue Dowgiewicz