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Strongholds

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SEARCHING FOR THE ROOT - BASIC PRINCIPLES

Every pattern or attitude in our lives has a spiritual root--either good or bad. In the case of bad patterns or attitudes, unless the spiritual root is addressed, there can be no deliverance, although "on the surface" it may be possible to "cover up" before men. Jesus said "unless you first bind the strong man, you cannot plunder his goods" (Matt. 12:29).

Every demonic influence has gained its access by appealing to our selfish nature (the "flesh") in some way. Since demons do not "play fair", they often gain their controlling influence over our behavior when we are totally unaware of the deception which is taking place, even as a result of the "generational curse" principle, passed down from the preceding generation (Ex. 20:5,6). At some point, there has been a choice of our own free will in order for the demonic influence to have authority in our lives. In the case of the "generational curse", an opportunity is presented for the "victim" to make a freewill choice, which gives the demon double authority - Ex. 20:5, 6 & Rom 6:16.


STEPS TO HEALING AND DELIVERANCE

As with any problem, the first step toward victory is to realize a problem exists. There is no record of Jesus casting out demons unless they were first recognized, either by the person being victimized, or by an authority over them (a parent, for example).

The second step is to embrace the blood of Jesus. His blood is sufficient! Jesus won the victory for us when he hung on the cross, and "by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). There is no victory apart from the blood of Jesus.

The third step: remembering that Satan can only gain influence over us through the flesh, we must learn to lay down the "old man", the carnal nature - "die to self". Then, in submission to God, let Him bring forth the new creature we became when we accepted Jesus as savior and Lord, thereby truly begin to "walking in the Spirit". Satan has no access when we are "possessed" by the Spirit of God. This may be the most important step, and one not widely taught.

There is a difference between "patching up the "old man", and "renewing the mind". Forgiveness, repentance and spiritual warfare is required to bring forth the renewing of the mind. Forgiveness is just as important as warring against demonic forces, because it destroys the "gate", or point of access the enemy uses to gain a foothold (stronghold) in the victim's life. The past must be put behind to allow the Lord to heal. A deep emotional hurt, which can even be a perceived one and not a factual one, is usually at the root of the problem. To forgive the hurt at the root of the problem takes the "axe to the root" (Luke 3:9). Forgive the person (ourselves included) involved, and forgive God. This may sound strange, but anger toward God for what has happened to us to hurt us may be the actual root of the problem!

Repentance is necessary, for allowing Satan controlling access to the soul, and for the hurt caused to ourselves and others. Though usually not a conscious decision, more faith and trust has been put in the demonic stronghold than in God. The damage caused to ourselves and others by acting under the control of this spirit is a sin against man. The lack of trust and faith in God is a sin against God. Jesus said "You shall love the Lord your God above all else, and your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 23:37-40). I John 1:9 says: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness". Repentance brings God's forgiveness, which brings cleansing and healing.

Warfare through intimacy with God, praise and worship, and direct confrontation of the enemy is also needed. The enemy is not going to give up his stronghold without a fight--he must be resisted. His influence must be renounced. James 4:8 says "draw near to God, and He will draw near to you". And James 4:7 says "submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you". When submitted to God, we have authority over the devil.

2 Cor 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (KJV)
When you draw near to God in intimate fellowship, the enemy must leave, for it is written: "no evil dwells with Thee" (Psalm 5:4).

Praise and worship releases God's power to do battle for you (II Chron 20:20-30). This is especially critical when wrestling with principalities and powers.

Finally, in a step often overlooked in many teachings, the Holy Spirit must be sought to "renew the mind" completely in this area (Rom 12:2). Old habit patterns which were established while in bondage must be removed and replaced with a godly pattern. There is usually a period of "reconstruction" after deliverance, while the mind is being renewed. Recognize that this period must take place, and may require a lot of time. Yes, God can and does instantly deliver, but for us to stay in victory, there is more often a progressive work - the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

This step "fills the void" left by the enemy, preventing a future attack even worse than the original problem:

Matt 12:43-45 "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first…" (NIV)



PROGRESSION TO STRONGHOLDS


The progression to a character controlled by a demonic stronghold (here referred to as the "victim") frequently runs as follows:


AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE

The demonic spirits below work interactively to feed and strengthen each other, and prepare the way for other demonic spirits to gain access. Each one constitutes its own stronghold, comprised of many servant spirits; however, they are all allies: they strengthen each other, and often function together as a single stronghold in the victim's life. Remember, all demonic spirits are "flesh feeders"--they gain their foothold and their strength by feeding our carnal nature ("flesh").


REJECTION

This is the point of access most frequently used by the enemy for establishing a demonic stronghold. The spirit of rejection attaches itself to that part of our nature which desires love and acceptance and the need for self-worth. The need for love, acceptance and self-worth is the strongest need of our nature. However, ONLY the love of God can fully satisfy this God-created need for love within each of us. To seek to meet this need by any way other than God makes us vulnerable to demonic attack. In order to gain influence, or to strengthen its influence upon us, the spirit of rejection distorts everything that occurs in our lives into feelings of acceptance or rejection, to keep our focus on ourselves, instead of turning to God for the love we need. It opens the door to many other spirits to gain controlling access to our souls. Paranoia and self-pity are common servants of rejection, and are usually present to some degree.



WITCHCRAFT/REBELLION AND PRIDE

We are all born rebellious and prideful - characteristics of our Adamic or "sin" nature. The spirits of witchcraft, rebellion and pride attach themselves to our natural rebellion and pride to make them stronger. Rebellion often masquerades as "independence", especially in America , which prides itself on "freedom and independence". Pride feeds our ego by telling us we have our "rights", or that we deserve to get our own way. The two work together. Pride causes "wounded spirits" when we are hurt. It works with rejection to change those "wounds" into feelings of rejection. These "wounds" can be intentional or unintentional hurts inflicted by someone, or something these spirits have successfully distorted into a perceived hurt. Please note that witchcraft is a part of this, according to scripture: "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft". (I Sam. 15:23).


FEAR

This spirit has always been one of the most powerful in operation in the world. At its root is the fear of death. It has many servants, such as "fear of man", "fear of failure", "fear of authority", "fear of intimacy", etc. (Doubt and unbelief are distrusting spirits of fear.) Its primary purpose is to keep us incapacitated so we will not draw near to God and begin to operate our lives by faith. It works hand in hand with other spirits to strengthen and be strengthened.

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These are the primary tools Satan uses to establish strongholds in our lives. He has been doing it for a long time, and has gotten very good at it. But God has revealed the truth that sets us free, and we have victory over every evil through the blood and the name of Jesus. We are not defenseless!

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ROM 8:37-39, NIV)

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