Getting Rid of Strongholds (part 2)

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10)
 
4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 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.  (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
Yesterday we saw that we need to be really practical about being sanctified in our daily lives. We do not live in a world of abstract theological truths. We live in the reality of a broken world where our repetitive sin causes real harm to us and to those around us. We saw that if we do not keep a short account with God about our sin, those little sins can grow into spiritual strongholds in our lives, which become breeding grounds for the work of our enemy, the devil. The good news is that these strongholds do not need to remain standing. In fact, they cannot stand when we come up against them with the victory of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of Scripture.

So why, then, do we get caught out? Why do we find ourselves sinning again in the same ways, even when we have promised ourselves that we will not “do it again”. Having stepped into God’s freedom and forgiveness, how do we protect ourselves from repeating the same sins moving forward?

As a pastor and as a parent, I have learned that the reason behind an action is always more important than the action itself. The “why” is always more important than the “what”. I learnt this in my own experience when I sought counselling to deal with an issue of anger. Spending time with a trained Christian counsellor over a number of months, I learned that the root of my anger-induced action (which was sinful) were the lies that I believed about myself and others. Until I replaced those lies with God’s truth, I was always going to struggle. Our enemy the devil is a liar – Jesus describes him as the father of lies in John 8:44 – so it is God’s truth that sets us free. My anger was my responsibility (the devil does not have the power to make me do anything) but I was believing the lies that he sowed into my heart through my childhood experiences in a broken world. To break the stronghold of the devil’s work in my heart, I needed to break the power that his lies had over my life.

I love what Paul says to us in our verses today from 2 Corinthians 10. Paul encourages us to “take every thought captive”. Sometimes we live as if our thoughts have a life of their own and as if we have no control over them. This is not true. God has given us authority over our thoughts and the lies of the enemy that creep in and provoke us to sin. It might be the big lie that our sinful behaviour does not matter, or it might be the various lies that accuse us and cause us such pain that we are tempted to medicate that pain through sin. I discovered that the root of my anger was a lie of rejection. The answer was not to deny that rejection would never happen again (which would have simply been to replace one lie with another) but to take captive the fear of rejection and the pain of rejection with truth about my new identity before God in Jesus.

The truth of God’s faithfulness and his constant presence in my life was far stronger than any lie of the devil.
Yesterday we undertook part one of stronghold-busting by keeping a short account of our sin before God. We confessed our sin, we repented and received forgiveness from God. Our next step today is to begin to take our thoughts captive and to start ridding ourselves of the lies that cause us to give in to our old sinful habits. You may need to set yourself a bit of time to do this exercise.
  • With the help of the Holy Spirit identify a lie of the enemy that you find yourself believing
  • Find some verses in scripture that counteract this lie with biblical truth.
  • Write out a simple prayer based on this structure: “I renounce the lie that ………….. and I affirm the truth that…….”
  • Read out loud some of the Scriptures that you have found that counteract the lie.

  • Repeat this on a daily basis over the next few days as part of your time with God.
Father God, I thank you that your acceptance of me is unconditional. Thank you that you love me as I am, and that you also long for me to step into all the freedom that your Son won for me on the cross. Please keep on speaking truth to me through your Word and please protect me from the devil’s schemes. Help me to take every thought captive with the authority of the risen Christ. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were written by Simon Elliott, who is executive pastor of our church.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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