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  • Kristie Kroschel

Breaking Down Strongholds Part 1 - The Battle for the Mind

Before we can begin to break down strongholds in our lives, we first need to talk a little about WHAT they are and HOW they are built! 

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV)

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind...” Romans 12:2 (ESV)

It is clear from these verses that much of our battle to live godly lives takes place in our minds. What we believe often drives how we act. If our belief system is not quite right, then our behavior and feelings won’t be quite right either. My husband heard somewhere that we can’t behave in the long run in a manner that is inconsistent with how we view our identity. Our identity and worldview are developed by our life experiences starting in the formative years.

Stronghold Defined

We define strongholds as negative patterns of thought or beliefs burned into our minds in two ways: from prevailing (or long-term) experiences or the intensity of traumatic experiences. 

Prevailing Experiences                          

Because of sin, we are born into the world without any knowledge of God. As we grow and mature, we begin the process of learning about ourselves and how to relate to the world around us through long-term exposure to experiences in our homes, at school, in our neighborhoods, in church, with friends, etc. These experiences, good or bad, and how we perceive them shape how we think about ourselves and how we see the world. For example, one child raised in a home where conflict is dealt with by yelling at each other may grow up thinking yelling is the way to argue; another child in that home may grow up fearing confrontation and angry people. 

Traumatic Experiences

We also develop beliefs and worldviews through traumatic experiences. These are exactly what they sound like; death of a family member, divorce, mental, physical, sexual abuse, illness, injury, or substance abuse in the home, to name a few. They are sudden and strong and make a lasting impact on our minds because of their intensity. For example, a child who experiences the loss of a close family member may grow up not wanting to get close to anyone because they may lose them. 

Do you see the pattern? We have a belief based on something in our past/childhood, and it directs our thought process going forward. The beliefs about ourselves and the world that develop from these experiences continue to deepen throughout our lives as we face situations/experiences and react/respond to them based on our negative beliefs. The more we walk in these negative beliefs, the more habitual they become, and over time, a stronghold is built. Often a stronghold will be revealed through ungodly temperaments or behavior patterns we don’t see or don’t realize are choices we are making.

Because we live in a fallen world, our belief system before we came to know Jesus was focused on meeting our need for love, acceptance, purpose, security, etc., independent of God. I lived in Germany in the late 70’s/early 80’s when the Berlin wall was still up. It was clear that this wall was built not to keep people out of East Germany, but to keep the East German people in. In this same way, the fallen world and Satan encourage this building of strongholds in our lives to keep us bound up and away from God. There will always be a temptation to continue living this way, but when we come to Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit and the power to live differently! 

For instance, we no longer need to believe we are inferior because Dad always told us we would not amount to anything. Nobody is born inferior to anyone else, just different. God created each one of us uniquely and exquisitely and with a purpose (Psalm 139:13-16). 

We don’t have to be critical of others to make ourselves feel better. God loves us as we are and loves to help us become the people He created us to be (Philippians 1:6). 

We don’t need to feel unlovable because people have rejected us. We have been chosen by God, purchased at a great price to be His children whom he dearly loves (Ephesians 1:4-5).

We don’t need to be consumed by FOMO (fear of missing out). God says he has given us all we need for life and godliness (1 Peter 1:3), and His Spirit will lead us into all truth (John 16:13).

The good news is—in Christ, there is always good news—that we can stop the cycle and even break down the worldly strongholds and build godly strongholds in their place!

Next time, we will look at how we can dismantle some of the roots of negative beliefs that created the strongholds in the first place.

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