“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 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, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (II Cor. 10:3-6)
As I mentioned in the first post on this topic, this is a verse that I’ve always struggled to make super meaningful in the past. High things that exalt themselves against God, sure, that makes perfect sense to me. Even casting down arguments, assuming those are arguments against God’s way and truth, I can wrap my head around. But strongholds aren’t a concept that is immediately tangible to me.
A while back, though, I did have a little bit of a breakthrough where strongholds are concerned, and what they can represent in our lives as followers of Christ. These strongholds or “walled cities” can be external—the obstacle in front of us that we see as bigger than God (covered in the previous post)—or they can be internal. The internal strongholds are where we have built fortresses protecting pieces of our carnal nature from being conquered. Both types need pulled down. This part of the study deals with the hostile spiritual strongholds quietly occupying our hearts and minds.
Enemy strongholds in the heart and mind
While the strongholds in front of us are generally easier to see (if still difficult to overcome), spiritual strongholds’ power lies in their ability to fly under the radar. If you consider yourself a disciple of Christ or a Christian, at some point in your life you decided to turn from your previous life and asked God to put His spirit in you. You repented and were baptized, and ostensibly gave Him unlimited access to every part of your heart and mind—asking Him to transform your carnal mind into one led by Him.
Every one of us that has gone through this process did so with the complete intention of letting God conquer everything in His path, burn it down, and start from scratch. But every one of us also—mostly unknowingly—built walls around a few particular areas to fortify them against this process. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s generally true of every person. We’re pretty good at identifying and rooting out certain kinds of sins and correcting wrong behaviors. We can refrain from lying, avoid adultery, keep the Sabbath and holy days, and maybe we even had to quit smoking or stop eating certain meats when we came into the knowledge of God. But despite all of this, we still have trouble recognizing or acknowledging the spiritual strongholds located within the deepest regions of ourselves.
When an army conquers a land, they must breach and take every single one of the strongholds, because if an enemy-occupied stronghold remains in the land then the native people there can continually attack whenever they sense weakness. The battle will rage on and peace can never come—the land will never be fully conquered.