Numbers 13:28 “Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.
The term stronghold is a common theme in the Bible and is sometimes used interchangeably with the words fortress or fortified city. In the days of old every nation had a stronghold which was normally a fortified city. These strongholds were usually cities mostly characterized by being surrounded with thick walls. They were normally at the most strategic location of a nation and had the military base for that nation.
A nation’s strength was determined by it’s stronghold. A nation could rise and fall depending on its stronghold. The city of Jericho had a renowned stronghold, there was none like it. It is approximated that the wall was about 2 metres thick and was 5.2 metres high, and you may think that that’s not high but in 8,000 BCE that was quite something. In fact when the Israelites, saw how fortified the city was they felt discouraged. But while the strength of Jericho was in their fortified cities, the strength of Israel was in God.
Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?
As human beings we all have places where we derive our strength and for David it was the Lord. David, being a king understood what a stronghold meant and he therefore acknowledged that his strength and protection was not in any architectural structure but the Lord Himself.
As believers, our strength should come from the Lord. The world places its reliance on many things; riches, fame, education, sex, skill and gifts and everything else that is in this world and we may be tempted to follow suit. But when God saved us, He did this so that we may have a relationship with Him and completely rely on Him and none other. When He saved us, He redeemed us from a life of being enslaved to worldly things so that we may live for Him instead. And yet however, I have found myself even though saved, but still mastered being by sin. An oxymoron if you ask me, and yet!
In our journey as believers, because we are in this body, we will always struggle with sin. Whether we are one day old in salvation or fifty years old, we must wage war against the natural inclination of our bodies. Our salvation is a journey where every minute, every day, God saves and perfects us. It is not this particular struggle that I am writing about.
Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace
This being mastered by sin reveals that our strength is not in God but rather that we are under a different stronghold and we are not strong and to the contrary we are actually weak and vulnerable to the enemy’s devices. We are deceived into believing in a false sense of momentary happiness and liberty, a false strength in ourselves because we begin to believe “I can stop when I want.” Today I want to write to those like me who have found themselves being slaves to sin again.
How do we know that sin has become a stronghold? When we accept it and stop fighting it. When we stop confessing and repenting our sins because we’ve given in. Most times as believers we may do this because we’re tired of fighting. We are tired of making promises to God only to break them the next minute. Tired of carrying guilt and shame within and feelings of unworthiness that accompanies the two. When we quickly silence the Holy Spirit’s conviction because of the familiarity of sin.
Soon enough though, what we were very much convicted of stops being that much of a big deal. Consequently, we begin to justify our actions with either “everyone is doing it” or “even God knows, He must understand”. Any call by anyone in our circles to stop is disregarded and termed as judgmental, “this person is just judging me because I sin differently than them“and eventually we are deceived into believing that there is no hope for us, we are too far gone.
Sometimes we may even defend ourselves by saying it is our personality and we were created that way. We may even go ahead to state that we picked it from a particular parent and it therefore runs in the family. We should never justify our sins and when we do it shows that we have a greater underlying issue. It shows that we are no longer fighting against sin but rather, we have become slaves to sin, we are now under the hold of sin.
Sin, creates deception in our minds.Often times, when we fall into temptation it is because we have been baited by the Devil. The Devil will present us with a bait, hooked on it are the momentary pleasures we will have if we sin, but what we do not see are the consequences waiting for us.
2 Corinthians 4:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
How do we deal with this? First, is to recognize that God understands our struggle and He is willing to help us. God is making an invitation to us to rely on His grace and not our own strength. We have a High Priest, Jesus Christ who went through all the struggles that we are going through and He therefore empathizes with us. Our struggle is exactly what grace is all about, that we have One, who can be strong on our behalf.
Zechariah 4:6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.
Second is to realize that God wants to become our stronghold and God should be our stronghold. In fact in 1 Peter 4:11 we are told, “If it is serving, serve with the strength God supplies.” God doesn’t just want us to rely on His strength when it comes to warring against sin but in everything we do, this is how He gets glorified. Even in areas that we may think we are strong, God still wants us to rely on His strength but more so when we are weak, we know that God’s greatness and power is revealed.
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
The third thing is that if we want to effectively wage war against a particular sin that has its hold on us, then we must find godly community around us that we will be accountable to. This takes humility. Additionally, our believing friends can join hands with us and say a prayer for us.
2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds
Fourth thing is that we must wage war accordingly. These strongholds will only be brought down when we put on the full armor of God. If our minds are not being renewed then we are conforming to the patterns of the world. As believers, when we are mastered by sin, it means that there is a particular mindset in us that is exalting itself against the authority of Jesus Christ and this mindset can only be cast down through a renewal of the mind.
Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
The fifth thing we need to realize is that when we are mastered by sin it reveals that there is something that we love more than we love God. It reveals that this vice is an idol in our lives. We ought to repent against this sin, cast away these idols and ask God goes to help us to love Him with all our being as He has commanded us to.
Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us
The sixth and the last thing we ought to know is that as believers we fight from a place of victory. In fact overcoming does not mean we will not struggle anymore. Even if we do not struggle with that particular sin, we will always struggle against sin because it is the natural inclination of our flesh. God has given us grace to say no to all ungodliness. But when we sin, we know we have a High Priest who is not removed from our struggles, He understands and when we sin we should therefore enter boldly into His presence to receive mercy.
Child of God, keep waging war, RESIST the Devil and after you have done all, STAND.