Have you ever experienced a stronghold in your life that kept you stuck and robbed you of your joy? Maybe you feel you’re never going to win. Or maybe you’re caught in an endless loop of negative thought patterns, emotions, and habits. Let’s explore, “What is a stronghold in the Bible” and how conquer these strongholds with God’s help.
Yet spiritual strongholds are not new. The people of God have been facing times of trouble for generations. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that there are “no new temptations taking you.”
The good news is that God promised us that He will also give us a way to escape. His power is greater than that of any stronghold, and He can and will set us free.
What is a Stronghold in the Bible?
The word stronghold is mentioned several times in the Bible, and it’s most often a military term. It’s used to describe a place of safety or a defensive structure.
We read in the book of 1 Samuel the story of David as he ran away from Saul. 1 Samuel 23 uses the word multiple times, including in verse 29, “And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at Engedi.”
But what does it mean to us in the modern day? You and I aren’t running from an evil king. We aren’t even fighting a physical war. But don’t be fooled; we are fighting a battle–every day.
And we need to be prepared.
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Types of Strongholds in the Bible
The Bible lists several different types of strongholds. Some are good for us, and others we should try to avoid.
God as our Stronghold
Our Heavenly Father wants to be our place of safety and defense. In fact, it’s only when we rest in His divine power that we are truly safe.
Trusting God to be your stronghold doesn’t mean you’ll live a life without problems. But it means that you have a place you can run and hide for protection from the storms of life.
The Bible tells us that we have a special privilege as a child of God who trusts in our Father’s protection. Not even the devil’s schemes can stand up to the mighty power of God!
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 54:17
As human beings, we sometimes tend to let things come between us and our Heavenly Father. This leads to strongholds that not only take the place of God in our lives, they actively keep us from getting to Him.
Satan knows that he is the loser in any spiritual warfare, so he uses whatever means necessary to attack us. He is sneaky, and we should always be watching for him!
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Peter 5:8
When we allow a spiritual stronghold to go unchecked, it becomes a habitual thought pattern. Satan likes to war with our minds, and he will fight us through mental strongholds.
Satan is the father of lies. When he can convince a child of God to believe a lie, he can trap them in a mental stronghold. The good news is that when we live in the power of the Holy Spirit, we no longer fall prey to the power of the enemy.
6 Examples of Strongholds in the Bible
God gives us the power to overcome strongholds, but before we talk about how, let’s identify some of the common strongholds mentioned in God’s Word.
Most of us have become very familiar with fear over the last few years. It’s an effective tool our enemy can use to keep us from living out our potential for the Lord.
However, we don’t have to live in fear! 2 Timothy 1:7 says “ For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
If you’re caught in a stronghold of fear, you can know it’s not from God.
While addiction is never mentioned by name in the Word of God, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:12 that we shouldn’t let anything bring us under its power.
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
Addiction takes many different forms, but every one can be overcome by God’s powerful weapons.
Bitterness can happen so quickly, and it’s a destructive stronghold. We can even develop bitterness in our hearts toward someone we genuinely care about.
Having a bitter heart can be described as drinking poison, and hoping the other person gets sick. When we hold onto bitterness towards another person, it usually doesn’t affect their life. But it will keep a child of God from living out their calling.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: Ephesians 4:31
Sexual sins are rampant in our modern world. We see it in pornography, sex addiction, human trafficking, and more. But sexual sins are not reserved only for lost people.
Christians can and do fall into sexual immorality. In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote of terrible sexual sins that were happening in the church. He gave specific instructions for dealing with them.
When we read Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, it appears that those who were caught in sin repented, and turned back to the Lord Jesus.
God has the power to release you from sexual strongholds that may be holding you back from serving Him.
The book of Proverbs warns us again and again about pride. A prideful heart is not depending on God but leans on its own power. Pride becomes a stronghold because it prevents us from growing our faith.
When we trust God, we are strengthening our faith. But when we are leaning on our own merits, we’ll never be able to move forward for God.
In Luke 12, we read the story of a rich, young man who asked Jesus how he could get to Heaven. Jesus told him to sell all that he had and follow Jesus.
This made the young man sad because he was very rich. Being rich is not a sin. But being greedy becomes a spiritual stronghold because we hold back something from God. It may be money, or even time or talents He wants to use.
Bible Verses About Strongholds
If you aren’t sure where to start to break down strongholds in your life, you can turn to Jesus. The Bible both contain many verses that explain we aren’t fighting a physical war but a spiritual battle.
The weapons of the world won’t do us any good; we need the full armor of God.
2 Corinthians 10:4
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
2 Corinthians 10:5
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;
Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God:
2 Corinthians 6:7
By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.
The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.
Breaking Strongholds in Your Life
These spiritual and mental strongholds are built up in our lives because we’ve allowed something to build a new habitual thought process that is outside of God’s Will. The lies of the enemy convince us of falsehoods about ourselves and even about God.
Here is a simple (but not exactly easy) plan you can use to break any stronghold in your life.
Surrender to God.
There is only one battle you will ever win by surrendering to the Lord. Before you can overcome your strongholds, you must admit that you have allowed something to build a stronghold in your life, then submit that area to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Repent and turn away from your stronghold.
You will never be able to break a stronghold as long as you allow it to continue to have a presence in your life. Repent of the sin that laid the foundation for this stronghold, and turn away from it.
Put on the full armor of God.
We’ve already covered most of the parts of the armor of God, but I want to stress just how important it is. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of the gospel are all vital for protecting yourself from Satan.
But if you notice, there is only one offensive weapon mentioned in Ephesians 6–the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Spending time daily in Bible reading and prayer is necessary to find victory in Christ for the strongholds.
Renew your mind and take every thought captive.
Breaking a stronghold will require that you make a change. Romans 12:1 calls this the “renewing of your mind.” Paul says this process is a transformation.
After you have renewed your mind, you must be extremely careful about what you allow to enter into it. Take these thoughts captive and bring them into obedience to Christ.
Give yourself Biblical accountability.
In order to remain free of your strongholds long term, you should seek out someone to hold you accountable to the changes you’ve made. It may be a friend, pastor, or even a counselor, depending on the stronghold you’re overcoming.
You Have Hope in Christ
If you’re caught in a spiritual or mental stronghold, you may think there’s no way out. It’s easy to fall into an attitude of hopelessness. It’s true that if you are trying to live the Christian life in your own strength, it can seem impossible.
But, friend, you have hope in Christ! He reminds us that we have already won any battle that we face against the spiritual forces of evil.
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 37-39
Nothing can separate you from God’s love, and in His love, you’re already a winner.