Have you ever had issues or beliefs that just don’t seem to budge? You know what God’s Word says, you’ve studied it – you tell yourself the truth and yet it just doesn’t seem to take hold? You may be dealing with a “stronghold of the mind”.
A stronghold is not demonic, it’s simply a pattern of thought that is deeply ingrained. It is a mindset that has been formed. Neil T Anderson calls it a “mental habit pattern”. Strongholds can be formed through traumatic events or over time through repetition. For example, if I was continually told as a child that I am useless, that belief may become a stronghold and I will then find it very difficult to receive the truth of what the Word of God says about me.
God has designed our minds with the capacity to learn and remember, which enables us to be capable of complex tasks and thinking. There is a development phase through childhood where we learn and store information, much of it on an unconscious level.
For instance, the first time you tied your shoelaces, you had to think about every element of that task; it required your full concentration as you thought about each step and how to perform it. However, after tying your shoes about twenty or so times, you no longer have to think through the process at all. It now seems to happen automatically – you simply have the thought, “I need to do up my laces,” and it’s almost as though your hands just know what to do. You no longer have to consciously think through each step. This ability enables us to perform complex tasks as well as multi-task.
When our minds are programmed with truth, everything works well. However, because we live in a fallen world and have been raised by imperfect parents, our minds are also programmed with many things which are not truth according to the Word of God. Through childhood we have learned coping mechanisms for difficult situations which are not actually the best way of doing things. For example, a boy who was raised in a home where his older brothers used force to control him may learn that violence is an appropriate way of protecting himself.
Strongholds of the mind can manifest as strong negative emotional responses or behaviours over which we feel that we have no control such as addictions, anger problems and the like. The good news is that God has given us all that we need to dismantle these strongholds.
4For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
2 Corinthians 10:4,5
The word “stronghold’ means a fortress, castle or prison. It is a fortified building. It’s a picture of those mindsets and beliefs which we have that are not founded on God’s truth and when truth comes, it hits the wall of the fortress and can’t get in. Revelation comes as a grenade that is thrown inside that fortress and it blasts away portions of the fortress. There may be parts still standing that we need to clear away through meditation and declaration but now we see the error of our belief and the truth is starting to penetrate.
Revelation can come to us in many ways, through reading the Word of God, through prophecy, preaching, prayer and a myriad of other ways.
We are told in Romans 12:1:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.
And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Here, Paul is talking about our behaviour as Christians – that we are to live a holy life that is acceptable to God – and he goes on to tell us how to do it. We are to be “transformed (changed) by the renewing of our mind.”
We are indeed a new creation, with the potential to live in freedom and victory; however, we must renew our minds in order to change from our old ways to the new ways of the Spirit of God. Our old patterns of thinking and believing produced a particular type of behaviour in us. We need our minds to be renewed with Kingdom truth, and that truth will then produce a new, godly kind of behaviour in us.