~ Matters of the Heart ~
Proverbs 21:22 (NKJV) “A wise man scales the city of the mighty, and brings down the trusted stronghold.”
It would seem lately that there is much flying around in conversations and relationships, and wow is it disheartening! Last year I talked about offences and what they do to us and others. I talked about how confrontation is a part of life and that you can’t close it off or ignore it, you must handle it.
Confrontation is as ugly or beautiful as you make it. We will always disagree on some things, but if we can’t discuss what’s on our hearts then maybe we need to keep quiet and just love. Isn’t it time that we as Christians mature to the place where we can agree to disagree and not divide over it? It truly breaks my heart at the things that Christians do and never once think how they are hurting someone else. This brings me to this month’s topic “Strongholds.”
The Proverb above tells us to be wise, that there are strongholds we trust in that need to come down.
- Wise: that is intelligent, skillful or artful—cunning (man), wise (hearted), man.
- Scales: to ascend, (be high) or active (mount); it’s used in many senses arise (up), recover, restore and much more.
- City: a city (a place guarded by waking or a watch) in the widest sense (even of a mere encampment or post) city, court, town.
- Mighty: powerful, warrior, tyrant:–champion, chief, X excel, giant, man, mighty (man, one), strong (man), valiant (man).
- Down: to descend (literally to go downwards; or conventionally to a lower region, as the shore, a boundary, the enemy, cast down, let down, subdue, take down.
- Strength: strength in various applications (force, security, majesty, praise): boldness, loud, mighty, power, strong.
- Stronghold: fortified place, a fastness, a place of security.
This scripture is saying that it is up to us to be wise and ascend (rise) to a higher place. We do this by not building fortified places within our hearts and minds by the “pretense” of having to do with anything proud, man-centered, and self-confident. We can build a fortress of human reasoning, protect it with many subtle arguments and the deception of logic. Pride is the highpoint where our hearts can sit enthroned. God desires us to use a mighty force and cast down these things we hold on to as a place of refuge.
I like to call them “soul wounds”. When we trust our soul wounds to guide our decisions and actions, they become strongholds that afflict our spirit, soul, and body. They are a door that Satan uses to make entry into our lives. Because we have weakened ourselves through believing the lie, we hold strong and we separate ourselves from the Lord and begin to trust in our own choices and actions.
Now, I didn’t say the Lord leaves us. We leave the truth, then listen and speak the lies we believe are truth. Things look a whole lot different if you have dark glasses on in a lighted room, then if you have clear lenses on and the room is very visible. As scripture says: 1 Corinthians 13:12 (AMPC) “For now (in this time of imperfection) we see in a mirror dimly (a blurred reflection, a riddle, and an enigma), but then (when the time of perfection comes we will see reality) face to face. Now I know in part (just in fragments), but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known (by God).”
When we look through the eyes of imperfection we see dimly and blurred. A riddle is a brainteaser, another word for enigma is problem. All we see is the problem which teases our mind. Things get blown out of proportion, and we feel the strongholds of wounds. But when we see the truth, the Word which is perfect, we see face to face with the truth and now we see just how God sees us and the situations and circumstances.
Examples of Strongholds
Here are just a few of the strongholds we can live under the influence of:
- abuse (physical, mental, emotional, sexual or spiritual)
Strongholds can come upon the soul through a traumatic event. When we don’t find healing or don’t recognize when we have built a fortress around our heart, a stronghold begins to infect us with worldly or old nature ways.
Jeremiah 17: 5-6 (NKJV) “Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.'”
The Lord is explaining what we do when we trust in man and make flesh our strength. We become irritated because our heart has left the Lord’s, our eyes are blinded by darkness, and we don’t see when good comes. Nothing grows in parched wildernesses or salt land.
Strongholds are thorns (a bodily annoyance (irritation) or disability). It can be your body, or your human nature with its frailties, physically or morally. Thorny strongholds occur in our soul, that’s why I call them soul wounds. One part is your “will”, your capacity to choose, as well as your mind, thoughts, and emotions, and your body. The soul is what unites all these parts into a whole person, a single life. Your soul is the deepest part of you that is a vital representation of who you truly are.
Jeremiah 16:19a (NKJV) “O Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction.”
Strength means power, security, to be firm and strong. Strength and fortress occurs 100 times in the OT.
Psalm 46:1 (NKJV) speaks of God’s “refuge and strength,” that He is a “very present help in trouble.”
Psalm 105:4 (NKJV) says: “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore!”
Next month I’ll share how we break strongholds in our lives.