When You’re Struggling with Bad Thoughts and Habits

Someone once asked me if I had ever struggled with a stronghold in my life. To be honest, at the time I wasn’t even sure what a stronghold was. So I did a little digging.

A stronghold is one of those churchy Christianese words that’s hard to wrap your mind around. It’s not a word we use everyday. So what exactly is a stronghold? Here’s what I learned.

A stronghold is a thought pattern that forms a fortress around the mind, holding it prisoner to faulty thinking.

It is formed brick-by-brick by repetitive faulty thinking or all at once by a onetime traumatic event such as a rape, molestation, or abuse.

In the Old Testament, a stronghold was a fortified dwelling used for protection from an enemy.

David hid in wilderness strongholds when he was hiding from King Saul, who was trying to kill him (1 Samuel 22:4; 23:14). These were usually caves high on a mountainside or some other structure that was hard to attack.

In the Old Testament, God is called our stronghold: “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).

The New Testament writers took this same imagery of a fortress to describe the spiritual tower of bondage, not protection, that we put ourselves in by developing thought patterns and ideas that hold us captive.

A stronghold does not protect us, it protects the enemy who is manipulating our thoughts and suggesting our actions.

A stronghold might be a thought such as:

I’m no good.
I’m damaged goods.
Nobody loves me.
Nobody cares about me.
I can’t do anything right.

A stronghold might be an addiction such as:

Shopping
Alcohol
Sexual promiscuity
Over-eating
Feeling sorry for yourself

The enemy locks you up in hopes you’ll never reach for the key that is certainly within your reach. But you can.

The only way to expose the enemy and defeat him is to tear down the stronghold, the fortress where he is hiding.

An ungodly habit becomes the devil’s habitation–his stronghold in our lives.

Once you recognize a lie in your life—perhaps something that has even taken hold of your imagination and stirred ungodly feelings such as jealousy, worry, fear, or anger—you reject the lie and replace it with truth.

Each time you reject the devil’s lie, you knock one more brick from his fortress, and pretty soon, he’s exposed for the liar and deceiver he is.

I do not want to give the impression that this is an easy process. Some of us are so comfortable with our strongholds we don’t even realize they are there. That was the case with me.

I had been walking around saved but enslaved for so many years. I dragged the ball and chain of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy around with me everywhere I went, and I grew so used to my limp, I didn’t even notice it.

I was comfortable with my weakness and served Satan a cup of tea every day I sat hidden away behind the wall he had helped me build.

But praise God, Jesus opened my eyes to the truth and called me out of the fortress that had become my prison cell.

Destroying strongholds is not easy, but it is simple. Paul used words such as struggle, resist, tear down, and fight. The good news is that we’re not a one-woman demolition crew. The Holy Spirit gives us the power, Jesus gives us the light, and God is overseeing the entire project. We simply agree to participate through obedience.

When we talk about strongholds, we’re not talking about random thoughts or occasional sins.

A stronghold is a thought pattern or habitual sin. It is a fortress built with the bricks of thoughts and held together by the mortar of emotions. Strongholds become our perception of reality.

In my own life, replacing self-defeating lies with God’s truth helped me chip away at the stronghold of inadequacy that led to a negative cycle of discouragement, despair, and defeat.

Rejecting the devil’s lies will tear down those strongholds, and after a time, even the ruins are removed.

When we realize the enemy’s true identity, recognize his lies, and replace the lies with God’s truth, we’ll be free.

What is one lie that you need to reject and replace with the truth today?

You’ve heard the lies before. Maybe even whispered one or two to yourself from time to time. Maybe repeated them so often you’ve started to believe them. “Nobody loves me. I’m worthless. I would be happier married to someone else. I’m just not good enough.” The list goes on. It’s time to recognize the enemy’s lies and replace those lies with the Bible’s liberating truth. It’s time to renew your mind and think God’s thoughts rather than be held in bondage by the enemy’s deceptions. It’s time to be set free to see yourself as God sees you: His holy, chosen, cleansed, forgiven and dearly loved child. Now that’s a truth worth repeating. To learn more, check out my book I’m Not Good Enough…and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves. It’s a game changer!

 

9 Responses to When You’re Struggling with Bad Thoughts and Habits

  1. Cheryl June 21, 2017 at 6:17 am #

    This Is exactly where i was 8 years ago.. it took a crises in my life to realize I was walking around in a emotional strongholds and I was living in oppression ! Im still learning to pray against the thoughts and old behaviors ( at 49 years of doing the same thing it’s a hard habit to break!) but God has been with me step by step.. peice by peice he has reconstructed me into the woman I was suppose to be and who i am becoming ! With God all things are possible!

  2. Cheryl Phillips June 21, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

    Mi
    Ost people my age have a retirement plan, money, have property, and security. I have none of those and listening to the lies that I am a failure and that’s all there is to it

    • Diana Saunders August 30, 2017 at 10:39 am #

      When you dont know what to say or do…just say help me Jesus!
      He knows you and your struggles.
      Im not much further ahead.of you
      at 58 with my 12 yr old grandaughter temporarily staying at my brothers…looking for work.
      Im learning to offer up praise and thanks for what I do have which # 1 is my relationship with Jesus,Jehovah and his holy spirit
      living in me!

  3. Cheryl Phillips June 21, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

    Most people my age have retirement money, property, security, houses.I have no not it and feel like a complete failure. Have knee problems and haven’t been able to work for 6 months. Lie I am believing at my age for God’s plan in my life still

  4. Ola Howard June 21, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

    I think I have baggage that I’m dragging around! Feeling that to much for forgiveness! I need to keep reading and learning.

  5. Doyin July 1, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

    I had been struggling from these strong holds from childhood, the devil even made it madness for me. But the Lord deliver me, but these troubles had resulted to menter stress i hardly sleep without drug. I need more prayers pls pray for me.

    • Diana Saunders August 30, 2017 at 10:41 am #

      Im praying for you

  6. Christy August 1, 2017 at 6:10 pm #

    Thank you for these words of truth! I really feel that my thought patterns need to be re-evaluated.

  7. BLW August 17, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    i HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH A STRONGHOLD AND WOULD BE INTERESTED IN VERSES TO HELP ME THROUGH THE DIFFICULTY. GOING THROUGH A LIFE CHANGE. MY 2 SONS GROWING UP GRADUATING COLLEGE MOVING OUT ETC. THANK YOU FOR THESE WORDS.

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