By Pastor Shana Wise
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
Numbers 13: 31-33, But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
(Read Numbers chapters 13-14 for the background of the text).
I have discovered that many people suffer from strongholds in their life. A stronghold is something that hinders the purpose of God for our lives by competing with the truth of the Word of God. The conflict of the stronghold and the truth take place within our spiritual being.
A stronghold can take root in our lives in several ways. The number one way a stronghold is set up within us is when we exchange the lie for the truth. Another way is when we have experienced spiritual and physical trauma, hurt, and pain that has caused us to internalize it. Through internalizing the bad experience and not being healed or delivered from it, a stronghold can form over time.
Strongholds are more difficult to cast out than a demon because the nature of a stronghold comes from the person’s mind/spirit (free will), while a demon is a fallen angel that must submit to the power of the name of Jesus.
Strongholds can be external and internal
External strongholds have territories and can use the systems and leaders of the world to set up dominion in that particular region. Some examples of these are religion, oppression, media that influences that culture, doctrine, agenda, ideologies, trading practices which include goods (and drugs), people (slavery, prostitution, sex-trafficking, etc.).
Internal strongholds can be formed over time through the influence of external strongholds. An example of this is a parent constantly speaking negative words to or over their child; then as the child grows older, they suffer from the stronghold of low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and their view of everything can be negative.
Another example of this is slavery. Slavery brings the spirit of oppression over one group of people and the spirit of superiority to the other group of people. (Not only does slavery encompasses a group, but many individuals are in bondage by slavery). Over time, the stronghold of slavery can have lasting internal strongholds within the generations.
Let’s examine how the stronghold of slavery affected the children of Israel in the wilderness. Let’s also learn how to overcome strongholds through trusting and obeying the Word of God.
The Israelites were in slavery for 400 years in the land of Egypt. God freed them through his servant Moses. Before the children left Egypt, they witnessed the hand of God (in the land) before they were freed through miracles, signs, and wonders (Read the book of Exodus).
The children of Israel were traveling through the wilderness on the way to the promised land that God promised to Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac’s descendants. During this time, God took care of them by providing their needs with miracles from heaven (food, shelter, water, and clothes). God was also preparing them to enter the promised land by giving them laws and decrees (Leviticus), the ten commandments, establishing the priesthood duties (through Aaron and his descendants), and showing them the proper way of worshipping him which included the tent of the tabernacle.
Why was it important for God to prepare his children for the promised land beforehand? It was because they had been accustomed to the stronghold of oppression and slavery in Egypt for generations. They were brought up in a culture and society of idol worship, pagan food, rituals that were contrary to God, polytheism, discrimination, abuse, and the list goes on. Many of these issues that the children of Israel encountered in Egypt mirror the factors believers deal with globally on a daily basis today.
In Numbers 13:17-20, we find Moses sending spies out into the land of Canon to bring back a specific report about the land. Some of these specifics included questions: How many people are there? Are they weak or strong? What is the land like? Are the cities camps or strongholds? Rich or poor? Forest?
He also gave them specific instructions: Bring back some fruit and Be of Good Courage.
When the spies went out into the land and came back with the report, it was not presented to Moses and the people in a positive manner, rather it was the opposite, negative (Numbers 13:31-33). There was a total of 12 spies that Moses sent into the land and only 2 came back with a good report (Caleb and Joshua).
Yet the most disturbing thing that one of the spies said was in verse 33, “There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
This statement alone caused the entire nation of Israel to rebel not only against Moses and Aaron but in doing this, they sinned against God. This rebellion included speaking out against Moses and saying that they would have rather died in Egypt or the wilderness. They questioned God and asked why did he bring them into the wilderness to die by the sword. They talked about returning to Egypt, and they wanted to stone Moses and Aaron and select another leader (Numbers 14:1-4).
Praise God that Joshua and Caleb spoke out and stood up to the congregation. They told them not to rebel against God by their speech and conduct. They reminded them of the Lord and not to fear, yet the congregation wanted to turn around and stone them too (Numbers 14:6-10).
Q: One might ask, how did the 10 spies and congregation of Israel get to this point of disobedience and rebellion?
A: The answer is an internal and external stronghold that had (strong) influence over their behavior and the way they viewed themselves. This happened by the lack of their personal trust in God despite all the things they saw him do in their lives.
The Israelites were recent slaves that were freed in the physical, but the long-lasting effects of oppression over a period of time caused them to have a complex about who and whose they were. They knew intellectually that they were the children of the true and living God but they never accepted this truth within their souls. The evidence came out in the wilderness because even before this “grasshopper incident”, they had grown accustomed to mumbling and complaining against God. They even went as far as to create a golden calf and worship it when Moses went away to the mountain. Time after time God provided their needs supernaturally, but they still refused to believe Him at his Word.
Strongholds are like fortresses. The longer they reside within us, the stronger they become. Eventually, over a period of time, the lie of the stronghold overshadows the truth, and it causes people to behave and act contrary to the Word of God. Even when the truth is evident and undeniable, the stronghold will always overshadow this concept.
The spies and the children of Israel had a grasshopper mentality before they spied out the land of Canon. The stronghold of slavery and oppression caused them to view themselves as inferior. It also caused them to view the “giants” of the land bigger than the God they served.
Strongholds will cause our perception to be distorted due to a lack of spiritual insight and guidance by the Holy Spirit.
Joshua and Caleb however believed God at his Word, and due to this, it caused them to have confidence in moving forward and inhabiting the land despite and obstacles they faced. They remembered what God did in the land of Egypt and in the wilderness. God performed miracle after miracle and they believed that with God all things are possible to those who believe.
Strongholds that are not pulled down by the Word of God can lead to a dissatisfying life, unfulfilled purpose, and destruction.
Unfortunately for the 10 spies and first generation of the children of Israel they never made it to the promised land, they died in the wilderness because of their rebellion against God. Even more so, the ten spies who gave the negative report were killed by a plague sent by God (Numbers 14:26-38). Joshua, Caleb, and the second generation of Israelites were the only ones who settled in the promised land.
God does not want his children being ruled by strongholds and sin. He sent his son Jesus Christ to break the power of sin over our lives. One of the tactics of the enemy is to feed us lies because Satan is the father of lies. We have the power to exchange truth for a lie or to continue in God’s Word. We also have the power to pull down strongholds that have been residing in us through the Word of God.
The children of Israel had the grasshopper mentality caused by a stronghold. Many people today are suffering from this same mentality. Yet freedom is still available to the children of God through his son Jesus Christ. The Word of God has been given to us to overcome our past, present, and future. We have been given power and authority to cast down strongholds. Exercise your faith today and be victorious within your mind, body, and soul through Christ Jesus!
List any strongholds that you are dealing with. Find (search) scriptures that contradict these strongholds and write them next to your strongholds. Meditate upon these scriptures. Write out a prayer in regards to what you are expecting the Word to do and the help you need from God to overcome your stronghold. When the stronghold has been cast down (destroyed) write the testimony.
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About the Author
Dr. Shana Wise is an ordained Pastor and CEO of Wise Choice Ministries (est. 2016). She is the founder of The Well Christian Women’s Network formally known as Christian Women Preachers United. Dr. Wise is the author of women’s devotional, Acts of Intercession, and The Impact of Your Election (available on Amazon). She received a Doctor of Divinity degree in 2019 from St. Thomas Christian University. Her passion is to teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, equip others to apply the Word to their lives, and demonstrate the Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. She is a televangelist that appears on social media outlets and television. Shana is married to Ron Wise and is the mother of four children.
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Acts of Intercession
The Impact of Your Election
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