believers are in a war - a war with their adversary, the Devil (1 Pet. 5:8), and his evil
spiritual forces which he dispatches and assigns to perpetrate his wickedness throughout
the world. The scripture says that we "wrestle... against principalities, against
powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of
wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12).
We are well aware of the evil characteristics
of Satan, that he "kills, steals, and destroys" (John 10:10). But beyond his
routine harassments, temptations or hit-and-run attacks, the Devil's forces seek territory
to establish long-term strongholds in which they may dominate and hold captive. Satanic
forces search for people, cities, and nations in which they are not resisted and where
they may flourish.
"Strongholds" don't necessarily refer to something as extreme as "demon possession," but can merely be a "strong" influence or grip,
persistent oppression, obsessions, hindrances or harassment. I do not believe that a child of God, in whom Christ's Spirit dwells, can simultaneously be demon
possessed... but without a doubt many Christians are frequent victims of Satan's strongholds.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
The devil's primary strategy is to disguise
his activities so that it appears that someone or something else is to blame. He wants us
to get our attention on his surrogates, his instruments, his hindrances and
"wrestle" with them, so that our battle will be directed against the
"symptoms" instead of the "real source."
We all know that a decongestant will help
relieve a stuffy nose, but it will not cure a cold. Likewise, you can fight with the
symptoms of the Devil, but you will not end the problems until you deal with the source
and bind the "strong man."
Remember when Peter resisted Jesus' decision
to return to Jerusalem, knowing that He would be crucified there? Jesus did not rebuke
Peter, but turned to Peter and rebuked Satan. "Get behind me Satan" (Matt.
16:23). Peter wasn't demon possessed, and probably didn't intend to be an offense.
However, the Devil inspired Peter's statement, and Jesus went after the real source.
Paul said that our battle is not with
"flesh and blood" but with spiritual adversaries (Eph. 6:12). How important it
is that we understand what the real root of the problem is -- "who" our real
enemy is. It is Satan, not flesh and blood, not our brethren, not our family, not our
children, not husbands and wives, not employers, nor our government! The Devil is the
Binding the Strong Man
One time, after Jesus had cast out a devil and
healed a deaf and mute boy, Jesus explained that in order to overturn the works and
activity of the Devil, we must bind him first. "Or else how can one enter a strong
man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will
plunder his house" (Matt. 12:29). In order to neutralize the Devil's works, we must
go and deal directly with the source and bind up the devil so that his hands are tied.
Then we'll be able to take back what he's stolen and bring a halt to his actions.
I've preached in many cities that have been
strongholds for the Devil. The symptoms of this are many. Often the local churches suffer
senseless conflicts or unexplained problems. The congregations experience little growth,
and the preaching of the Word is not easily proclaimed or well received by the community.
These are the symptoms, but behind the scene Satan is the culprit. In such cases, those
spiritual strongholds must be dealt with and bound for the ministry to be effective.
All Believers have Authority over the Devil
All Christians must be aware that God has
equipped them to overcome Satan's power. The Apostle Paul said that "the weapons of
our warfare are not carnal (of a fleshly or earthly nature), but mighty in God for pulling
down strongholds" (2 Cor. 10:4).
You may recall the time when the seventy
disciples returned to the Lord rejoicing about the results of their ministry. They
remarked, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name" (Luke 10:17).
But then Jesus pointed out that the great marvel of this was that the devils were subject
to them because their names were "written in heaven." In other words, because
they were saved -- because of their relationship with Christ, they had authority over the
Devil in the name of Jesus.
Jesus has given all His followers -- all those
who know Jesus personally as their Lord and Savior -- the authority to use His name to
expel the forces of evil. To all believers, Jesus said, "In My name they will cast
out demons..." (Mark 16:17).
How to Break Strongholds and keep them Broken!
1. AUTHORITY -- Every believer has the right
to use the authority of Jesus' name to bind and take authority over Satan's activities.
"No one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds
the strong man, and then he will plunder his house" (Mark 3:27). Issue a spoken
command to the devil that he is bound and he must leave the stronghold! Exercising
authority in the name of Jesus will expel the Devil's influence. "And these signs
will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with
new tongues..." (Mark 16:17).
2. INTERCESSION -- Come together with other
believers to pray and intercede against strongholds until you get results. There is
intensified power in the gathering of more believers. Prayer with fasting intensifies
faith, and faith will break strongholds. "Then the disciples came to Jesus privately
and said, "Why could we not cast him out? ...However, this kind does not go out except
by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:19,21).
3. DISPLACEMENT -- Establish the presence of
God. Where Satan has been commanded to leave, fill it up with God's presence. Where the
presence of the Lord is, the Devil isn't! Satan doesn't want to hang around where people
are lifting up Jesus in worship, in singing and prayer. The presence of the Lord displaces
the Devil. "For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what
communion has light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14).
4. RESISTANCE -- Submit yourselves and draw
close to God. The Bible says this is how we resist Satan and he will flee. The Devil runs
from submitted, yielded Christians who pray, fast, worship and humble themselves to follow and obey God's Word.
"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you"
5. OCCUPATION -- Give no place or vacancy to
the Devil. With Satan departed, fill the void with God. Let righteousness be the standard
rule and behavior. Provide no pocket of rebellion, corruption or immorality in which Satan
can find refuge to rebuild his influence or strength. The scripture says to not "give
place to the devil" (Eph. 4:27).
6. FORTIFICATION -- Clothe yourself with God's armor. Take upon you daily, the full array of God's spiritual equipment that you may maintain battle-ready status. With the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit (God's Word) and the other links of armor (Eph. 6:13-17), you will be ready to resist any satanic assault, and will be ready to engage the strongholds in others. "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11).