Many Christians quote 2 Corinthians 10:3–4: “We do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” Most of us think of strongholds as bondages such as sexual trespasses, drug addictions, alcoholism—outward sins we put at the top of a worst-sins list. But Paul is referring here to something much worse than our human measuring of sins.
First of all, he isn’t speaking of demonic possession. In my opinion, the devil cannot enter the heart of any overcoming Christian and claim a place in that person. Rather, the figurative meaning of Paul’s word stronghold in Greek here is “holding firmly to an argument.” A stronghold is an accusation planted firmly in your mind. Satan establishes strongholds in God’s people by implanting in their minds lies, falsehoods and misconceptions, especially regarding God’s nature.
For instance, the enemy may plant in your mind the lie that you’re unspiritual, totally unworthy of God’s grace. He may whisper to you repeatedly, “You’ll never be free of your besetting sin. You haven’t tried hard enough. You haven’t changed. And now God has lost patience with you because of your continual ups and downs.”
Or the devil may try to convince you that you have a right to hold on to bitterness because you’ve been wronged. If you keep listening to his lies, you’ll begin to believe them after a while.
Satan is the accuser of the brethren, coming against us time after time with his army of accusers, planting demonic lies in our minds. These lies are his stronghold—and if we don’t resist them by God’s Word, they will turn into imbedded fears in our minds.
The only weapon that scares the devil is the same one that scared him in the wilderness temptations of Jesus. That weapon is the truth of the living Word of God. According to Micah, here is the promise we are to cling to: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18–19). In Hebrew, the word subdue means “he will trample on them.” We do not subdue our sins; he will subdue them through repentance and faith.