Jesus at the Center of Freedom
Strongholds • Message 2
January 28, 2024
(Luke 4:18-19; 2 Corinthians: 10:3-5. C/R: Luke 10:4)
Word and power…
How many of you have had a stressful or bad week? I think it’s because the enemy doesn’t want you to hear this message…
A few years back, I had a dream that God used to reveal something that really was quite transformative for me, and I think it could be for some of you in this room. Now, this might be something you have never heard a sermon on, or it might feel a little overwhelming to some… This dream was a little surprising to me because I had never grown up in a charismatic church or even really had a charismatic friend. Every church I was involved with was Baptist and non-denominational, so I had never heard a sermon or even really had a concept of what God gave me in this dream, which is why it was so powerful to me.
But I had a vivid dream, and I don’t have them all the time… In the dream, there was a map… think of like an old-timey map with land on it. The map caught fire, and all the land burned up, but there was one area on the map when the flame got to it that didn’t burn up. The fire in this dream couldn’t overtake this one area of land. The fire never went out in this dream, I noticed, but it couldn’t get through this one area.
So, I woke up from this dream, and I didn’t really think much of it at first… but then I went to spend time with Jesus that day, and God pressed that same dream upon my heart. One of the ways I can tell if God has something for me in a dream is if I can really recall the details of that dream… and this one I can still see.
But God told me that in the dream, the map was my life; it was my heart. The Holy Spirit has consumed me, but then He said, there is one area in your life that I haven’t consumed. It’s an area in your life that the enemy has control over, and it’s a stronghold. It’s a spirit of lust… and it needs to be broken …
For years after I became a Christian, I still had this stronghold… Here I was a believer, but I had this stronghold. I was in ministry for years, and about 7 years ago, when God gave me this dream, I gave it to Him. I prayed and fasted… and I’m just telling you I’m completely changed… God completely set me free. God set me free. Years ago, I never thought I would ever find victory… and I wasn’t sure I wanted it… God set me free as I humbled myself. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to work on it… or you don’t get tempted… God set me free from a demonic stronghold.
I was a pastor, and I had a stronghold… and you might have a stronghold, but here's the good news: if God can set me free, He can set you free.
So today, when we walk through the ministries of Jesus, I want to talk to you about the second area of Jesus' ministry, and that is freedom from strongholds and bondage…
Luke 4:18 (NKJV)
“… To proclaim liberty to the captives … To set at liberty those who are oppressed;”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT)
We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
I love how the NIV says it…
2 Corinthians 10:4 (NIV)
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
1. What is a stronghold?
(2 Corinthians 10:5. C/R: John 8:31-33)
The word for stronghold in the Bible means strong fortification.
But what I also find interesting is there are 3 definitions
Strong fortification (this is the most common and widely used)
A stronghold is a lie that forms a thought pattern from demonic forces that keep us from the freedom and full life of the spirit.
Notice that why it says in
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NLT)
We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
What are we destroying? The lies that keep us from knowing God… So, lies that form a thought pattern that keeps us from full life in God.
Once you are saved, you are saved from the penalty of sin. In heaven, you are free from the presence of sin. As Christians, we are set free from the power of sin!
(Lies and strongholds keep us from that reality…)
John 8:31-33 (NLT)
Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do You mean, ‘You will be set free’?”
Notice Jesus is talking to His followers. Jesus says this, which means some of these Christians aren’t free. They are enslaved, and they have strongholds. And notice their response; they deny it... which means it doesn’t matter if you see it or not, it's true. Oftentimes, the things we keep hidden, the things we act like, aren’t that big of a deal… some people have areas that are under the influence of the enemy because they haven’t seen the truth.
But the good news is Jesus tears that down…
In my experience, there are 3 types of strongholds we face…
1. False View of God. A lie you believe about God… (There is some lie that keeps you from trusting God. People who struggle to feel God’s love and presence. If you feel God is distant and cold or question if God loves you, then it could be a stronghold. People tend to put the face of their earthly father on God…)
2. False View of Self. A lie you believe about self (You don’t feel worthy spiritually… you have low spiritual self-esteem and keep holding onto guilt from a past. People who lack the joy of the Lord often struggle with this. What the enemy does is say you made a mistake or that you are a mistake…)
3. False view of Sin. A lie you believe about sin… (You believe the lie that you can never overcome this situation or sin… you are defeated and think God can give others victory, but you will struggle with this area your whole life. This was mine… I fundamentally did not believe God could set me free from pornography, and deep down, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to be. This had been such a huge part of my life.)
A person has a stronghold when a lie becomes a truth to you…
So let me just say this: if you’ve been struggling with something for 5 years or 10 years, it’s no longer a struggle; it’s a stronghold… You have a lie that has formed a thought pattern fueled by Satan that’s keeping you from freedom and spiritual life.
With a struggle, I feel like I have a choice. With a stronghold, it feels like something takes over. It feels like there is no hope; there is a darkness attached to it, like something you just can’t get through no matter how hard you try…
So, you hear about the love and God, and you believe about God’s love, but when you sit down with Him, you constantly feel like He wouldn’t want to spend time with you… and no matter what you do for years, you have had this thought… that a stronghold of a false view of God
Or, if you know God has forgiven you, but you can’t forgive something in your past. You keep hearing this lie over and over again that you’ve failed, that you are a sinner… that stronghold of a false view of self is giving you low self-esteem.
Or if you think you are destined to grind it out for the next 10-30 years, that deep down you can never truly be free from a sin… from anger, from rage, from anxiety, from lust, from drunkenness, from greed, from codependence, from insecurity, then you have a false view of sin. You’ve believed the lie that is fueled by the enemy, that your sin is greater than your savior, and it’s keeping you from freedom and deep spiritual life.
2. Why haven’t we overcome strongholds?
(2 Corinthians 10:3-4. C/R: John 16:7; 1 John 4:3-4)
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (NLT)
We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.
Notice what Paul says: you are human, but this isn’t a human battle.
You don’t fight this with New Year’s resolutions; you don’t fight this with willpower, determination, or adrenaline…
So, what do we use? God’s mighty weapons…
We don’t overcome strongholds by our strength but by the Spirit.
Motivation is what we can do for a season, but transformation is what the spirit does for a lifetime…
I really believe we don’t need motivated Christians. We need transformed ones—people who have new life in the Spirit that flows freely.
1 John 4:3-4 (NIV)
but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Notice there are spirits other than the one true spirit of Christ because Paul said earlier that we don’t fight with worldly weapons because we don’t face worldly enemies. Notice what the spirits are doing. They are setting themselves up against the truth of God. They lie and deceive, and they set up strongholds against God in people…
But here is the good news: verse 4 says, Greater is He who is in us, than He who is in the world…
What that means is if you’ve surrendered your life to Jesus, you have a new operating system, the Spirit of God lives inside, and that Spirit is greater than all the evil in the world. It’s a greater force.
When I first started dating Steph, they had several dogs around their house (because God loves dogs and not cats), but one thing that troubled me was that she had a small dog, a King Charles Cavalier named Emily, and Emily ruled the house, it seemed. She sat in a chair like a person. If she didn’t like something you did or didn’t like you, it seemed she would bark at you. Well, they had a Great Dane named Anna that looked like a horse; I mean, the thing didn’t walk; it galloped. If you’ve seen Sandlot, it was like the Beast, a big ole dog and it used to terrorize people who were in the lawn that weren’t family. What I found so interesting is that there were a few times Anna was in the house or around Emily was around, and Emily would bark, and Anna, this massive dog, would get afraid and lower her head a bit. And I thought, what are you doing? you’re a Great Dane! You’re big! You’re strong! Eat the King Charles Cavalier… and this went on… and I couldn’t get over this picture of what was happening. Fast forward, I don’t know if dogs have a bad day, but there was one day it was like Anna found out who she was… Emily was around, and she was barking, and Anna didn’t seem to be afraid this time… she just sort of looked at Emily, and then she did one of the most epic things I’ve seen: she barked back at Emily and Emily and I jumped… and then it got quiet… and I promise you, to this day, Anna looked at me and smiled…
Do you know what happened? Anna found out who she was that day! She found a power she hadn’t known before! But I believe today is the day some of you find out who you are! Today is the day some of you find a strength you haven’t known before! Today is the day some of you find a power that you’ve never known before.
Yes, there is a real enemy, and he’s been bullying you and barking at you. It’s a real threat. But you have the living God on your side.
You have a grave-robbing, water-walking, miracle-working, stronghold-breaker, galaxy holding God on your side… and the same Spirit that lived in Jesus is in you… That’s why Jesus says in John 16, it’s better for you that I go away!
So, what do we do to tap into this kind of power?
3. How do we overcome strongholds? By surrendering to the Spirit of the Lord.
(Luke 4:18. C/R: 2 Corinthians 3:17)
We surrender our stronghold to the Lord, and the Spirit sets us free.
Luke 4:18 (NKJV)
“… To proclaim liberty to the captives … To set at liberty those who are oppressed;”
The Spirit sets us free.
Submit that to God in your heart right now. God, I want to tear this false view of You down… I want to tear this sin down… and when you do, He will set you free… He has the power to release you from that right now.
2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)
…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
I want to invite you to seek God… I want you to do something if you’d be open. When I had this dream, God told me to pray and fast over this area… I didn’t know it was a stronghold until God told me…
Some of you don’t have an anger issue; you have a stronghold of sin… and you don’t believe, or even right now, want to be fully free from that, and the Spirit is revealing… Pray and fast over that this week… Pick one or two meals, one or two days, and just be intentional about bringing that before God. Fasting draws on a spiritual power that allows us to find freedom in new ways.
Many of us have strongholds that we aren’t aware of… and you become so used to it that it becomes normal…
Show 3 lies you believe…
False View of God.
False View of Self.
False view of Sin.
Ask the Spirit if there is a stronghold in your life… ask if there is an area where you are powerless… It’s not difficult for Jesus to set you free…. But He needs you to confess it and bring it to the light… Some of you know what it is… others of you have some idea… I’m not telling you won’t be tempted… but God wants to set you free from a demonic stronghold…
And how do I know that… Let me show you something…
The Israelites were enslaved to fear because of one man, Goliath… they had a stronghold: fear. Until one man, a man named David, stepped up and set the captives free.
And we were once enslaved to sin… until one man, a man named Jesus, stepped up and liberated us.
Ask Him to set you free… right now.
Lord, I agree with my brothers and sisters… Satan must obey you, Jesus. You set people free, Jesus. Lord, we declare on the authority of Your Word and the blood of Jesus, freedom.
I command every spirit of lust, pornography, adultery, pride, or control, anger or manipulation, insecurity, anxiety, fear, worry, every demonic spirit, every addiction to alcohol, drugs, food, bitterness, resentment, envy, jealousy,
It’s by the authority of Jesus of Christ and our power as Your children… I declare every spirit that has held a stronghold on us… I proclaim freedom… Fill us with Your power, and love and sound mind… and we say thank You… that You bring liberty…