Tag Archives: 2 Corinthians

How To Build A Life-Ruining Stronghold In 4 Easy Steps

When you come into the church, there’s often a whole new language to learn. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘Christianese’ – words like redeemed, sanctified, fellowship and altar call can be commonly used, which never get a hearing outside the church community.

To help with the culture-shock, Tim Stewart has gone to the trouble of setting up a whole website called The Dictionary Of Christianese – so now you can know the difference between a testimony and a bragimony, and where the 10/40 window actually is! There’s a few beauties on this site that really made me laugh.

But despite what some people say, it’s not wrong for us to use spiritual language in the church – in fact the apostle Paul said that we are ‘explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words’ – 1 Corinthians 2:13.

But what IS important is that we understand what the words we’re saying actually mean. Otherwise we end up saying them or singing them and they’ve lost all power for us.

The Location

I came across one of those words while I was reading the Bible this morning… the word STRONGHOLD! The church spent much time in the 80’s and 90’s ‘breaking strongholds’, and it became a common theme of many of the songs written during these years. For me, when I was praying for someone and asking God that ‘strongholds would be broken’ I would see in my mind a person being set free from a spiritual prison, or having spiritual chains removed from their lives.

But these days I’ve come to the realisation that although the sentiment and picture wasn’t wrong – maybe the LOCATION of the stronghold was something that I missed. Maybe it wasn’t so much around their body, as much as around their MIND.

The Progression

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretention [lofty thought] that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

This is an upside-down passage. What I mean by that that instead of starting with something small and zooming out to something big… it starts with the big thing, and zooms in to the root cause. When you look you see four things:

1) Strongholds ….which come from
2) Arguments ….which come from
3) Lofty thoughts against God’s knowledge …. which come from
4) Our thoughts

So we can see that strongholds are literally ‘strong holds’ on our life which have their origin in unchecked thoughts which don’t line up with what God is saying about Himself, the universe and our lives.

How To Make Your Own Stronghold At Home!

Let me show you how to make your very own stronghold at home, in four easy moves!

1) Have a thought
This part is pretty easy. In life, a few people ‘think’ but pretty much everyone has ‘thoughts’. But in order to make a really good stronghold, ensure that your thought is about something important – like what you are on earth for, who you are as a person, what your future is going to hold, or what God is like.

2) Have a really good thought
The next step to building your own stronghold is to have an epiphany – a ‘Eureka’ moment. It’s a really good thought – a ‘lofty idea’ that stands out amongst the rest of your thoughts. The kind of thought you share with others when you’re sitting around the barbecue or hanging out with mates.

What is CRITICAL at this point though, in order to make a really good stronghold, is that you DO NOT check that thought against the Bible! Otherwise you’ll realise that it’s a lie, take it captive, and your stronghold will crumble.

3) Build an argument
Having now created the basis of your stronghold with a great idea, you now need to strengthen it with an argument. The Greek word used here is ‘logismos’ – you want to use logic and reasoning here to demonstrate why your idea stands up.

To get a solid stronghold, you also need to think about actions that go along with your arguments. If you’ve constructed the first part well, then the actions will come pretty naturally.

4) Complete the stronghold
Another word used in the Bible for stronghold is ‘fortress’. Having started with your great idea, and built your arguments and reasoning around it, you now need to protect the idea like a fortress against anyone who may see things differently. The Greek word used for ‘fortress’ is pretty close to the word used for ‘lots of people’, so you’ll want to find others who agree with you. Together you can stand strong and mock those who disagree with you.

Congratulations… your stronghold is now complete!

The Scary Reality

Maybe you’ve noticed something as you’ve been reading. Perhaps you can see actions that you’ve done yourself in the list above. The truth is that every single human has strongholds built around what they believe. This is why it’s a struggle sometimes for people to come to Christ… in order to receive Him they have to dismantle a lot of what they formerly built.

But what I hope will be a little more of an awakening is just how important it is that we do what Scripture says and ‘take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ’. If we allow stray thoughts that are at odds with what God says about Himself, the universe and our lives to start to take root and grow in our mind… the eventual destination is a stronghold.

The Good News

But the good news is this – we’ve been given divine power for the demolishing of strongholds! We can, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God together, set people free from strongholds of the mind that are ruining and wrecking their lives.

One of the most powerful ways we can experience life transformation is to be ‘transformed by the renewing of [our minds]’, – which means that as we start to think differently, we live differently.

So let the combined power of God’s Word and His Spirit into your thought process – and you’ll find that instead of ending up with strongholds in your life against God,you’ll be like the person who built their house on the rock. The storms will come and you won’t be shaken – standing firm in the promise and the knowledge of God!

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3 Great Reasons To Live Holy

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God – 2 Corinthians 7:1

I read a brilliant post from John Bevere the other day, talking about holiness, and how it’s one of the words that has been lost from the church vocabulary in more recent years. There’s been a strong emphasis on the grace and love of God which has ignited throughout the body of Christ – and well overdue I reckon! But 2000 years after this verse was written, nothing has changed when it comes to the way that God wants us to live our lives in relation to the world around us.

The word ‘holy’ comes from the Greek word haigos which means ‘set apart’, ‘sanctified’ or ‘special’. We’ve made it a very spiritual word, which it is, but we all have things in our everyday lives that we treat as holy. There’s items of clothing that we wouldn’t choose to mow the lawns or clean the house in because they’re for special occasions, not for common purposes. Some have cutlery and tableware that’s not used every week, but set apart for special events. When I was a kid one of my teachers used to have a particular stamp that she would put on work that was outstanding, and everyone knew that to get one of those stamps was worth way more than the regular buzzy-bee 🙂 All of these things were ‘set apart’, ‘special’ and ‘sanctified’.

And that’s how God wants us to view our lives. Everywhere we go, in everything we do, we are on a unique and glorious mission. God has not fashioned our lives to be whittled away on pointless pursuits, or to be caught up with what the world around us is obsessed with. It doesn’t mean that we don’t serve or we live life with some selfish sense of entitlement. But like undercover agents – we are in this world but not of it. We set ourselves apart to stay true to the call we’ve been given.

I don’t think many Christians set out to not live their lives in a holy way before God, but perhaps it’s just more that it can slip down the priority list unless we can see it’s power.

This is why Paul gives us three great reasons in this verse to live holy:

1) Live Holy Because Of What Has Been Promised To You

The verse starts with a ‘therefore’, and as Derek Prince says, whenever you see a ‘therefore’ find out what it’s ‘there for’. The previous chapter ends with some pretty cool things that God is planning on doing:

  • “I will live and walk among you – I will be your God, and you will be my people”
  • “I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters”

God is really serious about his relationship with us. So if our heart response to God is ‘Lord, I want you to be near, I want to live as your son or daughter’ then surely our life response needs to be one where we put Him first, and leave behind old ways and dead works in order to walk in the promise He’s given.

So we don’t live holy to try to get a blessing from God, we live holy BECAUSE He has blessed us and given us some incredible promises. Why would we settle for anything less?!

2) Live Holy Because The Alternative Wrecks Your Life

I’m not going to fix the car in my good suit and tie, not only because it’s not practical but I also don’t want my good suit stained with oil and grease. Sure I could do it and get it cleaned up, but why let it get dirty in the first place?

Sin contaminates our spirits. Living in ways that are at odds to what God has commanded us isn’t just bad for our relationship with Him, it’s bad for US. If I lose my temper with someone, then when I come to God and ask for forgiveness He will cleanse me of the sin and give me grace for next time. But an impact has been made on the relationship that is now going to need to be worked out.

The blood of Jesus remains powerful to cleanse us from all transgressions, but sin nearly always carries some form of consequence our lives. So we live holy not just because of God’s great promises and intention for us, but also because the alternative just isn’t worth it!

3) Live Holy Out Of Awe And Wonder Of Who God Is

The verse ends with ‘perfecting holiness out of reverence for God’. I love that word ‘perfecting’… it means that we’re still on a journey with this one and it’s not going to happen overnight. But we’re intent on getting to our destination too.

The promise that God has given us is that he wants to walk close to us, and He wants us to be His sons and daughters. How differently would we live our lives if we knew that every moment of every day, the fullness of the presence of God was with us? If Jesus physically turned up one morning and said ‘I’m going to spend the day with you’ – how many things would we do and not do differently? We would make changes to our lives out of love and respect for Him. We would be committed to ‘perfecting holiness out of reverence for God’.

The truth is – He DOES walk with us! He’s closer than we could ever believe. But in order to see His power released, we need to get off the world’s rhythm, and live in time with His heartbeat.

Finally…

“without holiness no one will see the Lord” – Hebrews 12:14

Nearly every time I’ve read that verse, I’ve interpreted it that I won’t get to see God unless I live holy. Certainly there’s truth in that – but I would argue that it’s not about me getting holy to get close to God – because He’s the only one who can make me holy in the first place! Trying to be holy without God’s help is simply dead religion.

I think it’s more that there’s breakthroughs, open doors, opportunities and moments that God wants to bring me into – but without a life that’s actively pursuing Him… I’m likely to miss what He’s wanting to do. Without a ‘holy’ (set apart) life, I won’t ‘see the Lord’ (where He’s going and what He’s doing).

But there’s something else too. I think this verse is about how Christians live in the world around us. When we blend in and just do what the world does, no one sees God. They just see more of the same. But when we live differently, when we live holy, when we make the decisions to do some things and not others because of our relationship with God… then they see something extraordinary. The world around us catches a glimpse of heaven.

That’s absolutely motivation for me to live holy!

Power From The Inside

2 Corinthians 4:16 – Therefore we don’t give up hope, but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.

It can be easy to lose hope when you’ve been battling for a long time and yet don’t see much progress.  In our lives, we are facing an ongoing war with sin – and we can often feel like Paul:

Romans 7:15 – …for I don’t do what I desire to do; but what I hate, that I do.

But we’re given a secret in this verse.  Although our ‘outward man’ (our flesh where our sinful desires have their home) is wasting away, and continually evil – yet our ‘inward man’ (our spirit, where the Holy Spirit has His residence) is being renewed day by day.

This means every day we’re given fresh power, vision and hope for the war we’re facing with our flesh.  We’re tapped into an inexhaustible supply of strength – if we only believe! 

So don’t give up hope in your fight to see your life becoming righteous and holy before God.  Every day there’s fresh life and power from His throne, every day your sins are forgiven and you’re washed clean, every day it’s a brand new start!

Great Giving

2 Corinthians 9:7 – Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

When it comes to giving to the Lord, it’s really important that we not only give, but give with the right attitude.  This verse contains a great outline for giving to God:

1) Give as you have determined in your heart.  That word “determined” there says it all.  It’s a decision that you make – and something that you work towards.  When you’ve determined something, its set, and you won’t be dissuaded from it.

2) Don’t give grudgingly. Don’t give with a bad attitude or wishing that you didn’t have to give. This misses the point completely – our giving is an opportunity to express our commitment and heart to the kingdom of God being established.

3) Don’t give under compulsion. Don’t give because you don’t want to feel guilty or bad for not giving. That’s compulsion. Rather give from liberality and richness.

God loves a cheerful giver.  It brings him immense joy when His people bring Him generous and willing offerings!

Seed And Bread

2 Corinthians 9:10 – Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;

This chapter in 2 Corinthians teaches us how to give and invest into the kingdom of God.  In this verse we see two different kinds of provision that God has given to us. 

Firstly, there is seed for the sower.  Although you can eat seed, it’s a waste.  It was designed and made to be sown.  When it’s planted in the ground, it produces a great harvest.  In the same way – God promises us that He will “supply and multiply our seed for sowing”

Secondly, there is bread for food.  You can plant a crust in the ground, and it won’t do anything but decompose!  Bread is made for eating – and the Lord reminds us here that He is our provider – the one who gives us bread for eating.

What this verse means is that in the provision that God gives us there is both seed for sowing and bread for eating.  We need His discernment to know which is which.  There’s no point in sowing all of it, or eating all of it.  Some is to eat – some is to give.