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A Stronghold:
Things That Devour

By Mary Craig

Many times I am asked to speak about strongholds as I do conferences and seminars on strategic spiritual warfare. People ask, "What is a stronghold?"

2 Corinthians 10.3-5 tells us:

For though we walk in the flesh, 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; casting down imaginations And every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, And bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

A stronghold is a defensive spiritual fortress behind which one hides and is protected. 1 Samuel 23.14,19 gives us a clue.

And David abode in the wilderness in strongholds and remained in A mountain in the wilderness of ZiphÖThen came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in Strongholds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the South of Jeshimon?

A stronghold is a fortified dwelling used as a means of protection from an enemy.

When I was in Puerto Rico, I became aware of El Morro, a stronghold built by the Spanish to protect the island from invading Indians and pirates, from anyone perceived as an enemy or threat to Puerto Ricoís well being. David hid from King Saul in wilderness strongholds at Horesh. These were usually caves high on a mountainside. They were difficult to attack.

A stronghold is a powerful, vigorously protected spiritual reality.

When God is the enemy, or we have thoughts, words, and deeds sympathetic toward the devil, strongholds become a defense for Satan and against God. When Satan is the enemy, strongholds of salvation protect us from him in Christ. Godly strongholds include the Lord, the Blood, humility, holiness, the walls of salvation, the armor of God, etc.

A demonic stronghold is any type of thing that exalts itself above the knowledge of God. Christians cannot be owned by a devil. The devil does not own one who has been bought by a price (redeemed) by Jesus Christ. But Christians can have thoughts in rebellion against God and His Word, thoughts not brought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. These thoughts are lies we have swallowed, lying words we believed, words which we have obeyed in disobedience to God, vain imaginations, sinful habits, fortresses keeping God out, fortresses protecting Satan and our sinful ways, fortresses protecting our "selves."

When we break down strongholds of Satan, we are tearing down our resistance to God. We are breaking our agreement with a foe who will fight to remain in our lives. We are turning, repenting. We are tearing down fortresses of self-protection. We are submitting to God and resisting and building a fortress against the devil. We are building the fortress of Godís protection. We trust in His protection. We do this so that the devil flees from us, so that God can bless us for His glory and for our good.

Satan is an accuser, a deceiver, a destroyer. Jesus intercedes, tells the truth and is truth. Jesus brings life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Timothy 1.10) Jesus is God. God is love.

With that in mind, letís turn to think about things that devour. The word for "devour" in Hebrew is "ía kal." It means "to eat or consume, to devour, to burn up, to feed." "To eat a piece of me" is an idiom for slandering.

Ecclesiastes 9.14-18:

There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great King against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom Delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. Then Said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless, the poor manís Wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. The words of wise Men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that rules among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.

What things devour? In passages like Genesis 31.40, Numbers 21.28, Jeremiah 2.30, Joel 1.14, and 2 Samuel 18.8, we find that drought, fire, war, and other plagues devour. Psalms 14 and 79 tell us that greedy oppressors, foreign nations, and sinners devour. Workers of iniquity eat people up and shame the poor. Passages in Isaiah tell us that insects and animals devour. People are forced to eat what is unpleasant.

Words can devour (2 Samuel 11.25). The mouth of the wicked devours iniquity (Proverbs 19.28). Man devours that which is holy (Proverbs 20.25). The wicked devour (Habakkuk 1.13). Words devour and some people love devouring words (Psalm 52.4). The tongue is a devouring fire (Isaiah 30.27). Locusts devour (2 Chronicles 7.13, Joel 2.24). The fire of jealousy devours (Zephaniah 1.18, 3.8). Even your own breath can devour you (Isaiah 33.11). The curse devours (Isaiah 24.6).

What is being devoured? The Devil seeks those whom he may devour (1 Peter 5.8). Money (Genesis 31.15), fruit (Psalm 105.35), widowsí houses (Matthew 23.14), the innocent as well as the guilty (Genesis 31.40, Joel, Psalm 14.4). Workers of iniquity eat people up and shame the poor (Psalm 14.4).

We devour each other and eat the fruit of lies. Hosea 10.12-14 says:

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow Ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till He come and rain Righteousness upon you. You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped Iniquity; you have eaten the fruit of lies: because you did trust in your Way, in the multitude of your mighty men. Therefore shall a tumult arise Among your people, and all your fortresses shall be spoiledÖ

Galatians 5.15 warns us not to bite and devour one another or be consumed by one another. Our words can bite into others and "take a chunk" out of them. I think we can all identify with that!

Who are the targets? The answer is the helpless and the defenseless, people like the poor, the innocent, the widow, and the children, and that which is holy. The curse devours the earth (Isaiah 24.6). Souls are devoured (Ezekiel 22.25). Strength is devoured (Hosea 7.9). People living in rebellion are in danger of being devoured.

What are some causes? What does the Bible tell us? In Jeremiah 15 and Jeremiah 30 we find that forsaking God and going backward, iniquity and sin, rebellion and polluted lives put us in jeopardy. This is perversion, the perverting of Godís ways. It is when things are upside down, inside out, turned to the right or to the left. We are not in the flow of Godís riches and are open to being devoured.

Malachi 3 says that dishonoring God, not acknowledging Him as Source, not submitting to the work of the Lord as refiner, robbing Him of what He is due are all causes of our being devoured. When God is robbed of the tithe and offering, we can experience "devouring," but when God is honored with our giving, He promises to rebuke the devourer for our sakes.

Amos informs us that believing lies and empty traditions can bring upon us this curse of poverty. Zephaniah 2 warns us that pride, arrogant thoughts, reproaching the people of God, saying "I am it" can bring on this devouring.

Having the fruit of your labor, having your lives and your very souls devoured is to be cursed. It is the curse of poverty. It is the effect caused by our own rebellion, wickedness, and deceitful tongues that devise destruction, love evil and speak lying, devouring words. (Psalm 52) It is the effect of trusting in our own way, of dishonoring God as the Source and Supplier of all life and blessing. It comes when we do not exalt God as God. It comes when we are helpless and defenseless against Satan because we have not built fortresses in Jesus Christ. We have not sought our refuge in God. We have not sought the counsel of God (Hosea 11.5, 6).

What does God call us to do? He calls us to repent in the face of impending danger. He calls us to turn, to fast, to weep, to mourn, to gather together (Joel 2.12ff). He gives us exact words.

Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the Altar, and let them say, Spare Your people, O Lord, and give not Your Heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore Should they say among the people, Where is their God?

Job 33.26-28 says:

He shall pray unto God, and He will be favorable unto him: and he shall see His face with joy: for He will render unto man His righteousness. He Looks upon men, and if any say, I have sinned and perverted that which Was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.

We are to call upon the Name of the Lord that we might be spared and saved, that we might be revived and restored. God wants us to depend upon Him, to honor Him with the firstfruits that He might bless the whole harvest. He wants us to repent of the unfruitful deeds of darkness (Hosea 10), to trust in the mercy of God, to praise Him publicly, to wait on the Name of God, for it is good. Make God your strength. (Psalm 52) Donít worry (Psalm 127). Walk righteously and speak uprightly (Isaiah 33.15). Seek the Lord in all humility (Zephaniah 2). Worship Him and be willing to receive correction (Zephaniah 2, 3). Trust, draw near to God, obey His voice (Zephaniah 3).

Even if it seems hopeless, remember the promise of Jeremiah 30.16:

Therefore all they that devour you shall be devoured; and all your Adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil you shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon you will I give for a prey. For I will restore health unto you, and I will heal you of your wounds, saith the Lord; because they called you an outcast, saying, 'This is Zion, whom no man seeks after'.

Remember, it is God who sends out the devourer to destroy through war, pestilence, fire, and plague. Jeremiah 12.12 tells us that the sword of the Lord devours. Our God is a consuming fire. Do not become Godís enemy. Repent and call upon His Name. He wants to bless you. He wants to love you. He wants you to demonstrate your loyalty to Him in loving obedience. As you acknowledge Him, His Word, His Sovereignty, His position as Source and Supplier, as Sovereign Savior, He will bless you.

Eating well in the Scriptures indicates prosperity (Joel 2.26, Genesis 45.18, 2 Kings 18.31). Letís eat well today of the word of truth. Letís build strongholds of truth, guarding our minds, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. Letís seek to love God and one another. Letís remember: God is our victory. God prospers us and gives us the power to prosper. God rebukes the devourer for our sake when we give Him the first and the best (Malachi 3). Honor God as the true and only Source, for our help and our hope are in God. He is our refuge and our high tower.

Expect to receive your riches from God alone. In the better covenant of Jesus Christ, God has given us the Holy Spirit. He has given us a heart that desires holiness. He has given us a desire and the power to give so that He can bless us. He wants us to give generously, graciously, lovingly, and obediently. When we give the first and the best to God, we honor Him and minister grace to one another.

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to you who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and has put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all. Amen. (Ephesians 1.17-23)

© 2000 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.


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