What is a stronghold in our lives? This article explains what a spiritual stronghold is and how we can break these strongholds in our lives. Plus, examples of positive and negative strongholds.
What is a Spiritual Stronghold?
A spiritual stronghold is anything that has power over you. Ideally, it’s Jesus. But throughout our lives, we will all come up against strongholds that are desires of our flesh.
We see the word stronghold in 2 Corinthians, where Paul is talking about spiritual warfare.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5
In this context, the Greek word for stronghold is ochyrōma, translated as “prison.”
A spiritual stronghold is more than sin; it’s bondage. A stronghold in this context is a natural desire in us that Satan twists so that sin has control over us.
We often keep our spiritual strongholds secret. As a result, the enemy uses our stronghold and secrecy around it to invoke shame and fear from us.
Some are obvious such as an addiction, but some are not, such as materialism.
Our strongholds are sometimes masked as something good, so we may not even know what the enemy is using against us. It can be something you don’t trust God with or something you’re striving to fulfill within yourself.
Examples of Strongholds
- Bitterness or unforgiveness. You think of revenge or feel hatred towards another. You’re often angry and feel resentful.
- Obsessive worry, fear. Worrying about your kids or future or finances to the point it steals your joy.
- Addiction. All types of addiction, such as substances or even being addicted to attention or praise.
- Lust, adultery, meaningless intimate encounters.
- Perfectionism which drives you to control.
- Selfishness, fragile ego.
- Despair or a complaining attitude or such low confidence it prevents you from living for God.
- People pleasing
- Judgemental thoughts or feeling superior or judgemental.
And many, many more.
How Can We Overcome Spiritual Strongholds?
A stronghold isn’t something that can be overcome by “trying harder” or “being good.”
We need to invite the Holy Spirit’s power to work in us to help us overcome spiritual strongholds.
Since strongholds are spiritual, they must be fought in the spiritual state. If this sounds weird to you, then read Ephesians 6: 10-17, where Paul explains the battle that happens every day in the spiritual world.
First, we must acknowledge our stronghold. Confess to God.
Pray to God by renouncing the sin that has invited a stronghold. Proclaim in the power of Jesus, denounce the stronghold. Ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit while in prayer and from now on.
Find another believer to confess your stronghold. These steps bring your sin out of the dark and into the light.
Telling someone else your stronghold is an honor and should be treated as such. Talk to someone you trust to pray with you and someone you won’t feel shame or worried that they’ll tell someone else.
Replace the void in your life with Jesus. Spend time in His word. Memorizing scripture is one helpful example.
God is Your Stronghold
A stronghold isn’t always negative.
In the Old Testament, a stronghold was a physical place or structure to seek refuge. Think of a fortress—a place where someone would find shelter.
Just as God is our “rock,” he can (and should) also be our stronghold.
Example Verses of God as Our Stronghold
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. ~Nahum 1:7
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. ~Psalm 9:9
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. ~Psalm 18:2
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? ~Psalm 27:1
The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. ~Psalm 37:39
But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. ~Psalm 94:22
he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. ~Psalm 144:2
The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers. ~Proverbs 10:29