December 17, 2017
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Tear Down Strongholds

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. - 2 Corinthians 10:5

Anything that is contrary to the knowledge of God is a stronghold. The devil tempts us to establish these strongholds so he can overcome our defenses. Arguments are clever conclusions, rationalization and justification formed in the mind. Thoughts come from our frame of reference or paradigm and influence the things we want, either because of cultural upbringing or responses to life. These thoughts operate in our will. Lofty opinions are fueled by our emotions. They include personal preferences or convictions that we hold in high esteem.

Culture

A personís worldview is heavily influenced by the culture in which he or she is raised. The traditions, heritage, lore, and expectations of that people group become the foundation of a worldview. In addition, the family of origin plays a role in embracing some parts of that mindset while downplaying other parts. For instance, the northern parts of the Americas and Europe tend to think digitally whereas the southern counterparts are more relational.

There is not a right or wrong between cultures for the most part. Differences provide variety in life and are not necessarily strongholds, unless they are contrary to the knowledge of God.

Core Values

Core values are guiding principles and passionate beliefs a person holds, even in adversity. These values make up the structure of the frame of reference by which truth and appropriateness are measured. For instance, one who values safety will gravitate toward predictability and away from risk. However, one who values adventure will respond quite differently.

Values are neither good nor bad, but express a preference or style that has far reaching impact on choices and emotional responses. Some clusters of values are common in certain cultural groups. Asians tend toward community, honor, and frugality, for example, but any individual Asian person may emphasize one value over another. By way of contrast, Northern Europeans tend toward industry, order, responsibility, and structure, yet there will be variety between individuals in that group as well.

Values are learned. The positive nature of a value is learned in love through community, family, or discipleship. For instance, industry is modeled by parents and affirmed in a growing child. Alternatively, the negative nature of a value is often learned in fear through trauma, abuse, or neglect. For example, a child raised in dangerous and unpredictable circumstances may place high value on safety and conformity as a means to reduce risk.

Whether a value is learned through love or fear, its persistence in the personís paradigm is directly related to the cost with which the value was gained. This is more significant in values learned by fear than those transferred through love. For example, punctuality is a personal and cultural value. If a person suffers a great loss, such as a job, for being late, he or she may prioritize that value above others, such as excellence or family.

A stronghold exists when a core value causes a person to act in a way that is contrary to the knowledge of God. As a value expresses the true nature of God it provides godly guidance. God is merciful, and the value of mercy expressed toward others is godly. On the other hand, the value of mercy becomes morbidly self-referential when it is expressed inward, when its whole focus is on self.

Inner healing may involve redeeming a value from its negative expression into its godly nature. God can renew a personís mind so the object of mercy is changed from self to others, for instance.

Another aspect of inner healing may be the exchange of one value for another. For example, a person may have placed fear as his highest value because of trauma. He has learned to guard his heart with fear, but can exchange that fear for love through mind renewal (1 John 4:18).

Character Traits

The defining aspects of a personality can be described in terms of character traits, in fact a person may be described by one or more of these characteristics. They are core values or cultural influences that have been adopted by the person to such an extent that future action and reaction can be predicted based on the pattern. There is a clichť that a personís greatest strength may become their greatest weakness. That is because each trait has a redeemed or unredeemed expression.

Faith - This great strength causes a person to trust God in all circumstances, to believe the truth without evidence, and to remain steadfast to a position despite great opposition or obstacles. The redeemed side of faith is assertive, bold, confident, decisive, dependable, optimistic, patient, persistent, reliable, steady, and trustworthy. The unredeemed side of this character trait is stubbornness, belligerence, bossy, dominating, headstrong, opinionated, secretive, and self-justification.

Leadership - This great strength allows a person to guide others toward a goal and encourages them to participate at their highest and most effective level. The redeemed side of leadership is assertive, attentive, confident, considerate, decisive, disciplined, helpful, persistent, selfless, and venturous. The unredeemed side of this character trait is attention-seeking, bossy, cold-hearted, dominating, impatience, insensitive, manipulative, self-importance and self-seeking.

Discernment - This great strength helps a person know right from wrong and good from evil. It is a companion gift to leadership and mercy. The redeemed side of discernment is analytical, careful, confident, decisive, lawful, rational, sensitive, spiritual and straight-forward. The unredeemed side of this character trait is abrasiveness, argumentative, bitter, cold-hearted, critical, discriminatory, distrustful, gossiping, hostile, impatience, insensitive, intolerant, judgmental, opinionated and vindictive.

Administration - This great strength organizes people and things to reduce risk, maximize productivity, and keep things operating smoothly. The redeemed side of administration is attentive, careful, controlled, disciplined, industrious, lawful, organized, persistent, realistic, reliable and thoughtful. The unredeemed side of this character trait is bossy, compulsive, detached, humorless, obsessed, over-cautious, perfectionism, procedural, controlling, unfriendly and white-knuckled.

Creativity - This great strength brings new ideas and opportunities to light and discovers solutions to problems. The redeemed side of creativity is boldness, confidence, cooperative, flexible, helpful, involved, open-minded, optimistic, playful, venturous and willing. The unredeemed side of this character trait is attention-seeking, careless, disorganized, dramatic, egocentric, flightiness, forgetfulness, grandiose, impatience, impulsive, reckless, undependable, undisciplined, unrealistic and unstable.

Mercy - This great strength moves the heart with compassion and creates opportunity to demonstrate love to one another. The redeemed side of mercy is attentive, concerned, considerate, forgiving, generous, gentle, helpful, kind, sensitive, serene, social, thoughtful and warm. The unredeemed side of this character trait is codependent, enabling, indulgent, overly-emotional, pity, submissive, unrealistic, vague, depressive and victimhood.

Giving - This great strength directs resources to a place of need and provides the materials necessary for accomplishing a mission. The redeemed side of giving is attentive, cheerful, concerned, considerate, content, cooperative, dependable, friendly, generous, helpful, humble, industrious, involved, loving, selfless, self-sufficient, sociable, thoughtful and venturous. The unredeemed side of this character trait is arrogance, attention-seeking, braggart, dominating, gluttony, greed, indulgent, leverage, lust, manipulation, materialism, self-seeking, snobbery and vanity.

Confidence - The redeemed side of confidence is assertive, decisive, faith, leadership, outgoing, optimistic and persistent. The unredeemed side is arrogance, egocentric, lying, preoccupation, self-importance and unrealistic.

Caution - The redeemed side of caution is similar to administration with reliable, modest, and lawful aspects. The unredeemed side of caution is indecision, procrastination, anxiety and fear.

Opinions and Preferences

ďVariety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor,Ē wrote William Cowper in 1785. Opinions are a personal expression of ones values and culture. Unless they are raised against the knowledge of God, they are neither good nor bad. Differing opinions and preferences give variety and flavoring to a community of any size. A lofty opinion is one that competes against God and fuels the sin of pride. It could be an untruth, lie, or assumption that contrasts with Godís opinion. It can become a stronghold when one refuses to bow their opinion in favor of God.

An opinion can also be considered lofty when it is raised against other people. Anyone that forces their opinion upon another demonstrates a lack of humility and unwillingness to love.

Do not condemn others for their differing opinion, for that is judgment. Do not force your paradigm on other, for that is abuse. Rather, share your culture, values, and opinions as flavoring for the spice of life. Celebrate the many facets of God as they are reflected through others.

Take Thoughts Captive

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12:21

Arguments, thoughts, and opinions fall into one of three categories. There are redeemed values and beliefs that bring praise to God. There are unredeemed values and beliefs which portray the dark side and attempt to discredit God. There are lies and evil deception that rebels against God and His truth. The last of these categories is the domain of the father of lies, the devil.

Arrest the thought to interrogate it. Does this bring praise to God? Is it expressing a redeemed value or trait? Does this thought discredit Godís character? Is it expressing an unredeemed value or trait? If it is an argument or lofty opinion, ask what is its redeemed nature?

Confess the belief. Ask Christ to reveal the truth about the redeemed quality of that belief. Accept the truth by listening, obeying, and putting His words into practice. Then confess the truth into your mind, will and emotions by stating it aloud.

Tear down strongholds, which are persistent thoughts, arguments, and opinions. Confess the belief. Ask Christ to reveal the origin of this thought and how you came to believe it to be true. Then ask Him for the eternal truth about that belief. Confess that you release the captive thought in exchange for the truth.

Make a spiritual discipline of this process. Examine your frame of reference for strongholds. Take each thought captive, even though it feels like a familiar truth. Discover the redeemed side of your character, and prophetically proclaim that true identity into existence.

 
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