Strongholds are areas of the human soul which have not yet bowed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They remain areas of darkness in the mind which have not yet been exposed to the light of Truth. Strongholds offer legal access to demonic oppression in a believer and continually keep believers from experiencing true victory in Christ. Common strongholds include bitterness, anger, fear, lying, rejection, envy/jealousy, and occult bondage.
Many believe being born again removes strongholds. Justification, being born again, is a spiritual experience resulting in a recreated human spirit now entwined with the Holy Spirit making a new creation. A man’s mind and body remain relatively unaffected. Sanctification deals with renewing the mind by God’s Word. It identifies strongholds; and Truth uproots, tears down, and frees believers from bondage of demonic deceit and oppression. Through sanctification, the whole man—spirit, soul, and body, can experience restoration, healing, and wholeness. Sanctification occurs in proportion to the revelation of the finished work of Jesus Christ. This is a progressive revelation as is the process of sanctification and continues throughout life. This is the warfare which Paul describes above.
The Old Covenant is filled with types, shadows, and “outward” examples of the “inward” or spiritual warfare of believers. The Old Covenant is the New concealed while the New Covenant is the Old revealed. Israel’s wilderness experience is a type of man living according to his flesh, or living in sin. The Jordan River is a type of death to flesh. The Jordan flows into the Dead Sea. As Israel began to cross the Jordan during the spring flood, they were led by priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant. As their feet touched the edge of the water, it rose in a heap all the way back to a city called Adam (Josh. 4:15). This represents man leaving sin, passing through death by repentance where sin is rolled back to Adam’s original sin. The land of Canaan, or the “Promised Land” is a type of our life in Christ. The Lord instructed Israel that the land he was giving them was a land flowing with milk and honey. What Israel did not fully understand was they would have to milk the cows and swat the bees in this land to uproot and destroy its occupants.
The Lord gave instruction through Moses for total destruction of inhabitants of the land. Seven nations which were greater than Israel occupied the land: Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Each of these nations has spiritual significance as types of strongholds which can exist in the lives of believers, even though they are born again. Just as Israel was instructed to utterly destroy these nations, so also must we as believers must leave no vestige of these strongholds of darkness in our lives.
Canaanites were descendants of Ham, one of Noah’s sons. Canaan was cursed by Noah because of his father’s sin (Gen 9:18-27). From Canaan descended the Jebusite, Amorite, Girgashite, Perizzite, and Hivite (Gen. 10:15-18). The root word for Canaan means “humiliated,” which is the result of pride (Prov. 16:18-19). Jericho was a Canaanite city and the first enemy stronghold the Israelites encountered upon entering the Promised Land. Before the men of Israel could face enemies of the Promised Land, they had to be circumcised, which was the sign of the Covenant of Abraham and was based upon faith and obedience to God’s word. Faith is the opposite of pride. In order to conquer the spiritual stronghold of pride, you must battle in the opposite spirit of humility, one of the first characteristics marking a believer; for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6). Peter wrote the admonition then added, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (I Pet. 5:5-6). When a believer humbles himself under God’s mighty hand, the mighty hand of God can come under the believer and bring down strongholds in his life.
Amorites were mountaineers descended from Canaan. The root word for Amorite means “to boast self,” and “to challenge.” Joshua faced five Amorite kings as Israel continued in the Promised Land. These five kings hid themselves in a cave and were taken captive. They were Adoni-Zedek meaning “prince of the air,” Hoham meaning “crusher,” Piram meaning “wild demon,” Japhia meaning “high one,” and Debir meaning “challenger with words.” Joshua had these kings put on the ground and had captains of his army put their feet on the necks of these kings. Joshua then spoke, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight” (Josh 10:25). Jesus spoke to His disciples, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Lk. 11:19). Paul also wrote, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom 16:20). The Amorite stronghold of 'boasting and accusation" must be destroyed in a believer's life.
The root meaning of Girgashite is “slippery.” This stronghold is the opposite of faithfulness, integrity, and honesty. The root meaning of Perizzite is “independent.” A stronghold in many believers keeps them from total submission to the Lordship of Christ. This results in rebellion and eventually destruction (Isa. 1:19-20). The meaning of Hivite is “compromise” or “wicked.” The Gibeonites in Josh. 9 were Hivites who tricked Joshua into a covenant. The stronghold of witchcraft/manipulations is rampant in the church today. This exists even with leaders and pastors who attempt to manipulate others for their own purposes.
The root meaning of Jebusite is “defeated” or “discouraged.” This is one of the major strongholds in believers today and can only be conquered through knowing God’s Word. Jn. 8:31-32 states that Truth makes a believer free. If Truth of God’s Word brings freedom, then the lie of Satan results in bondage. A believer must understand they are only free to the degree God’s Word is working in their lives.
The Hittites were warriors who were first to make weapons of iron. They also made heavily armored chariots capable of carrying three men and used to break through enemy infantry lines. Their primary weapon was a long thrusting spear they would skillfully brandish from their chariots. The root meaning of Hittite is “fear,” a primary stronghold. Fear and faith are two spiritual forces which demand fulfillment. Human life is based upon one of these spiritual forces, and we reap results of each. Fear opens the door for Satan to enter one’s life. Fear masks itself as anxiety, worry, and even the catch-all—stress. Job explains the magnetic result of fear, “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.” Fear, like faith, comes by “hearing” (Rom. 10:7). In order to destroy a stronghold of fear, a believer must move into God’s Word which replaces fear with faith.
God instructed the children of Israel to utterly destroy all the “ites” in the land, but they failed to do so. They made treaties and allowed their men to marry Canaanite women who brought in polluted religion. This ultimately resulted in Israel, then Judah, losing its charter as a nation. As believers, we must be ruthless with strongholds in our lives, refusing even small compromises. Amen.