I love me some Beth Moore, and pretty much anything she puts out is pure gold. Her Bible studies are phenomenal, but she is even more magnetic in person! We’ve even watched her on a video series (Loving Well- HIGHLY recommend!) and just love seeing that she is so real and down to earth. There is no question she is an anointed teacher and speaker.
When I am praying over a new study, I always ask for God’s guidance and direction to give me something the ladies in our study specifically need, “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). For this Bible Study that just began last week, the Lord laid this specific 6-week study on my heart called Living Free. Beth (I mean, we are pretty much on a first name basis) has another Bible Study that sounds similar called Breaking Free, and a book that is mentioned in this study called Praying God’s Word. I have both of those, so I’ll keep you posted on those too.
I am teaching straight from the book (and just adding in some of my own stories during the actual lesson), but wanted to share some of these points from week 1. This is basically an outline from the week, although I definitely encourage you to get the book and go through it. She goes into further detail, has you examine your own heart/walk, etc.
WEEK 1: DEMOLISHING STRONGHOLDS
The term stronghold appears in the Old Testament almost 50 times, and only about once in the New Testament. The Israelites hid from their enemies in strongholds, meaning a “fortress with difficult access” (Judg 6:2, 1 Sam 23:14).
Psalm 27:1 says “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?”
Christ as our stronghold does not mean life will be easy or trouble free, but we do NOT have to live in fear! God’s purposes may lead us to the path of suffering, but wherever He leads, we know HE protects.
“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 10:5
False Strongholds: Unfortunately, God is not the only stronghold available to the children of Adam. Since sin entered the race, we have allowed strongholds to enter our lives placed on us by the enemy to leave us in bondage. In this study, we will look at strongholds the enemy has on us, but never forget they are lies. Never lose sight of the protecting stronghold of God.
A stronghold is anything that exalts itself in our minds, pretending to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered.
Whether our stronghold is an addiction (is not limited to substances), unforgiveness towards someone who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that it strangles our abundant life. Our callings remain unfulfilled, and our believing lives become ineffective. Needless to say, these are the enemy’s precise goals.
Burn into your heart the fact that strongholds come from FALSE ideas. Though we must deal with them, we can be encouraged when we remember that they are only lies and deceptions. A stronghold is whatever controls your focus, and just as the Old Testament describes, we can choose for the LORD to be our stronghold.
The Primary Battlefield:
When Satan wages war with us, the primary battlefield is the mind. 2 Cor 10:5 reminds us the goal of our warfare is to take back thought lives and take them captive to Christ. The enemy’s target is the mind because the most effective way to influence behavior is to influence thinking. Our minds are the control centers for our entire beings.
We struggle with a pattern of thoughts, words, or actions. We promise ourselves we’ll never do it again. We even genuinely hate the behavior involved. But it happens again. And that’s because we assume our behavior is the battlefield and our goal is to change the actions.
Disarming Power: Satan lost all rights to presume authority over a believer’s life at the cross (Col 2:13-15). Christ disarmed the forces of evil. NOTHING is more powerful than God!
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 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 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
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” –Galatian 5:1
How do we tear down lies and false arguments? The answer seems too simple. We must choose truth.
If the issue is truth vs. lies, where is the battlefield?
What’s Wrong with Human Effort:
God acts in ways opposite to what humans would expect. (ex: shepard boy to be king, Joshua/Jericho, Son of God born in a stable).
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.” –Isaiah 55:8
The word thoughts is “maschashava” = thought, plan, scheme, plot, design
The word ways is “ derekh” = way, path, route, road, journey, conduct, way of life
If our thoughts, plans, and plots aren’t like God’s, we can bet our ways, paths, and routes won’t be either.
Six times in 1 Corinthians, Paul described human wisdom as The Greek term for foolishness = moron (“mentally defective”)
Scripture presents the radical truth that God loves us completely, apart from our actions. He punishes stubbornness because of love. Healing, answered prayer, etc. has nothing to do with whether or not God loves you. That is already settled. (John 13:1- Jesus showed us the full extent of His love at the CROSS.) It has to do with God’s plans and purposes for your life. We can never please God by how hard we try. We can never work hard enough to break free from the death grip of sin. Does that mean we should become spiritual couch potatoes? Absolutely not. 2 Peter 3:14 tells us “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” The word for effort is “spoudazo” which means “to be eager, make every effort, do one’s best.” We are going to see in this study how we can do our best to follow hard after Jesus Christ- without relying on human effort.
The Weapons of Our Warfare:
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 identifies four vital details about the weapons of our warfare.
1. They are not weapons of the world.
2. They have divine power.
3. They are associated with the knowledge of God.
4. Their purpose in warfare is to take our thoughts captive.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” –Ephesians 6:13-18
Paul lists the whole armor of God here, but notice there is only piece of armor that is actually a weapon. Everything else is a defensive piece meant to keep us from harm, whereas the sword of the Spirit, clearly identified as the Word of God, is the offensive WEAPON listed in the armor. 2 Cor 10:4 says “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” These weapons (plural) that have the divine power in our warfare to demolish strongholds are 1) The Word of God, and 2) Prayer.
- The Greek word for power = dunamai, meaning “to be able”
- The English word dynamite comes from this same root word.
Virtually nothing we come against has more power than a stronghold. Strongholds can’t be swept away with a spiritual broom- they need something stronger- like dynamite. We can try many ways to demolish strongholds: try harder, punish ourselves for not living up to God’s standards, feel depressed over it, promise God to do better, etc. The ONLY way to demolish a stronghold is by deliberately and strategically placing dynamite in the “building” and detonating it. Our 2 sticks of dynamite are:
What is more powerful than two sticks of dynamite placed in separate locations? Two sticks of dynamite placed together combined with faith in what God says He can do.
Keep Your Focus:
The ultimate goal God has for us is not power, but personal intimacy with Him. Prayer keeps us in constant communication with God, which is the goal of our entire lives. It is never the will of God for our warfare to become our focus. The fastest way to lose our balance in warfare is to rebuke the devil more than we relate to God. The way we overpower our thoughts so they bow down in obedience to Jesus Christ is PRAY GOD’S WORD. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” –Philippians 4:8
We can easily drift from a pure focus on Jesus. Two of the easiest ways to become distracted are to focus on the problems of others or on our own trials, problems, and temptations. Sometimes Satan successfully scheme to keep us in bondage by fueling our focus on others’ strongholds rather than our own. We have a tendency to see the speck in another person’s eye when a log is deeply lodged in our own.
We demolish strongholds when we make our minds captive to Christ. Renew your mind daily (Romans 12:2). Remember that God is far more interested in our relationship with the Deliverer than our being delivered. If God is getting our full cooperation, the length of the process or the intensity of the struggle is really up to Him & all depends on His objective. Beth Moore says after months of researching the biblical topic of strongholds, God generally prioritizes one of two objectives: 1) showing us His power or 2) teaching us that HE is all we need.
Source: Moore, Beth. Living Free. Lifeway Christian Resources; 2002/Christian Growth Study Plan edition (December 31, 2001)