5 Biblical Truths for Overcoming Strongholds
There they were, I thought I had been fortunate enough to avoid them, but now two weeks after the birth of my daughter, I noticed the appearance of a few stretch marks by my bellybutton. My initial reaction was panic, how could stretch marks suddenly appear two weeks postpartum? How could I get rid of them? What if more appeared? After a short time, a new panic arose, was I going to let this "flaw" drag me back down into the darkness of my past body dysmorphia?
For several years I exhibited tendencies of BDD (body dysmorphic disorder), a mixture of anorexia and bulimia, compulsive exercising and Orthorexia Nervosa. The deceptive lies of strongholds can inflict crippling thinking and actions. They hold us back from experiencing God's best in our lives.
Many times I felt hopelessness like I was drowning, I couldn't keep my head above the water long enough to take a breath. To quote a mother of an eating disorder victim, "Eating disorders creep in like a thief in the night and take over their victims’ minds and bodies. My daughter’s every intention was to be thin" (Denise 2017). How true this is. As with all strongholds, I was a prisoner in my mind and body.
But that was not the end of my story.
Because our God demolishes strongholds.
You don't fight for victory. You fight from victory.
We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:4
I am going to approach this topic from my experience with BDD and an eating disorder, but these biblical truths apply to any deceptive thinking pattern that holds you hostage.
Are you ready to tear down your strongholds and encounter revival? Here are 5 biblical truths to help you demolish strongholds.
1. ADMIT YOU HAVE A PROBLEm
It can be scary and painful to admit, even to yourself that there is an issue. If the feeling came up in my mind, I would push it away. It wasn't until I finally took a screening test that I let the knowledge of my disorder sink in, I finally admitted it to myself. And yes, the truth was weighted, but also relieving.
If you know, there is a problem you can seek healing.
It may seem like a contradiction, but having the self-awareness to realize there is an issue provides you hope that you can overcome the problem.
After taking the screening test, I had to decisively stop justifying my behavior and eating patterns. The objective evidence was there.
Admitting there is a problem is the first step towards freedom from the problem. Yes, knowing may fill us with fear, but God is faithfully there for us.
The AMPC Bible version of Isaiah 41:10 states,
‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’
2. DON'T KEEP YOUR STRONGHOLD A SECRET
Maybe even more frightening than admitting to yourself that you have stronghold is confessing it to others. Sharing the burden with someone who loves and cares about you is a significant step though. They may have already suspected it.
Many people, as I was, with a stronghold are really good at keeping it secret. The mother of an eating disorder sufferer explained that "I learned the person with the eating disorder is carrying a massive burden of shame and insecurity, so they become experts at hiding these symptoms" (Denise 2017). And this is true for many people struggling alone with a stronghold.
But this is the exact reason why it is important to tell others if you are battling a stronghold. It is easier to keep falling deeper and deeper into darkness if you cling to the dark.
Light brings life.
The burden of a dark secret can become lighter when we tell someone who loves us.
Nothing good grows in the dark, but light brings life.Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God--it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. - James 5:16 AMPC
It's important to tell someone you can trust, someone who will listen and will not judge or reject you.
Someone who has the heart to restore not condemn.
And honestly, the person you tell may, at first, even deny there is an issue. In this case, be patient with them, they may have some emotions to work through. Also, be as specific as possible about how they can support you.
Look again at James 5:16, what is the first action taken when a confession is brought to light? Prayer! Prayer is so powerful, and I encourage you to make prayer a part of this important conversation.
Besides a friend, family member, or church member, a doctor or counselor is another viable option.
Do what is practical and what is spiritual.
Step: Tell someone about your stronghold and join together in prayer.
3. DEPEND ON GOD'S POWER, NEVER YOUR OWN
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 NIV
This verse was the cornerstone of my therapy. My thoughts could go many negative and self-destructive places, Susan Albers Psy.D. describes it like this,
"Eating disorders take hold of someone's mind and just won't let go despite that fact that eating disorders are harmful, even potentially lethal. They rob people of their physical and emotional health" (2009).
Again, this negative thought process isn't exclusive to eating disorders, but to most strongholds. But we can counteract our negative, destructive, and untruthful thoughts with Spirit-led thoughts because we fight with spiritual weapons and "they have divine power to demolish strongholds" - 2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV.
This isn't easy, but with God's help you can change the way you think, you can demolish the strongholds on your mind. It won't be a one and done battle though. We have to take our thoughts captive with the help of God continually day after day. It may be a struggle to shut down the harmful thoughts that pervade the mind, but you can do it with the help of God. You cannot do it alone; you have to be willing to let go of your desires for control, whatever it is you are trying so hard to control, and surrender them and your mind to God.
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.' - Proverbs 3:5-6
Surrendering control of my weight, my diet, and my exercising habits was so hard for me. I clung to my control; I was fearful of giving control to God.
But when I finally did, when I prayed "God, I give it all to you" everything changed, I was able to take my thoughts captive, and I was able to experience revival.
Step: Surrender all control to God.
4. REMEMBER WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT YOU
Denise, a mother of an eating disorder sufferer, provides a powerful statement about the lies that can infest the minds of those battling a stronghold,
"They’ve believed a lie about themselves that they’re not good enough. Not for you [parent(s)], not for God, not for themselves" (2017).
There were so many lies I believed about myself. I didn't feel "good enough, " and in my twisted thinking, I thought if only I weighed x-amount I would be good enough. If I could get my weight to where I wanted it, I would be set, and I would be joyful.
The trouble is what I wanted, to be thin, wasn't ever going to make me happy.
When I would hit my goal weight, I wasn't satisfied. I wanted to be thinner; I would always be after the "er."
We cannot find worldly fulfillment because God created us for His possession. In God alone, we find our satisfaction. God is enough for me and for you.
'But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”' - 1 Peter 2:9-10
Your value is grounded in you being one of God's children. Your worth is not because of what you do but because of what God did through Jesus.
The Lord knows your heart, and He loves you. Not based on worldly acceptance, but on perfect, unfailing love.
Finally, remember that you are God's special creation, uniquely made and cherished.
5. FILL YOUR SPIRIT
Fill your spirit with the Word of God
Remember you have the Armor of God which includes the belt of truth, the Bible the Word of God. - Ephesians 6:14. The Word is powerful, Jesus Himself used Scripture when he was tempted by the devil in the desert. When you continually fill your spirit by reading God's Word, your spirit will be stronger and can help you get through a battle by being a light guiding your path - Psalms 119:105.
'All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.' - 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Fill your spirit with other Believers
As already stated, it is important to tell someone about your struggles. When we confide in those who love us and love Jesus, they help us "hold open the door to God's bright healing light" (YouVersion 2017).
Confide with others, your family, friends, Church family, counselor, group therapy. You do not have to battle this without the support of others.
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2 NLT
Fill your spirit with prayer
Prayer helps us to remember number 3. Depend on God's Power, Never Your Own. Jesus prayed when He was distressed the night before He was killed for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane - Matthew 26. Prayer moves the heart of God; it is also part of the Armor of God - Ephesians 6:18.
'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ' - Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
Let me quickly unpack these verses; it took me awhile to understand them, but now the verses provide me with hope and peace. Paul is telling us to pray with thanksgiving and not to be anxious.
The reason is that our destiny is already set, we already have victory in Christ.
When we fully realize this, things change, we have peace and joy that only God can provide.
With this in mind, I want to close this article with a prayer,
"God, I have been trying to control my life like I know better than you. Forgive me. Holy Spirit I invite you to loosen my grip on control. I surrender my stronghold to you. Father, when you speak, mountains move. You also gave me the power to speak and demolish strongholds. I am talking to you now and ask you to set me free from the slavery of this stronghold. I pray this in Jesus name, amen."
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Albers, Susan. 2009. "The Reason An Eating Disorder Can Hold You Captive." https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/comfort-cravings/200909/the-reason-eating-disorder-can-hold-you-captive. Accessed May 19.
Denise. 2017. "How to Tell if Your Child Has an Eating Disorder." https://finds.life.church/tell-child-eating-disorder/. May 19.
International OCD Foundation. "What is BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder)?" 2017. https://bdd.iocdf.org/about-bdd/. Date accessed May 19.
Life.Church. 2017a. "Bad Advice: How To Become An Addict." https://www.life.church/watch/bad-advice/how-to-become-an-addict/. Accessed May 19.
-. 2017b. "I Choose: Surrender Over Control." https://www.life.church/watch/i-choose/surrender-over-control/. Accessed May 19.
NEDA. 2016a. "Compulsive Exercise." https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/compulsive-exercise. Accessed May 19.
-. 2016b. "Types & Symptoms of Eating Disorders." https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/types-symptoms-eating-disorders. Accessed May 19.
YouVersion. 2017. "A Way Out." https://www.bible.com. Accessed May 23.