Last week I referenced a book (see above) that has helped me in the area of watching my food intake and keeping my weight down. Before I put the book back on the shelf, I’d like to take another look at a chapter that really got my attention.
So many of us have strongholds that we deal with, or we can quickly develop a stronghold based on circumstances around us. The world allows strongholds and says it’s not your fault.
When I speak of a stronghold, I’m thinking of an area of sin in our lives that we cannot get rid of. Many times we don’t even try, because the world says what we are dealing with makes it acceptable to act out in ways that would have been unacceptable years ago. Some strongholds are ignored because we can blame our parents, childhood circumstances, or adult circumstances. You can never rid yourself of a stronghold if you believe it is not your fault.
Some of these strongholds include:
- Abuse of food, drugs, alcohol
- Depression, hate, jealousy, hypochondria
- Sexual lust, adultery, deviant sexual behaviors
- Anger, pride, gossip, overspending, lying, disrespect to others
- Manipulation, selfishness
- Laziness, workaholism, procrastination, social media
- Phobias, panic attacks, anxiety, fear
For a complete list of Strongholds see page 224 of The Tablet.
In Chapter 18 of The Tablet, Gwen pointed out that most of our strongholds originate from being too focused on self, versus shifting our focus to God. And— what the Scriptures call sin, the world labels as addictions, diseases, and compulsive behaviors that are out of our control and therefore we are not accountable.
“To suggest that all vices, abnormal behaviors, and mental confusion are disconnected from our own choices leaves so many people in a hopeless situation…. To imply that behavior that can be changed with choice is actually due to genetic flaws, physical defects, chemical misfires, or compulsive behaviors and has to be medicated is irresponsible of our generation.” (See p. 228)
When we are convicted and feel guilty regarding our sin or stronghold, our first step should be repentance. But instead we project. It’s our parent’s fault, the government’s fault, our spouse’s fault, our preacher’s fault—that we are acting this way. It could never be our fault.
We blame dysfunctional families for how we act, but families have been dysfunctional from the beginning of time once sin entered the world. Think Cain and Abel.
We forget to be grateful for the air in our lungs each morning when we wake up. For a beating heart. For even waking up. For legs that work, eyes that see, ears that hear, and hands that work. We forget to be grateful. We want bigger things than just that. And, yet without breath, we’re dead. Being grateful takes the focus off of self and puts it back on a God that supplies exactly what we need each day.
In the book, Gwen says, “It has always run counter to my advice for people to continue to talk about, dwell on, or in any way use history to excuse their present behavior.” (p. 235) She says, “Just forgive in your heart and move on.” (p.236)
She didn’t find it necessary to resurrect things that are not beneficial, by going back to make amends. The reconciliation for past sins should be repenting and getting your relationship right with God and then not repeating the same sins again. She references the scene in scriptures of Jesus and the adulterous woman and points out that Jesus didn’t tell the woman to, “‘Go and fix everything and everyone you have wronged.'” Instead He said, “Go, and sin no more.” (See pages 236-237 And, John 8:11)
You can also read Luke 3:10-14 to see what John the Baptist told people to do to make amends for past sins. It essentially boils down to not being self-focused, putting God first, and loving others as scripture says to do.
Also we have to learn that everything that happens to us is screened by God and He allows things for a reason. (see p. 237)
Gwen said, “My guess is that all of us have played both victim and abuser roles at some point in time.” (p. 238) And, when someone feels their depression is worse than others. And, no one has had a life as hard as they have—it becomes a self-focused position instead of a God focused position, and leads them to “put themselves in a category that cannot repent…” (p.239)
“Everyone has problems that are allowed by God so that we would reach out for Him.” (p.240)
And that’s the answer. Reach for God. Put God first. Then everything else falls into place. When you struggle with anything—go to God for help.
James 5:13a says, “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.”
James 5:14 says, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him…”
I don’t know about you, but I love to read books that hit me right between the eyes and makes me straighten up. I want to know what God expects of me and not be let off the hook. I want to rid myself of strongholds. I want to prepare myself for living in God’s Kingdom in Heaven.
Do you like convicting lessons in books, or a more gentle approach? Please comment below:)