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Spiritual Strongholds:
Things That Block the Blessings of God
(Or Call the Plumber. My pipeline is clogged!)

March 5, 2000

By Dr. Mary Craig

2 Corinthians 10.3-5 says: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

A stronghold is a defensive spiritual fortress behind which one hides and is protected. A stronghold is a fortified dwelling used as a means of protection from a perceived enemy. A stronghold is a powerful, vigorously protected spiritual reality. A demonic stronghold is any type of thing that exalts itself above the knowledge of God.

Deuteronomy 28 makes it clear that diligent obedience to the voice of God brings blessings. Blessings overtake us as we choose life. But curses can also overtake us as we choose death. We obey what we believe, and so the seed of all sin is unbelief.

Unbelief, embracing and swallowing lies, roots and grows into spiritual strongholds that block the blessings of God. Adam and Eveís belief in a lie, in a twisted perversion of truth, brought them into disfavor with God and under the curse which we now call "original sin."

You cannot have your blessings and keep your sins. Godís promises are appropriated through obedience. God grants repentance because of His goodness (Romans 2.4; 2 Timothy 2.25, 26). God grants grace to obey through faith working by love. (Ephesians 1, 2) God grants even the faith to believe. (Ephesians 2.8, 9) God grants the repentance that leads to life.

Tonight I want to talk about three overarching spiritual strongholds that block the blessings of God. I want to talk about separation, sorrows, and source of satisfaction.

The blessings of God come to us as the outflow of the covenant of grace which God sovereignly administrated with those who have come to be called the people of God. He gave the Law to a redeemed people, a people brought out of the land of Egypt. He provided a way of atonement for sin. Why is that so important?

God desires to bless. He gave the Law, His voice, so that people could obey and be blessed. But unbelief led to sin which leads to separation.

Isaiah 59.1-3: Behold the LORDís hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity.

Itís not a nice picture. Unbelief leading to sin corrupted the system. Corruption perverted the heart, which became desperately wicked. Iniquity in the heart means that the heart is bent toward evil. If it could, it would kill the Creator and take His place. Left unrestrained by the common grace and the giving of the commandments of God, there is no telling what evil the heart of humanity could devise.


Separation is a spiritual stronghold. Sin and iniquity, both our own and in our family line (Exodus 20.5, Nehemiah 9, Daniel 9) result in separation: from God, from self, from others. Sin alienates us from God and brings us into enmity with Him. Sin separates us from ourselves because of its guilt and shame. Sin shatters and scatters our soul. It tears and defiles and mars and strips the soul of dignity. Sin wounds the spirit and puts it into slumber, dwarfing its potential. Sin separates us from one another, as fears, anxiety, stress, abandonment and trust issues arise.

Another area is that of sorrows. Grief, loss, and failures become strongholds of rock breaking the spirit. Proverbs 15.13 says, A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. Proverbs 17.22 says, A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.

Sorrows bring us to the grave. They lead to anger and bitterness, doubt and questioning of the goodness of God. Sorrows come from disappointments and frustration because we are not God and we donít like the way God is so sovereign, the way He orders events. We would do things differently, perhaps better than God. So our heart tells us.

And then there is the matter of source of satisfaction. God gives grace to the humble, and resists the proud. Proud people take satisfaction in themselves, in their accomplishments, in their good works. Job had the thing he greatly feared come upon him (Job 3.25) because of his self-righteousness. Job 40.1 says, Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said: "Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it." Job forgot about iniquity. He had within a sleeping serpent, Leviathan, king over the children of pride, an enemy which only God Himself could draw out and conquer.

Source of satisfaction. We turn to another source when we donít believe that God is good. We think, like Eve, that God may be holding out on us something that would benefit us. We lust for more. Greed in our hearts leads us to turn to other gods, other elohim, other sources for satisfaction. It could be most anything which we perceive might bring us comfort, safety, security, full bellies. Greed is idolatry because it says that God the Creator/Redeemer is not enough and other gods are necessary. God is insufficient to satisfy. We get angry, bring issues of "rights" to God, tell Him why we need this or that for life. We want our bellies full of all we see around us.

God would have us to be satisfied with all that He is for us in Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus into the cosmos to correct the corruption problem that entered the system. Through His life and death and resurrection, Jesus atoned for the sin and iniquity of first Adam humanity. The offering up of His body and blood accomplished all that is necessary and sufficient for us to receive Godís blessings and have Godís curse removed.

God the Father accepts Jesus as the sacrifice for sin so that we can be forgiven and our sins remitted, sent away. In this way Jesus overcame guilt and shame. Our debt and liability are canceled.

Through the blood of Christ comes peace with God. We are reconciled and alienation is overcome.

We overcome bondage because of redemption. We have been bought with a price, and so our lives are not our own. We have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. His blood was the cost of our redemption, a buying back from the dominion of sin of death.

Jesus became the propitiation for sin. He bore the wrath of God and satisfied the requirements of divine justice. Sin leads to death. The soul that sins will surely die. The wages of sin is death. Every time you sin, there is a little death. There is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment. The Law demands death. But the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from the Law of Sin and Death. Jesus died in our place. He took the penalty, carried out the sentence of God. J. I. Packer says that we can think of Godís wrath as wounded love.

Not believing God who is true, good, pure, and holy is to betray Him, to commit spiritual adultery, to seek another lover for your soul, another provider, another protector, another wisdom.


Separation, sorrows, alternate sources of satisfaction clog your pipeline. And basically, you need to call the Plumber!

When Jesus Christ comes into your life, God declares you clean, holy, righteous and above reproach. Then the Holy Spirit comes and makes the declaration of God so. What starts is a process called sanctification.

We start removing the blocks to blessing as we return to God. We say we have perverted His ways and it has not profited us, and now we want to return, to Him and to His ways.

God renews a right spirit within you. (Psalm 51, Ephesians 4) The Holy Spirit witnesses to your spirit that you are a child of God. The Holy Spirit begins cleansing you of all that defiles flesh and spirit, removing all the fiery darts and wounds to the spirit. He puts truth in the inward parts. You will be strong in spirit to the extent that Godís Word, which is truth, is in your spirit. That which is born of Spirit is spirit.

God restores your soul. The Law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul (Psalm 19.1). He starts putting back together all that was shattered and scattered. The words of Belial, words of worthlessness and lawlessness, unrighteousness, that cling to the soul, God shakes off. He carries away the sorrows. He draws you to Himself. He loves you and gives you peace.

God brings redemption to the mortal body. You prosper as your soul prospers. Your soul prospers as your spirit prospers. Sin should no longer have the rule over your mortal body, for death lost its dominion over Christ. (Romans 6.9, 12) So we are not to offer the members of our bodies to serve those things that lead to death or to devils, but to God. We are to offer ourselves in spiritual worship to serve the Lord, which worship is His by virtue of His being our Creator/Redeemer. And "if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." (Romans 8.11)

Proverbs 26.2 says, Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, so a curse without cause shall not alight. Curses come through open doors that become gates of hell because of sin, either our own or our ancestorsí. Yes, there are parameters of protection, but we must not only believe in Jesus. We must believe Jesus.

The word of truth sanctifies. Truth unclogs the pipeline as we embrace it. As a child of the covenant of grace, you can expect to receive the blessings of God. Mark 11. 22-26 and Mark 6.14, 15 tell us, however, that the Father forgives us as we forgive others. He wasnít your Father before you got saved. He was just your Creator. But as your Redeemer, God becomes your heavenly Father. He is the Source of your life and all blessings. He takes your sorrows and separates you now unto Himself.

Godís grace sustains (2 Corinthians 12.9) and God can grant greater grace to enable you to walk in power. We are not perfected, but we are declared perfect. Every believer can break spiritual strongholds blocking the blessings of God by receiving the following gifts of Godís grace:

      1. Perfect love. Godís perfect love casts out the fear that has torment. 1 (John 4.18)
      2. Perfect peace. God gives perfect peace as oneís mind is stayed upon Him. (Isaiah 26.3)
      3. Perfect strength. Godís grace is sufficient for us and His strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12.9)
      4. Perfect in forgiveness. We can be like our heavenly Father who forgives and remits sins as we think about His mercy and His heart that gives even to the evil and unthankful (Matthew 6.43-48; Luke 6.36-38). We forgive because God forgives us. (Ephesians 4.32)
      5. Perfect faith. We are crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live, but it is not we who live, but Christ lives in us. And the life which we now live in this flesh, we live by the faith of Jesus who loved us and gave Himself for us. (Galatians 2.20)
      6. Perfect oneness. You are in Christ and He is in you. God the Father is in Jesus, and Jesus is one with the Father. The Holy Spirit dwells within you. Your union in Christ with God is a perfect oneness. (John 17.20-26; Colossians 3.14)
      7. Perfect holiness. Though you wonít come to its fullness in this life, it must be your aim to be perfect, to become complete (2 Corinthians 13.11). We have great promises, and so we are to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfect holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7.1). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9.10) Seek to know as you are known (1 Corinthians 13.12). Meet God according to His Word (Isaiah 29.13).

The Law could never make those who approached God perfect (Hebrews 10.1). Bulls and goats couldnít take away the sins and atone for those things that block the blessings of God. But this Man, Hebrews 10.12 says, this Man Christ Jesus, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10.12-14)

In the believers new covenant, God puts His laws into your heart, your new heart, and writes them in your mind, your renewed mind. And your sins and lawless deeds, your iniquities, He promises that He will remember no more. So draw near to Him tonight with a true heart in full assurance of faith. Have your hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and your body washed with pure water. Hold fast the confession of your hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And letís stir up one another in love and good works as we gather together here in this place, for the Day is approaching, the Bridegroom comes.

© 2000 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.

mary@marycraig.org

 

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