“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
The apostle Paul said, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). Even though he was specifically referring in this verse to the bondage of religious systems that cannot produce results, there are many other forms of bondage about which the scriptures are careful to warn us. While we may not like to give “the devil his due,” we have to acknowledge that he is a master strategist. He has had a lot of time to gain an understanding of how to hold men captive, even Christians if they are not wary. This is why the Bible says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). This verse was not written to those outside the Faith, but to Christians. In fact, it is the Church that is Satan’s primary target. The world he already has under his sway (see 1 John 5:19), but we, the believer in Christ Jesus, have been delivered from his power and authorized to exercise dominion over his works (see Colossians 1:13 & Luke 10:19). We are the ones commissioned by Jesus, the Head of the Church to go into all nations and set free those held in chains of darkness through the power of the gospel. Thus, it is the Church that is more often then not the target of Satan’s vitriol.
While the Devil may be a mater strategist, we are not ignorant of his devices (see 2 Corinthians 2:11). God’s Word gives us insight into how the Devil operates, so that we might be wary and on our guard. Of course, as the scriptures often tell us, Satan is a deceiver. He is our adversary, and deception is his greatest weapon against the child of God. Anytime believers fail to walk in the full rights and privileges of their inheritance, it is because, somewhere along the line, they are believing a lie, or simply failing to believe what is true. A thought cleverly placed does not have to be true to control us. If we believe it, it will shape our perceptions, and those perceptions will serve as the perimeters, or limitations, in which we live our lives. For example, a person may be bright and witty, but if they believe the lie that they are dull and unpopular, they will go through life with their head down, despite the fact they may have much to offer and could have many friends. Another person may never unlock the creative genius that is inside them, simply because the Devil used people to tell them all their life that they needed to forget “all that nonsense,” get their feet on the ground, and quit dreaming “unrealistic” dreams. Many a beautiful dream has died stillborn inside the creative womb of someone’s imagination simply because it did not have the fertile soil of love and support from those around them.
These lies can even be much more serious, as people give up hope and live a grey twilight kind of existence, never knowing, never believing, that life could be filled with joy and expectation. Though God has a rich and wonderful plan for their life, they cannot see how any change could come, and every day seems to promise nothing more than yet another meaningless day to follow. Make no mistake, this is the work of the enemy of our soul, who has a vested interest in robbing our life of its joy and vitality that he may in turn rob us of our testimony which is meant to be a light to this lost world.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).
In the verses above, Paul shows how Satan works. Looking at the process from the reverse angle, Satan starts with a thought. This thought, though untrue, is the potential seed that will grow into a full-fledged bondage if not identified. It is the responsibility of every believer to recognize those thoughts that are out of line with the character of Christ and “bring them into captivity to the obedience” of the truth. God’s Word is truth (John 17:17), and if we are familiar with what God’s Word says about us, it will help to expose the lies of the enemy when they endeavor to creep in by stealth.
However, if those thoughts are NOT taken captive, the enemy will begin to bring supporting “arguments” or “reasonings” to our mind to drive the lie further in. At this point, we are called upon by God to “cast down” such arguments that are challenging the truth of who we are “in Christ.” This is Satan making a bid to get us to exchange the truth of God for a lie, by which he will ultimately rob us of what God has provided for us in this life. If this process is not arrested by the believer, these thoughts will eventually become a “stronghold” in our life. Regardless of how one may define a “stronghold,” it is obviously something that has a strong hold on us! If we let them, these lies that have grown to maturity in our mind, will govern our life. I have shared the following many times, but it is good for all believers to understand.
If Satan can control what we think, he will control what we believe.
If he can control what we believe, he will control how we behave.
If he controls what we believe and how we behave, he controls us.
This is the Devil’s end game. However, as always with God, there is really good news. We have weapons that are effective for demolishing Satan’s strongholds! That weapon is the truth of God’s Word. It is not a matter of getting the right counsellor, though a discerning ear might help. It is not a matter of psycho-analyzing our problems till the cows come home. It’s not even merely a matter of identifying that it’s the Devil who is the oppressor. Real and lasting victory comes when we realize that the prison of oppression he has held us in is nothing but a figment of his manipulative and deceptive imagination, intruding into our consciousness to plant a flag on territory that does NOT belong to him. We have been bought with a price and belong to the One who loves us and who has redeemed us at the high cost of Heaven’s most precious treasure: the blood of Jesus.
We are not in the dark, Child of God. We are “children of the light” (Ephesians 5:8). We must get in God’s Word and let it shine the clear light of day to drive away the shadows from our heart and mind. It is the truth that will set us free, and the longer we walk in its light, the more liberty we will know, releasing God’s life in us to give light to a world still trapped in darkness.