Do you have a stronghold?

 

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

 

A stronghold is an imagination or thought.  It is a belief system that is so ingrained in the heart and mind of a person that it colors their perception of themselves, others and the circumstances of life.  A stronghold can be a cultural norm, a religious tradition, a political ideology or the latest social movement.  It can include how we were raised and what we were taught by our parents and teachers.  Strongholds can be impacted by music, movies and the latest political news.

 

In every case, a stronghold represents a belief that is against the nature of God and His purposes for man.  The one who is holding to the stronghold may not wish to be against God in their thinking, but the stronghold is so deeply rooted that they aren’t even aware that they are filtering God’s Truth through the lens of the stronghold.

 

Strongholds allow deception.  The fundamental characteristic about deception is that the one who is deceived doesn’t know it.  The stronghold has become a part of their approach to life and their approach to Truth.  Even Truth must be shaped and filtered to fit the mold of the stronghold.

 

Within the body of Christ there are many strongholds.  Perhaps the strongest is the belief that God is controlling all things.  The misunderstanding of sovereignty has paralyzed much of the body of Christ and left many living lives of passive resignation.  This is hardly what God had in mind for His children.

 

The results of the sovereignty stronghold change faith from a proactive potential to destroy the works of the enemy into an inactive acceptance of loss and suffering as part of His celestial plan.  Prayer becomes “wishful hoping.”  The most popular Bible stories that support this stronghold are Job, Paul’s thorn, and chastisement (Heb. 12).  While all these stories have powerful lessons for us, the person trapped in the stronghold cannot or will not see the truth.  The Bible becomes a mysterious manual to explain human suffering rather than a divine revelation of redemption and the restoration of man’s authority and purpose.

 

Only truth can set the captive free.  But truth must be desired and sought.  This means that the stronghold must be allowed to be challenged.  Rather than adjusting to strongholds, let’s move out of the darkness and allow His truth to tear down everything that holds us captive.  If your belief system allows you to be a victim of fate, you have a stronghold.

 

Barry Bennett

Are we clay in the hands of the Potter?

A very common, traditional teaching in the church is that believers are clay and God is a Potter, shaping, molding and doing as He will with us. This understanding has never born witness in my spirit. If I am a new creation, created in righteousness, filled with His Spirit, adopted into His family and seated with Him in heavenly places, in what sense am I clay?

When we go to the Scriptures for understanding, an entirely different picture is painted. The idea of the Potter certainly refers to God, but the subject of the clay never refers to individuals, especially not in the New Covenant. The clay in the Old Testament refers either to Israel or to the nations. The contexts of the passages speaking of the potter and the clay is always with reference to God’s dealings with Israel. They are the chosen portion from the lump of the nations with whom God is working.

Romans 9 is frequently referred to as a passage that speaks of believers as clay, but again, Romans 9 is speaking of the Old Testament analogy of Israel found in Isaiah 29, Isaiah 45, Isaiah 64, and Jeremiah 18. In every case the context is the nation of Israel. In Jeremiah 18 it makes the subject very clear: “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;” (Jer. 18:6-7)

God is speaking to Israel in the context of the covenant of the Law and the promise He made to Abraham to curse those who cursed Israel.

What about us? In 2 Timothy Paul speaks to the idea of believers becoming vessels unto honor and dishonor. Here is the passage: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.” (2 Tim. 2:20)

But when we continue reading a very interesting statement is made.

“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2Ti 2:21)

Reading the full chapter reveals that if a man wants to be a vessel of honor in the house of the Lord, he must purge himself from iniquity! That is a very different picture than the traditional teaching of the potter and the clay. Aren’t we already forgiven and cleansed? Yes, our spirits are one with Him, created in righteousness. But that is not what Paul is referring to. Read Colossians 3:5-14 for a full description of what Paul is referring to in 2 Timothy 2.

The point is that God is not beating and shaping His children as clay. He is not sending calamity, sickness and destruction into our lives. He sent His Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and the Word alone can perfect us.

Barry Bennett