Symptoms of mental strongholds
We are called to live holy and blameless lives. How do we recognise our own mental strongholds that leave us stuck in ungodly thinking and behaviour patterns? What are some ways we can test ourselves?
(See Chinese versions: 简体中文 > 精神坚垒的症状 | 繁體中文 > 精神堅壘的症狀)
God has provided everything for us to experience a life of victory, freedom and sweet joy. Yet we can remain trapped in wrong thinking and harmful attitudes that keep us in bondage to sin.
Ephesians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Here are just a few outward signs of possible mental strongholds:
These are not personality traits. These are spiritual strongholds that manifest as personalities and behaviours. In other words, we may say, someone is struggling with a spirit of pride, a spirit of lust or a spirit of fear. All these tendencies are not of the Holy Spirit.
We ought to encourage someone who says “This is just the way I am” by reminding them that they were not born with these strongholds. These are unhealthy attitudes picked up along the way in life, particularly from childhood when we were vulnerable to external influences.
Testing for mental strongholds
God’s Word describes how the Holy Spirit works and calls us to test if the spirit that influences or governs us is God’s Spirit. Praise God we can refer to the Bible to objectively test for mental strongholds.
1 John 4:1 ESV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1. Am I exhibiting all of the Fruit of the Spirit in my life?
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
2. Am I growing in wisdom and fear of God?
Isaiah 11:2 ESV And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3. Am I able to exercise self-control and live without fear?
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
4. Am I a bold and loving witness for Jesus?
Acts 1:8 ESV But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
5. Am I living in freedom from sin?
2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
6. Am I always hopeful?
Romans 15:13 ESV May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
7. Am I able to follow all that God wants me to do?
Ezekiel 36:27 ESV And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
8. Am I in an intimate relationship with God?
Galatians 4:6 ESV And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
If we answer “no” to any of these questions, we ought to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the spiritual strongholds in our lives that we have been blind to. God is faithful and will guide us towards a restored relationship with Him.
Renewing our minds
Regardless of how we were brought up, we do not need to conform to the patterns we learnt over time. Jesus came to set us free from judgmental thoughts, lusts, greed, insecurities, fears and every mental stronghold.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,
We simply need to acknowledge our strongholds and seek help in overcoming them. Not only should we study God’s Word, we also need the support of an authentic Christian community so we can seek the counsel of and role model after godly believers. Then we will be in a better position to turn every thought into something that pleases God and live in victory over sin.
2 Corinthians 10:5 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.
Note: This post deals with attitudes and ways of thinking. There are spiritual strongholds that are occult in nature and this post does not deal with those.
See two testimonies:
Jesus frees entrepreneur from lies
Jesus delivers a Hindu convert from her anxieties
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