From the desk of Steve Shultz:
I'd been a Christian for probably 20 years before I fully realized the battle within all Believers. There is an ever-present war between our desire to serve Christ verses a great enemy. This could be strongholds within our "thought life" that oppose our freedom to serve God more completely – and to become Christlike.
Francis puts it this way, "...In other words, the essence of who we are exists in our thought-life. Therefore, before any deliverance can truly be accomplished, we must honestly recognize and confess our need.. ."
Further, some of the many "thought stronghold" areas we all struggle against include: "...unbelief, cold love, fear, pride, unforgiveness, lust, greed, or any combination of these..." and many more.
Here's some wisdom on cooperating with God for the freedom we need.
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Taking Every Thought Captive To Christ
While we may find comfort in being Christians, being a Christian has not made us perfect. There are still many strongholds within us. Therefore, let us identify some of these spiritual fortresses. Rare is the Christian who is not limited by at least one of the following strongholds: unbelief, cold love, fear, pride, unforgiveness, lust, greed, or any combination of these, as well as the possibility of many others.
Because we excuse ourselves so readily, it is difficult to discern the areas of oppression in our lives. After all, these are our thoughts, attitudes and perceptions; we justify and defend our thoughts with the same degree of intensity with which we justify and defend ourselves. As it is written, "...as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7 KJV).
In other words, the essence of who we are exists in our thought-life. Therefore, before any deliverance can truly be accomplished, we must honestly recognize and confess our need. We must stop pretending everything is all right. We must humble ourselves and seek help. Indeed, as previously mentioned, the first stronghold that God must remove is pride. For until one is willing to admit that he needs deliverance, he will never be free from strongholds.
In order to recognize what is wrong in us, we must perceive God's standard of right. David in the height of ecstasy and Job in the pit of misery, as well as all who have pondered life, faced the same question: What is man?
The writer of Hebrews also asks this question, but the answer he receives lifts us up to see the face of God, and "We...see...Jesus" (Hebrews 2:9). From the Father's view, the mystery of man's identity is unveiled in the life of Jesus Christ. Christ is the "firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29). He is firstborn of a heavenly genesis; He is the Father's plan for mankind. When we consider the mystery of humanity, we find our answer in beholding Jesus Christ. He is not only our Savior; He is also the indwelling One who conforms us to Himself (see Hebrews 2:10; Romans 8:29).
Let us also realize that only Jesus can be Jesus. As we yield to Him in increasing degrees of surrender, as we abide in Him and His Word abides in us, He brings forth life that is not simply like His own, but is His very life! Christ Himself living within us fulfills God's eternal purpose, which is to make man in His image. It is the presence of the Lord Jesus coming forth in us that makes the weapons of our warfare mighty, empowering our words with authority as we pull down strongholds.
Therefore, you must learn to look objectively at any thoughts or attitudes that fail to conform to the likeness and teachings of Jesus. Those thoughts must be captured and wrong attitudes crucified. We must make way in us for the coming of the Lord. We must allow the increase of His presence to be so absorbed into our spirits that we not only believe in Him, we believe like Him. His love, thoughts and desires flow out from within us as naturally as fruit from a vine.
Consequently, when we seek to identify and destroy demonic strongholds, the second fortress that must be annihilated is the stronghold of unbelief. It is this scheme of thinking, which tells us attaining Christlikeness is impossible, that holds all further spiritual growth hostage. This lie and the chains it places upon our hearts must be broken from our lives, for Christlikeness is not only possible, it is our destiny.
Accordingly, let us take this moment to pray. Let the Holy Spirit rise and flood your heart. If you suffer from the stronghold of unbelief which says you will never be like Christ, that deception can begin to break right now.
Lord Jesus, I submit to You. I declare, according to the Word of God, that because of Your power to subject all things unto Yourself, the weapons of my warfare are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-4). I repent for using the lie, "I will never be like Jesus," as an excuse to sin and compromise my convictions. In Jesus' name, I renounce my flawed, sinful, old nature and by the grace of God and the power of Your Spirit I pull down the stronghold of unbelief that exists in my mind. Because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I am a new creation. And I believe that I will go from glory to glory, being continually transformed into Christ's image as I walk with Him in His grace.
Adapted from the book The Three Battlegrounds, by Pastor Francis Frangipane.
Ministries of Francis Frangipane
Francis Frangipane is the founder of River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and has traveled throughout the world ministering to thousands of pastors and intercessors from many backgrounds. Francis' heartfelt prayer is to see established in every city Christlike pastors and intercessors, united before God, revealing the love of Christ to their communities. Since 1985, he has written fourteen books, plus a number of study booklets. Over the past decades, Francis has served on a number of other ministry boards. However, in recent years he has gradually resigned from these various boards. As of June 2009, he has also retired from his position as senior pastor of River of Life Ministries. In this more simplified life, Frangipane is devoting himself to prayer and the ministry of God's Word.