Digging Deeper into Lesson 11
Spiritual Strongholds: Head to Heart Guide
Discerning between the flesh, strongholds and evil spirits. Study the following principles for weighing what you may be wrestling with.
1) Your flesh cannot be cast out, nor does it need to be. It is always there with its tendency and disposition to sin. One day, when we enter into His glory, God will separate us from our fallen nature (1 Corinthians 15:53-54), but until then it is dangerous for us to try to eradicate the flesh ourselves. In fact to try to eliminate our flesh is an act of unwitting disobedience to God's Word, because Jesus has already defeated it for us (Romans 6:5-14).
Whenever we can truly trust in and rely upon the Lord our flesh (the old man) is laid to rest by His Spirit and the new nature carries us forward in peace and freedom (Romans 8:1-2). Any failing of trust or obedience on our part and the flesh is only too ready to spring quickly back to life.
The New Testament scriptures are clear that if what we are struggling with is an issue of the flesh, then we are to put off the flesh like soiled clothing - to just say no and turn from it (Ephesians 4:22-24).
2) The flesh is essentially a dead thing, crucified by Christ and, like a shadow now seen by the Light of Christ within us, the flesh has no power of its own to overthrow those who walk by the Spirit. But if we get our eyes locked onto our shadow we may easily trip and fall!
The way to avoid tumbling down into the flesh (no one does this perfectly!) is to keep our eyes on Christ and by so doing abide in continual trust and obedience. In this way the knowledge of the reality of our flesh and of its total depravity (no redeeming thing about it) helps to humble us and remind us to keep our focus on our Savior (Colossians 3:9-10).
3) Strongholds are a different matter. To the degree that "putting off the flesh" is difficult, to that degree a stronghold has likely been built into our flesh by the prior activity of the enemy in our lives.
Such areas of the flesh, when they are touched by present situations (words, events, desires) are very difficult to simply set aside and a struggle ensues within us if the sinful desire of the flesh is to be overcome. We are to carry the thoughts of these strongholds captive to Christ - a much more intense image than "putting off" the old nature.
4) "Heavily defended" strongholds may be occupied by alien intruders - the evil spirits of the kingdom of darkness whose temptations and deceptions built the strongholds in the first place. Here we are told to resist the devil and he will flee from us and even to cast out the evil spirits in the name of the Lord who conquered them at the cross.
Such "occupied" strongholds cannot be defeated by simply shifting our focus back to Christ. They require the harder work of the 6 Rs (review Recognize and Replace!). Even so, victory is assured us (Romans 8:37).
Examples of the way the Lord works to heal trauma is coming up soon in Mending the Broken Heart.