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Victory In Spiritual Warfare

by David A. DePra

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 exalts itself against the knowledge of God,

and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

(II Cor. 10:4-5)

     A "stronghold" is a fortified place. It is a place which is guarded

and defended by it's occupants. A "stronghold," as this verse

elaborates, "exalts itself against" anything which would try to bring

it down. It stands it defiance of it.

     The kind of stronghold Paul is talking about in this passage is

not made of stones and cement. He has already told us that he is

not talking about physical warfare. But neither is Paul merely

talking about such things as false doctrine, or heresy, in the church.

He is not. He is not speaking of the enemies of the Christian church,

or of anything you could actually see with your eyes. So what is he

talking about?

     Paul is talking about strongholds in US. Notice his words:

"Casting down imaginations." That is inward; in us. Also, "Every

high thing that exalts itself against the KNOWLEDGE of God." That

is also in us. Paul is talking about spiritual strongholds that intertwine

themselves around our intellect and emotions, which stand in

defiance of the true knowledge of God in Jesus Christ.

     None of us need to wonder if we have some of these strongholds.

We have them. Each and everyone of us. And we are going to

have to face them, and bring them down through the victory of Jesus

Christ. This is spiritual warfare.

The Knowledge of God

     In this day and age, we have so redefined Biblical terms that they

often lose their original meaning. "The knowledge of God" is one

of these terms. To many Christians, the "knowledge of God" is

merely a DOCTRINAL knowledge of the Bible, and perhaps of

salvation. But while this kind of knowledge is good and useful, it is

NOT what the Bible means by the term "knowledge of God."

     The term "knowledge of God" in the Bible suggests a personal,

inward, and intimate knowledge of God. But it is NOT a knowledge

which comes from mere study. It is NOT gained through any kind of

intellectual exercise whatsoever. The true knowledge of God in

Jesus Christ comes only by one method: Revelation. God has to

take the initiative to reveal to us Himself, and His plan through

Jesus Christ.

     In Paul's time, there were no bibles available -- except perhaps

in the synagogue. The NT was yet to be written. There was no

mass communication. Word of mouth, or occastional letter, was

just about it. Relatively few people had even heard of Jesus Christ.

Certainly the distant Gentiles to whom Paul preached did not. They

knew little of the Hebrew Bible, let alone the recent events which

had occurred to usher in Christianity.

     When the disciples entered into a city in those days, what did

they have to work with? The Gentiles had no point of reference for

what the disciples preached. There were no literature and no

churches. All the disciples had was the preaching they did by word

of mouth, and the OT to which they could reference the same way.

How in the world did they convert anyone?

     Compounding the problem was the fact that many of the Gentiles

were greatly influenced by the Greek culture. And the Greeks

prized wisdom and knowledge. So the disciples were often

preaching to people that were thinking individuals. They did not

merely sit there and allow the disciples to brainwash them with

their message of Jesus.

     The fact is, God Himself revealed the Truth of Jesus Christ to

those He was calling. Paul said over and over that the knowledge

of God must come by revelation.

All things are delivered to me by Father. And no man knows the

Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the

Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

(Matt. 11:27)

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's

womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I

might preach him among the heathen; (Gal. 1:15-16)

How that by revelation he made known to me the mystery. (Eph


That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may

unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of

Him. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you

may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the

glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding

greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the

working of his mighty power, (Eph. 1:!7-19)

Revelation vs. Intellect

     God can use any number of vehicles by which to reveal to us

His Son. The primarily one is preaching. (see Romans 10) And

another is through the written word. But God must convey to us His

meaning and intent. Otherwise we are left to our own interpretation

and subjectivity.

     There is rarely any question about what the Bible SAYS. There

are some translation problems here and there, but generally, it is

not difficult to find out what God SAYS in His Word. The problem is

what God MEANS by what He SAYS. In order to discover that, we

have to know the mind of the God Himself.

     This is why the Bible says,

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any

private interpretation. (II Peter 1:20)

      We cannot discover the Truth from the Bible unless God brings

that Truth and meaning through REVELATION. And often He does

use His Word to do that. But this is a far cry from "being smart

enough" to figure out what God means. Many brilliant people have

tried to do that, and some of them have come up with the craziest

interpretations imaginable.

     So what is the place of the intellect? Once the revealed Truth of

God renews our mind, we can EXPRESS the Truth in logical and

intellectual ways -- depending on our particular personality or gift.

But Truth is NOT attained through the intellect. It is expressed

by the intellect. You cannot "think" your way into God!

Personal Knowledge

     If I personally know God through His Son, Jesus Christ, then I not

only possess spiritual knowledge, but it possesses me. It is Truth

which sets me free:

If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed. And

you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John


     Now what exactly does that phrase mean, "The Truth shall make

you free."? Free from what. Well, from ERROR. More specifically,

free from error about God Himself. When I see the Truth about God,

His purpose, His plan, and more importantly, His character, it will

set me free from all of the lies which distort Him.

     But don't misunderstand. We are not here talking about

intellectual or doctrinal lies. For just as the TRUE knowledge of

God embodies more than just doctrine or the intellect, so does the

false knowledge or deception embody more than doctrine or

intellect. We are talking about spiritual lies and strongholds.

      For example, let's take FEAR. Most of us know all of the

scriptures which tell us that fear is NOT of God. We are told that

"God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and

of a sound mind." (I Tim. 1:7) Likewise we are told that, "There is

no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." (I Jn. 4:18) We read

those scriptures and say we believe them. Intellectually, we do.

But then we turn right around and allow FEAR to absolutely govern

us. Many of us are afraid of God!

     Why does this happen? It happens because the false

knowledge of God which carries fear is NOT the product of the

intellect. I am not afraid of God because I have sat down and come

to the logical conclusion that He is mean and angry. No. I'm afraid

because the error, and the fear, is in ME. And because it is in me,

it is going to operate -- no matter how much I read scriptures to the

contrary. It is a stronghold.

     This is bondage to error -- not on the level of the intellect, but on

the level of the inward man. And the only way to get free is to have

the true knowledge of God in Jesus Christ revealed to me, so that

IT becomes the thing which governs me.

The Battle

     Now the obvious question is: "Ok. But where do I start? Fear,

condemnation, and a general false sense of guilt, completely

govern my life. I admit it. How do I start getting free?"

     Well, the fact that we would even ask the question shows that

God has already revealed to us that our condition is one of error

and bondage -- and such a revelation is, in and of itself, Truth. Thus,

we have already started the journey out. But there is obviously

more to gaining freedom than that preliminary condition. We have

to go on to do what the apostle Paul says in our above passage

from II Corinthians 10. We have to "pull down strongholds, cast

down imaginations and every high thing which exalts itself against

the TRUE knowledge of God." That is where our choice comes

into the picture.

     Don't expect that God is one day going to "zap" you and all of

your fears and errors are going to dissappear in a moment. We

can have some special moments with God which are like that,

but eventually we are going to have to follow up with obedience.

     Any revelation of God which I receive will ALWAYS be followed by

an attack on that revelation by the enemy, in the form of fear,

condemnation, and CONTRADICTION to the Truth. God allows

this so that we might stand fast in the Truth and thus become solid

in it.

     You see, with God there is no such policy as "let a sleeping dog

lie." None. If there is something lurking in me, say, a weakness

having to do with fear or something else, God may let it alone for a

time. But eventually, He is going to have me face it head-on. He

must. You cannot overcome anything unless you stand against it

in the victory of Jesus Christ. And this never happens by spending

your life avoiding the issue, or by letting the problem alone.

     God wants me to face these spiritual problems, and will, in fact,

orchestrate things so that I will have to face them. Then, and only

then, will I see that what I believed is the Truth: The victory IS won.

It IS finished. I need only believe and stand in the Truth against

that which would contradict it.

Spiritual Warfare

     All spiritual warfare for the Christian MUST be based on ONE

principle. Unless it is, I have no chance. That principle is this: The

victory is finished. Totally. In other words, God is not telling me to

WIN a victory. He is telling me that I must believe and stand IN the

finished victory. Unless I do this, I am going to start off on the wrong

basis, and I will ever get free.

     Christians by the thousands are trying to claw their way into the

victory of Jesus Christ. We try "this and that" to try to get there. And

it seems as if we NEVER get there. Why?

     Because we are not believing. God says, "You enter into Christ,

and His victory over all things, by faith." You cannot do anything to

fight your way in. By faith, you ARE in."

     But wait. Then what of spiritual warfare. What of "pulling down

strongholds, etc."?

     Spiritual warfare is NOT a battle to win spiritual territory. It is a

battle to HOLD spiritual territory. And if you think about it, this makes

perfect sense when the victory is already finished. In Christ, God

has already given us all things. The battle is therefore not to win

those things, but to HOLD those things.

     The Bible makes this perfectly clear in so many ways, that we

scarcely have space to mention but one:

Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole

armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the

Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against

principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of

this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore,

take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to

withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand

therefore. (Eph. 6:10-14)

     Notice the operative word in this important passage: STAND.

We are told to PUT ON the strength and armor of God -- NOT to

win it or qualify for it. We are told to STAND AGAINST and to

WITHSTAND. Those are not positions we would take if we were

supposed to go out and attack the enemy to win ground. No. You

STAND when you already possess territory and must HOLD it.

     This is seen even in the picture of "wrestling." Paul says we

"wrestle" not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces.

But in his context, it is a wrestling, NOT to win ground, but to HOLD

ground. We wrestle, by faith, against all that would try to get us to

move out of our stand in the finished victory of Jesus Christ.

     The number one suggestion of the enemy against the finished

victory of Christ is to try to convince us that it is NOT finished. His

most effect ploy is to point us to our own sin and failure. This, he will

suggest, proves the victory cannot be finished. And unless we have

seen that the victory of Christ never depended on us, we may fall for

the ploy. We must therefore see the Truth about the grace of God

or it will mean defeat for us.

Pulling Down Strongholds

     The method for spiritual warfare is therefore this: We pull down

strongholds by standing against them. But wait. That really isn't

the way it works in physical warfare. If you "stand against" a

physical fortification, nothing happens to it. It remains, and you

never get rid of it.

     This is not, however, the way it works spiritually. If you are born

again and have entered into the victory of Jesus Christ, by definition,

you are a new creation. That means that what is of the OLD creation

in you will not be able to hide. It cannot remain forever passive and

undisturbed. Eventually, the invasion of your new nature will clash

with it.

     We see this in the example of Israel taking possession of the

promised land. God had told them, "I have (past tense) given you

the land." They didn't have to WIN the land. But they did have to

go in and take possession of it -- which is a type of our need to

STAND in His victory.

     As Israel entered the land, they were to drive out the inhabitants.

But not so they could possess the land. No. God had already

given it to them. It WAS theirs. They drove out the inhabitants

precisely BECAUSE the victory was already theirs, given to them

by God.

     Again, there is spiritual warfare for the Christian. But it is not a

warfare to WIN the victory. It is warfare to HOLD the victory, and in

doing so, to enter into the victory by experience -- take possession

of it.

     Let's suppose, for instance, that you inherited a large piece of

land. It was yours. Nothing could change that. But living on that

property were former residents who did not want to vacate. Would

the fact there were there mean you didn't own the land? No. Would

the fact that they refused to move convince you that you did not

own the land? No. You would "stand against" their claim to that

land, and take steps to have them evicted. And at no point in that

process would you be trying to WIN the land. No. You already

possess it. You are merely acting like it. You are taking full

possession of what is yours.

     But ask: Suppose once you faced these stubborn residents,

you threw up your hands and said, "I guess it was too much to

believe I actually inherited this land. These residents are too

strong. I cannot get rid of them." And then, in resignation, you

chose to live on the outskirts of what was yours. If you did that,

would the land cease to be yours? No. It would still be yours. But

it might as well NOT be yours, for you have chosen to give it away,

experientially, to those residents. You have chosen to live in


     It is like that in Jesus Christ. There are many strongholds in us

which seem to be impossible to drive out. If we take the approach

that it is up to us to win the victory, we will never drive them out. But

if we realize the Truth, that the victory is ours, and that nothing can

defeat us in Christ, we will see freedom. It is guaranteed.

     Now, how do we go about this warfare? Not by attacking the

strongholds. We go about it by entering into the stronghold and

bringing in the new life in Christ. And if we do, the enemy may

attack us. But once we are in there, if we STAND by faith, the enemy

will flee. He has no grounds for staying.

     Back to our example. If we enter this land we have inherited, and

begin to pitch tents and tear down the old buildings, we are doing

only that which is our right as the owner. The old residents are not

going to like this, and will likely fight. But there are evicted residents.

They cannot win. They will eventually have to move, for we will

begin living in the land.

     What we are saying here is this: We do not have to fight a

defeated enemy. But we do need to stand against him. We do

need to start acting in accordance with the Truth. And if we do, the

strongholds will fall. The enemy will flee.

Stand, Not Attack

     The way in which we pull down strongholds, according to our

passage is clear: By casting down imaginations and every high

thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God. What

exactly does this mean, practically speaking?

     It means that at some point, if I believe, I must start acting like it.

Not only in the outward, however. But also in the inward. In other

words, if I believe God is faithful, then what am I going to do with all

of the thoughts, feelings, and emotions, which suggest to me that

He is not? Am I going to continue to allow them to have residence

in me? No. Am I going to attack them? No. What I need to do is

this: I need to say, "You can talk all you want about how God is

unfaithful. You can try to make me feel afraid. You can try to put

doubts in my mind and try to stir up my emotions. But I know the

Truth. God is faithful. And I am going to stand in that Truth

against all that would suggest otherwise."

     This is what it means to STAND by faith. It is not an attack, for

why do you need to attack a lie? You can't make it go away. You

do with it what you do with any lie: Refuse to believe it and stand

in the Truth.

     The truth is, the more I try to fight and attack an inward lie, the

more focused I become on it. The more I try to fight fear and

condemnation, the more of it there is. God never tells us to fight

these things in the sense of arguing or attacking. He tells us to

mortify them -- that is -- destroy them by neglect. The best way to

do this is by getting focused on the Truth:

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

(Gal. 5:16)

     This command is basically saying, "You don't have to fight

the flesh. It's power over you is broken in Christ. The victory is

won. But you do have to obey God, and refuse to obey the flesh.

The way you do this is not by focusing in on the flesh, and trying to

fight it off. You do it by focusing on God and by walking with Him."

     God could not have possibly given us these commands the way

He has unless the victory was already won. If we were to win the

victory, the Bible would not read the way it does. It would be

totally different.

     Overcoming is never a product of my winning a victory. It is a

product of my standing by faith in the victory of Jesus Christ. And

even then, the victory is not "out here." It is in ME. In Christ, God

has overcome in me all that could exalt itself against the true

knowledge of Jesus Christ.


     The fact is, the more we stand in the Truth against these false

strongholds, the more we discover the Truth IS the Truth. And the

more we will discover the lies for what they are. These things

operate very much like a land into which we are entering for the

first time. We find out the real nature of them by actually walking

through them.

     It is a true saying: He who trusts Him wholly, finds Him wholly

true. And he who will not trust God wholly, will continue to be

plagued by doubts. Sometimes the only way to experience the

faithfulness of God is to abandon myself to Him. We speak here,

not of presumption or fanaticism, but of an inward transaction I make

between myself and My Creator.

     God wants us to start thinking and acting according to what we

believe. And He will see to it that we are faced with situations and

trials that will make us discover, not only what we believe, but that

it is either the Truth or error. And then we will have the opportunity


     This is what the Bible means when it says that God PROVES our

faith. God never tempts us to evil. But He proves -- that is -- brings

out in us the REAL faith He has put within. And when He does, it

forms in us something eternal. We take possession of that which

Jesus Christ has already won, and given to us free of charge by His


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