Strongholds in the heart limit us in the complete expression of our life in Christ, and restrict our contribution, and thereby, our fruitfulness. We are constricted and cannot surrender fully when we have strongholds in our hearts. These have to be confronted and shown for what they are, enemies of the cross, in order for us to be free to come to full expression / reflection of Christ. This confrontation can be (and is) gentle at times, and other times dramatic. Our attitude may have a bearing on how gentle or dramatic it is, as well.
Without going into a laundry list of examples of strongholds, we can say here that strongholds can be the results of our past, our raising, hurts and wounds not fully healed, or mistaken perceptions of reality.
How can we be free of such things, when some are so entrenched that they have been there all our lives?
With God, nothing will be impossible.
We trust that God has purged us from sin through the sacrifice of His Son, and raised us to new life with Him, right? Certainly, no stronghold can be a match for His grace and power!
I'm remembering what the Lord told Joshua when he was about to cross over into the promised land about the fact that they wouldn't overcome all their enemies in one year, but that they would go “displace” their enemies by increasing or growing to the point where they pushed all the enemies out.
This is similar to the way the seed of Christ's life grows in us. It is growing within us and displacing the things in our hearts and lives that remain unconquered ground. It is a process – working out your own salvation, with fear and trembling – is the verse that comes to mind.
Understanding will help us cooperate with the process. My hope is that shedding light here will help us to recognize ways in which the growth of the Lord inside our lives “puts pressure” on the areas in our hearts that aren't submitted to Him, and that we won't be alarmed or discouraged. This is a process that is consistent in the lives of all God's people. You aren't (and I am not) the exception.
But how do we cooperate with the Lord when enemy territory is discovered in our hearts?
We need grace, first of all to acknowledge the fact that we are harboring such things. Often it is an issue of identity, we have our self concept invested, in part, in the vanity that was passed to us, by our forebears, both natural and spiritual. Remember the scriptures teach us that a vital part of repentance is the acknowledgement of the truth.
We will continue to need grace thru the process, but it also might help for us to realize that this is a part of our daily walk with the Lord. We don't need to hide, as Adam did, and to fear His reprisal. Jesus came to seek and to save. His heart to seek and save is the principal element of this reality. Tho we may be, He is not surprised with our weakness or waywardness, but in all things was made like us, except sin, so we could be like Him! This process has an ultimate goal, and, we will arrive there – Christlikeness – as we continue to follow Him, and displace the strongholds.