Ministry trips to Great Britain gave me the wonderful opportunity to see historic castles there. These fortresses have stood for centuries as bastions of defense in their area. The castle in Edinburgh, Scotland, for example, overlooks the city and tops the “royal mile” that leads to the Queen’s residence. Although castles today serve more as tourist attractions, each would have a story to tell about the conflicts it has witnessed– victories won or battles lost. If the castle defended its rightful occupants, it was a protective fortress. If it held captives or fortified a hostile power, it would serve as a prison or enemy’s stronghold.
King David faced an enemy’s stronghold when he was consolidating his kingship and taking dominion over Israel. 2 Samuel records the challenge he faced:
“And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, ‘You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,’ thinking, ‘David cannot come in here.’ Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David) [2 Sam. 5:6-7].
Because this pagan citadel was conquered, King David’s righteous rule could be extended:
“David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with Him” (2 Sam 5:9,10 NIV).
As David needed to take dominion over the promised land, so the child of God needs to gain spiritual freedom in every area of life (John 8:32). A believer who struggles with unresolved conflicts, obsessive thoughts, sinful habits, and unscriptural beliefs desperately needs to appropriate the victory Christ has already won!
Consider some crucial principles about spiritual warfare.
God’s people are in a spiritual battle.
The church on earth in this age is the church (spiritually) militant. Although Christ is Lord of all, the “god of this age” opposes Christ’s people and their God-given mission. As the Apostle Paul declared, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe…” (2 Cor. 4:3-4; see 1 Thess. 2:18). What attitude should we have? Peter cautioned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Pet. 5:8,9).
Believers need special discernment in this area.
Some ignore the reality of spiritual warfare. (That is fine with the devil; it gives him an advantage.) Others get carried away and imagine a demon under every bush. They attribute to demonic activity sins of the flesh, which Christians are responsible to “put off.” Since we depend upon God’s revelation as the standard to discern what is balanced, let’s be receptive to all that God’s Word teaches us on this important subject–“lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2:11; see 1 Thess. 5:21).
Believers fight the Enemy from a position of Christ’s victory.
We engage in battle from victory, not just toward victory. Christ defeated Satan through the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension. “[Christ has] disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [the Cross]” (Col. 2:13-15).
The demonic forces were totally defeated when Christ completed His atonement! Now the “accuser of the brethren” is successfully refuted by our Advocate–Christ: “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2; see Rev. 12:11).
But, we may wonder, if Christ defeated Satan 2,000 years ago, why are the devil and his cohorts so active in the world today? Why does God’s “army” too often seem defeated?
Although Christ is Victor, His kingdom has not yet been fully extended on earth. We still pray “Thy Kingdom come…” (see Psalm 2; 1 Cor 15:26-28).
The book of Revelation paints this picture of Christ’s victory, contrasting it with Satan’s continuing opposition on earth:
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Rev. 12:7-12) .
Since Satan’s time is short, he will escalate his attacks in the last days. God’s people need to victoriously advance. This process is the LORD’S “mop up operation” which will culminate in Satan’s banishment at Christ’s second coming (Rev.19:11-20:3).
Because Christ is victor, when we submit to God (surrender fully to His authority), and resist the devil (with God’s Word), the enemy will flee from us (he has no choice!) [James 4:7].
Now let’s examine the sequence of sin that leads to “strongholds” in the Christians’s life. In outline form we can observe the possible slide into moral and spiritual bondage:
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:13-15).
2. Moral failure
Temptation is not sin; yielding to it is. “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place [ground; an area of jurisdiction] to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27).
3. Lack of repentance
This allows the Enemy legal “ground” in an area of the believer’s soul. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13; see Eph. 2:27; Rev. 2:5-6; 1 John 1:9). 
4. False belief/rationalization
A false perception becomes a “stronghold” of the Deceiver. The area of deception in the believer’s mind becomes the basis for sinful words, actions, and reactions (Matt. 16:22-23; 2 Cor. 10:3-5).
5. Sinful actions/habits
The works of the “flesh” include sexual immorality, impurity, lust,evil desires, greed, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lies (Col. 3:5-8).
6. Destructive emotions
These include worry, doubts, fears, and guilt (Matt. 18:34; Psalm 32:3-4).
7. Personal conflicts
Inner conflicts escalate to interpersonal ones (James 4:1-4).
Just as King David’s people were able to defeat the Jebusite stronghold at Jerusalem, so we as believers are authorized by the King of Kings to appropriate His victory in every area of our life. As Paul affirmed,
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
Let’s continue this study in part two of this article.
Part 1 of 2
 Whether or not this conquest refers to Satan’s defeat after the Cross or still anticipates a future aspect of Satan’s demise, the passage describes the devil as a defeated foe who still opposes God’s will in this age.
 I don’t believe that a Christian can be possessed by a demon, because “greater is He who is in us [the Holy Spirit] than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). However, believers can be oppressed by the Enemy.
 This sequence is adapted from How to Tear Down the Strongholds of Bitterness published by IBLP.org.
Copyright 2001 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this artice for non profit use if credit is given to the author and GraceNotebook.com. Scripture quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (copyright by Thomas Nelson).
Book: A Leap of Faith. “For Bob and Joan Galasso, ministry was about a fast-paced, non-stop, burn-yourself-out lifestyle. After years of intense schedules and people pleasing, Bob was hospitalized for clinical burn-out and Joan for depression. Yet God prevailed and established a new beginning for this needy couple. Having captured their hearts, God takes them on an ongoing adventure with him.” Our friends have just republished this volume as an ebook on Amazon.com / Kindle.