Later today (Thursday) I have an eye doctor’s appointment. This will be my 1st appointment in about 3 years. There are a few things in life I find more unpleasant than eye doctors’ appointments. That’s why it has been almost 3 years since my last one. Let me explain. When I was in 1st grade I had eye surgery for being cross-eyed. This was before the days of dissolving stitches and I remember going back to the doctor and having those stitches removed. I can still see the tweezers coming into my eye and having those stitches pulled out. I can hardly describe it without cringing. So I have always been hyper-sensitive about my eyes. I even tried contacts a number of years ago but I just couldn’t get the hang of sticking my finger onto my eyeballs to get them out. I could get them in but getting them out was the real problem.
My response to the eye doctors’ appointment is a pretty good metaphor of how Satan develops strongholds in our lives. This week in our Bible study, we saw in 2 Cor. the idea that we “have divine power to demolish strongholds”, (chapter 10:4). We also talked about how Satan uses past experiences to establish “strongholds” in our hearts and lives. He attaches negative self-talk to early childhood memories that many times lead to destructive patterns in our lives. This is why a child who grows up in an abusive home environment will grow up and be an abuser or while a child who grows up in an alcoholic home will grow up to be an alcoholic. As much as they may have hated their home environment they end up repeating the same pattern because of the stronghold that has been established or even a generational curse that has been put into place.
One of Satan’s most powerful channels of control is unresolved anger. Remember Paul’s word of instruction in the 4th chapter of Ephesians where he writes “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold”, (v. 26-27, NIV). The use of the negative present imperative in these verses indicates that the Ephesians were in fact sinning in their anger, letting the sun go down on their anger and letting Satan get a foothold. The use of the negative imperative means stop doing these things. So we see anger mishandled becomes a huge source of Satan’s working and moving in our lives to establish a “stronghold”.
Another way Satan gets a stronghold is through bitterness in our lives. The writer of Hebrews in the 12th chapter tells us, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many”, (v.14-15, NIV). This bitter root then becomes part of a family curse that is passed on from generation to generation. Think of the millions of children in America whose families have gone through bitter and ugly divorces. What has this modeling process done to the next generation of young people growing up in Amercia? Bitterness is a poison to our soul. That’s why the writer of this verse begins with the warning not to miss the grace of God or fall short of the grace of God. Every one of us who has experienced the profound grace of God must extend that same profound grace to others. If we become bitter because things haven’t worked out like we had planned then we are certainly opening the door for Satan to establish a stronghold in our lives. Remember the warning of Peter’s 1st epistle where he writes in the 5th chapter, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”, (v.8, NIV). I am afraid many Christians have been devoured because of unresolved anger issues and the bitterness they’ve built their lives upon.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In John’s 1st epistle he reminds us with these words, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”, (4:4, NIV). Paul also tells us in the same 2 Cor. passage we started with, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”, (10:5, NIV). The part we have to work on is allowing God’s Spirit to help us take every thought captive and allowing the one who is in us (the Holy Spirit) to guide every decision and choice that we make. So I am reminded not to fear the eye doctor’s appointment today because “I can do all things through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me”. All praise be unto our great God.
All for Christ,
Pastor Rich Sivo