Malachi 3:3 was written about Israel. We can still apply it to our hearts. It says, “He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.”
Matthew 3:10 says, “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.” Verse 12 says, “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Our trials are designed to refine our faith. The intense fire is essential to bring up the hidden dross. Unconfessed strongholds (sinful habits) make us weak and unable to fight against the fiery darts against our faith ~ see Ephesians 6:16 and 1 Peter 1:7.
There is another key as to how enemy strongholds are built. It is revealed in the parable of the sower. Mark 4:16-17 was about the seed that was sown on stony ground. It says, “…when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves…”
Here is God’s way for root development. Psalm 1:2 wrote about the one who has a lifestyle of meditation in God’s word. Verse 3 says, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…”
Jeremiah 17:7-8 says that the one who trusts the Lord, “…will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”
Strongholds, according to 2 Corinthians 10:5, oppose God’s way. It says, “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Against versus obedience.
Deuteronomy 12:2 says, “You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.” The high places in our heart are for praise. Back to Psalm 149:6 which says, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth…”
Psalm 145:1-3 says, “I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.”
Inner enemy strongholds block praise. They cause our mouth to speak from discouragement, defeat, and spiritual barrenness. Psalm 137:4 says, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”
The antidote to spiritual barrenness is to sing! Isaiah 54:1 says, “Sing, O barren. You who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud…” Inner enemy strongholds have to be torn down through praise!
If you haven’t read Habakkuk 3 in a while, I encourage you to do so. There is a key for us in verse 13. It says of the Lord, “…You struck the head from the house of the wicked, by laying bare from foundation to neck.”
2 Timothy 2:26 says of those opposing God, “And that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” What did Jesus do to refute the devil’s lure?
Luke 4:4 says, “But Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” This is why we need to have God’s word hidden in our heart. We do not know ahead of time what lure satan will use to ensnare us.
Psalm 124:7 says, “Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Psalm 149 is a triumphant psalm. Verse 6-9 says, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute on them the written judgment—this honor have all the saints. Praise the Lord!”
Any vestige of our old heart idols, leaves opportunity for the enemy to use against us. His greatest goal is to keep us from intimate communion with the Lord. When we dwell in the secret place of communion with the Lord, all of his plans are blocked and ineffective.
God had a prescribed place for the children of Israel to worship. His instructions were for them to destroy all the places where the enemy nations had worshiped their false gods. Deuteronomy 12:3 says, “And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire…”
As I read this verse, my mind skipped to another scene. Gideon had built an altar and worshiped the Lord after he received his startling announcement. The Lord would use Gideon to save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.
First, however, he had a specific assignment to fulfill. Judges 6:25 says, “Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him, Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it.”
Read verse 26 which says, “…and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.” The Lord did not want any groundwork left for future temptations. Ephesian 4:27 says, “Nor give place to the devil.” The Greek word for place means opportunity.
2 Corinthians 10:4 describes our destructive weapon as God’s word. It says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” Leaving future temptations takes up real estate in our heart, that the enemy uses (inner strongholds) to keep us captive. The children of Israel did not obey the Lord’s command and they became ensnared.
Deuteronomy 7:7-8 says, “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you…”
This was written about Israel. Deuteronomy 32:10 says, “He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept his as the apple of His eye.”
As you read Jeremiah 31:3, insert your name. It says, “…Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We were without hope. We were spiritually dead. We were bound and held captive with no way to escape. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
1 John 4:8 says, “…God is love.” That is the very core of His entire being. Verse 19 says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” His love for us was before ~ no effort on our part. The Father drew us to the One Who died for us. He put His hand on the latch of the door to our heart. He captured us by inserting a yearning in our heart to respond.
What do you yearn for? What captures your heart and won’t let go? James 4:5 says, “Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?” The J. B. Phillips says, “…passionate jealousy.”
The Holy Spirit desires to capture all of our heart’s real estate. The children of Israel yearned (craved) for the things in their past. Their hearts were divided. Numbers 11:5-6 says, “We remember…but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing except this manna before our eyes.” They shunned God’s miraculous provision.
The verse in James was in the context of loving the things of this world. Verse 3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
If your heart is divided, I encourage you to ask the Lord to set a yearning for Him in your heart. A seed of yearning for Him will bear fruit. It is a prayer that He will answer because that is His heart’s delight ~ us delighting in Him as He delights in us.
Asking Him to plant that seed of yearning plays out like this verse. I’m capitalizing it as though she is speaking about the Lord. Song of Solomon 5:4 says, “My Beloved put His hand by the latch of the door, and my heart yearned for Him.”
Although this was Moses’ instruction specifically to the children of Israel, it is a timeless truth that we can apply in our lives. Think of this verse in light of our country’s state right now.
Deuteronomy 11:22-23 says, “For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do—to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him—then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves.”
The promise was conditional. These were Jesus’ words to His disciples. Again, it is a timeless word that we must take to heart as well. Consider it like a thermometer. Stick this in your heart and see what your temperature of love registers.
It says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” I believe the manifestation comes through our intimate communion with Him.
He reveals His multifaceted character as we delight in His delighting in us. He also reveals Himself in ways we have never known Him in the crucible of our trials. He suffered for us, so He knows how to comfort us in our time of need.
Every blood bought child of God is kept by His love. Nothing can separate us from it. However, He makes Himself known to those who spend time with Him through His word~keeping it or holding fast to it. In Ephesians 3:19 Paul wrote about experientially embracing His love.
Are you consciously aware of how much the Lord delights in you? Does your heart acknowledge His delighting in you? Picture yourself in this scene. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
If your heart does not agree, then the enemy has set up a stronghold of lies in your heart. We have to remember that not every thought is of our origin. I learned his truth in 1993, and it literally began shaking the strongholds of lies that were holding me captive.
When our heart does not agree with what Scripture says about us, then we have believed one of satan’s lies. Folks make excuses for their hidden sin because their heart does not agree with Numbers 32:23. It says, “…you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.”
Those who have not accepted how the Lord has made them, do not agree with Psalm 119:73. It says, “Your hands have made me and fashioned me…” For years I lived in self-hatred and self-rejection because my heart didn’t connect with the truth that would set me free.
So it is as we daily read His word for understanding. If we are attentive, the Holy Spirit will finger an area of unbelief in our heart. He knows the lies that are buried there and forgotten. They were planted by satan to control us from within. They keep us from fully embracing His empowerment through grace.