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Fortresses (3794) (ochuroma akin to ochuroo = to make firm) was used in secular Greek to describe a strong military installation, a bastion, or a fortified place Vine says fortresses speaks "of those things in which mere human confidence is imposed." (Vine, W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. 1996. Nelson) Ochuroma is used only here in the NT but is found 32 times in the Septuagint many of these speaking of literal fortresses or strongholds - Ge 39:20; 14" class="scriptRef">40:14; 41.14" class="scriptRef">41:14; Josh 19:29; (Jehovah is my Rock and my fortress... =) 2Sa 22:2; 12" class="scriptRef">2Ki. 8:12; Job 19:6; Ps. 89:40; (the way of Jehovah is a stronghold to the blameless =) Pr 10:29; 12:11, 12; 21:22; 30:28; Is 22:10; 23:14; 24:22; 34:13; Je 48:7, 18, 41; 49:22; Lam 2:2, 5; Da 11:39, 43; Amos 5:9; Mic 5:11; Nah 3:12, 14; Hab 1:10; Zech 9:3, 12. The use of ochuroma in Proverbs 21:22 somewhat parallels Paul's use... A wise man scales the city of the mighty, and brings down the stronghold (ochuroma) in which they trust. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary has one entry that states a fortress is "a person or thing not susceptible to outside influence." However, Paul is saying that strongholds that might seem impenetrable by humanistic or fleshly reasoning, can potentially be demolished by divinely powerful weapons. Hodge in explaining fortresses (strongholds) writes that... The opponents of the Gospel felt that they were so entrenched, so protected by the fortresses that they occupied, that they despised the ministers of Christ and derided their efforts. In what follows, the apostle tells us what these strongholds were. (2 Corinthians 10 Commentary) Tony Evans explains that... Paul says our spiritual weapons can destroy Satan’s fortresses. Weapons such as prayer, reading the Word, obedience, meditation on Scripture, fasting, and service can blow up the devil’s strongholds. And that’s what we must do. These fortresses don’t need to be remodeled. God doesn’t tell us to capture them, change the locks, and use them for Him. Satan’s fortresses must be torn down. (Evans, A. T. 1998. The Battle is the Lord's : Waging Victorious Spiritual Warfare. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press or as an E-book from David Guzik writes on fortresses or strongholds explaining that... Strongholds (fortresses) in this context are wrong thoughts and perceptions, contradicting the true knowledge of God and the nature of God. These strongholds are expressed in arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. This reliance on carnal methods, and the habit of carnal thinking, is a true stronghold. It stubbornly sets down deep roots in the heart and mind, and colors all of our actions and thinking. It is hard to let go of the thinking that values the things and ways of this world, but God's power really can break down these strongholds... Praise God, strongholds can be pulled down! Clarke recounts with wonder one stronghold pulled down in history: In like manner the doctrines of the reformation, mighty through God, pulled down or demolished and brought into captivity, the whole papal system; and instead of obedience to the pope, the pretended vicar of God upon the earth, obedience to Christ, as the sole almighty Head of the Church, was established, particularly in Great Britain, where it continues to prevail. Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth! Arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God: Carnal, worldly ways of thinking and doing are arguments against the mind and methods of God. They want to debate God, saying they have a better way. They exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. They think of themselves as smarter, more sophisticated, more effective, more powerful than God's ways. Carnal, worldly minds think they know more than God does! We must remind ourselves that Paul is speaking to carnal, worldly thinking among Christians. He isn't talking about the world here, but the Corinthian Christians. They were the ones with the strongholds in their minds and hearts. They made the arguments against God's mind and methods. They held on to every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We miss it entirely if we think the love of manipulation, the image of success, smooth words, the perception of power, lording over authority, and human schemes and programs are just problems with the world. Paul was dealing with this heart and mind in the church. For nothing is more opposed to the spiritual wisdom of God than the wisdom of the flesh, and nothing more opposed to His grace than man's natural ability. (John Calvin)(Commentary Notes) The Angel of the LORD seeking to encourage the governor Zerubbabel to proceed with the building of Lord's Temple (referring to The Second Temple for the first Temple or Solomon's Temple had been destroyed in 586BC) in the face of strong opposition describes one of the greatest of our "divinely powerful" weapons, the Holy Spirit Himself... (The Angel of the LORD speaking declared) This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts (see study of this name - Jehovah Sabaoth). 'What are you, O great mountain? (figuratively in context speaks of obstacles/opposition - see Ezra 4:1,2, 3, 4, 5, 24) Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain (again figurative language emphasizing that this obstacle is a small thing for the Lord); and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of "Grace, grace to it! (In other words as the last stone was set in place, the people would overflow with joyful praise for the provision of grace heaped upon grace! When the work is done through human might or power we can take credit for it, but when the work is done by the continual supply of the Spirit, then it is all to the glory of God's grace.) (Zech 4:6,7, cp 2Cor 12:9,10) In the context of spiritual warfare this timeless truth in Zechariah 4:6,7 should should encourage believers of all ages to rely not upon "weapons...of the flesh" nor upon human stratagems, but to rely solely upon the Spirit of Christ, Who indwells and empowers believers to come against and destroy fortresses of thought which stand against God's Word of Truth. And remember beloved that our weaknesses are no hindrance nor are our so called strengths an aid to God in spiritual warfare. I like what C H Spurgeon said... Unless the Spirit of God be upon us, we have no might from within and no means from without to rely upon. Wait upon the Lord, beloved, and seek strength from Him alone. There cannot come out of you what has not been put into you. You must receive and then give out... Oh! May God send us poverty; may God send us lack of means, and take away our power of speech if it must be, and help us only to stammer, if we may only thus get the blessing. Oh! I rave to be useful to souls, and all the rest may go where it will. (Spurgeon in a related note which the "successful" churches in America need to hear says) "O churches! take heed lest ye trust in yourselves; take heed lest ye say, 'We are a respectable body,' 'We are a mighty number,' 'We are a potent people;' take heed lest ye begin to glory in your own strength; for when that is done, 'Ichabod' (1Sa 4:21) shall be written on your walls and your glory shall depart from you. Remember, that He who was with us when we were but few, must be with us now we are many, or else we must fail; and He who strengthened us when we were but as 'little in Israel,' must be with us, now that we are like 'the thousands of Manasseh,' or else it is all over with us and our day is past." Phil Newton sees a parallel description of our divinely powerful weapons in Paul's description of the Christian's armor in Eph 6:10-20 writing that... Evangelism, carrying the gospel to others, is another part of the armor: "and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace." Here is the reality that the gospel in its proclamation, as well as its meditation, is the Christian's mighty weapon. Many a citadel of prideful reasoning has crashed to the ground before the power of the gospel wielded by a single believer proclaiming its truth in the Spirit's power. Many of our battles revolve around issues of eternity, sin, judgment, forgiveness, and relationship with God. The world tips its hat toward many different gods and denies any type of eternal punishment. Yet so many people are trapped in patterns of sin; families broken apart by sinful practices; corruption dragging others down a spiraling hole of destruction. How can these be delivered? It's not going to happen by mere reasoning power. Reasoning with those enslaved to sinful habits is like talking to a brick wall. A much greater strength is needed to break the shackles of sin. The gospel falls with mighty force upon the strongholds of man's sinfulness, crushing their defenses, breaking their enslavement by the liberating power of Christ's death and resurrection, and bringing light into the darkness of imprisoned hearts. It is interesting that Paul calls for the gospel of peace to "shod your feet." Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out how this emphasizes the mobility of the gospel, the ability of the believer to move into any situation with the gospel of Christ with its mighty power to deliver and set free the captives. It suggests "firmness, confidence, a sense of assurance" regarding the gospel. It refers to the believer's resoluteness to stand firmly in the faith, and to move quickly into action with the gospel. We see this in Martin Luther as he stood before the Diet of Worms and a whole conclave of enemies of the gospel arrayed against him. Yet he stood upon the truth of the gospel, not giving in. "Here I stand; I can do no other," he declared. That too must be our position. Luther was standing upon the gospel of grace through Christ alone. His firm stand with feet well shod with the gospel of peace, broke the stronghold of Romanism, tore down longstanding citadels that had stood with puffed up arrogance against the simple gospel of grace. Like Luther, we must learn to move quickly with the gospel and stand upon it firmly [The Christian Soldier, 270-295]. Next, Paul calls for the Christian to utilize faith in Christ and gospel truth: "in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." A shield was used to deflect the blows of an enemy sword or spear or arrow. Paul's implication is that the adversary of the gospel assaults us with intent to do harm. He attacks us with condemnation. He hurls flaming arrows of guilt, doubt, and despair. He assaults us by dredging up sins of the past or tempting us to nurse wounds from others. These attacks come from outside the Christian and not within. They do not originate in the believer but are flaming arrows sent to drive "us down into the depths of despair and utter hopelessness about ourselves," as Lloyd-Jones points out [301]. So in our weaponry, God has given to us "the shield of faith with which [we] will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one." Flaming arrows of doubt, evil imaginations, ungodly phrases or scenes, evil desires and passions, sudden fiery trials, darts of fear and other arrows may be flying our way. So how do we use the "shield of faith" as a defense? I quote Lloyd-Jones who states it so clearly. Faith here means the ability to apply quickly what we believe so as to repel everything the devil does or attempts to do to us. Faith is not merely an intellectual belief or theory. Of course, faith includes what you believe, but faith never stops at mere intellectual assent and belief. Faith is always practical. Faith always applies the truth... So I define faith in 'the shield of faith' as meaning the quick application of what we believe as an answer to everything that the devil hurls at us [305]. Keep in mind that the shield of faith is not faith in faith or faith in yourself. It is faith that is focused upon Jesus Christ and what He has done for us through His death and resurrection. It focuses upon the promises and provisions that are ours in the gospel. "And take the helmet of salvation," Paul tells us. The helmet covers the mind. Here is where we learn to focus upon the truths of the gospel, the verities of what Christ has done for us so that we do not fall prey to condemnation or legalism or self-confidence. We can often fall prey to the hopelessness of evil in the world or hopelessness spurred on by some debilitating illness or some circumstance in our environment. But as Christians, we live in hope as we put our confidence in Jesus Christ. Paul reminded Timothy when assuaged by the enemy with a sense of hopelessness and despair, "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline" (or sound mind, 2Ti 1:7). The Apostle further explains what he means by "the helmet of salvation" in Ephesians 6:17 with a parallel text in 1 Thessalonians 5:8. "But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation." Hope does not disappoint, Paul told the Romans (Ro 5:5), because hope is expectation, anticipation of what God in Christ has already done for you and provided for you. One of the chief things that set the Christian apart from the world is hope (Ed: In the Bible "hope" is the absolute assurance of future good). By this I do not mean someone that has been infused with the power of positive thinking or who just tries to think positively about everything in the world. Hope implies expectation: the Christian expects all of Christ's promises to be fulfilled; he expects Christ to return; he expects Christ to reign until all His enemies are under His feet; he expects to spend eternity with Christ. He lives in anticipation of all God's promises being "Yea and Amen!" (2Co 1:20) "The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," completes the believer's armor. We have 66 books combined in one Bible that gives us a powerful weapon to use against the enemy and his strongholds. But we must not try to "use" the Bible for our own selfish purposes. Some twist and manipulate Bible passages to convince others to yield to their demands or to give them monetary gifts, etc. No, the sword of the Spirit cannot be rightly wielded apart from the Spirit's power. The Holy Spirit honors right interpretation of His Word alone. Lloyd-Jones warns, "The moment you separate the Spirit and the Word you are in trouble" [328]. As John Calvin commented, "Whoever, therefore, is unarmed with the influence of the Holy Spirit, however he may boast that he is a minister of Christ, will nevertheless, not prove himself to be such" [Calvin's Commentaries, XX, 322]. The Spirit breaches the strongest citadels of the mind with the truth of God's Word. In the darkest recesses of the heart, the Spirit brings the Light of the gospel. (Sermons from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians) (Bolding added) Martin Luther described our divinely powerful weapons this way... A Mighty Fortress Is Our God A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our Helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft & power are great, & armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing; Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing: Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He; Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same, And He must win the battle. Torrey's Topic - The Power of the Holy Spirit Is the power of God -Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20 Christ commenced his ministry in -Luke 4:14 Christ wrought his miracles by -Matthew 12:28 EXHIBITED IN Creation -Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalms 104:30 The conception of Christ -Luke 1:35 Raising Christ from the dead -1 Peter 3:18 Giving spiritual life -Ezekiel 37:11-14; Romans 8:11 Working miracles -Romans 15:19 Making the gospel efficacious -1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:5 Overcoming all difficulties -Zechariah 4:6,7 Promised by the Father -Luke 24:49 Promised by Christ -Acts 1:8 SAINTS Upheld by -Psalms 51:12 Strengthened by -Ephesians 3:16 Enable to speak the truth boldly by -Micah 3:8; Acts 6:5,10; 2 Timothy 1:7,8 Helped in prayer by -Romans 8:26 Abound in hope by -Romans 15:13 Qualifies ministers -Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8 God’s word the instrument of -Ephesians 6:17 ><>><>><> Use Your Weapons - Above all, [take] the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. -Ephesians 6:16 While visiting a museum, I was intrigued by a small inscription describing a class of Roman gladiators-the Retiarii-who fought using only a net and a trident. Of all the fearsome and lethal weapons available to those warriors, who often battled to the death, these men were given two items-a piece of webbing and a three-pronged spear. When they entered the arena, their survival depended on how well they used their weapons. In the spiritual battle we face as Christians, God has chosen our weapons: "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" (2Corinthians 10:3, 4). It's worth pausing to look at ourselves in the mirror of Ephesians 6:10-18 to see if we are properly equipped with "the whole armor of God." From the helmet of salvation to the shoes of the gospel of peace, we are to be protected and armed for a conflict that depends not on human strength but on the power of God. When we realize the nature of that warfare and the forces against us, it's foolish to enter the fray with anything except our God-given weapons. — David C. McCasland Does all the world seem against you And you're in the battle alone? It's often when you are most helpless That God's mighty power is known. -Anon. Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. -Isaiah 40:31 2 Corinthians 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (NASB: Lockman) Greek: kathairountes (PAPMPN) logismous kai pan hupsoma epairomenon (PPPNSA) kata tes gnoseos tou theou, kai aichmalotizontes (PAPMPN) pan noema eis ten hupakoen tou Christou Amplified: [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), (Amplified Bible - Lockman) Barclay: Our campaign is such that we can destroy plausible fallacies and all lofty-mindedness which raises itself up against the knowledge that God has given, such that we capture every intention and bring it into obedience to Christ, (Westminster Press) Berkley: inasmuch as we tear down reasonings and every proud barrier that is raised up against the knowledge of God and lead every thought into subjection to Christ. ESV: We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (ESV) ICB: And we destroy every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ. (ICB: Nelson) KJV: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; Moffatt: I demolish theories and any rampart thrown up to resist the knowledge of God, I take every project prisoner to make it obey Christ, Montgomery: For I pull down imaginations and every crag that lifts itself against the knowledge of God. And I carry every thought away into captivity and subjection to Christ; NET: and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ. (NET Bible) NIV: 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. (NIV - IBS) NJB: every presumptuous notion that is set up against the knowledge of God, and we bring every thought into captivity and obedience to Christ; (NJB) NLT: With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ. (NLT - Tyndale House) NRSV: and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. Phillips: Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defence that men erect against the true knowledge of God. We even fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ. (Phillips: Touchstone) TLB: These weapons can break down every proud argument against God and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding him. With these weapons I can capture rebels and bring them back to God and change them into men whose hearts' desire is obedience to Christ. Weymouth: For we overthrow arrogant 'reckonings,' and every stronghold that towers high in defiance of the knowledge of God, and we carry off every thought as if into slavery—into subjection to Christ; Wuest: demolishing reasonings and every haughty mental elevation which lifts itself up against the experiential knowledge of God, and leading captive every thought into the obedience to the Christ, (Eerdmans) Young's Literal: reasonings bringing down, and every high thing lifted up against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of the Christ, WE ARE DESTROYING SPECULATIONS AND EVERY LOFTY THING RAISED UP AGAINST THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD: kathairountes (PAPMPN) logismous kai pan hupsoma epairomenon (PPPNSA) kata tes gnoseos tou theou: (Destroying - Lk 1:51; Acts 4:25,26; ; 1Co 1:19,27, 8" class="scriptRef">28, 29; 3:19; Speculations - Ex 5:2; 17" class="scriptRef">9:16,17; 2Ki 19:22,28; Job 5:13, 40:11,12; 42:6; Ps 10:4; 18:27; Is 2:11,12,17; 60:14; Ezek 17:24; Da 4:37; 5:23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30; Acts 9:4, 5, 6; Ro 1:21, 1Co 3:20, Php 3:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9; 2Th 2:4,8) Henry Morris writes that... Judicious use of our spiritual weapons—especially the one offensive weapon, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17)—will result in opening the blinded “minds” (note 2Co 4:4) of those who have rejected God and His Word, and capturing them for Christ. Thus, we are not to use such carnal weapons as bullets—or even ballots—in our battle for the human mind, but the mighty spiritual weapons in “the whole armour of God” (Ep 6:11). (Morris, Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing) Tony Evans emphasizes that the... The reason so many Christians are losing the (spiritual) battle is that they are trying to beat the devil using the world’s weapons. They are looking to the secular world to help them with their spiritual need. If your problem, your struggle, your need is induced and orchestrated by your spiritual enemy, your flesh can’t win the fight. Unless you choose a spiritual response, all the time, effort, and resources you spend trying to fix the problem will ultimately be a waste of time, a Band-Aid on the situation. Paul says our methods are not of the flesh because our enemy is not of the flesh. Some of us have been wrestling with things day in and day out for years. Those are battles, no matter what other name we may give to them. And if God speaks to it, it is a spiritual battle. And if your battle is a spiritual battle, it needs a spiritual cure. You don’t fight cancer with skin lotion. You don’t fight a brain tumor by taking two aspirin and lying down. Those kinds of problems demand another kind of help. So do spiritual problems... Satan targets his attacks on our minds. We know that because Paul talks about “speculations,” “the knowledge of God,” and “taking every thought captive” (2Co 10:5) Where do speculations come from? The mind. Where is knowledge rooted? In the mind. Where do thoughts come from? The mind. It is all in the mind. So the Christian who wants to trade his or her spiritual POW status for freedom must learn to think differently. When Satan attacks a Christian’s mind, he starts building what Paul calls “fortresses” (“strongholds,” niv and kjv). The devil builds a place from which he can operate, and he means for that fortress to be permanent. He plans to take up residency there. Satan makes himself at home, in other words, and he gets a grip on the mind until people begin thinking there is no way to overcome this problem, no way to save this marriage, no way to unify this church, no way to make a difference in our world. Whenever you hear a Christian saying, “No way, it can’t be done. I’ve tried everything, and it just doesn’t work,” you’re looking at somebody who has allowed Satan to build a fortress in the mind. However that fortress got there, it was constructed by the Evil One. A fortress or stronghold is a mind-set that holds you hostage. It makes you believe that you are hopelessly locked in a situation, that you are powerless to change. That’s when you hear people saying, “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” The only reason you say, “I can’t,” when God says, “You can” is that Satan has made himself at home in your head. In computer terms, he has you operating by the old information that was on the hard drive of your mind before you became a Christian. See, the Bible says before we were saved, we were operating by a godless way of thinking, a thought system that was vain and empty. Satan controlled the keyboard that entered data into our minds and put it on the screen of our lives to be lived out. But when we came to Jesus Christ, He gave us a new drive in our minds with new data to control the way we live. Every believer has this new data, but many of us are still living by the old data that will not be erased completely until we get to heaven. Even though we are on our way to heaven, we are still being programmed by the enemy in some areas. That’s why Paul had to write this passage in 2 Corinthians. He wanted to help believers who had become trapped into thinking the enemy’s way—which all of us have done at one time or another. (Evans, A. T. 1998. The Battle is the Lord's : Waging Victorious Spiritual Warfare. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press or as an E-book from

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