Hi everyone. For those who don’t know me, I have been in church since I was five years old, was born again at age 14, baptized in the Holy Spirit at age 19 and began teaching the word of God to adults when I was in my early twenties. I have been in church since I was five years old and have never strayed away from God, but as I shared in my last post, I had a stronghold, an ungodly soul tie which I struggled with for several years after being married, until the Lord revealed the root of it to me; it was idolatry. Once I was made aware of it, I confessed that sin, prayed a prayer of repentance and took authority over the familiar spirit that had been tormenting me in my dreams and commanded it to go and I was instantly set free.
For those who are unfamiliar with the terms, I would like to start by explaining the difference between a stronghold and demon possession. As I explained in my last post, a stronghold is an area of captivity where the enemy has gained authority or a license because the person has opened a door for him and it has not been repented of. II Corinthians 10:4-6 tells us that it is the arguments, reasonings and theories (our excuses or wrong thinking) that opposes the word of God that allows this to remain in our lives. Renewing our minds (changing the way we think) to line up with God’s word helps to dismantle these strongholds, so that we stop giving place to the enemy (Romans 12:2). However, if a person has given the enemy a foothold or license (see Ephesians 4:27), this needs to be confessed and repented of. A stronghold may be referred to as oppression or demonic influence, but it is not possession (meaning the demon is not dwelling inside the person and does not have control over him or her). The enemy can tempt, harass, oppress, etc., but he does not have control over our free will.
In Matthew 16:16-19, Peter makes the great confession that Jesus is the “Christ, the Son of the living God.” and Jesus says to him “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (NKJV). Clearly, Peter was a believer and one that the Lord would use mightily, but in verses 21-23, when Jesus began to tell His disciples that He was going to the cross, Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying “far be it from You Lord; this shall not happen to You!” In response Jesus said to Peter: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense (a stumbling block) to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (NKJV). So, even though Peter was one of the disciples of Christ and a future leader of the church, who would be used mightily by God and had been used by Him up to this point, at that moment, he was being influenced and used by Satan to try to prevent Jesus from obeying God and going to the cross. So clearly, a believer can come under demonic influence and have a stronghold.
In Mark 5:1-20, we are given the account of the Gerasene Demoniac. In this story, Mark records that the man had an unclean spirit, he was dwelling among the tombs, and no man could bind him with chains. In fact, he would tear the chains apart (he had supernatural strength from the demons), he would self-harm (cut himself with stones), he was not in his right mind and the demons would take over his voice and speak out of him. Yet in verse 6, it says that “When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.” So, even though this man was possessed by a demon (the demon had control over him), he still had enough free will that he was able to approach Jesus and worship him. Most of us know the rest of the story, that Jesus rebuked the demons and commanded them to leave him and, per their request, he allowed them to enter the swine. Praise God, even the most demon-possessed person still has enough free will to approach Jesus and be set free! This is a stark contrast to being oppressed or having a stronghold. So I hope this brings some understanding to anyone who is unsure of the differences between a stronghold and possession. God bless you all.