Unlocking Strongholds and Being Set Free

In Acts 10 the Spirit, by way of men, tells the events which led to the breaking down of old paradigms and mindsets that had formerly kept a partition between the God of Israel and the Gentiles. These walls within the mind are very real and concrete to the mind, they trap and hold and confine the man just as effectively as a prison wall and bars. Jesus has come to set the captives free. Men were not made for the law but the law for men. We must realize that when you know the truth, that is, when you experience the life-giving freedom of the Truth that is Christ in you, the hope of glory, you are free indeed.

So, in Acts 10 we are introduced to an Italian man named Cornelius, a centurion, “a devout man and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people and prayed to God alway.” So whether you can receive it or not this man knew the Truth, for he sought God and feared Him with awe and reverence. This same Cornelius was spoken to in a vision while he was praying and told to go to Joppa and seek out Simon (Peter) and he would tell him what to do.

It took four days for Cornelius‘ his little band to reach Joppa. Meanwhile as they were arriving and standing at the entrance to the house of Simon the tanner, Peter was on the rooftop of the house praying and fell into a trance. God showed Peter a great vessel like a sheet full of all types of animals and birds (of the non-kosher type) coming down from heaven and spoke to Peter and said, “Rise Peter; kill and eat.” Peter being in the prison of his former thinking answered God, “Not so, Lord for I have never eaten anything that is common [e.g. unsanctified, or not kosher] or unclean.” You would think Peter would have learned when he had a discussion with the Lord about what he was going to do and not do in the case of forsaking him. It is hard to kick against the goads, right?

Peter was really stuck in this mindset of not eating things that the old teaching (e.g. Judaism) forbid. God may not change, but the way He works can and does a times. That law was useful at the time in the desert teaching that certain animals and birds were subject to disease and thus it was not good to eat them. Now Peter is not in the desert, new place, new truth. The law was meant to serve man not man serve the law. The law is good, that is why we keep the law. When the law is not necessary or has been superseded by a greater law (i.e. the law of good hygiene) the former law is made of no effect. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Rom. 8:2.

Peter received the law of the Spirit and was set free, now God wants to demonstrate the full extent of His love in that the Gentiles too are brought in through this new and living way, even Christ. So Peter has a great struggle with this concept of eating forbidden foods. God puts it plainly, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” And Peter was so hardheaded that this was done three times. God had to hammer on the wall in Peter’s mind to break through and get the Truth to penetrate his prison cell. God will make a way where there is no way. God is saying in the modern vernacular, “Peter, dude, I made the law and it serves Me and My purpose, let it go. I can change it, I AM.”

So eventually Peter submits to the Word and obeys Him. Whew! we can be so difficult to teach at times. These old thinking patterns are a bear and we hibernate in them and won’t come out into the Light when the season changes. It’s springtime man, come out! Your winter has passed. Remove the grave clothes! Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.

Now I want to show you something that God used to speak to me. I do not think it a coincidence that on the heals of this telling of the event of Peter being set free from the mindset (a type of prison and stronghold for the soul with a door closed by wrong thinking, e.g. unbelief) regarding the salvation of the Gentiles and their acceptance by God through faith in Christ. God turns immediately (Acts 12) to a real prison cell in which Peter is held and Peter must walk out of it as well.

You know, don’t you, that the authorities are established by God? The men who placed Peter in that cell were given a place of authority which God allowed them to have. Even the authorities that captured Jesus, wrongfully accused Him, tried Him with a mock trial and killed Him were not in their position accidentally. Jesus stated, I could call a legion of angels and be set free but He realized that He was in that place by the Sovereignty of His Father and that He must stay there to complete the will of His Father.

Sometimes we are in a prison and we need to stay there, and sometimes we need to leave there. The key is the Father’s will in the matter.
Think of Joseph in prison, the Israelites in Egypt, in Babylon, in the Wilderness. Think of Paul in the desert, Moses in the desert. Think of the new disciples in Jerusalem for 50 days. Sometimes we tarry because God needs to finish the project He began. But when the project is over (e.g. 40 years in the Wilderness) then you can leave and move forward in the purpose for which you suffered that prison-like sentence.

Peter was brought into a prison cell in Acts 12. “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.  And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.  And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)  And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison…” vv.1-4. Now it is obvious that Peter was put in prison wrongfully, unrighteously. He was in prison so that Herod could gain a favorable standing with the Jews, the enemies of Christ. This is exactly the kind of prison we need to be broken free from. This is exactly the scenario that we must overcome our mindset concerning the law.

Do not stay in the prison of your mind once God has opened the door and shown you the door. You were definitely in there because it was God’s sovereign will that you suffer in there, that way so that you might grow up. James put it this way, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4. Definitely stay there so that the trial can complete the work in you for which it was sent. But on the other hand, when the work is done and the door is opened walk out and don’t question the authority of the unrighteous judge who placed you there. God will deal with him. You are free.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Gal. 5:1.