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“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against...” Ephesians 6:12


The book content below is available in paperback & printable downloads at a low donation level price. The latest edition has been extensively revised (updated) beyond this online first edition. The book is titled: Breaking Spiritual Strongholds and Healing the Wounded Spirit: Dealing with Root Causes. Links are provided for its bookstores.

Breaking Spiritual Strongholds and Healing the Wounded Spirit: Dealing with Root Causes (book by Eric Gondwe)

Chapter 10. The Enemy Within: Breaking Strongholds Hiding in Our Lives

Reality: The State of Things as they Really or Truly Are. No Biases

This is an extension of the topic on Cognitive theories covered in Chapter 7, “Personality’s Role in Influencing our Spiritual Health.” Cognition is basically the act of using the mind. Various mental processes in the course of using the mind include thinking, perception, attention, learning, remembering, concept formation, problem solving, verbal behavior, and so on.

The chapter will focus on mental flaws or mental errors known as cognitive biases that obstruct our thinking processes from seeing things as clearly as they are. The mental flaws limit us from seeing things as clearly as they truly are in reality.

Reality is the state of matters in life as they really or truly are, rather than as we might assume them to be. The chapter will explore the nature of reality, our potential flaws to perceiving it, how the flaws affect our lives, including our Christian lives, and will explain how to avoid or minimize distorted views of reality.

The reality being focused on is the qualitative or philosophical reality which cannot be concretely measured or determined in absolute terms. This type of reality is in the category of academics known as social sciences.

This is in contrast to quantitative reality which can be concretely measured or determined in absolute terms. 1+1=2 is quantitative reality. It’s in the category of academics known as pure or natural sciences.

However quantitative reality has qualitative aspects in many areas. For example, some researchers claim the world is millions of years while others say it’s in thousands. Each endeavors to use quantitative methods of analysis. However because the methods of analysis and measurement have a human element in them they end up being partly qualitative. Qualitative reality is vulnerable to our own biases.

It’s important to note that many fields in qualitative reality category endeavor to use quantitative methods of analysis to minimize bias.  For example, economists have numerous statistical measurements for economies and the world of commerce. The challenge therefore is in minimizing biases so that reality is seen in its truest sense.

Even where it’s not practical to devise quantitative methods of analysis it’s worth endeavoring to be as objective as possible in making an inquiry and drawing a conclusion. Our area of faith as Christians is one such area that can use such injury. It helps us to minimize or avoid adding our own biases to biblical inquiry.

Our mental biases, mental errors, or mental flaws, as will be covered shortly, are among the major reasons we have numerous denominations today. False teachings too, have an element of descending from mental flaws among believers in the body of Christ. It’s also our mental biases that can contribute to unnecessary spiritual wounds, strongholds, and other unpleasant matters in this life.

Cognitive Biases: How we Think Inside our Boxes

Instead of seeing reality in its best possible true sense our mental flaws process reality through a filtered method that ends up seeing reality from a biased view. A biased view is a perspective that sees something from our own preference, opinion, or favored outlook with little or no consideration to analyze the facts.

Our biased view on matters in life constitute our man-made boxes that limit us from seeing reality in its best possible true sense. Our thinking is limited within these boxes that we put ourselves in. They can be either self-made boxes or can be boxes made by others who have successfully put us in a box of their biased views.

Biases are therefore the opposite of objectivity. Objectivity is an independent or neutral analysis that is free from influence of bias. Objectivity considers all available information without taking any sides. It is a search for the actual truth rather a search to prove one’s side of understanding, biases, cultural influences, expectations, or preferences.

To further elaborate on what biases are it is worth giving some examples. Wikipedia, an online Encyclopedia, has a good compilation on biases. For further information please read Appendix 1 “Cognitive Biases: How we Think Inside our Boxes.” The appendix has lots of supplemental information for this chapter. Below is a short list of social biases. Social biases are among other forms of cognitive biases.

  • Class bias: bias favoring one social class and bias ignoring social or class divisions;
  • Commercial bias: advertising, coverage of political campaigns favoring corporate interests, or reporting favoring media owner interests;
  • Ethnic or racial bias: racism, nationalism, regionalism and tribalism;
  • Geographical bias: describing a dispute as it is conducted in one country, when the dispute is framed differently elsewhere;
  • Nationalistic bias: favoring or opposing the interests or views of a particular nation;
  • Gender bias: including sexism and heteronormativity;
  • Linguistic bias, favoring certain languages;
  • Political bias: bias in favor of or against a particular political party, philosophy, policy or candidate;
  • Religious bias: bias for or against religion, faith or beliefs;
  • Sensationalist bias: favoring the exceptional over the ordinary. This includes emphasizing, distorting, or fabricating exceptional news to boost commercial ratings;
  • Scientific bias (including anti-scientific and scientific skepticism): favoring (or disfavoring) a scientist, inventor, or theory for non-scientific reasons. This can also include excessive favoring (or disfavoring) prevalent scientific opinion, if in doing so, notable viewpoints are no longer being treated neutrally.

(Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Wikipedia, “Bias”)

It can therefore be said that bias is the art of interpreting reality with our own feelings, beliefs, preferences, experiences, personalities, and emotions. It is clouding reality with our own subjective perceptions. Objectivity is the art of separating our own feelings, beliefs, preferences, experiences, personalities, and emotions from reality.

Reality as each of us knows it is quite a subjective view than an objective view in many areas. We largely live in our own boxes, shaped by our inborn makeup (inborn personality traits) and by our upbringing (home, friends, community, education, economics, politics, religion, media, pivotal life experiences, etc). William Hazlitt said, “We are all of us, more or less, the slaves of opinion,” (Hazlitt (1778-1830) British essayist).

The result is seeing reality with what cognitive psychologists call “cognitive biases.” It is partial realty and partial subjective perception. The percentage of each subject area varies from person to person and from each one’s learning curve in life.

What are cognitive biases?

A good definition of cognitive biases is given by Richards J. Heuer, Jr. in his book Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. His book was apparently written for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for its Center for the Study of Intelligence. If you have no clue who or what the CIA is it may be better to remain clueless. It’s certainly not a Christian institution and is capable of doing some "scary" things.

Here’s Heuer’s definition: “Cognitive biases are mental errors caused by our simplified information processing strategies. It is important to distinguish cognitive biases from other forms of bias, such as cultural bias, organizational bias, or bias that results from one’s own self-interest. In other words, a cognitive bias does not result from any emotional or intellectual predisposition toward a certain judgment, but rather from subconscious mental procedures for processing information. A cognitive bias is a mental error that is consistent and predictable.” (Richards J. Heuer, Jr, Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, page 111).

Thus some of what we think is right could be wrong. Each of us can find out if we’re willing to test the assumed truth against other different and disagreeing points of view. Thus the challenge is removing subjective perceptions that are blocking the true realty being seen.

It is worth removing the boxes that lock us in our own world of reality because true reality is liberating. Boxes are mental prisons and their harm in life depends on the relative importance of an area they’re affecting in our lives. The different kinds of mental boxes are the types of wrong beliefs and perceptions being followed. There are some wrong beliefs and perceptions that are very destructive to one’s life while others may not be so harmful.

Like ignorance our mental boxes are a form of mental slavery that render us to be vulnerable to exploitation in the areas of wrong thoughts, beliefs and perceptions. Mental boxes constitute a lack of knowledge to the right understanding. Lack of knowledge is basically ignorance. The bible has sad news about lack of knowledge.

“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge,” Hosea 4:6.

Lack of knowledge therefore leads to destruction. This destruction can be in any area(s) of one’s life: spiritual, social, physical health, or material health. One of these forms of destruction concerns our spiritual makeup.

God’s people, not those whose father is the devil (John 8:44) are destroyed from lack of knowledge. God’s people are destroyed not because Satan is strong and furious. It is because they lack knowledge in areas Satan, his fellow fallen angels, and malicious people are able to gain access. Once knowledge in the area of concern is acquired the exploitations a Christian struggled with come to an end. The needed knowledge and understanding in the area of concern brings freedom.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” John 8:32.

The Christian box, the only Mental Box worth Remaining in

As Christians our only leash or chain around our necks to keep us from going further is the Christian box. We remain within our box of Christian beliefs even when looking at other beliefs.

We have plenty of different interpretations of the bible anyway to examine among ourselves. It’s very healthy examining these other interpretations within the body of Christ. It helps in removing unnecessary denominational boxes. Unnecessary denominational boxes only work to divide us and thus reducing the effectiveness that would come from our combined effort.

For example, if I were a Baptist I can freely explore the doctrines and biblical understanding of other denominations on a particular matter. I explore them without a boxed up or preconceived opinion about their understanding. Neither do I keep a preconceived opinion about my church’s understanding.

I objectively compare the doctrines and biblical understanding of the two denominations on a particular matter. I ensure that the conclusion to be made will not be influenced by my own preconceptions, feelings, beliefs of my church, preferences, experiences, personality, and emotions. It will be based on objective analysis of biblical interpretations on particular areas.

Until finding a satisfactory biblical understanding I keep moving to explore the doctrines and biblical understanding from other denominations (and non- denominations) within the Christian box. The areas of inquiry may be on teachings on spiritual warfare, deliverance, spiritual healing, tongues, finances, angels, salvation, and so on. My understanding is also based on sound doctrinal and biblical analysis within the extensive Christian box rather than merely from the denomination of my affiliation.

I feel at liberty to differ with certain doctrinal beliefs within my denomination yet comfortably remain a part of it. It is the major areas of agreement that keep me within the denomination of my affiliation, not just mere acceptance of everything they teach. I strive to be an informed advocate of the Christian faith while avoiding to be a blind loyalist to unnecessary denominational boxes.

I also feel at liberty to associate with fellow believers from other denominations (and non-denominations). I refrain from judging their walk with God simply based on the denomination they belong to. Together we constitute the body of Christ. We’re one giant Christian box. It’s not perfect but it’s functional and doing its work. It will be made perfect when Christ returns.

More content available in the Second Edition of the book: Click here to acquire it

Removing Unnecessary Boxes: Overcoming the Enemy Within

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” John 8:32.

This is a profound statement from Jesus. It’s a groundbreaking and revolutionary statement. It’s worth looking at its context. In the NIV bible the passage is titled “The Children of Abraham.”

Here is the main part of the short passage. If you read the whole passage from verse 31 to the end of the chapter you’ll fall of your chair laughing. The Jews, Jesus’ fellow people, were very stubborn to Jesus’ teachings. I don’t blame them because his teachings were too much to bear. Most of what he said only started making sense after he died, resurrected, and ascended.

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

 33They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"

 34Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.” John 8:31-38.

This is a passage about freedom versus bondage, truth versus deception (falsehood), genuine versus counterfeit. The Jews, particularly the religious leaders, thought their Jewish biological identity was all that was required to make them God’s children. Jesus challenged his own people by stating that they were wrong. They were living a lie and he came to set them free from that lie.

The truths he shared with them were intended to bring freedom to them. He was the one to take them out of their self-made box of traditions which they assumed were fitting. He was sent to set the Jews and every other ethnic group in this world free. His freedom of humanity is primarily centered on deliverance from spiritual and religious bondage or boxes.

Religious people have a way of assuming they have it all together. Try witnessing to Muslim Imams. You’re likely to receive lengthy lectures about Islam’s rightness you’ll find yourself looking at your watch wondering how long the lecture will last. Their spiritual blindness makes them not see the truth. This makes them believe the lies they’ve received as if they are pure truths.

Jesus’ scenario with the religious leaders and the scenario of Muslim Imams happens in the body of Christ as well. Each of us ought to watch for such areas to avoid clinging to beliefs that have no sound biblical basis. They may look as if they do but a deeper inquiry shows their falsehood. They are mere boxes keeping us away from walking out into the truth.

It takes a lot of our input to ensure such boxes are removed from us. Our Christian identity is not all that matters in this life. While we’re still here on earth we have a life to live, a Christian journey to travel, battles to win, trials to overcome, storms to weather, areas of ignorance to replace with understanding, and so on.

None of these will be attained just by wearing a badge “I’m a Christian.” It takes seeking, work, persistence, and inner strength. These are the areas that are part of our input. God has his role of giving us the grace to do our part. We take over from that point and sweat it out.

It takes our entire inner spiritual makeup to be involved while powered by God’s grace through the Holy Spirit. Our minds diligently apply the mind of Christ, our emotions produce the faith, the needed fruit of the Holy Spirit, and our will produces self-control, the needed fruit of the Holy Spirit, to keep us focused on what matters most.

“We have the mind of Christ,” 1 Corinthians 2:16.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” Galatians 5:22-23.

I have resolved never to accept matters in my Christian faith just because they feel good or simply because they are followed by my affiliated evangelical denomination. This is blind faith. It’s not healthy.

I have to know the truth on why I believe in something. I’ve been fooled not once but twice for just accepting matters because they were what my church or denomination taught. You probably know the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” It was shame on me the second time. I didn’t take the first wakeup call to ask questions and find answers on matters that were accepted without question.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” John 8:32.

Opinions, feelings, false beliefs, preferences, personality inclinations, fitting in, and emotions are not the truth. They are subjective perceptions. They are a good start for a Christian when accepting Christianity but only in the beginning as spiritual infants. When we’re newly born-again and embrace Christianity our feelings or emotions dominate. Later on we’re to graduate and grow into informed Christians. Otherwise we’ll be tossed from here to there by every Christian fad or trend that comes along.

“The body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming,” Ephesians 4:12-14.

Our biggest enemy is therefore not Satan. It is each of us as individuals. We have to deal with our selves. Remember on Judgment Day there will be no excuse to blame matters on Satan. Adam and Eve tried it and it didn’t work. God says we have to take 100% responsibility for our lives. He has given us the power of choice to choose between good and evil, blessings and curses, life and death, understanding and ignorance, faith and fear, forgiveness and resentment (unforgiveness), and so on.

 “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live,” Deuteronomy 30:19.

Satan and his fallen angels only try to influence us to choose the wrong sides. They do not control what we ultimately choose after they present their deceptive offers. We’re in charge of our own lives. If we decide to take the wrong choices we’re our worst enemy. If we decide to make the right choices we’re our best asset.

To step out of being enemies to ourselves we start dealing with the enemy within. We start investigating our spiritual makeup of our patterns of thinking, our emotional patterns, and our willpower drive in focusing on certain matters. We therefore start investigating our inner spiritual makeup.

We then start to work on the areas we identify as dysfunctional, as weaknesses, as self-destructive tendencies, as internal strongholds, as detrimental boxes, or as spiritual strongholds.

The enemy within each of us therefore ought to be a concern more than external enemies. External enemies are negative or hostile forces other than ourselves. They are external factors. External enemies we deal with in life include in the earthly realm: some people who may not treat us well, certain circumstances at odds against us, and time. Time is both a friend and an enemy of our limited existence on earth. In the spirit realm there is Satan and his fellow fallen angels. All these put together comprise external forces endeavoring to work against us.

However if our internal makeup is spiritually well grounded none of the external forces can hinder us. The only area they may succeed in hindering us is in the area God allows, for a good reason. Beyond the permitted area of hindrance they can never be a barrier against us. The rest of the areas that God has given into our hands are therefore determined by our internal makeup and not by the external. The negative external factors keep losing their ground against us as we work on consolidating what it takes internally to overcome them.

We’ve many biblical and historical examples of people who overcame major external obstacles due to having a well grounded inner makeup. God is able to do the same through us if we’re able to cooperate with him in ensuring our self-made inner obstacles are eliminated.

More content available in the Second Edition of the book: Click here to acquire it

Breaking Spiritual Strongholds and Healing the Wounded Spirit:
              i. INTRO: Breaking Spiritual Strongholds and Healing the Wounded Spirit
Chapter 1. Our Triune Nature: Spirit, Soul and Body
Chapter 2. Nature of Spiritual Strongholds: In the Mind, Emotions and Will
Chapter 3. The Nature of a Wounded Spirit, Crushed Spirit, or Broken Spirit
Chapter 4. Deception, the No. 1 Doorway for Spiritual Wounds
Chapter 5. The Other Three Sources of Spiritual Wounds and Strongholds
Chapter 6. Effects of a Wounded Spirit (Broken or Crushed Spirit)
Chapter 7. Personality’s Role in Influencing our Spiritual Health
Chapter 8. Healing the Wounded Spirit: The Christian Approach
Chapter 9. Healing the Wounded Spirit: With Secular Approaches
Chapter 10. The Enemy Within: Breaking Strongholds Hiding in Our Lives
Chapter 11. Maintaining a Healthy Spirit and Embracing God's "Plan B"
Chapter 12. Overcoming Guilt, Guilty Conscience and Self-Condemnation
Chapter 13. Deliverance from Demonic Experiences and Demonic Manifestations
Chapter 14. Deliverance and Healing from the Occult, Witchcraft & Satanism
Appendix 1. Cognitive Biases: How we Think Inside our Boxes
              * Breaking Strongholds Book References
              * Breaking Strongholds Book Index

Breaking strongholds & healing wounded spirit book 1: Breaking Spiritual Strongholds and Healing the Wounded Spirit
©2008 Eric Gondwe


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