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Breaking The Chains Of Bondage Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
June 10, 2021 1:00 am

Breaking The Chains Of Bondage Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 10, 2021 1:00 am

Some people feel so trapped in their destructive habits, they might as well have iron chains binding them in prison. They feel there is no way out. In this message we learn to see those chains as part of a great spiritual war in which all of us are called to do battle.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

No way out. Some people feel so trapped in their destructive habits they might as well have iron chains binding them in prison. Today, a message on seeing those chains as part of a great spiritual war in which all of us are to learn to do battle.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, there is no doubt the devil wants every Christian to be trapped in negative behavior. Dave, I think if our spiritual eyes were opened, we would be surprised at the amount of demonic activity that you and I confront every day. And a question I am often asked is simply this, how do we know whether or not a stubborn habit, sinful habit, how do we know whether or not it is just the flesh or the devil? Well, sometimes we don't.

But here's the good news. No matter its source, the answer is always the same. It is yieldedness. It is faith. It is accountability. It is meditating in God's word. Those are always the answers even when we are fighting the devil. So it's important to keep that in mind. My friend today, if you are blessed as a result of the ministry of Running to Win, it's because other people have invested in this ministry and how thankful we are for the fact that we have so many partners who join what I like to call the Running to Win family.

Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's somebody who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Here's what you do. Go to That's

When you're there, click on the endurance partner button, or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now let us listen carefully as we continue to understand the spiritual warfare and the benefits and the victories won for us in Jesus. Well, how's that sinful habit doing?

Is it beginning to subside a little bit or has the battle begun to increase? I'm sure that in a crowd like this there are some of you who began to take very seriously some sinful habits in your life and you began to tackle them according to the principles that we've outlined during the last couple of weeks. Some of you perhaps didn't begin.

You suffer from what is sometimes called initial inertia. And I hope that if you didn't begin taking seriously, breaking some of your habits if they are evil habits or sinful habits, I hope that someday you will get so sick of those bad habits that you begin to do something. It's amazing what happens in our lives when we really become fed up with the way in which we are. I've mentioned to you before that one of the greatest problems in counseling is that there are so few people who are really desperate.

There are too many people who would like to do better, but they want some quick and easy solution. Now if you have begun to work on a sinful habit, I can tell you that some of you probably did real well for three or four days and then you fell back into the former pattern. The reason I know this is because it happens with such consistency in all of our lives that that's one of the problems that we have is we go along for six days, possibly seven, and then just like that we're back in the groove. You know I think that there is something that we can learn from the experience that alcoholics have. And it is simply this, that I was reading a book recently on how to help those who are alcoholics and I discovered something very interesting. The writers who had a tremendous amount of experience said that one of the problems that happens with people who are alcoholics is first of all they really have to get to the bottom before they are willing to change.

You know you get a guy who finds up, he wakes up in a wrong town and finds out later that he caught a train and he didn't know where he caught a tune or when he got off of it. And at that particular juncture he says, you know, I think it's time to change. Now that's one of the first things that happens. Consequently they just decide that they aren't going to take another drink and they make that decision and they stick by it. They are so sick of what they've been doing that they go for one day and another day and they might go for two or three weeks absolutely determined that they will never have another drink. Then you know what happens, they become very, very proud of the fact that they've done so well and pretty soon they begin to tell their friends, you know, it's been two weeks since I've had a drink. All the while within them there is a fear that they will go back to that drinking process and the pressure is put on them at work and elsewhere, but they keep telling themselves I am not going to go back and so they stick it out. Until finally after sticking it out for quite a long while they finally are given their job back again, their children begin to respect them, their wife begins to trust them, and pretty soon they begin to say to themselves at last I've mastered it. And that is their downfall. Because they are served a drink and they think finally I can handle it and they do one of two things, either they take only one drink and that's all, or else that one drink so inflames them that pretty soon they're caught again.

If they only take one drink and say that that's all, they are in equally bad trouble. Because their pride and their ability to have mastered it will only grow and it is only setting them up for a greater fall later on. If you began to break that sinful habit and it worked for three or four days and then you began to skip back to your former way and you are no better off than when you started to tackle that habit, it probably is that somewhere along the line you develop the one thing that God abhors and that is self-righteousness and self-confidence because pride cometh before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction. And one of the things that God tries to teach us in the constant cycle of success and failure, success and failure, God is trying to say to all of us don't you really know that you can't make it without a close walk with me?

Don't you really know that there is no quick and easy solution? There is no way that the temptations and the habits that you have are going to be instantly broken forever until you realize that day by day you must be pushed very close up against me. And so that's the way God uses these sinful habits to crowd us to God. If you're struggling with a habit tonight, give God thanks. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad because it is the stepping stone that God wants to use to teach you principles as we learned last evening, to teach you principles that will influence all areas of your life so that it won't merely affect one little corner of your life but you will use those principles in all areas and God wants to teach you things that you couldn't learn without those problems. The Bible says this in the book of Deuteronomy, God says I led the children of Israel through the wilderness, I took them where there was no water, I let them be hungry, I did all of those things.

Why? Because God likes to see people hungry? Because he likes to see people struggle? No, it says that I might know what is in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep my commandments or no. And so you see God keeps giving us lots of opportunities to see what is in our hearts and temptation is one of them and every temptation is a gift from God in the sense that it gives us the choice and the ability to choose in his direction and to show our loyalty and while God leads us to the place of temptation he does not cause us to sin.

Now if you have been engaged in this business of breaking a sinful habit you can't go very far before you realize that you are not merely wrestling against flesh and blood but against principalities against the rulers of the darkness of this world and against spiritual wickedness in high places. In the book of 1st Samuel chapter 23 when David was trying to try on Saul's armor it's very interesting, David says I want to try the armor on to test it. That's the same word that is translated in the Old Testament is tempt, tempt or test it. And it says in the book of 1st Samuel chapter 23 that God wants us to test our armor and he allows a lot of arrows to be shot in our direction to see whether or not we are dressed well and whether or not we are clothed with righteousness and whether or not we have on the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation and the shoes that are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace and whether we can use the sword of the spirit which is the word of God and God allows those arrows to come in our direction satanic exploitations of our sin that God allows to come in our direction and he does that to test our armor to see whether or not we're clothed well.

Now I know that many of you are expecting tonight an exposition from Ephesians chapter 6 on the armor of the Christian. I'm not going to do that but that would be a good place to go from here but we're not going to we're going to go to another passage that talks about satanic conflict. Now many times people say to me and to others how do we know whether or not a problem is demonic? Now in certain cases problems are very clearly demonic because of the extreme situations that people might be involved in and the characteristics of people such as in the Mark chapter 5 passage where you have the man who gave certain physical and mental and emotional characteristics. However in most instances the line between that which is fleshly and that which is demonic is perhaps too fuzzy for us to really figure out but did you know that you don't have to? You don't have to because you can know that every sin that you commit is the sin through which satan wants to agitate you. You see the doorway for him to exploit your sin is the doorway of that sinful habit. So it's true that your sinful habit might be a work of the flesh that is listed in galatians, anger, wrath, drunkenness, sensuality. All of these things or any one of them may be your sinful habit and it may be a work of the flesh but you see back behind that work of the flesh oftentimes there are demonic powers who like to exploit the work of the flesh and who like to inflame desires and who like to take the works of the flesh and drive them until you are driven to utter destruction and dismay. And oftentimes we may not know where that line is but in that sinful habit that we have that is the stomping ground of satan.

That is his foothold in your life and that's why it's so important for you to take care of that sinful habit. Now what I'd like you to do this evening is to turn to the fourth chapter of the book of Matthew. Matthew chapter 4 where we have a story of Jesus Christ and how Jesus encountered satan in his life and ministry. And what I'd like to do tonight is to give you a couple of observations, some observations from the fourth chapter of Matthew that I think will help us in warfare. And could I say to you tonight that you are in warfare? Sometimes I meet people who say you know I don't want to have a thing to do with satan because I feel that if I will leave him alone he'll leave me alone. And I say to them with as much love as I'm able to muster and I've found that you can say almost anything to anyone if you smile when you're doing it. Did you know that?

It's a good rule to follow. But I've said to them you don't realize it but you are already involved, completely involved. You are submerged in the battle and you have just capitulated because satan has you neatly tacked away on a shelf called fear.

So we're all involved. Now I want you to notice in the fourth chapter of Matthew and it's on page 913, I want you to notice several observations that I think are important for you in overcoming that sinful habit and especially in that area of struggle where there is satanic conflict involved. First of all, accept the fact, this is very crucial, accept the fact that you will be tempted.

Accept it. Notice this it says in verse 1, Jesus was let up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. It was the spirit of God that brought Jesus to the place of temptation. Expect temptation and accept it and know that you're going to encounter it. There are so many Christians who think that the way of victory is to believe that they will no longer be tempted.

That isn't the way of victory. You will always be tempted in some area or another. The way of victory is not to believe that you will no longer be tempted.

The way of victory is to be able to handle temptation the very moment it comes to you. But you'll always be tempted. Woe to the person who thinks that they will come to the place where they will no longer be tempted. Now it is true that there are certain sins that perhaps you will no longer have any effect on you and you will not be tempted by them.

That I realize. Oftentimes Satan gives up after you have broken that sinful habit. He will give up in certain areas because you have learned to deal with temptation, you've learned how to encounter it, and so he gives up in the struggle and you may not be tempted as strongly in that area. As a matter of fact, something that may be a temptation to you now in five years time may not be a temptation at all. But soon Satan will have other ways to get you off course. And no one ever gets to the point in their life where they can say, at last I know I will not commit certain sins. Some of the greatest and most godly people have fallen into sexual immorality. Even though they had a close walk with God, they never got to the point where they were no longer tempted and didn't know how to handle that temptation because nobody can say at last I'm free. Forever. You may be free.

I hope you are. But the Bible says that Satan, like a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he may devour. Never say to yourself, I will no longer be tempted. Do you know that you should accept the fact that you will be tempted? That doesn't mean that you ought to go running around looking for temptation, by the way. There are some people who say, well if God brings me to the place of temptation, then why don't I cooperate with him and get myself into a whole lot of temptation?

No, the Bible says that we should flee. Because you see, when we realize that we are weak in a certain area, it is also part of God's program for us to learn that and to turn away from the very suggestions or the very area in which we may be tempted, the geographical area even. So we can't say that, but the Bible does say in 1 Corinthians 10 verse 13 that no temptation has overtaken you, but such as is common to man. And it says God doesn't tempt anyone above that they are able, but will with the way of temptation make a way of escape that they might be able to bear it. Now if you continue in that way, if you continue in that sinful habit, I can say one of two things. Either you got yourself into it, or I can also tell you that you did not have to yield to it.

You did not have to yield to it. Because the Bible says that God will not put you in a test that is too great. His grace knows how much you can take, and if you are in a sinful habit that is too much for you, it is because you yourself steered your way into that situation, or else you can say I don't have to commit that sin. And I might say just to clarify that even if you brought yourself into that situation tonight you can decide to get out of it, because nobody has to perpetually live in defeat, because the provision has been made for victory. But I want you to realize that it is important for you to accept temptation and even thank God for it as a choice and an opportunity to choose for Him. Well my friend, this is Pastor Lutzen.

I want you to understand I don't want you to interpret my words to mean that you and I are able to achieve sinless perfection. As a matter of fact, we have struggled throughout our entire life, and in one sense we all die imperfect, but thanks to Jesus, He covers us with His righteousness and with all that He has done, and so we are ushered into God's presence with a sense of confidence. It's all because of Him. You know, we here at Running to Winter are so thankful for the many people who invest in this ministry. I'm holding in my hands a letter from someone who talks about how all the resources that we have here have helped him tremendously in his personal growth in ministry. He goes on to say that he's read many of our books, he has listened to many of our messages, and then he says this, thank you once again for the impact on my life, my family, my friends, and no doubt millions more. Now this thankfulness will flow back in financial support for your ministry. Well thank you very much, and thank you for the many of you who are committed to help us.

Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Here's what you do, go to

When you're there, click on the endurance partner or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Dr. Lutzer, we just got this word from a student with an all too common problem. He writes, I'm a Christian college freshman involved in intervarsity. Recently I've been asked to take a leadership position, leading a Bible study or something similar. I love the Bible and I'm serious about loving, obeying, and honoring God, but I have a misgiving about stepping up to lead. I protect myself from pornography and strive to be sexually pure, yet I consistently struggle with lust.

Does this weakness disqualify me from the leadership I would like to assume? My young college student, I want to say a few things to you. First of all, thank you so much for connecting with us. Second, actually, I was heartened by your question. The fact that you are keeping yourself from pornography and striving to be sexually pure is something that is very commendable. I wish that could be said about all Christian college students. So right there, you have proven to yourself and to God that you are indeed worthy of leadership and guidance and directing with intervarsity. With regard to your struggle, of course, if everyone who struggled with lust were disqualified for ministry, God would not have a lot of ministers in various parts of the world serving him.

Here is the key. The question is whether or not you strive against lust or whether or not you simply go with the flow and live out the desires of the flesh. In fact, I think that's a distinguishing mark of a Christian or a non-Christian. Non-Christians no longer battle it.

They just follow it wherever it leads. Christians, having the Holy Spirit, struggle against sexual desire, that is to say, illicit sexual desire, and that is the distinguishing mark of those who love God. You say in your question that you are loving and obeying and trying to honor God. God bless you.

Continue to remain pure and God will use you mightily and use your struggles to keep you humble. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for those words of counsel. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635, North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Next time, we'll get into teaching from Matthew Chapter 4 in detail. Dr. Erwin Lutzer has brought part one of Breaking the Chains of Bondage, the last of four messages in his series on Getting to Know, designed to set you free from that which binds you. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-06 13:36:07 / 2023-11-06 13:44:48 / 9

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