Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. One day Satan will reap what he never intended to sow. His gamble of turning traitor to God resulted in devastation on earth, and for him it will mean eternity in a burning lake. Where do you and I fit in?
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, you're talking again today about Lucifer's greatest blunder. Was it possible that he could have avoided making this blunder? Well, you know, Dave, that's a difficult question to answer theologically. Let's just simply say this, that if he had stayed where God put him, all of this disaster would not have happened. I've often contemplated this, and I'm not sure exactly what Lucifer knew when he decided to rebel against God. I don't think that he saw the future. I don't think that he saw his future in hell. He thought that he might be able to become a rival with God and get by with it.
And of course, throughout history, he has always wanted to be worshipped. But today as we think about this, we also are reminded of the triumph of Jesus Christ, and what a blunder it is for us to make the same mistake as Lucifer, and that is to underestimate the consequences of rebellion and sin. I want you to listen very carefully to this message today, and at the end of this broadcast, I'm going to be mentioning a very special resource that we have for you, because remember, our desire is to help you along the race of life all the way to the finish line.
Now let's listen carefully. Think of God's options. What could God have done now that sin had entered into the universe through Lucifer? Well, God could have said, number one, I'm just going to exterminate you. I'm just going to obliterate you.
I'm just going to vaporize you so that you aren't going to be in existence anymore. I guess that's one thing God could have done. He could have just simply said, Lucifer, I just crush you by raw power, and he's gone. Or else God could have said, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to confine you to another planet.
I'm going to set the bounds of your limitation, and you're going to be there on that other planet, and you're going to have all of eternity to do nothing but contemplate the utter stupidity and horror of what you've done. That would have been another option. God didn't see it fit to do it that way. He came up with another plan. He said, Lucifer, and now we can speak of him as Satan, Satan, you can continue to rule planet Earth. I'm not going to take away your power. The same power that you had before you sinned is going to be the same power that you have after you sinned. And I'm going to let you become the ruler of the world, and I want you to try to see, and I'm going to give you lots of time to see it, I'm going to let you try to see whether or not it is even possible for you to bring some kind of order out of the chaos that you have created.
I want to give you plenty of time to find out whether or not it is possible for a creature to oppose me and still come out okay on the other end. And so he was allowed to have awesome power. There's a staggering passage of scripture found in the fourth chapter of Luke, and you may turn to that if you would for a moment, because if you don't turn to it, you may not even believe that it is there. Luke chapter 4, Jesus and Satan are having that famous confrontation, and you'll notice the devil is asking Christ to worship him. It's very important for you to realize that the reason is because Satan is just absolutely consumed with pride, just absolutely consumed with pride.
He is so full of envy. You know, when he sees us being able to approach God, when he sees people redeemed, he is utterly frustrated and angry, but I'm ahead of myself. That's to come in another sermon somewhere along the line in this series. But notice what Jesus says to him in verse 4, man shall not live by bread alone. Verse 5, and he led him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and the devil said to him, I will give you all this domain and its glory.
Notice, for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomsoever I wish. Awesome. Unbelievable. Now if he were saying this to us, we'd rebuke him. We'd say that he's a liar, and he always lies. He almost always lies. The only time you know that he's telling the truth is when he says, I'm lying. Then you know he's telling the truth. But he's not talking to you.
He's not talking to me. He's talking to Jesus. And Jesus would have known better if he had been lying. And he says, all the kingdoms of the earth have been handed over to me, and I can give them to whomsoever I wish to give them. And Jesus didn't rebuke him.
Awesome power. God says, retain your power over the earth. But God also said, what I'm going to do is to end up taking mankind, who was created there in the Garden of Eden, and through the line of mankind, I'm going to bring a redeemer who is going to crush you. And it's going to be a moral, spiritual battle, not just a crushing by raw power.
But we're going to tough it out, and you are going to come out on the short end of the stick. So we have the Garden of Eden, which is part of our message next week, and then Satan tries to kill Jesus when he is born there in Bethlehem, when all of the boys, two years old and under, are killed in that vicinity. Evidently, he tried to kill Jesus there in Gethsemane, because he doesn't want Christ to go through with the cross, and yet there was a part of him that wanted Christ to be crucified.
It's the conflict of evil. But then Jesus Christ is put into that grave, and he ascends into heaven, showing Satan, who has the power of death that Jesus Christ can outdo him, and that Christ is the God of life and is stronger than Satan. So much so that Jesus could say just before he died, now is the judgment of this world, and now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And Paul says that Christ disarmed all principalities and all powers and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
A total crushing took place at the cross. You say, well, if that's the truth, then why is it that Satan is still so active today? Why is he able to have so much power? Well, he's basically out on parole, and God is allowing him a long leash to do his thing, because God is trying to prove a point. And Satan knows the point that God is trying to prove, by the way. This is not as if he's ignorant of what God is up to, but he keeps trying to prove the point anyway. And he keeps trying to oppose God, even though God's point is that he wants to show the utter total futility of any will that is opposed to God, the utter total, may I use the word, stupidity of any will, whether it be human or divine, whether it be human or angelic, I should say, who wants to take on God.
What foolishness. You see, Satan is the prince of this world, and yet he cannot organize this world. You know what he's proving. He's proving that he can only be a destroyer.
He can never be a builder. He's proving that even with his awesome power, he cannot bring about unity. He can only bring about division, confusion, conflict. And he is proving ultimately that he is not wise. He is not wise. I say that carefully. He is very, very intelligent, but he's not wise.
And what a difference there is. Do you realize that Satan is so intelligent that while I can't prove it, I would suspect that he knows that I'm preaching about him this morning at Moody Church. He's probably been told that by some of his underlings who are under his authority who are assigned to this part of Chicago. He probably knows it. He doesn't like what I'm going to say, but he knows it. He is very intelligent, but he isn't wise, because if he were wise, he would cease and desist all activity against God instantly.
You know why? Because every time he wins a battle, he loses. Every single time he wins a battle, he loses. Of necessity, he loses, or God would not be God.
You say, well, wait a minute. I don't know if I agree with that. You tell me, because after all, look at the havoc he's causing. Look at the Christian leaders who are falling into sin. Look at the Christians who are bound by satanic spirits. Look at the way in which he's blinding the eyes of the world as they see the gospel. And you're telling me that every time he wins, he loses.
Absolutely. Because I want you to know, among other things, that every time he opposes God and gains so much of an inch, his judgment in hell is going to be all the greater, all the greater he is heaping up. A tremendous amount of torment he would be better off to give up the battle right now, stop all activity against God.
But he doesn't do it. Because evil says, no matter how bad it's going to be in the future, I get some perverted satisfaction of taking on God now, and that's all that counts. And now we come to the final point of the drama, stage four, everlasting torment. Turn to Revelation 13 and then also chapter 20. Keep your finger in both passages of Scripture, because I want you to see the highs and the lows. Revelation 13, verse 7, we're in the middle of the tribulation period in this discussion in Revelation, and antichrist is ruling, controlling totally. Antichrist is Satan. And it says in verse 7, and it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. Isn't this mind-boggling?
That Satan has authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on the earth will worship him, except a few, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life, of the lamb who has been slain. Everybody else is worshiping him. This is his most glorious moment. It's his most glorious moment. Here's a proud egotistical being consumed with a sense of his own beauty and importance, hating God with an incredible passion and hating us with the same passion, because we are standing with God, therefore our tremendous fury against the saints. And for one brief moment, all of the things that he has ever wanted have come to him. All that dwell upon the face of the earth worship him, every tribe, every family, and he's getting all the glory. Do you think he's enjoying it? Oh, only in a very, very perverted way, because he is in torment even when this is happening, because he knows that this moment of glory is so incredibly short.
So short! It's gone, just like that. Turn to Revelation 20, verse 10. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, who deceived all the nations, yes.
He was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast, his accomplices, and the false prophet are also. And they will be tormented day and night, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever. And that's what happens when somebody takes on God and says, I want a piece of the action. You know, all this glory going to God. Oh, glory to God. What about me in this?
I get some glory too. That's where it ended. We've entitled this series, What is God up to? So what is God up to?
A number of different things, just one for you to remember today. God is proving the utter total futility, as I have already said, of any being that stands in opposition to him. That anybody who takes on God and resists the Almighty and says, I will not submit to his authority.
I'm going to do my own thing. Any person like that, of necessity by divine law and sovereign decree, must, must lose, must lose, or else God wouldn't be God. God's taking thousands of years to give man a good chance to take him on and to give all the demons of hell who fell with Lucifer a good chance to take God on and to organize rebellion. And look how far he's come. Look how far he's come.
Nothing but despair and futility. And so you see, Satan reaches out and he wants to take that exotic bit of pleasure and put it in his mouth. And so, way back when, he reached out and he took it and he put it to his lips and it turned to ashes, degrading substance in his mouth. And so he reached out and he wanted to be God. And so he, he took his hand and he went for the handle of the sword because he wanted to rule.
And he discovered that as he reached out and he went for it, he actually caught the blade. He's wounded, humiliated. You know that in addition to the pain of the torment in hell, do you know that one of the greatest torments that Satan will face is not just the pain that he's going to face, though that's awful, it is the total abject, unbelievable shame and humiliation.
And that's all that he's going to have to prove to himself how great and wonderful and how beautiful he is. And I want you to know today, folks, that every promise that Satan ever makes, every promise that the world ever makes of necessity must be proven to be false, that only what God says is true. Some of you are believing lies that say this, if I take care of myself first, if I don't yield all my life to God, if I keep a compartment of it to myself, I will be better off because this is the way to happiness. After all, I cannot endure yieldedness to the Almighty. His demands are impossible because you know right well that if you submitted totally to him, you'd have to break some relationship that you're involved in and it's a nasty process of breaking it. And some of you say, well, you know, if I really submitted to God, what about all of the things that he's given me? I'd have to begin to think about what to do with the gifts and the money that he's given to me.
I would have to reorganize my time. And submission to God is not where it's at. I need to keep a part of my life to myself and keep it under my control rather than yielding to the will and the purposes of the Almighty. And you know that to that extent, you are deceived and will find that of absolute necessity, I don't want to repeat myself, but I need to say it one more time, that of necessity, you will lose out because no one who opposes God ever wins. Period.
And that's it. There was a young woman who lived in immorality, rebellious. She knows better than God. She knows better than the church.
She knows better than the elders and the deacons. I heard this story many years ago. The young lady's name was Toni Jo Henry. She lived somewhere in the south. And one day in a relationship with her boyfriend, which didn't work out and they never really do work out, do they? Come to think of it, she ended up killing him because of a dispute that arose.
And later on when someone visited her in jail, she made this profound statement. She said, you know, I knew that God ran the whole show, but she said, I thought I could steal one small act. That's all that I want is one small act. Oh, boy.
Isn't that the commentary on all of us? We know that God runs the show, but oh, we need one small act to ourselves. And it is that small act that becomes the seat of a whole host of troubles. Because God says no person pitted against me can ever possibly, possibly win. You know what the good news is in this conflict? That not only did Jesus Christ win a moral victory, but when Jesus Christ died on the cross and he won that victory against Satan, God was able to remain just and yet to justify people, to cleanse them from sin.
Because you say, well, Pastor Luther, I come today to Moody Church with all kinds of things in my life that are impure and that are wrong. Jesus Christ's death was such a sacrifice for sin that God says I can acquit any person who believes in him. And so that the past can be wiped out and so that the future can become a future filled with a blessing of the living God. That's why God's greatest gift in all of the mess of this world is his son for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. What good news to proclaim in a world that is filled and torn with evil and strife and uncertainty and rebellion.
There is hope through Christ our Savior and our King. Join me if you would and let us pray. Father as we have prayed so often, in moments like this we know that you need to do what no man can. You know those who have brought with them today to this auditorium, pockets of rebellion, issues that they are not willing to turn over to you no matter what. And in this moment I pray that you will cause them to give them up and to say, Lord, I surrender.
It's game over. I put down the weapons of a rebel and I bring my will in harmony with yours. For those who do not know Christ as Savior, we pray that they may understand that really what they need to do is to simply look to Jesus and be saved.
They don't need to bring anything with them except the faith to look to the Son of God. For those who know you, who already know exactly what it is that they are holding out on, we pray that today may be a day in which they give it all up. Do that, Lord, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Well, this is Pastor Lutzer. Isn't it wonderful to know that Jesus Christ triumphed over our enemy? And you know, if you've been listening to Running to Win with any degree of regularity, you know that the great emphasis that we have on our hearts is the exaltation of Jesus as our Savior, as our King, and as our Lord. And indeed, Satan has been trampled under his feet. Oh, I know that we continue to see Satan work in the world, but he is a defeated foe and he knows that his doom is sure.
I'm holding in my hand a resource that we think is going to be a tremendous blessing to you. It's entitled The Bible Code. Now, this has nothing to do with the Da Vinci Code that we heard so much about many years ago. The Bible Code is simply finding Jesus in every book of the Bible. Every one of these readings has a reference to Christ in the scriptures, in the various books, and then a brief exposition of that particular verse. Because after all, the Bible is a unified whole. The Bible is one storyline. And this attractive book, which is very welcoming, very easy to read, will remind you of its unity.
The Bible Code, finding Jesus in every book of the Bible. Now, for a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com, or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, perhaps I gave that to you too quickly, so here's that contact info again.
rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for helping us. Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for your gifts, because together we are making a difference. Ask for The Bible Code. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. At the fall, mankind became the casualty. Next time, the high price of an act of disobedience. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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