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God At War Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 6, 2021 1:00 am

God At War Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 6, 2021 1:00 am

Does it look to you like Satan and evil is winning? You can’t play both sides or even be neutral in the battle between good and evil. But all of Satan’s supposed gains are merely illusions. The Lord’s victory is firm, but the battle continues to go on—and will until Christ returns. In this message, your heart will be strengthened by three examples of conflicts where Satan appeared to be winning but God still hastened Satan’s judgment.  Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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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. The Star Wars films saw good and evil as two sides of a coin, the force, with a good side and a dark side. While we don't take theology from Hollywood, we all know there's a great struggle going on between good and evil.

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, they call it the conflict of the ages. It's between God and Satan, and the consequences are everywhere. Tell us where we're headed as you teach today about God at war.

Well, Dave, I can assure you that where we are headed is very clear. In the end, God wins. Now, when I read the book of Revelation and I see the conflict that is still to come upon this earth, I'm absolutely overwhelmed.

On the one hand, it appears as if evil is going to win, but of course it will not. God will triumph. Thank God for Jesus Christ.

Thank God that he came at Bethlehem and that he was willing to die on the cross, and he exposed the errors of the devil and won a victory. I'm holding in my hands a book entitled The Bible Code, a great book to give to your friends. The subtitle is Finding Jesus in Every Book of the Bible. Each of these readings is two or three pages long, very readable, very accessible.

It helps us to understand that the Bible is a unified whole, and it's all about Jesus. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Go to rtwoffer.com.

That's rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us listen carefully as once again we understand the conflict, but thank God we know who the winner is. Now my topic today is God at war, God at war.

It was Toynbee who said, blessed is the nation that has no history, for history is a record of war. I'm not going to be talking about military battles, physical battles, because those kinds of battles take place on earth between countries. I'm talking about battles that go on in the human heart. I'm talking about the conflict that has been going on for centuries between God and the devil, and it's a conflict in which you and I are directly involved, whether we want to or not or whether we know about it or not, we are a part of what is happening. In order to set the context, I want you to turn to Genesis chapter 3 where we find most things got their start. Genesis chapter 3, we find that the Lord, of course, is cursing Satan, giving him a verse. Now, remember that the first message of this series was God, was on the topic of God when he was alone. The next message I spoke about the fall of Satan last week was man, the casualty, and this time we're speaking about the conflict between God and Satan.

Genesis 3.15 has sometimes been considered as the John 3.16 of the Old Testament. Let me read it to you. And I will put enmity between you and the woman. The Lord here, by the way, you know, is speaking to the servant. I will put enmity between you and the woman between your seed and her seed.

He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel. You say, well, what is the text saying here? It doesn't seem to be very clear. First of all, let me explain that Satan's seed refers to demons and all the people of the world who side with Satan against God. And the text says that there will also be the seed of the woman, that is, the righteous seed culminating in Jesus Christ, in the birth of Christ, the Redeemer.

So with that background, let's try to understand the text this way. First of all, the Lord says that a Redeemer is going to come, but there is going to be conflict. I will put enmity. I will put hostility between the work of Satan and the work of God. There's going to be war, and that's what we're talking about. Furthermore, the Lord not only says there's going to be war, but he predicts how it's going to come out. What is Satan going to be able to do? He will nip the heel of the Redeemer.

That's the best he'll do. He will nip the heel of the Redeemer, but what will the Redeemer do? The Redeemer will bruise or crush his head.

I'm told that serpents have their poison in their head. And so what Jesus is going to do is to stomp on the devil and twist him into the dirt and end his authority and reverse his work. But there's going to be enmity.

There's going to be war. Is Satan going to give up? No.

Is he going to lose? Yes. Are you and I involved in the conflict?

You bet. If pastors bet, you bet. What I'd like to do today is to give you an example of three conflicts that Satan has been involved in, in which God has allowed him to win some tremendous victories, awesome victories. But in the end, the victories are illusionary because it only hastens Satan's judgment. And to do that, we're going to be looking at a number of passages of scripture.

Some we will be reading, others I will simply recall to your mind. The first conflict is when Satan tries to destroy the race. He tries to destroy the race. If we had time to read chapter 4, we'd find out that Cain kills Abel. Who was Cain's inspiration?

The Bible says in 1 John that Cain killed Abel because he was of that evil one. Why was that important to Satan? It's because, you see, Satan can't see the future. He doesn't know that it's going to take thousands of years for the Redeemer to be born.

And he probably is thinking that Abel, who is a righteous child, likely is going to be the one who's going to crush him on the head. Because, you see, he can't foresee the future. He can know what people are thinking, he can know what is being planned, especially those who belong to him, but he cannot predict the future.

And President Kennedy was shot in Dallas many years ago. All kinds of soothsayers came forward and said, I predicted it. Have you ever noticed that it's much easier to predict an event after it happens than before?

Have you ever noticed that? You know, if you buy those newspapers at the beginning of the year with all those predictions, keep one of those some time. Keep it for a few years and see how many of them came true. Very, very few.

As many as you and I might be able to predict. So, you see, what Satan tries to do, though, is he has two tactics. The first is kill the righteous seed.

That's number one. Number two, if you can't kill them, corrupt them. All right, he tries to kill Abel, and Abel is killed, and what does God do? God gives Adam and Eve another son whose name is Seth, and the word Seth means substitute.

And so Satan begins to understand that no matter how many he kills, God will only give another one, and therefore he changes his tactics, and he says, I'm going into corruption now. Turn to Genesis 6. It says in verse 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they took wives for themselves, whatever they chose. And then it says, verse 3, the Lord said, my spirit shall not always strive with man. Verse 4, the Nephilim were on the earth in those days. Also, afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, those were the mighty men who were old men of renown.

You say, what in the world is going on here? In every other place where the expression sons of God occurs in the Hebrew Bible, it's a reference to angels. So I take this text to be a reference to fallen angels involved in illicit sexual moral activity, either directly, you say that's absurd, that's 18th century, that's medieval. Oh yeah, I've spoken to people who have been so given over to immorality that they had sexual experiences that were demonic. Or perhaps these demonic spirits were simply energizing the people in their sexual activity. But at any rate, the evil is so profound that it says in verse 5, the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continuously. Wow.

What a society. I can imagine Satan saying to himself, I've won, I've won, I've won, I've won. The whole race is corrupted.

There is no good seed that's going to bruise me. Ah, verse 8, but Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. One man, one family, and that's all that God needs. Do you see how close God is willing to allow Satan to come to a point of victory and then suddenly cuts him off and doesn't allow him to have what he thinks he might have? And so he has to snatch defeat out of the very jaws of victory.

It's so close, but, but there's no one. Let me give you another example of a battle that Satan appears to win and then eventually loses. First of all, he tries to destroy the race. Now, if you look at Genesis chapter 12, you remember God called Abraham and the Lord said that Abraham is going to be the one who will be the righteous seed. And it says in verse 3, I'm assuming you know the text here, 12 verse 3, I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Obviously a not so veiled reference to the coming Redeemer. So it's going to be through the seed of Abraham that all the families of the earth are going to receive blessing. Satan understanding this begins a persecution process.

Remember his two methods are kill and if killing doesn't work, corrupt. So afterwards Abraham has a number of sons. You know the story of how they go into Egypt and once they're in Egypt under the leadership of Pharaoh, what is Satan trying to do to exterminate the seed of Abraham? And so a Pharaoh says, I'm going to try to kill people by hard labor. And then he says to the midwives, when a child is being born, if he is a male child, kill him. Extermination of what we now call the Jewish race. That's what he was after.

Did it work? Well, not quite because God allowed the people to get out of Egypt after inflicting judgment on the gods of Egypt. You know that all of those plagues in the book of Exodus, every single one was directed to a different Egyptian God. For example, they used to worship the Nile River. What does the Lord do?

The Nile turns to blood and it's unusable. They used to worship the sun. What does God do? Darkness is upon the face of the land and the sun doesn't shine. God is mocking the gods of Egypt. It says in Exodus chapter 12 verse 12, against all the gods of Egypt, I will execute judgment.

I am the Lord. Some people escape. They go through the Red Sea. They end up in the desert. Eventually they get into the land.

Extermination didn't work. So Satan changes his strategy and he moves to corruption. And so once the people are in the land, what do you read in the book of Samuel and in the book of Kings? Nothing but idolatry, the people worshiping the pagan gods and no matter how much righteousness there was in the land, generation after generation it always collapsed again and there was idolatry all over the place. And eventually God says I've had enough and he allowed the Assyrians to come in and carry off 27,000 people to Assyria where they lived there as refugees. And then he allowed the Babylonians to come in and to carry off thousands of people into Babylon and Satan again is waving the flag and saying I've won, I've won, I've won. Well not quite. There were some people who came back.

They came back 70 years later and they started to rebuild the temple and all and the reason that you have all those genealogies in Ezra and Nehemiah is God is making sure that we understand that his prediction to Abraham is being fulfilled and the genealogy is being preserved because things are being set up for the coming of Jesus Christ onto planet earth. And Satan seems to be so close that God always wins. Let me give you a third example. He tries to corrupt the whole race. He tries to corrupt the whole nation. Now he tries to destroy a baby.

He tries to destroy a baby. Turn to Matthew chapter 2 for just a moment. Matthew chapter 2. What's going on here in the text? Well we find out that Herod wants to worship Jesus.

Ha ha ha ha ha. The Magi come to Jerusalem and they say we're looking for the Christ child. Incidentally the star did not lead them to Bethlehem. It led them to Jerusalem so that the scribes could tell them what the scripture says. People think that just because they were led by the stars people are into astrology which the Bible forbids.

It is rebellion against God for people to go by the horoscopes. But I want you to notice Herod of course is so kind isn't he? Verse 8 of chapter 2 he sent them to Bethlehem and said go and make careful search for the child and when you have found him report to me that I may come and worship him also.

The liar. They of course worship Christ and then they are warned and they go into Egypt and Jesus and his parents go into Egypt and Herod finds out about it in verse 16. It says when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the Magi he became very enraged and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in its environs from two years old and under according to the time which he had ascertained from the Magi. He says I'm going to kill him and he didn't know which baby to kill so he says I'm going to kill the whole works. Satan says to himself surely I'm going to win this victory. Did he win the victory? No.

What happened was Jesus and his parents had slipped away into Egypt and escaped the hand of this dictator who was more interested in killing people than he was in any kind of righteousness. Alright I've already told you. Satan has two methods. Number one he always tries to kill. That's his preference. You say well how strong is he? It says in the book of Hebrews that Satan has the power of death.

Awesome. That's what he likes to do. He's the destroyer. He'd like to kill us and to kill the people of God. Does he pull it off?

No he doesn't pull it off. Jesus eludes his grasp so he moves on to plan B, corruption. He says I can't kill him. I'm going to corrupt him. He takes him into the desert and says look command these stones that they be made bread. In other words do a miracle independently of God and if you don't want to do that bow down and worship me.

Fall into the sin of idolatry and if you do that I'm going to give you all the kingdoms of the earth and their glory. And he had the right to do that by the way because Jesus didn't rebuke him. He's trying to corrupt the Son of God of all things. What what audacity the devil has but it's his best shot.

He's desperate. Jesus of course is no to all of the temptations and once again now Satan has a real dilemma on his hands because he knows that Jesus is the Redeemer. He doesn't quite understand all that is going to happen but he doesn't know now whether to support the crucifixion of Jesus Christ or to be against it.

What is he supposed to do in the middle of this? If he allows the Jews to accept Christ by not offering any resistance and they embrace Jesus as Messiah, Jesus would be embraced by the nation possibly establishing the kingdom and of course we knew that he had to die but he can't stand the nation accepting Christ as Messiah. So he as a last-ditch effort inspires the nation to nail Jesus Christ to the cross and for a few brief moments he is gleeful. It is ambivalent madness because he thinks to himself I have put the Son of God on the cross which incidentally is the topic of my sermon next week. He says I've put Jesus on the cross and he gets that momentary delight of seeing Christ appear in all weakness hanging there, dying like a common criminal.

Moments of delight, right? Ah, listen, did God have anything to do with that? Turn to Acts chapter 4, just a moment. How well did Satan do to thwart the purpose of God? Did he really derail God's program, right? God's in heaven saying I don't know what to do, the devil's just so strong, he's just doing awful things down there and I don't know how to handle it.

No, chapter 4 verse 27 of Acts 4, truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate along with the Gentiles and the people of Israel to do whatever thy hand and thy purpose predestined to occur. I love it! It's fantastic. Well my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer, I hope that you love it too. The reason that I love it is because it shows the sovereignty of God over the devil.

As Lutzer said, even the devil is God's devil. By the way, Christmas is just around the corner. Are you looking for a gift that you'd love to give to your neighbors? Perhaps they are believers, perhaps not. You'd like to give them a gift that would be very readable, that would remind them that the Bible is a unified book. It's entitled The Bible Code has nothing to do with the Da Vinci Code that we heard about so many years ago. The Bible Code, Finding Jesus in Every Book of the Bible.

And every one of these readings is two or three pages. The book is very welcoming. It's one that you can give to your friends and if you contact us right now, we believe that we can have it to you for Christmas.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com.

Of course, rtwoffer is all one word. Rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Contact us right away and we'll put this book in the mail that you can keep one for yourself or you may be able to order multiple copies. Ask for The Bible Code, Finding Jesus in Every Book of the Bible. Call us at 1-888-218-9337. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life.

Amy in Carrollton, Texas, listens to Running to Win on KDKR. She's been deeply hurt and wants to know this. How do we respond to those who've wronged us but don't acknowledge any wrongdoing on their part or say that no wrongdoing ever occurred? Everyone involved in this situation is a Christian or claims to be. What's your advice?

My advice is simply this. There are so many issues in life that you and I cannot sort out. For example, you say everyone involved is a Christian. Are they Christians? We don't really know. Jesus said that in this life the wheat and the tares, they grow together. So sometimes we look at a person's life and we may say that they are Christians, they may claim to be Christians, but there's no fruit, there's really no evidence, and the answer is you and I don't really know because we can't see the heart.

So that would be the first thing. You have to accept the fact that there are many issues that we cannot sort out. Second, it is very customary for evil people who've done evil to deny it. And so the important thing is to not be surprised at the fact that there are some people who pretend everything is okay even though they have done you an awful lot of harm.

That's just the way it is. We have to be able to accept the fact that that will happen. For example, those who are abusers, parents who've abused their children almost uniformly, they will in the end deny that they did it. So here's my pastoral advice to you. What is important is that you personally lay down your bitterness that you may have toward these people. Commit them to God, vengeance is mine, I will recompense, says the Lord, and don't try to get them to agree with you that it happened.

If they're going to deny it, they're going to deny it. Those kinds of discussions ultimately go nowhere. So be sure that your own heart has forgiven them in this sense, that you're laying down the bitterness. You're giving it to God to resolve. That's the way it often is in life as we think about the sinners among whom we live.

And of course, you and I are also in that category. Even as saints, we still sin, and so what we need to do is to simply make sure that our own heart is right with God. Good words for Amy and for all of us from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com 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 on Ask Pastor Lutzer, more about Satan's attempts to thwart God's redemptive plan. We'll hear about the devil's most ambitious ploy. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-13 15:30:33 / 2023-07-13 15:39:37 / 9

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