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What The Serpent Wants From You Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
February 11, 2022 1:00 am

What The Serpent Wants From You Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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February 11, 2022 1:00 am

Satan wants us to think he has godlike powers. But God wants us to see that Satan is on a short leash. Satan cannot trip us up unless God gives permission. In this message, we’ll learn how to submit to God, rely on the Spirit, and stand when the enemy hammers us. The conflict in the heavenlies is not between equal powers of light and darkness. Our God remains sovereign over the devil.  

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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. Satan wants us to think he has God-like powers, but God wants us to see Satan as being on a short leash. Satan cannot trip you up unless God gives the okay. There's no heavenly conflict between equal powers of light and darkness.

There's just God, period. 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. In our series on God's Devil, we're learning how God uses Satan in believers' lives. Pastor Lutzer, was this the case in the life of Paul the apostle? Dave, the answer is yes, if you remember in 2 Corinthians chapter 12, the Bible clearly says that when Paul was struggling with his thorn in the flesh, it was a messenger of Satan to buffet him. But also, what comes to mind is Jesus Christ's words to Peter, Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you that he might sift you like wheat. But I've prayed for you.

And when you are strengthened, you strengthen your brethren. So imagine this, Satan could not touch Peter without Christ's permission. I wrote the book entitled God's Devil to help people to see that God is totally sovereign.

At the end of this message, I'm going to be giving you contact info as to how this book can be yours. For now, I want us to listen carefully as we go to the pulpit of Moody Church and learn more about the devil, but also, blessedly, more about God. And he says, most gladly will I therefore now rather glory in mine infirmity that the power of Christ may rest upon me. And this evil messenger who means evil toward Paul, Paul says, even though he is my enemy, God is using him for my good and my purification. See, Paul didn't have this problem because he had committed some sin that he had to confess. In fact, he tells us that the reason it was given was to keep him from the possibility of falling into the sin of pride. And God says, I'm going to give you a thorn in the flesh and it is going to humble you and keep you on your knees and broken before me. And I'm going to leave it there and I'm going to let you struggle with it.

Can't you imagine? Job, Saul, Peter, this man in Corinthians, and people like the Apostle Paul all going to a deliverance ministry and saying, you know, we're all having some kind of demonic activity in our lives at some level and all that we want to do is to simply have it rebuked, taken care of, because that's the way we want deliverance. Now I believe in deliverance, but it isn't always that simple.

It isn't as clear cut as some people would want us to think it is. We need to be careful and that's why people who struggle with demonic activity, one of the first things they have to do is to thank God for the struggle. You never thank God for the sin.

No, but you thank God for the struggle because number one, you know now that God is in it. He's back of it. And number two, you know that in some way he's using it for your good. He may be using it to discipline you. He, that may not be the purpose. He may be using it to refine you and he is going to deliver you.

But think of all the lessons you are going to learn as a result of it. It is God's teaching tool. So number three, God may use Satan in our lives to purify us. Number four, God and the devil of course have different purposes in our conflicts.

There are different purposes, contradictory purposes. What does God want out of our conflicts and our wrestling with the devil? And we do wrestle with the devil. I have wrestled with the devil. You have wrestled with the devil.

We all have. What's the purpose of it all? Well, God has his purpose. God says what I want to do is to give you some real good chances to show that you love me and I will be glorified if you are content with me rather than content with sin. I will be glorified if you will obey me even when it's hard to obey me. I'll be glorified if you love me so much that you'll be satisfied with my will even though it's tough. That's the way God is glorified. He had one son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and now the scripture says that he wants to bring many sons into glory through suffering. And usually it cannot be accomplished in any other way except through suffering.

If you're suffering today, you have a brother called the Lord Jesus Christ. That's God's agenda. What's Satan's agenda?

Oh, his agenda. The thief cometh not but for this steel to kill and to destroy. He wants to steal. What does he want to steal from you? He wants to steal your peace because he knows that if you are not at peace, you're going to make wrong decisions.

You're going to do wild things. You're going to cast about for some kind of an answer within your soul. He wants to steal your fellowship with God. If you're a believer, he knows that he cannot steal your soul, but he wants to steal your witness. He wants to render you inoperative. He wants to see you on the shelf. He wants to see you so filled with unbelief and hatred and negativism and such a preoccupation with your anxieties that basically, so far as we can discern at least, you are really not of too much value for the kingdom of God here on earth.

He wants to paralyze you. That's what he wants. Number four, and most importantly now, temptation is our clearest example. Temptation is our clearest example to develop the Christ-likeness, to prove that we love Christ.

Temptation is the battleground upon which I'm going to put it somewhat indelicately. Either Satan wins or God wins. Now, that isn't correct theologically because God always wins, but that's a whole other theological story that needs to be told at some other time. But whether we give in to temptation or whether we resist it, God is either honored or he is dishonored.

Satan is either glad or Satan is very unhappy. In order to understand that a little better, turn with me in your Bible to the fourth chapter of Matthew. It's a classic passage that has been preached on many times and I shall make only a few brief remarks regarding it and that is Christ and his encounter with Satan. Notice Matthew chapter four verse one says, then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

You know what I think the impression that is sometimes given. I think there are people who think that, you know, Jesus was there in the desert kind of running away from the devil and the devil was going up and down the Judean hills saying where is he? Where is he?

I can hardly wait to get to him. You know, I think that the opposite was true. The scripture says that Jesus was driven into the wilderness in order to be tempted of the devil. The devil may have been doing the hiding and Jesus was going to smoke him out because they needed a confrontation. They were on a collision course and I want you to notice here again that the devil is God's devil. Christ is driven into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil and you and I are put in situations of temptation and those situations of temptation in some instances at least have been ordained by God to give us a chance to show how much we love Christ and how committed we are to fellowship with him, which incidentally is the only real motivation that you and I will ever have to choose Christ rather than the devil. It is love for Christ that is the greatest of all the motivations.

But now notice quickly. The tempter comes to him, verse 3, and says to him, if you are the Son of God, more accurately, since you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. He takes a very common desire of the body. Jesus had fasted 40 days. If you ever fast 40 days, I'm told that after 40 days you become hungry and that's exactly what happened in the life of Christ.

Some of you are smiling because you think you'd be hungry before that time, but that's actually what happens is after a while your system shuts down and you're not hungry for about 40 days, but after that you are. And so the tempter comes and he says, cause these stones to be made into bread and God has the ability to create. In the Old Testament he created manna, made little wafers, go ahead and do it and eat. Now just in and of itself without a context there'd be nothing wrong with that. Jesus turned fish into being able to feed a huge multitude and he took five loaves of bread and fed a multitude. He had already done it, but it was the wrong time in the wrong way and it wasn't the right time and the Father's will.

That was the point. Now Satan comes to us in the very same way and says you have a desire for food, you have a desire for sexuality, you could actually put into this text any lust of the flesh you wanted. Whether it was alcoholism or drugs or gluttony or pornography, you have these desires, fulfill them. And we as humans rationalize and we say yes, well if I have the desire it must be okay to fulfill the desire. And the answer is no, not all the time.

No, you can't make that equation. Christ had the desire, he had the ability, but it wasn't the right time. You know what Jesus said, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Christ said I have bread that has come to me from heaven and I'm feeding on that bread. It's the bread that my Father and I have and that's so satisfying to me that I can say no to this temptation and I can live by the words that come out of my Father's mouth. That's your temptation and that's my temptation.

And what we need to do is to recognize that these desires, no matter how explosive, no matter how great they may be, no matter how hooked we might convince ourselves that we are, if we learn to eat the bread that comes down from heaven in fellowship with our Heavenly Father, we will be able to say begone Satan for it is written, man shall not live by this alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Look at the second temptation. He takes him to the holy city, notice his authority and power. I don't know how he does he scoop Christ up, we're not told.

He stood him on the pinnacle of the temple. Pinnacle of the temple, perhaps the southeast wall that goes into the Kidron Valley and he takes Christ there and he says to him in effect, very modern loose translation, become a bungee jumper. Just stand there and cast yourself down and the angels are going to scoop you up and bring you back and word is going to go throughout the city of Jerusalem how fantastic you are and do it because after all I've got a verse for you. I've got a verse for you.

He'll give his angels charge concerning you and in their hands they shall bear you up. People who don't recognize that Satan knows a lot of the Bible by memory and he comes with a verse. Jesus said you shall not test the Lord your God. You shouldn't put God to the test. My heart broke one day when I was watching television and I was watching one of these deliverance ministries where a man I believe came very close to being so presumptuous that the very words that were taking place here would be applicable to him.

He was talking about his ability to heal, his ability to cast out demons and then he says I was in this funeral home and he said I was just tempted to raise the dead and I thought to myself well you know if you were tempted to why didn't you try but he spoke with such arrogance bothered me. God is his judge sorry I said it stroke it from the record but I'm troubled by people who think they have such authority that they can do whatever they want and God is just in heaven waiting to do nothing but to do their will parenthesis. We do not have absolute control over the devil.

Only God does. We don't have that. If we had absolute control we'd gather together, we'd have a prayer meeting, we'd banish him from Chicago then we'd banish him from the United States then the whole world and we'd get rid of him once for all.

We can't do that. God has a purpose. God is going to do it at the end but we can't. God has given us all these resources to fight him individually, personally and as a church but it's not as if we have absolute control but notice this. Jesus said don't test God.

Believe him but don't test him. He appealed to Christ's pride. Then the covetousness, the lust of the eyes, he took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their glory and he said all these things I give you. He says Jesus I'll give you the scepter. He said I'll give you the scepter and theologians debate as to whether or not he had the right to say that he would give that scepter to Christ but he says I'll give you the scepter and Satan knew that whomever you worship has the right to be obeyed. You worship me and then you obey me and you can have the kingdoms of this world and you can have those kingdoms without going to the cross and Jesus comes back and said begone Satan for it is written you shall worship the Lord your God and serve him only. Then notice it says in verse 11 the devil left him and behold angels began to minister to him and there's such a thing as having resisted temptation, having come through it. Have you had this experience?

I know that I have. In resisting a particular temptation and later on having such a sense of God's presence and such beautiful fellowship you say to yourself that if I had given into that temptation no matter how pleasurable it may have been it could never have been worth the presence of almighty God. God is with us and his blessing comes to those who believe.

I think maybe some would say Satan is coming through the pipes this morning but let us remember if that is true if that is true it's been approved by God so that means we no longer have to pay any attention to it and we can just finish the message. Let me summarize today with three S's. Three S's. Number one, submit to God. Submit to God. Number two, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit. You see it isn't just submission.

We don't win the battle only by submission. Submission is very very important but it is faith and faith comes by receiving the Holy Spirit in his fullness. Jesus went up to heaven the Bible says and when he is there he poured forth the gift of the Holy Spirit and we receive the Spirit of God in faith. If you walk by the Spirit you'll not fulfill the desires of the flesh. Nobody has ever been able to live the Christian life by determination.

Nobody ever lives the Christian life because they feel guilty and they think it's about time to change. We can only live the Christian life victoriously when we receive in simple faith the filling of the Holy Spirit and then we stand. So you have submit, you have the Spirit and then stand.

It says in the book of Ephesians that we are to stand against the wiles of the devil. Where do we stand? We stand on territory that Christ conquered when he died. This was the last message that I preached. We stand there absolutely convinced that he has won a victory for us. That we do not have to be a part of his wiles and I believe some people disagree with me that we have every right to talk to him as long as we tell him to be gone.

And we say be gone in the name of Jesus for it is written. And you have to say it maybe three times, maybe five times. Jesus here had to say it three times and later on he came back.

And we stand and we stand and we stand and we recognize the victory that he has won in our behalf. Some of you have heard me tell the story before but I need to tell it here because it fits about the time when I was studying French at one of the universities here because I was supposed to pass a French exam and I don't know any French at all, still don't by the way, but the only thing I could say in French was cut the grass, which as you know is modillon. And I had to go into the professor's office.

He took a journal off the shelf, a philosophical journal and I was supposed to translate on site. Flunked it the first time, flunked it the second time. Third time I was so afraid.

I'll tell you I could hardly eat breakfast. There have been few times in my life that I've been so intimidated as that time. And I began to think, you know, Satan could be involved in this somehow. And so I began to recite scriptures. Be gone for it is written. The scripture says be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. And then I'd quote peace I leave with you, my peace I give on to you. I quoted all these verses and they didn't help. But I got into the car and I began to just say these verses over and over again.

I said this is really something. How could I be so shook over a French exam? And I got there and before I got to the university, I remember I was about a half a mile away. Suddenly such a sense of peace flooded over me. It was just overwhelming. I have few times in my life so sensed the intimacy of God's presence. It was just as if every worry, every vestige of concern left me and I was in that car alone with God. What a moment. Walked into the office, he took the journal off the shelf, gave me something to translate and I flunked it cold.

I went back to Edgewater Baptist Church where I was the pastor at that time. I was in such a good mood. My secretary said why are you in such a good mood?

What got into you? I said I've just flunked French three times in a row. So I say to the students who are present, if you've got to flunk, do it victoriously.

So you don't have to ask me. I did pass it on the fourth try. One of the things I learned is that he doesn't leave just because you throw a verse at him. You submit, you receive the fullness of the Spirit and then you stand and you stand and you stand and you stand and after you've stood, you continue to stand because he will hammer you and hammer you and hammer you and hammer you and you have to say it is written, be gone.

And eventually he says to himself, I can't take this anymore and he leaves. We have a lion who's going about seeking whom he may devour but I want you to know that the Bible says they overcame him by the word of their testimony and by the blood of the lamb. Folks, concluding line today, it's our responsibility to glance at the lion but to gaze on the lamb because the lion has been tread upon by the lamb of God who has opened the book, who has crushed the head of the serpent and invites all of his people to say, stand with me in victory and enjoy God and enjoy God.

That's the whole point of it. And with his help and strength, we can, we can and let us pray. Father, thank you that your word says that we have exceeding great and precious promises that by these we can overcome the world and the devil. Help us to receive those in our spirit today. For those who struggle, for those who feel hopeless, we ask oh Lord that you will engraft in them in this moment the truths of your word that they may stand. Father, hear the prayer of all of those who have prayed and grant us strength that we might be victorious in Jesus' name.

Amen. This is Pastor Lutzer and today I want to give you an admonition that I hope will be a blessing. Yes, indeed, as this message has indicated, we are able to stand against the wiles of the devil. But I need to emphasize that we also need the help of others. That's why fellowship within the church is important. That's why corporate prayer is important. When the apostle Paul says in the book of Ephesians so clearly, above all take the shield of faith, in those days shields were beveled.

By that I mean they were linked together so that as soldiers went into war, it was as if there was an entire wall that was walking forward. You do need others. I feel very deeply that the book entitled God's Devil will be a tremendous blessing to you.

It will expose the work of the devil but also the absolute triumph of Christ that we must accept. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to

Perhaps you didn't have an opportunity to write that down so I'll give it to you again. Or if you prefer, you can pick up the phone right now, write this number down, 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, 1 4. Some who watch movies think ghosts are ectoplasmic energy. Here's a reality check. Ghosts are very real. Next time on Running to Win, the facts on haunted houses, ghosts, familiar spirits, and other forms of demonic influence, and why Christians must shun them all like the plague. We'll learn all about ten doors that let the serpent in and how to keep those doors shut. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-06 11:27:22 / 2023-06-06 11:36:23 / 9

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