Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
Some athletes take drugs to get that competitive edge, but short-term gain is followed by long-term ruin. So it is in the battle for our minds. The enemy won't just go away. We need to take proactive steps to defend our thinking from Satan's delusions, using God's weapons in the war for our souls. 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, I believe you're taking us to 2 Corinthians chapter 10 to see why secular solutions won't help us win this war. Yes, Dave, I'll comment on that in a moment, but first of all, I want to wish all of our listeners a very blessed Valentine's Day.
This is an opportunity for couples to renew their vows, to reconnect, to remind each other why love is so important and why they do love one another. And I trust that God will bless us on this very special day when we are reminded once again that among all the attributes, the greatest of these is love. But, Dave, to your point, it is true that behind the physical world there are spiritual forces, and our mind actually exists in what I like to call the metaphysical world. That is to say it exists in the realm of physical activity, but also spiritual activity. And that's why it is so critical that we understand that the battle is indeed spiritual. I've written a book entitled Putting Your Past Behind You, and in this book I discuss the spiritual realities that we face when we want to change our behavior, when we invite God to enable us to be the kind of people that we should be. Regardless of our past, God has a future for us. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com, and when you're there, thanks in advance for helping us financially, or you can call right now at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us listen to God's word, remind ourselves that the battle we are in is winnable. How would you like to have all of your thoughts last week all strung out for public investigation?
One by one, people can walk by and see what you're thinking about. Oh, we would all be so ashamed, so ashamed, wouldn't we? If you saw my list, you'd be so disappointed in me, you'd say, Pastor Lutzer, I'm not even going to listen to you anymore. Now before you go for the exits, if I saw your list, you wouldn't have to worry about listening to me because I wouldn't even talk to you anymore.
Let me ask you something. Do you really think it would be possible for us to love one another if all of our thoughts about different people and different situations, if everything was exposed? I don't think that we could love one another anymore.
I really don't think so. I was thinking about this and it increased in my mind the incredible love of God because the Bible says, as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. God doesn't even take note of your actions.
They are secondary because man looks on the outward appearance. God sees the heart and he sees all of the corruption and all of the jealousies and the hatred and the envy and the lust and he goes on loving us anyway. It says in Psalm 90 verse 8, an amazing statement that our sins are in thy presence, it says, and have been exposed, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance and God knows the whole thing and goes on loving us.
Now if that isn't love, what is? The first thing that you have to know is identify the enemy. Secondly, you have to understand the enemy. Thirdly, you need the right strategy, the right weapons. Notice what Paul says, verse 3, for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. I think that if there is any definition of secular psychology, it is using the wrong kind of weapons to fight the wrong kind of war. What are the weapons of the flesh?
It is self-help, self-help programs. You hate your mother-in-law and so you're given a pillow and the psychologist says now what you ought to do is to pretend this pillow is your mother-in-law and take it and kill it and get all the anger out of your system. So you take the pillow and you try to kill it and you find out that you hate your mother-in-law worse than you've ever hated her. It's only intensified the anger.
Somebody else says, well you know what you have to do is to promise that you're going to reform and we're going to take you through certain programs where there can be reformation and sometimes there is successful reformation but the heart remains unchanged. Why? Because there is no such thing as using a physical weapon for a spiritual problem. You can't fight the devil with a sword, not a literal sword, because the devil is spirit. Your mind is spirit. It would be incorrect for you to say I had a thought that weighed nearly a half gram and was a half a centimeter long because your thoughts are not matter. Your mind is a spiritual substance and that's why God's weapons are spiritual weapons because we have spiritual problems.
As a matter of fact, your mind is not only a spiritual substance but it can operate independently of the brain. You know, there's a rumor I've been trying to stamp out for years. The rumor is that you need brains in order to think. Have you ever heard that?
Some of you have. It's nonsense. Where in the world did you pick that idea up that you need brains in order to think? My dear friend, when you die, your brain is going to rot in the heart of the earth. It's going to disintegrate and you're going to be thinking and feeling more clearly than you've ever thought or felt in your life before.
Because it is your mind that goes to heaven when you die and that's the time when you can think with incredible clarity. D.L. Moody said soon you shall read in the newspapers that D.L.
Moody is dead. Do not believe it for in that moment I shall be more alive than I have ever been. You don't need brains to think. That's comforting, isn't it? Some of you teenagers, tell that to your teacher tomorrow. Now I might say that as long as you're in this life I suggest that brain and mind stay together.
But there is a time when they're going to separate and your mind is going to do perfectly okay without your brain. What are our weapons so that we can win this war? First of all, the death of Christ. The death of Christ.
Why do I say that? Because you see the Bible says that when Jesus Christ died he won a victory over Satan but he also purchased our forgiveness so that God can say to you today you are cleansed and you are forgiven. That's where you must be. You must begin taking the blood of Jesus Christ and receiving its cleansing for your conscience and for your mind. I'll tell you if your mind has never been cleansed by Christ what an awful place it is.
And that's where you begin. Actually the death of Jesus Christ represents the bottom line. It is the cornerstone. It is the most important thing that we can depend upon to be cleansed. Secondly, you have the ascension of Christ. That is a very important weapon because it says that when Jesus ascended far above all principalities and powers in every name that is named it is then that he took authority over the enemy and his enemies are his footstool and we are there with him the Bible says. So you can take authority over the enemies. You have that authority.
So here's the deal. When Jesus came to this earth he came into Satan's territory. The Bible says that the whole world lies in the lap of the wicked one. Satan is the prince of the power of the air. Jesus Christ came behind enemy lines and he captured some of us for himself and now the text says that we can take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
We can do the same thing that he did because of the victory that he wrought for us and on the basis of his strength we can be victorious. You have authority over the thoughts the enemies of the mind and the soul. Then I think also not only of the death of Christ and the ascension of Christ but the spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit. Walk in the spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. You see when Jesus went to heaven the Bible says that he poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the church and the Holy Spirit indwells every single believer and we receive the spirit in his fullness by faith. As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk ye in him. God has made provision that we need not succumb to the enemies of the mind and to the heart. There is the spirit of Christ. There is the word of Christ. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly and this I suppose is one of the most important weapons that I've got to stress.
You see you say to yourself oh I have so many battles in my mind there is no way that I can win them. One of the first questions I have to ask you is are you spending ten minutes at least alone with God before nine o'clock every morning or are you not? Jesus told a parable. He said that at one time there was a man who had a demon and then the demon left the man and went through watery places seeking rest and finding none and suddenly the demon came back to the man from whom he had been cast out and he discovered that the man's life was swept, garnished and empty.
It was available and the scripture says that that demon took seven other demons more wicked than himself and all eight of them inhabited the man and Christ said that the latter end of the man was worse than his beginning. The curse of an empty life. Let me speak plainly. Suppose in a miracle God actually took away all of the negative thoughts that we've been speaking about this morning. All the anxiety, all the lust, all the bitterness, all the addictions. Let us suppose that God suddenly wiped your mind clean. What would you have to think about?
Would you have any thought to sustain you during the 14 or 16 hours that we all think during the day? You see here's what God wants us to do. He wants us to so fill our minds with himself that those thoughts of God squeeze the others out in existence and that we might be filled with the word of God which will take the place of all of those other enemies of the soul. There is the peace of Christ.
That's another weapon. This is what it says in Philippians. Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Let your requests be made known unto God. Now verse seven. And the peace of Christ which passes all understanding shall guard your heart and mind.
There you have the fortress idea. It shall guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ so that you might be protected. The peace of Christ. Those become the soldiers that make sure that there is no enemy coming over the moat into the mind. And you know what the peace of Christ enables us to do? To pull up all of those draw bridges so that there will be no access.
You see what you must do is make sure that there are no ways in which the enemy is gaining an advantage coming in through different parts of the wall. The peace of Christ keeps us. It seals us off. It encapsules us so that we are protected. Incidentally the very next verse says and whatsoever things are true whatsoever things are honest whatsoever things are of good report if there be any virtue or if there be any praise think on these things. He's talking about the mind. You know here in Chicago I read in the newspapers that they're thinking of having metal detectors for high school students going into class.
Says something about our educational system perhaps. But you know what I'm suggesting for you today is once you have established the cleansing and the peace and the authority of Christ what you and I must learn to do and we've got to learn it over and over and over again is to learn to frisk every single thought that comes to the mind. And so we run it through the test. Is this true? Is it pure? Is it wholesome? Is it honest?
Is it of good report? If not be gone in the name of Jesus. I will not have anything to do with that thought because that thought then becomes my enemy and not my friend. And then we have the people of God.
The people of God. Paul says in Colossians your hearts are being net together in love he says in such a way that you might experience all of the fullness that there is in Jesus Christ. Why does Paul say that? Because there are times when we cannot get rid of our problems alone and that's the way God ordained it. Because you see one of the things that makes the enemy of the soul run is humility. Wherever there is pride Satan always says I have a right to be here.
Pride is the curse of the soul. And when we admit our need to someone else and we solicit prayer that is the kind of humility that breaks the power of the enemy who seeks to destroy us. A number of years ago I was at a conference where a man gave a testimony to just a few of us. He said that he had a habit of looking at pornography, swear it off, promise he'd never do it again but he always did.
Finally he said he admitted it to four or five different men in a prayer group and they all covenanted together that they would pray for him and he said that in four years time he had not touched any of those magazines. God had delivered him. You see the humility with which he was willing to display his need and having others pray for him became the strength by which God intervened and squashed the enemy.
What does the text say? We are taking every thought captive it says to the obedience of Christ. My friend today God wants us to be pure within.
Oh I know we'll never be as pure as we want to be. But God does not want us to be overrun by enemies. It says in the book of Proverbs that there are some people who are like cities without walls.
What does it mean? People who have no defenses whatever, whatever the enemy wants to do they do. They are propelled, they are driven, they are fueled by the enemies of the soul overrun. Jesus is the deliverer.
You shall know the truth, the truth shall set you free. Paul says that we have weapons of warfare that work. Do you know why they work? It is because the weapons that I have listed enlist the help of God. They bring God to the situation.
They bring God to the very point of our need. How are you doing? You putting your past behind you?
Controlled by thoughts that long ago should have been put away? Let's pray together. Our Father, we thank you today that there's no question but that Jesus has left us the weapons, the tools to win the battle. We pray today that there may be many victories won for Christ's sake. We pray that people who have long since caved into the enemy may realize that there is hope as we track down thoughts that are our enemies and bring them to subjection to our Lord. Do that for us Father today. We pray and set your people free. Hear our prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.
Could I ask you a question? Have you been blessed as a result of the ministry of Running to Win? Has the message that you have just heard been a challenge to you? If the answer is yes, the reason is because there are people just like you who support this ministry. You've heard me say it before, but the ministry of Running to Win is not the ministry of a man or an organization or a church. It is really God's ministry through the lives and through the contributions of His people. And I want to thank you so much in advance for your support of this ministry, your prayers, your willingness to stand with us and to say we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of deliverance that is going into 20 different countries in four different languages, we believe that it is critical in today's very needy world. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.
Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. But you need more info, so here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com. I'm going to be giving you that info again because oftentimes if you're like me, you're at the radio, you receive some information, but you don't have a pencil handy. But when you're there, you can click on the endurance partner button. Go to RTWOffer, and of course, as you've heard me say, RTWOffer is all one word, RTWOffer.com, or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337.
Because of people like you, the message that you have just heard is heard throughout the Middle East, it's heard throughout Central America, it's heard in a country in Africa. Thank you in advance for helping us. RTWOffer.com.
Click on the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for your prayers for this ministry. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life.
Today's question, Dr. Lutzer, comes to us from Patrick, and he lives in North Carolina. He says, I'm 83 years old and made a profession of faith in 1951. I believe I went through a period of reformation, but I'm not sure I was regenerated. My behavior has changed, but I have been looking for the assurance of salvation for over 50 years.
I've heard you say, saving faith is the deep, settled conviction that what Jesus Christ did on the cross for us is all that we need to stand in the presence of a holy God. I believe that, but I'm not sure that I've ever appropriated that for myself. Many years ago, a preacher told me I was going by my feelings.
Maybe so, but I can't stop looking within. The Bible says the Spirit bears witness with our spirit. I want that witness. I know I'm a sinner, and I'm lost unless I've been genuinely converted. I have some faith, but I'm not sure it's saving faith. I need a real work of God in my heart. Can you help me? Well, Patrick, I'm so glad that you wrote, and I wish that we could have a cup of tea together, and then we'd be able to dialogue regarding your spiritual journey, and I might be able to find out a little bit more as to why you continue to doubt.
But here's what I'd like to suggest to you. It is possible to be genuinely saved and still have doubts. Visualize an airplane. Two people are sitting next to each other. The one has never flown before. In fact, this happened to me. A young woman had never flown before. She was so scared. She said, is it going to be as bad as a roller coaster?
She asked me, and I said, I sure hope not. Now, I've flown many times. So she was filled with doubts. I was confident.
We both arrived at the same time. In the very same way, there are Christians who have doubts, but they have believed in Jesus, and they are saved. I trust that that is true of you. And in order for you to find that faith, remember the Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. I encourage you to continue to cleave to the promises of God, the promises that I'm sure you know so well about salvation and the assurance of faith. And what you need to do is to recognize that as you submit to God and as you claim those promises, I pray that light will break into your soul. The ministry and the witness of the Spirit will be there, and you'll have the assurance that you belong to God.
Final footnote to this. I've discovered that those who have grown up with a great deal of emotional pain sometimes struggle more with assurance of salvation, and that's understandable. They've gone through such a topsy-turvy experience in their childhood, perhaps, and that begins to work its way out, and they find it difficult to fully trust and to fully believe. But keep believing, keep trusting the promises are there for you, and I hope someday, Patrick, I'll see you in heaven. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, and thank you, Patrick, for your honest question. 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, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Next time on Running to Win, don't miss Fatal Addictions, a look at how deeply too many people are trapped in destructive habits, and why there is always a way out. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-22 07:52:40 / 2023-02-22 08:01:34 / 9