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The Dark Side Of Evil Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
February 21, 2023 1:00 am

The Dark Side Of Evil Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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February 21, 2023 1:00 am

The enemy of our souls conspires to ruin both our pasts and our futures. Satan’s strategy is to implant enticing thoughts which become obsessions and strongholds. In this message, we assess four steps Satan uses to manipulate us according to the weakness of our flesh. But there is a way to true freedom.

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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. Life is a race toward a goal, but Satan the destroyer wants to impede our races in every way.

He implants evil thoughts, makes them into obsessions, then turns them into strongholds. Today we'll learn about the forces conspiring to ruin both our pasts and our futures, and we'll point the way to true freedom. 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, today's message is about the dark side of evil. Tell us where we'll be going. Well, of course, Dave, as you know, God's Word talks very clearly about the power of Satan, and he has the ability to put ideas in our minds that we think are our own.

That's his strategy. And we as believers have to be very aware of this, and we have to also warn others. And today I speak to everyone listening to the ministry of Running to Win. If you've been blessed, I trust that you will invest so that you can bless others.

Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That is a person who gives regularly, prays for us regularly, and is really in that sense a part of the ministry. Here's what you do. Go to That's

When you're there, click on the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us be reminded that God is stronger than evil. Today we come to the sixth in a series of messages putting your past behind you. And as I speak on the topic of Satan, I am well aware that there are many who perhaps are going to find it difficult to listen to this sermon. You will find that you are distracted. You may find it difficult to concentrate. There will be a restlessness, compulsiveness.

You say, how do you know that? It's because sometimes what happens when Satan is exposed is that he tries to create barriers that will not enable people to hear clearly the voice of God. And that's why, even though we have prayed a number of times already today, I'm going to ask that we pray one more time. And many of you may want to pray while I preach.

If you can do that and concentrate on what I'm saying and praying at the same time, I think that's possible. But join me as we pray. Our Father, we know that our ancient foe does seek to work us woe. And today, Father, we pray that as he is exposed, that your blessed Holy Spirit will enable each of us to be totally free from his influence, to know what it is to resist him, to understand how he works, to not believe his lies, and to be free people.

Do that for us. We pray that there may be no distractions during this service, and the hearts of those who have felt the imprint of the devil and have known his power today may walk out of here free. We pray that because we believe in the strong and powerful name of Jesus who has crushed our enemy.

In his name we pray. Amen. I want you to suppose for just a moment that you were involved in a battle and didn't know it. Think of the advantage that that would give to the enemy. You being in a war and not knowing it, you'd be overrun. I want you to imagine for a few moments that you're in a battle and you know that you're in a battle, but you've decided that you are going to ignore the enemy. You simply plead neutrality. You're going to be like the country of Switzerland, neutral. My dear friend, to be neutral in the Christian life is to surrender to the enemy because it's not your choice as to whether you're in a battle or not.

That decision isn't made by you. It is made by a cruel, malicious foe, a personal devil who stalks God's people trying to create as much havoc and to instigate as much sin as he possibly can. If you say to me, Pastor Lutzer, why is the universe and why is the world set up that way?

Well, I'm not going to answer that question except to say that if I live long enough to make it into next year, sometime next year I hope to preach a series of messages on that topic, so you'll have to come back. But until then, let me tell you that even though Satan is not omnipotent and omnipresent, it appears as if he's everywhere at the same place because he has tens of thousands of demonic spirits that are organized according to certain hierarchies who are accountable and who must give an account to their work, to their superiors. He is well organized, just like an army, and he is taking us on. He hates God, and he takes out his hatred of God against us. And that's why it is that he is indeed a cruel, angry foe. Now, I want you to realize that behind all of the personal decisions that we make and behind some of the things that we see taking place in the world, behind these so-called physical events, there is this spiritual power called the devil, even in what we might consider to be some of the more ordinary experiences of life, if you please.

Not extraordinary. We all know that there's something like demon possession, where we see the rage of Satan on people's faces as they become controlled by the devil. We've all seen that, and certainly we've read about it in the New Testament. But I'm speaking about the ordinary events in which you may never suspect that Satan is at work.

Examples. Here's a couple that sits down for breakfast, and they're deciding how much they should give to the church because the church needs a special offering. And so they're discussing it. Some people in the congregation have sold various articles and have even sold some property, and they have brought all of the proceeds, and they've given it to the church. This couple says to themselves, you know, we want to appear as spiritual as we possibly can.

We want to look good. Let's sell some property and do the same, but we'll withhold some of the price. Let's suppose we sell it for $1,000.

We'll give $500 to the church, and we will pretend that we're giving it all. It's not even really a direct lie. It's a white lie, because they did sell it for $500. What they're withholding is the fact that they sold it for $500 more. They have every right to keep all the money if they want.

That's not the problem. The problem is that they are giving the impression that they are really more spiritual than they are. They're giving the impression that they're selling the whole thing and giving all the money to the church.

Is that so bad? The book of Acts, chapter 5, when Ananias and Sapphira, his wife, did that, Peter came to them and said, why has Satan filled your heart? They would have been astounded. What do you mean Satan filled our hearts?

We were sitting at the breakfast table just discussing what we were going to do. We didn't know that the devil was there. Why have Satan filled thine heart, said Peter to them, to lie to the Holy Ghost?

Wow. Ever been in a situation where you are afraid to let people know you're a Christian? You may be sitting in a barber's chair and the topic is religion and you find that you can't say anything. Even though you're a Christian and God has given you a door that is wide open and you're just tongue tied. You're in a situation at work in your business and you have worked there for years and people don't know that you belong to Jesus Christ. Do you think that the fear of being identified with Christ could have anything to do with Satan or is that just your natural personality?

Just by nature you're laid back, right? What about the 22nd chapter of Luke? Here is Peter denying that he knows Jesus Christ and disassociating himself from the Savior, putting some daylight between him and Christ. And what does the Bible say? Jesus said in verse 31, Simon, Simon, Satan has received permission to sift you as wheat. The devil is involved. Sexual temptation. It's just our desires, right? What does it say in 1 Corinthians 7?

Paul says that husbands and wives ought to live together sexually and meet one another's needs. Why? Lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control. The devil is involved. What about the New Age movement with its false doctrines? Are these just hare-brained ideas that we are God and all the other things that are being believed? It says in 1 Timothy 4, verse 1, that in the latter day people shall depart from the faith and it says they shall give heed to the doctrines of demons. Not doctrines about demons, but doctrines that are actually furthered, perpetuated by demons. Wicked spirits behind false doctrine.

Now, you know, there are other instances. What about spiritual blindness in the lives of people who do not know Christ as Savior? 2 Corinthians 4, 4, the God of this world blinds the eyes of those who believe not, lest the light of the Gospel should shine onto them and lest they should believe. Jesus said in the fourth chapter of Mark that Satan comes and snatches the word of God out of people's minds.

That's why some people find it harder to remember what the sermon was about than they might remember the news on television or some sports score. Satan snatches it out of their minds. They're disoriented. They cannot understand.

They are fidgety. They cannot concentrate on spiritual things. Now, this is the sixth message in putting your past behind you. And I want to say to you with authority today that there are some of you who will never be able to put your past behind you until you confront Satan because he has a stake in your past and he wants to use it to ruin your future. What I'd like to do today is to give you, first of all, Satan's strategy. Then we're going to talk about the lies that he uses to hold people bound and, finally, the way out. Is that fair enough?

I think that's fair. Let's begin. Strategy.

Let me give you a scenario that has been replayed hundreds of thousands of times. You see, Satan begins by putting ideas into our minds that he wants us to think are our own. Very, very important because, you see, that way he can remain hidden. You see, the reason for that is because sin is very attractive to us but Satan isn't. If he came to us and says, I am the devil, please exalt yourself, we'd say, whoa, I'd better go to church on Sunday, I'd better begin reading the Bible and we would flee. Satan can come to you and say, make yourself number one and you think that is your idea.

You see, he can then remain hidden. He uses all of the sins of the flesh. You know, the Bible says the works of the flesh are and then it lists them. Maybe it's drunkenness, maybe it's anger, hostility, witchcraft, all of these things it says are the work of the flesh. We would have alcoholics whether the devil existed or not. We would have immoral people whether the devil existed or not. But he takes all of these sins and he inflames them and he entrenches them and he works through weaknesses that we already have and in that way he does not easily become detected.

What he does is he lines up his strategy to fit perfectly with our weaknesses so that we can't tell the difference between him and ourselves. And all of our ideas and sins that we think we are committing because we want to and this is our way out are actually inflamed, exaggerated, and dropped into our minds by evil spirits. Now, that's step number one. Let's suppose you give all of these thoughts a home in your heart and you say, yes, welcome these thoughts because I like the euphoria that is created by them.

So you welcome them into your heart. What's step number two? Step number two is obsession. Obsession. Now it's not just that your thoughts have those particular thoughts have a welcome home in your heart but they begin to occupy a lot of your time. And you find now that you are preoccupied with those thoughts and soon those thoughts begin to control you and you become literally obsessed with the fulfillment of those desires and those thoughts. It may be something like getting even with somebody. You know, there are people who have been wronged who become absolutely obsessed with vengeance.

That's all that they can think about. Day and night is how do I get even with that person and they think of the most awful things that they would like to do and they're obsessed. It may be covetousness. It may be the exaltation of self. It may be an addiction. It may be a compulsion. Whatever it is, step number two is obsession, preoccupation with those thoughts. What is step number three? Step number three is a stronghold.

What is a stronghold? It is an obsession that becomes deeply entrenched. Now it's not just a matter simply of being preoccupied with those thoughts. It is a matter of being controlled by those thoughts. It is a matter of being driven with those thoughts in such a way that even though they may subside, whenever you want to make some spiritual progress, whenever you want to really see God with your whole heart, the stronghold is always in the way. It's always there. And sometimes it seems to lose some power but then suddenly it will rear its ugly head and the whole issue of control will come up again and you will find yourself helplessly once again going back to those old strongholds.

There's a fourth step and that of course is invasion. That's where wicked spirits actually now have had such a home in the heart that they actually begin to take up residence. Sometimes they do that in the mind. I've met people who clearly had demonic spirits who stopped in the realm of the mind. If you're really thoroughly possessed, the spirits actually can go into the human spirit. Now it's not just a matter of control.

Now you are owned by Satan. Now let me tell you this, that steps number one and two, welcoming those thoughts and being obsessed, can usually be taken care of by Christians by themselves. If they memorize the word of God, they know how to recognize Satan, they know what it is to sing praise songs and to rebuke the devil, and they begin to walk in the spirit and they know how to put on the whole armor of God.

Oftentimes those problems leave in and of themselves. Numbers three and four almost always necessitate the help of other believers. You remember Jesus said on earth that there are some spirits, he says, there are some that do not go out except by prayer and fasting.

If you want to do something for Moody Church and for me and for the staff, become a prayer warrior who knows what it is to pray and to fast. There are some spirits that are so stubborn, so deeply entrenched, that you can't get rid of them by yourself. Scholars debate as to whether or not a Christian can be involved in level number four. We know that there are various kinds of invasion, so the issue becomes a little bit complicated, but I'm simply going to sidestep it by saying what we do know for sure, and that is we know that there are Christians who are involved in steps one to three. We've all met Christians who have strongholds, who have some kind of a deeply rooted obsession. Now, of course, there are other ways that Satan may work.

This isn't the only route. For example, he needs a point of entry, so sometimes the point of entry is your past trauma. You see, if you were traumatized as a child, if you were abused as we spoke about last week, which was the topic of abuse, if you had that happen to you, Satan is going to exploit every negative feeling that you've ever had.

Feelings of rejection, feeling of hatred, feeling of alienation, feelings of fear, he is going to exploit those and sometimes dealing with the trauma of the past means that we are suddenly up against something that is beyond us. Evil. Evil spirits.

Possibly family lines. There are ancestral spirits. Remember Mark chapter nine where there was a baby that was being thrown into the fire? As a matter of fact, he was a child at that time, but Jesus said to the man before he cast the demon out, he said, how long has this spirit been in this child?

And the man said ever since he was a little baby, what did that little child do to inherit that spirit? Nothing personally, but I venture to say it's been proven over and over again there was witchcraft in that little baby's family and through family lines there can be inheritance. If your parents or your grandparents or an uncle or an aunt put a curse on you even when you were born or before you were born, you might find that there is a stronghold.

There is something within you that you need to get rid of because of that curse. And then what shall I say with all of the occult paraphernalia? My dear friend, if you want to open your door to the devil, if you want to put out the welcome mat and say come in all ye wicked spirits, then go ahead and play with Dungeons and Dragons or get involved in horoscopes and Ouija boards and astrology and about 40 or 50 other doorways into the occult because that is inviting satanic spirits into your life.

The Bible forbids that we should have anything to do with any sources of information other than our mind and the Bible and that which we observe in nature and never through occult practices. Now the point to be made is this, that once Satan gets a foothold in someone's life, he will take as much territory as he is allowed to take. In fact, he'd take it all if he could. But you see, he can't always take it all because he is not some sovereign spirit who can just zap somebody and say I'm going to indwell you and I'm going to take over. If he had that kind of authority, why then indeed the whole world would be completely under the control of Satan.

He can't do that. He has to respect the human spirit. So what he needs always is a point of entry.

He needs some excuse. Whether out of ignorance or knowledge, in some way your life has to be open to him. But once he begins to make his entrance, he always goes as far as he possibly can. And of course, it's not a matter of saying Satan, I invite you in.

Nobody in his right mind would say that. All that you have to do is to take up issues that are in his territory. All that you must do is to play around with sin, which is his specialty, and eventually you can become hooked. Because behind the trap is the trapper, and behind the worm is the hook.

That is his strategy. Now you say, well, what are the lies by which he holds people bound? Why don't people just say, well, you know, we've got all the promises of God, we've got the Bible, we've got the people of God, let's just walk away from all this, and let's get out of our prisons and let's say no to the devil and banish him and get on with the business of being holy people. I wish that it were that easy, but it's not because Satan is a liar and people believe lies. Now the Bible says regarding him, there is no truth in him.

Wow, what a statement. No truth in him. Jesus said that whenever he speaks, he speaks lies. The only time you can believe the devil is when he tells you he's lying. The only true statement he ever makes is I'm a liar. All other statements are to be disbelieved.

What are the lies that he uses? Have you ever seen handcuffs? I've seen them, thankfully.

I've never had any on me. I trust it will always be that way, but if you've ever looked at handcuffs, you'll notice something. That the more you try to get out of them, the tighter they become around your wrists.

There are little notches that make them tighter and tighter and tighter. And you know that that's the way Satan is. The minute he gets some kind of control in your life, he will be there guarding that like everything. He will make sure that you will not wiggle at all because if there's anything that he fears is, lest he lose control.

And so he will put it on tighter and tighter and tighter. That's why there are some people who say, well, you know, I'm just going to leave the devil alone. And they think that that's going to be victory because they know the minute they begin to fight, there's going to be some activity.

And they don't understand that that's exactly one of his deceits. Sure, there's going to be activity, but he is defeated as we shall see in a moment. My friend, I'm so grateful for the many of you who support this ministry. Because even as the Word of God goes forth, we are also heard, by the way, in West Africa. I have in my hands a letter from someone who says depression and discouragement threaten to overrun and overwhelm me. But as I consistently listen to your enriching messages, I'm finding courage and faith.

Thank you so much. Why can we touch the hearts of people in Africa? It's because we have so many who say we pray and we give toward the ministry of running to win. Consider becoming an endurance partner. That's someone who regularly stands with us with prayers and with gifts.

Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. Here's what you do for more info. Go to, and you've probably heard me say RTWOffer is all one word. Click on the endurance partner button, or if you prefer, you can call 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, Pastor Lutzer concludes this message with a further look at how the devil uses lies to immobilize people, and he'll tell how Christ can set us free from these delusions. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-21 06:58:56 / 2023-02-21 07:08:04 / 9

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