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Overcoming Empty Obsessions–Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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April 23, 2024 1:00 am

Overcoming Empty Obsessions–Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 23, 2024 1:00 am

Not every addiction is demonic. But we all are driven by unwanted thoughts and behavior which drive us to hate, to consume, and to obsess. In this message, Pastor Lutzer paints a picture of Jesus confronting a man possessed by a legion of demons. Only Jesus can fill our emptiness with lasting hope.

This month’s special offer is available for a donation of any amount. Get yours at rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. 

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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. A wild man once roamed the hills on the east side of the Sea of Galilee.

He raved and screamed, even cutting himself. And no one could tame this wretched man until Jesus came. Today, a powerful object lesson in overcoming empty obsessions. Please 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, as our society crumbles it seems obsessive behavior is on the rise. You know, Dave, I've often thought about what happened on that occasion when Jesus cast out these demons. As a matter of fact, I've been to Israel.

Many people who are listening, I'm sure, have been to Israel. And you can actually see the place where this miracle happened and how the demons entered into the pigs, and the pigs went into the sea and drowned. But the point is simply this. We're living at a time when we can see more clearly than perhaps before that the whole world lies in the lap of the wicked one. And it's the wicked one who puts within us obsessions that drive us away from God.

That's why this message is so incredibly important. And speaking of obsessions, I've written a book entitled, Living with Your Passions, and one of the chapters is entitled, But I Can't Let Her Go. It has to do with those who are so obsessed with someone else that they're willing to sin in order to have what they want. All of this, of course, we make available to you so that we can help you in your spiritual journey to see that there is victory in Christ.

At the end of this broadcast, I'm going to be giving you information as to how this book can be yours. A few years ago, a woman called me to say that she was having some very horrific thoughts. Specifically, even though she loved her baby, she would have these obsessions that would want her to think about killing him.

It was to the point where she even did not want to be home alone, fearing that she could not trust herself. My topic today is empty obsessions. And you know that there may be obsessions that have to do with something like killing somebody. There are also obsessions that may be related to sexuality, sexual obsessions. Perhaps also there are other obsessions that people have such as food and eating disorders, all kinds of obsessions that we might like to even call addictions. Perhaps we can simply define an obsession as unwanted thoughts and behavior, something that happens to people where it seems as if their reason and their will is actually overridden. And because of that, they end up doing things that they would never normally want to do.

Perhaps obsessions are nothing more than the Apostle Paul and his experience in the seventh chapter of Romans where he said, the things that I want to do, I don't have the power to do, and the things that I don't want to do, those are the very things that I end up doing. Oh, wretched man that I am who shall deliver me from the body of this death. Well today we're going to paint a picture. It's a picture of someone who is obsessed, a picture of someone who was possessed, even a picture of someone who had all the traits of schizophrenia.

It's a bad picture. It's not a very nice kind of a picture, but I want you to paint it in the gallery of your mind. Our youth pastor continually tells us that the way to communicate is to tell a story. So this morning I'm going to tell a story, but in your mind I want you to bring that paint brush.

I want you to bring that canvas because I want you to imagine that you are painting the picture, the story that I'm going to tell you. But because what I'm going to say this morning may be upsetting and in some sense difficult to understand and new to perhaps a lot of people, I'm going to ask that we bow one more time and invite the Lord to guide us. Join with me as we pray. Now Father, you know that despite all of the struggles of the human heart, we do really love you.

We wish that we were better than we are. And we also know that we have often met people whom we have not been able to help and we confess our need. And that's why in this moment we acknowledge the total sovereignty of Jesus Christ, the ability of Christ to take people whose lives are messed up, to touch them, to give them hope. There are those who are going to be listening to this service who have all kinds of obsessions.

Some who go from one obsession to another trying to fill the vacuum and the emptiness of a life that seems to have no purpose. There are those Lord who if their private lives would become known would be horrified and shameful. And really the people that we need are not really the people whom they really are. And so Lord Jesus we pray for the blessed Holy Spirit to guide us, to lead us. We depend upon the Spirit and we pray that Satan in all of his power may be bound as today we expose his attempt to ruin human beings.

In Jesus' name we pray, amen. The story is found in the Gospel of Mark chapter 5 in the New Testament. Mark chapter 5, it's a story you perhaps have read many times but have not had enough time to think about. It's a story that has many questions connected with it.

One thing that we are absolutely convinced about is that it is a true story. Mark chapter 5 verse 1, and they, that is Jesus and the disciples, came to the other side of the sea into the country of the Gerasenes. And when he, that is Christ, had come out of the boat immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met him and he had his dwelling among the tombs.

Keep your Bible open but I shall stop reading right there. I told you today that I wanted you to paint a story. The first thing that I would like you to paint in your mind is the place where this man lived, the place where he lived. Visualize tombs that are hewn out of hills and rocks, desolate. Visualize a place where there are caves where demented people would sometimes hide out but also places where the dead would be buried.

Visualize that place and you will understand where this man was when he met Jesus Christ. One of the things we can say about the picture that is in your mind is that it is a place of isolation because people who are going through compulsions, people who are going through agony of spirit, people who have within themselves an evil presence that they cannot understand and sometimes find hard to identify, people like that don't necessarily like to be with others and they become loners. They would prefer to be alone. They don't want to speak. They don't want to talk because when we communicate with human beings, we are actually sharing ourselves and there is a certain mood that is created and people who are going through struggles sometimes don't want to socialize. That's why there are some people who do sit in the back of the church, not that you should turn around and see who is there this morning.

But I've known people who have come in, listened to the message and then left and may I say that's okay because there are some people who are in the process of getting healed and they can only take so much. But here's a man among the tombs isolated and why does he choose the tombs? Maybe because there is no other place to go.

That may be it but there could be another reason too. Somebody who feels unclean within is going to try to find a surround things that match the mood of his inner spirit. I don't know if you've ever had any contact with people who are mentally disturbed but if you go into their homes, very often not only do you find an incredible mess and dirt and smells, it just seems as if the whole atmosphere is one of uncleanness and impurity because uncleanness wants to be in an environment where it feels at home. And so this man is among the tombs. Sketch the picture in your mind. But now I want you to take your paint brush and dip into some new colors because not only do you have to sketch where he lived but also how he acted and for that we pick up the story in the middle of verse three. And no one was able to bind him anymore even with a chain because he had often been bound with shackles and chains and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces and no one was strong enough to subdue him.

How did he act? You have to paint the picture of a man who is out of control, out of control. He's a man with tremendous physical strength. In fact it seems as if his body is but the shell for the spirit that inhabits him and when his friends tried to help him and do whatever they could they suddenly discovered that they were up against a power that was supernatural. It was above and beyond what one would ever think that one man would be capable of doing. And so they noticed his friends did that this man's actions were unpredictable and disordered.

He's not the kind of person you would want to trust with your home when you were away on a weekend because you would have no idea as to what he might do because of his behavior. But I want you to notice also that there were people who tried to shackle him with chains and they couldn't do it. I would like to think at least and I think that it is a reasonable suspicion that these people tried to help him.

They thought to themselves this man is going to kill himself out there and so what they wanted to do was to subdue him to tie him maybe to bring him to a place where they could take care of him but of course they couldn't because he simply took that and the chains and he broke the chains and he refused to be helped. Now one of the things that you need to know about people who are struggling with all of these disorders that we hear about in society is that there is a part of them that is screaming for help. They are saying help me help me but then there is another part of them that does not want the help because they fear the confrontation that that help might involve and they also fear what it might be like suddenly to be free from that obsession, that addiction, that desire that somehow makes life tolerable despite all the struggles that are within the human heart. I told you many times that people who feel rejected though they cry out for help will also do things that will force other people to reject them.

They will make it impossible for other people to love them so that they can be confirmed in their isolation and in their rejection. It is that ambivalence that causes sometimes great difficulties in the helping process. Well you've dipped your paint brush in some paint. You have sketched before you now a man that is in the desolate tombs and you have painted a picture of someone who is out of control. He is in a frenzy and no one seems to be able to help but thirdly we also have to paint in our mind's eye what he felt. Here we pick it up in verse five and constantly night and day among the tombs and in the mountains he was crying out and gnashing himself with stones.

What's going on there in the text in verse five? On the one hand he is crying out. We don't know exactly what he was crying out. Maybe for help but I have a suspicion that there was something else also that was coming out of his mouth and that was not merely a cry to be helped but also there was the cry of self-condemnation. He was condemning himself. He was filled filled with self-hatred.

Why do I know that? Because he was cutting himself the text says with stones and as his whole body was being lacerated because of the agony that he was in and he didn't know how to get away from his hurt and his pain and maybe he even thought of suicide but didn't have the nerve to pull it off and so was cutting himself hoping he would die. Self-hatred.

Let me say something to you that this is probably Satan's strongest weapon. You see there is so much being said today in the secular world about self-image. People are taught to love themselves to accept themselves and some of us feel very uncomfortable with that because oftentimes what is being said is you can live in immorality or live however you like and still accept yourself because that's just the way you are and we all know that that is contrary to the Bible but there's another sense in which self-image is biblical and very important. I don't ever speak about self-love.

I think that that is a misconstrued application of a passage of scripture that Jesus once quoted but I do think self-dignity is very important to who you are as a person and your ability to trust and to believe in God. So what Satan does is he undercuts this by a feeling of self-condemnation a feeling that there's no hope for us a feeling of shame and guilt and the weight of all that becomes so unbearable that people say to themselves I need to escape through alcoholism through drugs through sexual addiction and even through suicide. What is it that these people are really saying? They're saying I can't stand myself.

I hate the way I look. I hate what I've done which might be okay but also they hate themselves for having done it. They know nothing about the cleansing of Christ. They believe that they have been abandoned by God and if you have been abandoned by God what hope is there on planet earth? The answer is that there is none but despair and trying to fill the void of an empty aimless life and so you have this man filled with self-hatred.

Sketch that hatred on his face as you paint the picture in your mind. Parenthetically you say well what is the devil doing with this anyway? Why all these demons?

Let me give you a little parenthesis. You know when Satan was up in heaven before the fall Lucifer it was his responsibility to make sure that all the worship that took place on planet earth would be given to God. He was to make sure that any worship any adoration would all get to God and the Bible tells us that he began to steal a little of the praise for himself and he kept it and said I would like to be like the most high and so what God did is he took that Lucifer who was a creature of incredible beauty and glory and caused him to fall into a pit of shame and everlasting eternal destruction but for reasons that we will not go into this morning he also allowed him still to roam this planet trying to continue to do damage to God's program. You say well why does he hate us so much? Why all of this struggle with a human being? What did this man do? Well hang on hang on remember this that Satan hates you like you've never been hated by any person on planet earth.

You know why? Because when man fell in the garden Satan thought now that I got Adam to sin all the human beings that have ever been born are going to be on my side and we are going to be able to together finally unite in our opposition to God. What he didn't know is that God had a secret plan whereby a portion of the human race would be redeemed by Christ and then get this exalted way above the position that Lucifer ever had and he can't stand that. You say human beings above the position of angels absolutely. Even Lucifer in all of his glory and all of the wonder and the splendor that he had when he was next to God in the heavens is never spoken of in the Bible as being an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ God's special son. No way that's why the Bible says that God made for a time for a little while man lower than the angels but the day is going to come when the angels will see our redemption and they will marvel at the awesome wonder and incredibly and the generosity and the mercy of God taking sinners if you please and exalting them at the right hand of God the Father considered to be a brother of Jesus God the Son and Satan hates it and he wants to use us to get back at God. So here you have a man who's trying to kill himself a man filled with remorse and self-hate and saying I can't stand life but I don't know what to do. Well there's another picture that you have to paint dip your brush and this is a better picture you have to paint the person whom this man encountered namely the Lord Jesus Christ and we pick up the text in verse six and seeing Jesus from a distance he you're going to see an interplay here of personalities by the way sometimes we don't know whether the he is the person or the he is the demon in this case it's really both because he that is the person runs and bows before Jesus but also it is the demonic spirit that is doing the speaking in verse seven crying out with a loud voice the spirit is saying what do I have to do with you Jesus son of the most high God I implore you by God do not torment me another parenthesis people who struggle with demonic oppression feel incredibly agitated when they are in the presence of holiness and worship of Christ that's why some people don't want to go to church they are incredibly uncomfortable they don't like music that exalts God it makes them feel very very uptight inside here's an evil spirit that had pretty well a clear run on this man until until he meets Jesus and suddenly the spirit begins to convulse with torment and says son of the most high I implore you don't torment me because he's in the presence of the king of kings Lord of lords God of all gods savior holy God and my friend where does our greatest temptation lie where is the greatest temptation to give into our passions it has to do with the issue of sexuality we're not sure whether or not this was true of the man that we were speaking about in this message but the simple point is this the Bible makes it very clear that Satan wants to draw us away from God in the area of sexuality that's why I've written a book entitled living with your passions it has to do with people who struggle with sexual sin people who give in because of their passions and then rationalize and justify themselves those who have fallen into a pit how does God come and rescue them these are the kinds of issues I deal with in this book and for a gift of any amount it can be yours here is what you do go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 I'm going to be giving you that contact info again because if you're like me sometimes you're not ready to write things down but I want to emphasize that in a culture that is obsessed with sexuality we need to get back to the Bible and back to the hope that the scriptures give us go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 and let me thank you in advance for helping us because of people like you running to win is heard by millions around the world you can write to us at running to win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614 running to win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life self-condemnation self-hatred byproducts of obsessions that can destroy us this message is part of our current series on pulling together in a world tearing apart next time on running to win Erwin Lutzer brings more of the intriguing story of an obsessed man and how he was freed this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-23 02:09:27 / 2024-04-23 02:17:42 / 8

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