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Overcoming Empty Obsessions–Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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April 24, 2024 1:00 am

Overcoming Empty Obsessions–Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 24, 2024 1:00 am

Whether its addictions, sexual fixations, or eating disorders, obsessions can ruin our lives. The devil and his angels will keep trying to exploit our human weakness. In this message, Pastor Lutzer describes how Jesus helps us defeat our obsessions like the demoniac set free. Jesus can confront us where we are and restore us to dignity.

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Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Whether it's addictions, sexual fixations, or eating disorders, obsessions can ruin our lives. Sadly, obsessions like these are empty.

They don't accomplish anything positive. Satan uses obsessions to destroy people, but he has no power to rival the healing touch of Jesus. 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, you're telling the story of an obsessed man in Mark chapter 5. How many of today's obsessions can be traced to demonic activity? Well, Dave, you know, in answer to that question, I have to go back to your intro where you list a number of obsessions. And right now, no others come to mind, but I want people to know that that's exactly what Satan wants to do. He wants to give us an obsession. And of course, those obsessions lead us to do irrational things.

And so Satan likes to put ideas in our minds that we think are our own. And that's the way in which he works, and that's why these messages are so important. I want to ask all of our listeners a question. Are you blessed as a result of the ministry of Running to Win? Have messages like this touched your heart, even as you have shared them with others?

Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? You say, well, Pastor Lutzer, what's that? Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com.

And when you're there, you click on the endurance partner button, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now at the end of this broadcast, I'm going to be telling you the story of one of our listeners in the Middle East who has communicated with us and has explained how because of this ministry, God has set him free from his shackles. 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 incredibility 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. Notice the continuation of the story. For he, verse eight, that is Christ, had been saying to him, come out of the man, you unclean spirit. Jesus apparently was calling to this man in the tombs and saying those words.

And he, Christ, was asking him, what is your name? And he said, my name is Legion. A legion was about 6,000 soldiers. It may simply refer to a large number.

In other words, he says there are hundreds, hundreds of us here. Notice, verse 10, and he, that is the lead spirit that is doing the speaking, began to entreat Christ earnestly not to send them, plural, referring to all the other spirits out into the country or out of the region. We don't know exactly why except that perhaps they were assigned to that area and they feared that if they were not doing their duty they would be tormented by Satan under whose authority they serve.

Remember, the whole rank of evil is all very organized according to armies with commanders and sub-commanders over territories and also fearing the possibility of being disembodied or being sent directly to the pit before the final judgment. And they entreated him saying, send us into the swine so that we may enter them, a desperate attempt. And Jesus actually gave them permission to enter the swine and what happened, 2,000 of them, verse 13, went to the bank, to the sea, and they were drowned in the sea. What an amazing story you say, animals, demon-possessed?

Yes, yes. I've known instances of that also in this generation, by the way, because spirits like to inhabit bodies whenever they can. But now you do have your paintbrush and you've painted a picture of Jesus, haven't you, in your mind coming to that place of such desolation and hopelessness, overwhelmed with a thought of death, despair, and depression. You've painted Jesus. But there's another picture you have to paint, and that is you have to paint a picture of the man how he ended. You must paint the picture of how the story ends.

So really you need a whole clean canvas to do this. It says in verse 15, and they came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, notice, clothed, probably even clean clothes. And in his right mind, you could communicate with him.

He was the kind of person you could leave in your house for the weekend. The very man who had been the legion, and they were terrified. And verse 16, those who had seen it described to them how it happened to the demon-possessed man and all about the swine, and they began to entreat Christ to depart from their region.

They said, get out of here because number one, because of you we've lost 2,000 pigs and we're confronted with a situation we do not understand and we would prefer to stay in our old ways. And so far as we know, Jesus never returned to this region. Oh, I know you say, well, Pastor Lutzer, this morning you are scaring up more rabbits than you can shoot. Are you saying that everybody who is oppressed, everybody who is filled with obsessions, everybody who is schizophrenic, who has these strange voices within them, are you saying that all of them are demon-possessed? Let me remind you that all the things that I have mentioned, that huge list of struggles and others like them, would probably exist even if there were no demons because we as human beings are very, very complicated. And it's amazing how much sin we can commit just on our own. And I'm not saying that those who struggle with different personalities that are sometimes created as ways to cope, that all those personalities, you ask me, are demonic.

But here's what I want to say to you today, is that no matter what struggle we have, and I want you to understand that my message today applies to you even if you can't identify with some of the behavior we've talked about. No matter what struggles we have, Satan always comes alongside every single human weakness to strengthen it, to tighten it, to magnify it, to cause it to be stronger because what he wants to do is to exploit. And that's why we would have people who would be hooked on pornography even if there were no devil. But because there is a Satan and because there are demons, the vice of addiction to pornography is so much stronger.

And that's why there are people who would be immoral, yes, even if there was no Satan, but once again, the cycle of immorality in their lives is so excruciatingly strong that there appears to be no way out because Satan takes the natural sins that we commit and he tries to make them stronger so that the addiction simply will not go away. So he's involved. And also, of course, therefore, it follows that there are different levels of control. There are different levels of control because not everybody has spirits inhabiting them as this man did, but there are people who are oppressed and afflicted and cast down and harassed because there's an enemy out there. And Peter says he walks about as a roaring lion. And what is he doing? He's watching, seeking whom he may devour. He's saying, this person has a weakness here.

And when he falls into that weakness, I'm going to be there to make sure that the hole in the dyke becomes a raging torrent. Let me summarize what I have to say to you today about Jesus. First of all, how does Jesus help us? He confronts us. He finds us in our need. I don't see anything in the text that would suggest that this man was looking for Jesus.

Not at all. In fact, maybe he heard about Jesus. Maybe he didn't hear about Jesus. The demons, of course, knew about Jesus. I mean, that's a given, but the man himself wasn't necessarily looking for Jesus. But Jesus steps out of the boat and goes looking for a man among the tombs.

I want you to know today that Jesus finds you where you are, where you are. Some of you have tombs, graves in your mind that are still opened because of things that have happened in your past. Some of you know what it is to have this tomb and that tomb and that cave and you've taken a lot of things and you've hid a lot of the garbage in those tombs.

Oh, how you fear that someday somebody is going to stumble across them. Jesus finds you right there. And let me encourage you, don't go into all the tombs and lift up every board and turn over every rock without Jesus going with you. In fact, even better, let Jesus be your guide.

If you need to confront your past and there are people who do, what you do is don't do it alone because those tombs are lonely and terrifying. But you walk in with Jesus who confronts you right where you are. He finds us. You know, when people get saved, they always say, I found Christ. I always smile and say, well, give them a little theology. Hopefully let them attend Moody Church for three months and then they'll know they never found Christ. Christ found them.

Just looked like they found Christ. He finds us. Secondly, what does he do? He cleanses us. He cleanses us. Notice the man's problem is an unclean spirit, an unclean spirit.

Well if you want to get away from that sense of self hate, that condemnation that causes people to commit suicide, that drives them to drugs and to alcoholism and to despair, you can't do that unless you've been cleansed. And that's exactly why the blood of Christ was shed, by the way. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from every single individual unrighteousness. Jesus died to cleanse us and there are some of you here who say yes, but you do not know who I am.

Remember Ted Bundy who killed what was a 27 young girls? He claimed before he died that he received Christ as savior and had been forgiven. We don't know if that's true because only God knows the human heart, but this much I do know is it's possible that that happened.

It's possible. And if God can forgive such a man, who are you to say that his grace stops short of your need? He cleanses us, but the cleansing has two aspects.

Two aspects. First of all, he cleanses us and then he says, I forgive you and I wash you clean. I take the water and wash away the garbage in the gutter. Now I'll tell you what I expect of you. As you have been forgiven, you must forgive. You must forgive. You must be willing to say, God, I can't take care of all the injustices that have been done against me.

I need to release those bitter feelings to you and I need to choose to forgive even as I've been forgiven because I want to be clean, not just clean of the sins that I've committed, but also clean because of the bitterness that holds me in that tomb of darkness. And then what did Jesus do? Well, he restores us. He gives us dignity. He gives us dignity. Here's a man clothed and in his right mind. He's a man who we would be glad to meet and he gets integrated again into society and he becomes a part of the community.

And people say, I can't believe that this is the same guy, but maybe we can be his friend again. Dignity. That's what Jesus gives us. Now I want you to know that when Jesus died on the cross and then when he went up into heaven, he triumphed. He triumphed over Satan. He triumphed over Satan. And if you have believed in Christ personally, if you are born again, and there are many of you who are listening to this message who can say yes to that, there are also many of you who either don't know or are sure that you are not. But the fact is if you are born again, you actually have come under new management.

So Satan need not harass you and always come to you with those high paying demands. Let's suppose that you lived in an apartment and you had a landlord who always came and knocked on your door and asked for much more rent than you really were supposed to give. And he harassed you. He kept you up at night. He pounded on the walls.

It was just terrible. And then one day your whole apartment complex gets sold to a loving landlord. And lo and behold, your old landlord comes back still demanding the same payment, still bribing you, still cajoling you, still intimidating you, still throwing bricks through your window. And you just are absolutely helpless because why?

It's because you didn't know that you had the authority to look that man in the eye and tell him to beat it because you are no longer under his jurisdiction and authority. That's the way we are. We give in.

We do it. Say, can't help myself, just the way I am. The devil made me do it and maybe he helped, but what God wants to do is to raise up a whole army of believers who know who they are and March with a strength and the power of the victorious Christ to whom we give our allegiance and because of our faith in him, we do not have to keep paying debts to the devil. Some of you need the touch of Christ today because you need to be cleansed.

Some of you know right well that it's time that you took authority over situations in your life that you've allowed to go on. And all of us need to know that no matter what we struggle with, part of the struggle is a confrontation with beings that absolutely hate us and want to do us in. But Christ comes.

You shall know the truth. The truth shall set you free. And if the sun shall make you free, said Jesus, you shall be free indeed.

Let's pray. Our Father, we thank you today for a story of deliverance. Thank you, Father, for the Holy Spirit who has been given to your people.

Thank you for the triumph of Jesus. I'm going to ask right now that you talk to Christ. Some of you need to be cleansed from sin. Some of you need to be born again of the Holy Spirit and you can receive Christ even where you are seated. Others of you need to talk to God about uncleanness that has polluted you. Talk to him.

Talk to him. He's there. Father, thank you today for the grace and the power of Jesus. Help us now in our need as we come to you believing and trusting you. In Jesus' name. Amen. You know what comes to mind is when I was growing up in Canada, we used to sing a song and a line of that song has just come into my mind. It goes like this that when Jesus comes, the tempter's power is broken.

Aren't you glad that we can trust a Christ who is stronger than Satan? I'm holding in my hands a letter that has come to us from the Middle East. You must understand that the ministry of running to win is in Arabic, thanks to people just like you. This person writes, your episodes have helped me be free from many of my shackles.

Please pray for me. Isn't it wonderful to know that as a result of the ministry of radio, we can literally go around the world. Of course, we use other technology, the internet and so forth. And so in an age of communication, we desire to get the gospel of Christ to as many as possible. But we can only do that with your help. If you've been blessed as a result of this ministry, would you consider becoming an endurance partner?

I like to think of them as becoming members of the running to win family. Here's what you do very quickly. Hope that you have a pen or pencil. Go to RTW offer.com. That's RTW offer.com. And when you're there, you click on the endurance partner button. Or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. RTW offer.com. Click on the endurance partner button. Or as I mentioned, go to the phone and call 1-888-218-9337. We do need your help.

Thank you in advance. 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.

Free indeed. Today, Pastor Erwin Lutzer concluded his talk on overcoming empty obsessions, helping us get back on track in the race of life. Next time on Running to Win, the final message in our series on pulling together in a world tearing apart. It's a message for wounded people and the challenge is to love again. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-24 02:07:34 / 2024-04-24 02:15:53 / 8

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