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Overcoming Emotional Strongholds. Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
January 6, 2021 7:00 am

Overcoming Emotional Strongholds. Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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January 6, 2021 7:00 am

The Bible tells us to run away from temptation but when its coming from your emotions, theres no easy way to escape. Join Dr. Tony Evans as he talks about how feelings try to control us and how you can decide who directs them.

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In spite of how things look and in spite of what you're going through, that does not have to control your emotions. Dr. Tony Evans talks about the danger of letting our feelings drive our faith. Whatever is going wrong in your life, as long as there is God, is not the last word.

This is The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans. Author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative. The Bible tells us to run away from temptation, but when it's coming from your emotions, there's no easy way to escape. Today, Dr. Evans talks about how feelings try to control us and how you can decide who directs your thoughts.

Let's join him. Far too many Christians are held hostage by emotional strongholds. Anger, depression, discouragement, frustration, inferiority complexes, lack of self-esteem, and on and on and on, fear, paralyzed by their feelings. Now it is not a mistake that I've used the word stronghold, not addiction. Addiction is the world's way of explaining you being in hostage to something you can't shake. They say you are addicted to alcohol, addicted to drugs, addicted to sex, addicted to whatever it is. The only problem with that worldly word is that the term addiction, as it is used in the secular world, suggests that I am a powerless victim to my problem, that I do not have the ability to get out of it because somebody else caused it and my bad genes keeps it.

It is a way of putting off on others what belongs to me. The biblical word is stronghold. What is the difference between the secular word addiction and the biblical word stronghold?

It's simply this. A stronghold assumes a spiritual dimension and addiction doesn't. A stronghold assumes that there is something invisible behind the scenes that is cooperating with something visible on the scenes that is keeping me trapped in the situation I'm in.

Addiction means you may never get out of this. A stronghold means that if I can ever get the spiritual right, the physical has to set me free. We want to overcome strongholds and specifically today, we want to overcome emotional strongholds. First of all, the causes of emotional strongholds.

What causes them? Most of us have in our homes smoke detectors. If the smoke detector goes off, it wouldn't be advisable to cover your ears so that you don't hear the noise. It wouldn't be advisable simply to hear it, listen to it, and say, I'll get used to the noise. Because the smoke detector is not alarming so that you can hear its noise. That's not why it's coming and making a noise. The smoke detector is letting you know you need to check out something else. The smoke detector is not concerned with itself. It's concerned that in some room of the house, a fire is breaking out.

So don't check the detector, check the fire. When there is emotional stress in the life, most people approach it wrongly because they define it wrongly. Many people with their emotional distress either deny it, that's called suppression, when there's conscious denial, or they have unconscious denial, that's called repression, they seek to cover it up with activities, with distractions, with TV programs, or with pills so that they don't have to face the alarm going off in their soul. While simply covering up the alarm of your emotions is making you comfortably sick, it's not addressing the problem. What the smoke detector is to the house, emotions are to the soul. They are the signals that God has given the soul of men to say, watch this, that something else is wrong. When you are emotionally distraught as a lifestyle stronghold, and you spend all your time dealing with your emotions, it's like spending all your time dealing with the smoke detector and never locating the fire. Emotions are merely a way to let you know something else is wrong and the signal has just gone off. The field of psychology and psychiatry has as its major purpose attempting to help people to discover what's wrong. When done correctly and biblically, which I'll talk about in just a second, it can do just that.

When done incorrectly, it just becomes a way to get you back next week. When you go to the hospital and you say, doctor, I don't feel good. He listens to how you feel, but he's never satisfied with your explanation. He takes an x-ray to look a little deeper. He probes and he pokes or he biopsies because while your feelings are real, they may not be the root cause. You want the doctor to get at what's causing you to feel the way you feel, not just sympathize with you that you feel it. Because emotions are designed, watch this, to let you know something is wrong, emotions are not the something that is wrong.

Now that raises a question. What is the cause of emotional strongholds? I didn't ask, what is the cause of your emotional addiction?

What is the cause of emotional strongholds that are not physiologically tied? One word, all emotional strongholds that are not physically related to illnesses of the body are rooted in sin. It's either rooted in your sin, something you did that brought it on, or it's rooted in somebody else's sin.

They abused you when you were a child, you got raped. It wasn't your sin, but it was sin. Or it's rooted in what I might call atmospheric sin. That is, you live in a world that's been so contaminated by sin that there's something always showing up to take you down. But in either case, it is sin. Now I know what some of you are thinking. You say, Pastor, you've been telling me a long time I ain't seen no Bible yet.

All right? Let's open it up. Genesis chapter 3. God created Adam and Eve and put them in a perfect environment, flawless, and there was only joy, no negative emotional experiences. Satan came on the scene and got Adam and Eve to rebel against God. Verse 7. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. Now compare that with chapter 2 verse 25.

And the man and the woman were both naked and were not ashamed. In chapter 2 verse 25, they're not ashamed. After they have rebelled against God due to the influence of Satan in chapter 3 verse 7, they are ashamed and they have to cover themselves.

So now we have the emotion of shame entering into the human race. Verse 8. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. The Lord called and said, where are you? And he said, I heard the sound of thee in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked.

Now you have the emotion of fear, never experienced before entering into the human race. Chapter 4. Adam and Eve had a baby, two baby boys, Cain and Abel. God didn't accept Cain's offering.

Verse 4. And Abel on his part also brought the firstlings of the flock and the fat portions and the Lord had regard for the offering of Abel. But for Cain and for his offering, he had no regard so Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. So now you have anger entering into the human race and the falling of the countenance which we call today depression. So when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, sin at the influence of Satan, shame entered into the human race, fear entered into the human race, anger entered into the human race, and depression entered into the human race.

Why did it enter into the human race? It entered there because of Satan's influence of sin in the life of men against God. Now if you don't realize that, you won't go looking for that.

And if you don't go looking for that, the alarm will go off and you'll never see the fire. All emotional strongholds that are not physiologically rooted are tied to the presence of sin. Your sin, somebody else's sin, or a contaminated sinful environment in which you and I live. In fact, God asked Cain in verse 6, why are you angry and why are you depressed? He says, if you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up and if you do not well, sin is crouching at the door and its desire is from you, but you must master it.

Do you get the point? Until you master sin, you'll never master your emotions. Until you master sin, you'll never master your feelings. Until you master the thing that is causing you to feel the way you're feeling, whether it's yours, somebody else's, or the atmosphere, Satan will always have the ability to keep you feeling it. What happened to me when I was a child?

I was abused by my mother or father or I was raped or I was betrayed or I had a traumatic experience as a kid. And what happens is emotional grooves are dug in our mind because, watch this, Satan makes a tape of your negative experiences and he keeps his finger on the replay button so that that thing is played over and over like a turntable and over and over and over until it becomes a groove in the mind. And when it becomes a groove in the mind, when you drive on that highway long enough, it adds lanes and it expands and more and more because what happened in the past, although it may have been one event, is played over and over. And let me tell you how Satan will do it. He'll make sure you're reminded of it. He'll make sure you can't run away from it. You'll think you've forgotten that thing, watch a TV show, something happened on the TV show that was like what happened to you when you were a kid and he reminds you that that happened to you and how miserable you were and he lets you see how their lives were destroyed by it and you say, well, I'm going through what they're going through and that grid goes on and on. He'll bring people into your life that went through what you went through and they're not victorious and they lead you in their lack of victory so that you borrow from their lack of victory because misery loves company and you dig your grooves together.

He will make sure that that record keeps on playing. When Dr. Evans comes back in just a moment, he'll talk about the brand new problems that Satan seems to pile on top of the old ones we're still trying to deal with. But first, I want to let you know that what you're hearing today is part of Tony's current teaching collection, Your Best You.

This five-lesson compilation can not only teach you practical ways to overcome emotional strongholds, but will explain how to break the power of deep-seated feelings that interfere with your faith and how to stop blocking the miracles between you and the turnaround you've been praying for. Be sure to contact us today at tonyevans.org to make your contribution and your request. Or give us a call at 1-800-800-3222, where members of our resource team are standing by around the clock to help you.

Again, that's 1-800-800-3222. I'll repeat that information for you after part two of today's message and this. How do you share the gospel with confidence? What's God's plan for our communities?

Why does the Old Testament matter to your faith today? Those are just a few of the questions you'll get answered when you enroll in the Tony Evans Training Center, an interactive online study experience with Dr. Tony Evans, where you can grow in your knowledge of God's Word and learn to advance His kingdom agenda in your life. Visit tonyevanstraining.org to get started today.

That's tonyevanstraining.org. The second way, or category, are problems in the present. You may not be struggling because of the past.

You may be dealing with what's going on right now. You know, if anybody should have been depressed, it should have been the Apostle Paul. Let me read to you 1 Corinthians 11. He says in verse 23, he said, I had labors, I had imprisonments, beaten, times without numbers, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with a rod. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. A day and a night I spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journey in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers from the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren. I have been in labor and hardship through many sleepless nights in hunger and thirst without food and cold and exposure. And apart from the external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. And you think you had a bad hair day.

He said, let me tell you about my life. Every day something's gone wrong. Every day I face mess.

Every day I got folk in my life who trying to bring me down every day. And yet you hardly ever see him depressed. You hardly ever see him wanting to quit.

You hardly ever see him wanting to throw in the towel even though he was going through the pain of the present, because he learned something. We're gonna share it in just a moment. There's a third reason or category of pain. Fear of the future. You're scared about tomorrow. What if I get cancer? What if I have a heart attack?

What if one of my children dies? What if, what if, what if? And even though you know Matthew 634 says, don't be anxious for tomorrow, for today has enough trouble of its own, you are a hostage to what might happen. You live in fear of what could take place. And so you are paralyzed. Now folks, all you have is the past, present, and the future.

That's it. So if the past don't get you, the present might. If the present don't get you, the future will.

And Lord have mercy if you are hostage to all three, past, present, and future. What's the cure for my—I'm tired of being an emotional dish rag. I'm tired of being scared in the morning and angry during the day and depressed at night. I'm tired of living on Prozac and Valium and Lithium.

I am tired of depending on stuff to make me comfortably sick. You don't cure emotional strongholds by denying that they exist. You got some people go to church and the preacher calls them forward in a healing service, and they say they have cancer, and the preacher says, say you don't have cancer. Say, Satan, you a liar. It's not really cancer.

If it's really cancer, you better know that's what it is. You don't deal with emotional strongholds by denying that they exist, because that's a lie. If I'm depressed, I'm depressed. Don't tell me I'm not depressed.

That's what I am. You don't lie your way out of emotional strongholds, nor do you overcome emotional strongholds by overriding them, by getting something more powerful to distract you from them. It can distract you, but it doesn't deal with it. I'm depressed. Let me go watch TV.

Some people get depressed and they eat. That's what I do. In other words, it's an attempt to cover it up so that I don't have to deal with it.

Let me do something that I like that will force me not to think about it. But I haven't dealt with it. Nor do you overcome emotional strongholds by avoiding things that bring them up.

You know why? Because Satan will always have another thing around the corner to bring it up again. I'm not saying you run to it. I'm just saying that you cannot always run from it because if Satan knows you have it, he will bring it.

He has the right person in the right place at the right time to remind you. Now let me tell you something that many people don't know. Emotions don't have—watch this—intellect. Emotions are dumb.

They don't think. Emotions—watch this—have to borrow thoughts. They have to borrow thoughts in order to emote off of them because they have no thoughts of their own. Emotions respond to what we think. Therefore, if emotions are a product of your thought life, who controls your thought life determines how you feel.

Did you hear what I just said? If emotions piggyback on thoughts, then whoever is controlling the thoughts that the emotions are piggybacking off of controls how or what emotion will express itself. If the devil is controlling your thinking, then you'll feel like he wants you to feel. If God is controlling your thinking, then you will feel like God wants you to feel because emotions piggyback off of thoughts. It's because there's a man thinking.

So is he. That's why Jesus said you will know the truth. You will know the truth.

You will know. If you know it, not just hear it, if you know the truth, that truth, that data will set you free. It will set you free in this case from emotional strongholds, but you need to know the truth. See, some of you just discovered your identity in Christ. You never knew that truth before. So you were held hostage to your old identity in Adam, and you never knew what grace was. So you always had to feel like the devil wanted you to feel because you were operating off of your old identity.

So you had to feel that way because he controlled you. Let's say you're going to buy a car. They turn you down for your car loan, and you get depressed. They call you back five minutes later and say, oh, we made a mistake.

We read you somebody else's results, and you will get your car loan. Now you're happy. Why were you depressed the first time? Because the information you got was not correct. Well, you might say, well, he shouldn't have lied to me. Don't you know the devil is a liar from the beginning? Don't you understand that that's his thing, to lie to you so he can control how you feel? The Bible says he is a liar, and he is the father of lies. So all he's got to get you doing is believing that his lie is the real deal.

Because if his lie becomes your truth, you feel his feelings. Stay with us. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment with a final story to wrap up today's message, part of his current series, Your Best You. Remember, this short but powerful five-message collection is yours with our thanks when you support the alternative with a contribution to help us keep bringing you Tony's teaching every day. To make your donation, simply call us at 1-800-800-3222, where resource team members are on hand 24-7 to help you. That's 1-800-800-3222.

Or make the arrangements online at tonyevans.org, where you can also find out more about the Tony Evans Training Center that you heard about earlier in today's broadcast. God gave us emotions for a reason, and they're a big part of what makes us human. But Dr. Evans says they also make us vulnerable, and tomorrow he'll talk about how to find a healthy balance between our feelings and our faith.

Right now, though, he's back with an encouraging thought to wrap up today's program. Jesus says in John 16, 33, in this world you shall have tribulation. But then he finishes the verse by saying, but be a good cheer.

What kind of crazy talk is that? In this world, you're going to be messed over, but smile. In this world, you shall have tribulation. In this world, you're going to have problems, perplexities, frustrations. You're going to see evil.

The news is going to be bad. But in spite of that, you can make a choice to be of good cheer. I had a seminary professor. He wrote a book called Happiness is a Choice. He said in spite of how things look and in spite of what you're going through, that does not have to control your emotions. That doesn't mean you don't have a bad day. That doesn't mean that you don't get discouraged ever. It doesn't mean that you don't get depressed. That doesn't mean that.

It means that you never become a hostage. Be of good cheer, but the thing that brings you cheer is me. I have overcome the world. Now somebody here saying, I know Jesus, and he ain't overcome nothing for me, is by having such an intimacy with Christ and such a perspective on God that you know the thing that is causing you to feel the way you feel is never the last word. It's never the last word. Whatever is going wrong in your life, as long as there is God, is not the last word. It's not the final statement. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-07 14:02:54 / 2024-01-07 14:11:36 / 9

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