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Overcoming Emotional Strongholds, Part 2

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
January 10, 2021 7:00 am

Overcoming Emotional Strongholds, Part 2

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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January 10, 2021 7:00 am

When you find yourself driving in the wrong direction, you look for a place to make a U-turn. In this lesson, Dr. Tony Evans says the same is true when youre off course in life and explains how changing direction can reverse the spiritual consequences of sin.

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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, then 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. So the cause of all emotional stronghold is rooted in somebody's sin somewhere. That leads to a second of three points that I want to make. The second point is simply this, the categories of spiritual stronghold.

There are three general categories. First of all, spiritual strongholds are rooted in pain of the past. 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 or category or 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 39 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. 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're a hostage to all three, past, present, and future. What's the cure for my... I'm tired of being an emotional dishrag. 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. 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. 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. So what do we do when those negative feelings seem inescapable? Well, Dr. Evans will have the answer for us when he continues our message in just a moment.

Stay with us. How can the church be the answer to racial healing and reconciliation? That's what Dr. Tony Evans reveals in his book, Oneness Embraced. Dr. Jack Graham of Preston Wood Baptist Church calls this book a must read for Christians who desire to live in obedience to the heart of the gospel. And Dr. DeForest B. Soares Jr., of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Garden says, if the American church embraces this book, race relations will be transformed.

Healing and hope are possible, and it begins with God's people. Get your copy of Oneness Embraced today. You can request your copy at TonyEvans.org. And while you're there, you can also make the arrangements to get your own copy of Tony's current sermon series, Your Best You. This five-message collection will remind you what the concept of faith is all about and teach you practical ways to overcome emotional strongholds and stop blocking the miracles between you and the turnaround you've been praying for. After the end of this week, we're making this life-changing collection available on CD or digital download as our gift when you make a contribution to help us keep Tony's teaching on this station. Visit us today at TonyEvans.org or give us a phone call day or night at 1-800-800-3222 to make the arrangements.

I'll have our contact information for you again after part two of today's lesson. 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. 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 as a man thinking, so is he. That's why Jesus said you will know the truth. You will know the truth. 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.

Anybody remember the movie A Few Good Men? The last scene, the trial scene, when Tom Cruise is interrogating Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise looks straight in the eye at Jack Nicholson and he looks at him and he says, you are not telling the truth, sir. Jack Nicholson looks back as only he can and says, young man, you can't handle the truth. And Satan can't handle the truth. He can't handle when you come at this thing from what God says rather than what he says because it's going to shift how you feel.

He can't handle the truth. Goliath had all of Israel scared to death. He was a towering, non-foot plus giant and they were terrified of him. They said, the man's too big.

Davis showed up. So how big Goliath was and said, that man is so big, I can't miss. He had a total different perception of size. Jonah, the Bible says, was depressed when he got all of Nineveh saved. How's a preacher going to be depressed when he leaves the greatest revival in the history of mankind, a whole city gets saved at one time? It says Jonah was depressed because he wanted God to kill him. He said, I knew you were going to do this, God. I knew you were going to take my word when I preached it and changed them and I'm upset. God said, Jonah, you're upset because you believe in a lie. You are thinking like the evil one. You're not thinking like me.

That's why you're out here depressed. It is your wrong thinking that has led to your wrong action. Jesus says in John 16 33, in this world, you shall have tribulation.

Somebody didn't hear that. Jesus said, I didn't say this, in this world, if you live in here right now, you still alive sitting on this pew? In this world, you shall have tribulation. And I'm a lying preacher if I tell you anything other than that. Oh, accept Christ and watch all your troubles fly away.

No, no, no. In this world, you still living here, not in heaven yet? 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. 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. Be of good cheer, but the thing that brings you cheer is me.

I have overcome the world. In other words, God can take a mess and turn it into a miracle if you're looking for God and not just looking for feelings. As long as Satan can keep you looking at your feelings, you're never going to look at God.

And when you never look at God, you won't see what God is doing, and he will keep you distressed and in emotional turmoil. That's why the church is so important, because you know what the church is supposed to be? Not just a place where you come here preaching, come here as quiet. Church is supposed to be a place where you come to find encouragement. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, Hebrews 10 says, but stir one another up, encourage one another. The church is the place you come to find folks who will keep you looking at God when you can't see Him.

It's supposed to be the place where you get discouraged. They may not be able to solve your problem. They may not be able to counsel you out of that problem, but they will point you to God and keep your eyes focused on Him so that you're not drowned by what you're going through. But you even got to watch out with church members you hang out with. You want to talk to somebody who was getting ready to leave their marriage, found God, and can tell you where God can show up in the midst of what seems like an impossible marriage situation.

You want to find encouragement in the house of the Lord. You know why Israel was discouraged and they didn't go into the promised land? Because they listened to the wrong report. They listened to the ten and not to the two.

They listened to those who couldn't see God rather than those who could see God. Dr. Evans will come back with a closing song for us in just a moment. Okay, it's technically a story about a song, but he will be back.

Stay with us. In the meantime, I wanted to quickly tell you that the message you've been listening to today is part of Tony's first teaching series of the year called Your Best You. As I mentioned earlier, all five full-length CDs or digital downloads in this set can be yours with our thanks when you make a contribution to help us keep bringing Tony's teaching your way every day. Be sure to call us right away for details 1-800-800-3222. 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. We all know that actions have consequences, but next time, Dr. Evans will show us why in the spiritual arena, some of the worst of them can be reversed. Right now, though, he's back with a few words that will probably sound familiar. All y'all know, my favorite soul-singing group growing up was what? Temptations.

You know, Eddie Kendricks, David Ruffin, you know, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, you know, they were the boys. Oh, David Ruffin broke out this, I got sunshine on a cloudy day. He said, when it's cold outside, I got the month of May. And then he said, now I know you don't know what I'm talking about, because what you want to know is, I guess, you say.

What can make me, watch this, feel this way? And then he answered the question. He said, my girl. He said, in case you didn't hear me, I'm talking about my girl. What he was saying is, my external circumstances are dark, but the sun is shining inside. He said, the hawk is biting on the outside, but I got a furnace burning on the inside. And I guess, you say, what can make me feel this way? He said, it's my girl. Now, you know what he was saying? He was saying, I got a love relationship so high that it doesn't matter what's happening on the outside to determine how I feel on the inside, because how I feel on the inside is controlled by this dynamic relationship with my girl, that on cloudy days, I got sunshine.

And when it's cold, I'm warm and hot and burning up, and it's all because of my girl. I'm going somewhere. You may be in a cloudy situation right now. You may have a cloudy past. People may have abused you before and you don't know where to go.

Every day is dark, but I'm here to tell you today that you can have sunshine on a cloudy day. Your life may be cold and you may be shivering because of mistreatment and abuse. You may be trembling all over because things aren't going right.

The doctor's prescription may not be in your best interest, but I'm here to tell you when it's cold outside that you can still have the month of May. Now I know what you're asking. I guess, you say, what can make me feel this way? My God, I'm talking about my God. He gives me sunshine on a cloudy day. When it's cold outside, he can still give you the month of May, but he's got to be your God.

Listen, I don't need no money, fortune or fame. I got all the riches that this man can claim because of my God. I guess, you say, what can make this preacher feel this way? It's my God and I'm talking about my God. He can meet me in a mess and turn it into a miracle. That's my God. He can take my bad past and still give me a smile. That's my God.

That's my God. Is He your God today? He can change your emotional stronghold. He can change the way you feel today. 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 / 2024-01-06 12:46:20 / 2024-01-06 12:56:25 / 10

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