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Overcoming Emotional Strongholds

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
October 11, 2021 8:00 am

Overcoming Emotional Strongholds

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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October 11, 2021 8:00 am

God gave us emotions for a reason and they’re a big part of what makes us human. But Dr. Tony Evans says they also make us vulnerable, and in this lesson, he’ll talk about how to find healthy ways to reconcile our feelings and our faith.

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If emotions are a product of your thought life, who controls your thought life determines how you feel. Dr. Tony Evans says even though we can't ignore bad feelings, we don't have to surrender to them. If God is controlling your thinking, then you will feel like God wants you to feel because emotions piggyback off of thoughts. Celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, 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. 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 in today's message from our special Tony Evans Top 40 series, he'll talk about how to find a healthy balance between our feelings and our faith.

Let's join him. 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. 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.

Let me look at three things very quickly today. First of all, the causes of emotional strongholds. 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, because I'm not talking about addictions now.

You won't hear this at the normal 12-step program. All emotional strongholds, I'm not just talking about a bad day. I'm talking about you're trapped by your emotions.

You wake up depressed. You live in fear. You are hostage to anger. That is rooted in sin.

Now, before you react negatively to that, let me finish it. 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 said, Pastor, you've been talking 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 two baby boys, Cain and Abel. God didn't accept Cain's offering, verse 4.

And Abel on his part also brought the first length of the flock and the fat portion, 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. 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. 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 have 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 Gentile, 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 and 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 future might. If the present don't get you, the future will.

And Lord have mercy if you're hostage to all three, past, present and future. 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. 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'd 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. God has an amazing plan for your child's life, and there's no greater joy than helping them discover it. Dr. Tony Evans' Kids Guide series can help, instilling kingdom principles in your child by teaching them how to build others up with their words.

Understand God's attributes through his names, and engage in spiritual warfare against the enemy. Written for kids ages 8 to 12, these easy-to-read books are filled with biblical truth, aimed at guiding young readers into a deeper love for God and confidence in his faithfulness. And because you can read them as a family, these guides are sure to encourage everyone in your home. Bless your child by helping them discover God's amazing plan for them, so they can unlock their potential for a lifetime of following Jesus.

Find out more at And while you're there, you can also make the arrangements to get a copy of the special sermon series you're listening to today. It's called Tony Evans Top 40, a selection of his most powerful sermons over the last 40 years. Earlier this summer, we put together volumes one and two of this four-volume series. And now, for the first time ever, volumes three and four can be yours with our thanks when you make a donation to help keep this broadcast coming your way. The final installment of this series, available on CD or digital download, includes messages on overcoming emotional strongholds, maximizing your potential, the sufficiency of Scripture, and much more. Please visit, make your donation, and let us send you all 20 lessons in Tony Evans Top 40, volumes three and four.

And if you missed out on getting the first two volumes, you can learn more about how to obtain those for your audio library as well. Just visit or call our resource center at 1-800-800-3222, day or night. I'll repeat that contact information after part two of today's lesson and this.

Coming to theaters this November. We're at the Church of the Nativity here in Bethlehem, where it is believed that the birth of Jesus Christ occurred. Travel with Dr. Tony Evans as he retraces the life and human journey of the greatest being to ever walk this earth. Well, we're here in Capernaum, a place where Jesus did most of His miracles. And it is in this place that He demonstrated He truly is the Son of God. You'll travel the streets, fields, and synagogues that Jesus walked and visit the locations where some of the most powerful events recorded in the Bible took place. It is highly likely that much of what we read about Jesus' ministry in Galilee happened right here. Journey with Jesus in theaters November 15th, 16th, and 17th with Dr. Tony Evans.

Visit for locations, showtimes, and to learn more. 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. 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, because there's a man thinking.

So is it. That's why Jesus said, you will 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. 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. David 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. 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. 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 a good cheer, but the thing that brings you cheer is me. 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 that's quiet. The 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. They may not be able to counsel you out of that, 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 what 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 10 and not to the 2.

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 Evans' Top 40, a collection of his best and most powerful messages of all time. Remember Volumes 3 and 4 of this four-volume collection are now available, and they can be yours with our thanks in return for your donation to the Urban Alternative. We depend completely on the prayers and gifts of friends like you to keep Tony's teaching on this station, and we consider making these resources available to help strengthen your faith and life impact as both our privilege and sincere responsibility. Contact us today at or give us a call at 1-800-800-3222, or someone from our resource team is waiting to assist you. Again 1-800-800-3222 or online at

They say it takes two to tango, but Dr. Evans says a successful marriage takes three. He'll explain next time in a classic sermon titled Paradise Restored, drawn from the archives of 40 years of ministry. Right now, though, he's back with a few words that'll likely sound pretty familiar to you. 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. Or 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 circumstance is the 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 celebrating 40 years of faithfulness thanks to the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-12 09:28:16 / 2023-08-12 09:37:10 / 9

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