Need Help? Call Now
Putting Your Past Behind You

The Darker Side Of Evil

Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer | November 26, 1989

Selected highlights from this sermon

Satan works through weaknesses we already have. He’ll put thoughts into our minds that we think are our own. Because Satan isn’t attractive to us, but sin is, he’ll take sins such as covetousness, the exaltation of self, and sexual temptations and use them to entice us.

From things that appear harmless, (New Age ideas, palm reading), to things that are blatantly sinful (pornography, occultism), even things that you have no control over (abused as a child, ancestral involvement in the occult)—Satan will use these as entry points into your life. And once he gets a foothold, he’ll take as much territory as he can.

To get out from under his thumb, you have to submit to Christ and put on the whole armor of God, and little by little, as battles are won against the enemy, he’ll back off.  And you can press on to be who God wants you to be.

Today we come to the sixth in a series of messages, Putting Your Past Behind You. And as I speak on the topic of Satan I am well aware that there are many who perhaps are going to find it difficult to listen to this sermon. You will find that you are distracted. You may find it difficult to concentrate. There will be a restlessness and compulsiveness. You say, “How do you know that?” It’s because sometimes what happens when Satan is exposed is that he tries to create barriers that will not enable people to hear clearly the voice of God. And that’s why, even though we have prayed a number of times already today, I am going to ask that we pray one more time. And many of you may want to pray while I preach if you can do that and concentrate on what I’m saying and pray at the same time. I think that’s possible, but join me as we pray.

Our Father, we know that our ancient foe does seek to work us woe. And today, Father, we pray that as He is exposed, Your blessed Holy Spirit will enable each of us to be totally free from his influence, to know what it is to resist him, to understand how he works, to not believe his lies and to be free people. Do that for us.

We pray that there may be no distractions during this service, and the hearts of those who have felt the imprint of the devil, and have known his power today may walk out of here free. We pray that because we believe in the strong and powerful name of Jesus who has crushed our enemy. In His name we pray, Amen.

I want you to suppose for just a moment that you are involved in a battle and didn’t know it. Think of the advantage that that would give to the enemy. You being in a war and not knowing it, you’d be overrun. I want you to imagine for a few moments that you are in a battle and you know that you are in a battle, but you’ve decided that you are going to ignore the enemy. You simply plead neutrality. You’re going to be like the country of Switzerland—neutral.

My dear friend, to be neutral in the Christian life is to surrender to the enemy, because it’s not your choice as to whether you are in a battle or not. That decision isn’t made by you. It is made by a cruel, malicious foe, a personal devil who stalks God’s people, trying to create as much havoc and to instigate as much sin as he possibly can.

If you say to me, “Pastor Lutzer, why is the universe and why is the world set up that way?” Well, I’m not going to answer that question except to say that if I live long enough to make it into next year, sometime next year I hope to preach a series of messages on that topic, so you’ll have to come back. But until then let me tell you that even though Satan is not omnipotent and omnipresent, it appears as if he’s everywhere at the same time, because he has tens of thousands of demonic spirits that are organized according to certain hierarchies who are accountable and who must give an account of their work to their superiors. He is well organized just like an army, and he is taking us on. He hates God, and he takes out his hatred of God against us, and that’s why it is that he is indeed a cruel, angry foe.

Now I want you to realize that behind all of the personal decisions we make and behind some of the things that we see taking place in the world, behind these so-called physical events, there is this spiritual power called the devil even in what we might consider to be some of the more ordinary experiences of life, if you please. It’s not extraordinary. We all know that there is something like demon possession where we see the rage of Satan on people’s faces as they become controlled by the devil. We’ve all seen that. And certainly we’ve read about it in the New Testament, but I’m speaking about the ordinary events in which you may never suspect that Satan is at work.

Examples! Here’s a couple that sits down for breakfast and they are deciding how much they should give to the church because the church needs a special offering, and so they are discussing it. Some people in the congregation have sold various articles and have even sold some property and they have brought all of the proceeds and they’ve given it to the church. This couple says to themselves, “You know, we want to appear as spiritual as we possibly can. We want to look good. Let’s sell some property and do the same, but we’ll withhold some of the price. Let’s suppose we sell it for a thousand dollars. We’ll give $500 to the church and we will pretend that we’re giving it all.”

It’s not even really a direct lie. It’s a white lie, because they did sell it for $500. What they are withholding is the fact that they sold it for $500 more. They have every right to keep all the money if they want, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that they are giving the impression that they are really more spiritual than they are. They’re giving the impression that they are selling the whole thing and giving all the money to the church. That’s not so bad.

In the book of Acts, chapter 5, when Ananias and Sapphira, his wife, did that, Peter came to them and said, “Why has Satan filled your hearts?” They would have been astounded. “What do you mean Satan filled our hearts? We were sitting at the breakfast table, just discussing what we were going to do. We didn’t know that the devil was there.” “Why has Satan filled thine heart,” said Peter to them, “to lie to the Holy Ghost?” Wow!

Have you ever been in a situation where you are afraid to let people know that you are a Christian? You may be sitting in a barber’s chair, and the topic is religion, and you find that you can’t say anything even though you are a Christian, and God has given you a door that is wide open, and you are just tongue-tied.

You are in a situation at work in your business, and you have worked there for years and people don’t know that you belong to Jesus Christ. Do you think that the fear of being identified with Christ could have anything to do with Satan, or is that just your natural personality? Just by nature you are laid back! Right?

What about Luke 22? Here is Peter denying that he knows Jesus Christ, and disassociating himself from the Savior, putting some daylight between him and Christ. And what does the Bible say? Jesus said in verse 31, “Simon, Simon, Satan has received permission to sift you as wheat.” The devil is involved.

Sexual temptation! It’s just our desires, right? What does it say in 1 Corinthians 7? Paul says that husbands and wives ought to live together sexually and meet one another’s needs. Why? “Lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control!” The devil is involved.

What about the New Age Movement with its false doctrines? Are these just hair-brained ideas that we are God and all the other things that are being believed? It says in 1 Timothy 4:1 that in the latter day people shall depart from the faith, and it says that they shall give heed to the doctrines of demons. Not doctrines about demons, but doctrines that are actually further perpetuated by demons! Wicked spirits behind false doctrines!

Now, you know there are there are other instances. What about spiritual blindness in the lives of people who do not know Christ as Savior? Second Corinthians 4:4 says the god of this world blinds the eyes of those who believe not, lest the light of the Gospel should shine on them and lest they should believe. Jesus said in Mark 4 that Satan comes and snatches the Word of God out of people’s minds. That’s why some people find it harder to remember what the sermon was about than they might remember the news on television or some sports score. Satan snatches it out of their minds. They are disoriented. They cannot understand. They are fidgety. They cannot concentrate on spiritual things.

Now this is the sixth message in putting your past behind you, and I want to say with authority to you today that there are some of you who will never be able to put your past behind you until you confront Satan, because he has a stake in your past, and he wants to use it to ruin your future.

What I’d like to do today is to give you, first of all, Satan’s strategy. Then we’re going to talk about the lies that he uses to hold people bound, and finally the way out. Is that fair enough? I think that’s fair.

Let’s begin. Strategy! Let me give you a scenario that has been replayed hundreds of thousands of times. You see, Satan begins by putting ideas into our minds that he wants us to think are our own (very, very important!) because, you see, that way he can remain hidden. You see, the reason for that is because sin is very attractive to us, but Satan isn’t. If he came to us and said, “I am the devil. Please exalt yourself,” we’d say, “Wow, I’d better go to church on Sunday; I’d better begin reading the Bible,” and we would flee.

Satan can come to you and say, “Make yourself number one.” And you think that is your idea. You see, he can then remain hidden. He uses all of the sins of the flesh. You know the Bible says, “The works of the flesh are…” and then it lists them. Maybe it’s drunkenness, maybe it’s anger, hostility, witchcraft. All of these things, it says, are the work of the flesh. We would have alcoholics whether the devil existed or not. We would have immoral people whether the devil existed or not. But he takes all of these sins and he inflames them, and he entrenches them, and he works through weaknesses that we already have. And in that way he does not easily become detected. What he does is he lines up his strategy to fit perfectly with our weaknesses so that we can’t tell the difference between him and ourselves. And all of our ideas and sins that we think we are committing because we want to and this is our way out are actually inflamed, exaggerated and dropped into our minds by evil spirits. Now, that’s step number one. let’s suppose you give all of these thoughts a home in your heart and you say, “Yes, welcome these thoughts, because I like the euphoria that is created by them.” So you welcome them into your heart.

What’s step number two? Step number two is obsession. Now it’s not just that those particular thoughts have a “welcome home” in your heart, but they begin to occupy a lot of your time, and you find now that you are preoccupied with those thoughts, and soon those thoughts begin to control you, and you become literally obsessed with the fulfillment of those desires and those thoughts. It may be something like getting even with somebody.

You know, there are people who have been wronged who become absolutely obsessed with vengeance. That’s all that they can think about. Day and night it’s “How do I get even with that person?” And they think of the most awful things that they would like to do, and they are obsessed. It may be covetousness. It may be the exaltation of self. It may be an addiction. It may be a compulsion. Whatever it is, step number two is obsession–preoccupation with those thoughts.

What is step number three? Step number three is a stronghold. What is a stronghold? It is an obsession that becomes deeply entrenched. Now it’s not just a matter simply of being preoccupied with those thoughts. It is a matter of being controlled by those thoughts. It is a matter of being driven with those thoughts in such a way that even though they may subside, whenever you want to make some spiritual progress, whenever you really want to see God with your whole heart, the stronghold is always in the way. It’s always there. And sometimes it seems to lose some power, but then suddenly it will rear its ugly head, and the whole issue of control will come up again, and you will find yourself helplessly once again going back to those old strongholds.

There’s a fourth step, and that, of course, is invasion. That’s where wicked spirits actually now have had such a home in the heart that they actually begin to take up residence. Sometimes they do that in the mind. I’ve met people who clearly had demonic spirits who stopped in the realm of the mind. If you are really thoroughly possessed, the spirits actually can go into the human spirit. Now it’s not just a matter of control. Now you are owned by Satan.

Now let me tell you that steps number one and two, welcoming those thoughts and being obsessed, can usually be taken care of by Christians by themselves. If they memorize the Word of God, they know how to recognize Satan. They know what it is to sing praise songs and to rebuke the devil, and they begin to walk in the Spirit and they know how to put on the whole armor of God. Oftentimes those problems leave in and of themselves.

Numbers three and four almost always necessitate the help of other believers. Remember Jesus said that on earth there are some spirits that do not go out except by prayer and fasting. If you want to do something for Moody Church and for me and for the staff, become a prayer warrior who knows what it is to pray and to fast. There are some spirits that are so stubborn and so deeply entrenched that you can’t get rid of them by yourself.

Scholars debate as to whether or not a Christian can be involved in level number four. We know that there are various kinds of invasions so the issue becomes a little bit complicated, but I’m simply going to sidestep it by saying what we do know for sure. And that is we know that there are Christians who are involved in steps one to three. We’ve all met Christians who have had strongholds, who have some kind of a deeply rooted obsession.

Now, of course, there are other ways that Satan may work. This isn’t the only route. For example, he needs a point of entry so sometimes the point of entry is your past trauma. You see, if you were traumatized as a child, if you were abused, as we spoke about last week, which was the topic of abuse, if you had that happen to you, Satan is going to exploit every negative feeling that you’ve ever had—feelings of rejection, feelings of hatred, feelings of alienation, feelings of fear. He is going to exploit those and sometimes dealing with the trauma of the past means that we are suddenly up against something that is beyond us. Evil spirits!

Possibly family lines! There are ancestral spirits. Remember Mark 9 where there was a baby that was being thrown into the fire. As a matter of fact, he was a child at that time, but Jesus said to the man before he cast the demon out, “How long has this spirit been in this child?” and the man said, “Ever since he was a little baby.” What did that little child do to inherit that spirit? Nothing personally, but I would venture to say (It’s been proven over and over again.) there was witchcraft in that little baby’s family. And through family lines there can be inheritance. If your parents, or your grandparents, or an uncle or an aunt put a curse on you even when you were born or before you were born, you might find that there is a stronghold. There is something within you that you need to get rid of because of that curse.

And then what shall I say with all of the occult paraphernalia? My dear friend, if you want to open your door to the devil, if you want to put out the welcome mat and say, “Come in, all you wicked spirits?” then go ahead and play with Dungeons and Dragons or get involved in horoscopes and Ouija boards and astrology, and about 40 or 50 other doorways into the occult, because that is inviting satanic spirits into your life. The Bible forbids that we should have anything to do with any sources of information other than our mind and the Bible, and that which we observe in nature, and never through occult practices.

Now, the point to be made is this: Once Satan gets a foothold in someone’s life he will take as much territory as he is allowed to take. In fact, he’d take it all if he could, but you see, he can’t always take it all because he is not some sovereign spirit who can just zap somebody and say, “I’m going to indwell you, and I’m going to take over.” If he had that kind of authority, why then, indeed, the whole world would be completely under the control of Satan. He can’t do that. He has to respect the human spirit. So what he needs always is a point of entry. He needs some excuse. Whether out of ignorance or knowledge, in some way your life has to be opened to him. But once he begins to make his entrance, he always goes as far as he possibly can. And of course, it’s not a matter of saying, “Satan, I invite you in.” Nobody in his right mind would say that. All that you have to do is to take up issues that are in his territory. All that you must do is to play around with sin, which is his specialty, and eventually you can become hooked because behind the trap is the trapper. And behind the worm is the hook. That is his strategy.

Now, you say, “Well, what are the lies by which he holds people bound?” Why don’t people just say, “Well, you know, we’ve got all the promises of God, we’ve got the Bible, we’ve got the people of God. Let’s just walk away from all this, and let’s get out of our prisons and let’s say no to the devil and banish him, and get on with the business of being holy people”? I wish that it were that easy, but it’s not, because Satan is a liar, and people believe lies.

Now the Bible says regarding him, “There is no truth in him.” Wow! What a statement! No truth in him! Jesus said that whenever he speaks, he speaks lies. The only time you can believe the devil is when he tells you he’s lying. The only true statement he makes is when he says, “I’m a liar.” (chuckles) All other statements are to be disbelieved.

What are the lies that he uses? Have you ever seen handcuffs? I’ve seen them. Thankfully I’ve never had any on me. I trust it will always be that way, but if you’ve ever looked at handcuffs you’ll notice something. The more you try to get out of them, the tighter they become around your wrists. There are little notches that make them tighter and tighter and tighter, and you know, that’s the way Satan is. The minute he gets some kind of control in your life, he will be there guarding that like everything. He will make sure that you will not wiggle at all, because if there’s anything that he fears it’s lest he lose control, and so he will put it on tighter and tighter and tighter. That’s why there are some people who say, “Well, you know, I’m just going to leave the devil alone.” And they think that that’s going to be victory because they know that the minute they begin to fight there’s going to be some activity. And they don’t understand that that’s exactly one of his deceits. Sure there’s going to be activity, but he is defeated as we shall see in a moment.

What are the lies? First of all, he will distort your self-image. He will distort your self-image. You know, the Bible says that we are sinners and that we desperately need God. And that’s an important truth. And the reason the Bible says that, and the Holy Spirit shows that to us, is so that we will come to Christ, be forgiven, be cleansed, be filled with the Spirit, and get on with the business of living a holy life.

Satan takes those same truths, but leaves out the second half. So what he does is he keeps condemnation on people. He says, “You know, you are so awful. Who could ever love you? You are so filled with shame. Don’t you see how dirty you really are? Don’t you understand how hopeless your situation is? Don’t you see how messed up you are? Who is ever going to love you? Don’t you realize you are damned?”
So he distorts your view of self so that you’ll just simply pull the shell around you and say, “I’m not going to get any help. I’ve just got to survive in my own private little hell.” He distorts self.

Secondly, he distorts God, and they are related. He’ll come along and say, “Oh yes, God has the power to deliver you, but you know what? He’s not going to. (laughs) You expect God to deliver you. Look at that! You’ve prayed. You’ve memorized some verses of Scripture, and here I am, and you think that God is going to deliver you. I want to tell you something (Satan speaking). God is untrustworthy and God doesn’t really love you, and He really doesn’t care about you that much, and you are doomed to live with your stronghold for the rest of your life. Just get used to it!”

Oh, he loves that, because then you are not going to flee to the deliverer, and so he distorts God. But, of course, he distorts your problem too. He would like to make your problem much bigger than it really is. He loves to exaggerate the depths of your problem. And he uses fear to do it.

Satan’s most primary weapon is fear. He will inject fear into your heart about being alone, fear about rejection, fear about what would happen if you really got serious with God. There are actually wicked spirits who have told their subjects, “If you get rid of me you are in big trouble because I am going to speak words of comfort to you.” I’ve known of instances where Satan has said wonderful things through voices to people, getting them to believe that they were listening to the voice of the Spirit of God, and not realizing that they were listening to a demonic duplicate. And so what he says is, “You get rid of me, and you’ll have nobody to comfort you. You will not have your obsession anymore, and that obsession means so much to you. You understand how much it means, don’t you? Just think of the terror of suddenly being rid of it.”

And then he will cause you to be fearful about confronting your past. He’ll simply say, “Look, your past is so awful. It’s too much for you, and it’s too much for God.” Now, it’s alright if you don’t have to confront your past, but as long as it is there it needs to be confronted. You see, Satan will magnify it until it will appear as if normalcy for you is impossible.

I’m told that out in the wild there are two bull moose that may fight over the sovereignty of a herd. And they will fight, and once they have had their fight, the winner is no longer challenged. The moose who has been defeated will simply acquiesce for the rest of his life to the bull moose that defeated him. No more contest! That’s the way Satan works all the time. What he wants to do is to say, “I’m going to win some very decisive key battles in your life. And after I have won them I do not want my authority contested. Let’s just understand the fact that you’re going to be an alcoholic until you die, that you are going to be a slave to pornography until you die. Understand the fact that you are going to be vengeful, covetous, selfish and all the rest, and get it through your head that I don’t want these issues confronted.”

Let me ask you something today: How strong is Satan anyway? Well I’m going to give you a surprising answer. Satan is as strong as you believe him to be. That’s how strong he is. If you believe that he is formidable, if you believe that your stronghold can never, never be taken away, if you believe that indeed he is so powerful that he can hold you in bondage for the rest of your life, he will do it. He’s that strong.

But if you see him as crushed, if you see him as a squatter, standing on territory he doesn’t own, if you understand the dynamics of the cross, having taken him and crushing him, if you can understand Satan from the standpoint of God Almighty in heaven, to whom Satan is absolutely nothing and insignificant, then he becomes terrorized because he says, “Now you are onto something that may force me to give up the territory that I have so judiciously conquered and held onto all these years. So he’s as strong as you believe him to be.

Recently I spoke to a woman who was on medication, and then she got off the medication and she told her psychiatrist (her doctor) that, and my, was he upset and angry. He said to her, “You’re never going to get over your problem.” Now I’m not speaking in favor of medication, nor against it. It may be necessary in certain situations, but what an awful thing to say to somebody. Can’t you just imagine how that just generates hope? Talk about helping people! “You’re never going to get over your problem. You’re always going to be that way.” Wow! Lovely! Whether he realizes it or not, that man was mouthing the words of the devil. That’s exactly what he wants you to think, because as long as you think that way, you are bound.

Now, what’s the way out? You did come here to hear that today, didn’t you? Of course! Let me give it to you in five steps. Notice I didn’t say five easy steps, nor do I mean to say that these are successive steps. Sometimes you may begin with number two. Sometimes you may skip to number five and work backwards. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say five principles rather than steps lest I give the impression that there is a little formula that can be followed, and if you just do these things it’ll all be over. No, you are going to have to do these things. That’s for sure, but it may not always immediately be all over.

Number one, complete submission! Now take your Bibles and turn to James 4 for just a moment. All of us have memorized the verse that says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” We all know that. The problem is that it’s only half the verse, and it’s taken out of context, and people don’t understand the dynamics of what James is talking about. In James 4 he says in verse 6, “But He gives the greater grace. Therefore, God is opposed to the proud.” Wow!

Oh, Satan loves pride in our lives. It’s a stronghold he intends to keep. But God does give grace to the humble. “Submit therefore to God.” Deal with the pride in your life through submission. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners. Purify your hearts, you doubleminded.” He’s talking about people who don’t recognize their sin, and there is sin in their lives, and there is sin in their hearts. And there is lack of submission.

What does it mean to submit? It means certainly that you repent of the sin. I told you a moment ago that Satan always needs an excuse. He always needs a stronghold. He always needs a foot in the door. What you do is you cut out the ground that he’s standing on. Cut it out from under him. You repent of the sins that you’ve been justifying in your mind because you have thought that you could never be free from them. That’s step number one.

And since we’re talking about putting your past behind you, it also means giving all of your scars to Christ, all of the hurts of the past that you can’t deal with, all of the injustices that were inflicted upon you, all of the things that cannot seemingly be changed.

I remember seeing a woman with a tattoo on her arm, and I asked her what it was about, and she said, “Well, that was done by my previous boyfriend.” And she said, “Oh, I wish I could rid of that tattoo, but it’s there.” You see, what Satan wants to do is to make you believe that because of those kinds of scars (and I’m not speaking about physical scars so much as emotional and spiritual scars), he likes to give you the impression that they are tattooed into your heart, and you can never be rid of them. Give them to Christ! You begin with submission to God, and it undercuts the authority of Satan that he wants to have over you and me.

Secondly, not only complete submission but the complete armor. “Take upon yourself the whole armor of God.” And we don’t have time to look at it in Ephesians 6. But you put on truth, and the breastplate of righteousness. And your feet are shod with the Gospel. And you have the Word of God. And above all, you take the shield of faith by which you are going to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. So you have complete armor, I should say. And prayer, which incidentally next week is going to be the topic of our message as I hope to explain to you, God willing, how to use prayer to take the armor of God upon you and to pray through your past into victory. So you have complete armor!

Thirdly, complete authority! Complete authority! Is there anyone here today who doubts whether Jesus is stronger than Satan? Is there anybody here today who doubts whether Jesus won a decisive, incontestable victory against the devil? Is there anyone who doubts at all that Jesus, who is ascended, who is at the right hand of the Father, looking down upon this earth so far as His body is concerned, is there any doubt at all that He crushed Satan and put an end to all his authority and rule? Of course, there’s no doubt about that. The issue is clear.

Now, what about you? It’s not so clear, is it? Struggling with Satan every day! Strongholds! Obsessions! Do you know what the Bible says? It says that when Jesus was raised above every principality and every power and every name that was named in this world and in the world to come, God so put us into Christ that as Jesus looks down upon Satan and sees him crushed, we too are in the heavenlies, and we look down upon him, and we see him crushed too. We’re in Him, and Christ’s authority can become our authority—complete final authority. I know that he is a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour, but the good news is he has been declawed. He’s declawed.

Complete authority! Complete acceptance in Christ! This has to do with the changing of your self-image. It says that those who believe in Jesus become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. It says that God the Father loves His people just as He loves His Son. And you begin to bask in the warmth and the forgiveness and the glow of God’s love and life in you. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Well, we’ve had complete submission and complete armor, complete authority, complete acceptance. Let’s have complete humility—complete humility. And by that I mean sometimes we need our brothers and sisters in the Lord to help us. There’s no question about it. I told you that there are certain things that cannot be overcome any more on your own. It is only as you solicit the prayer support, the intervention, the intercession of other people that God begins to answer. And as those people stand with you, Satan’s foothold in your life begins to weaken.

You say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, do you believe in exorcism?” Yes, I do, but exorcism is always the last step of the process. I’ll tell you why. It’s because, you know, it’s possible to have an exorcism and you still have your problem, because it may be a problem of the flesh that Satan has been using. And Satan is gone but your problem isn’t necessarily solved. But get this. As you begin to develop Bible doctrine and understand who you are in Jesus Christ, and experience the inner healing of Jesus, it makes Satan’s territory in your life get smaller and smaller until finally he gets pushed out the door.

Remember the testimony a few weeks ago of a man, Ralph, who was involved in pornography? He said that standing there on the street corner he knew that a spirit left him. As he was reading the Bible, resisting Satan, it was as if the spirit gave up on him. Now that’s what Satan does. Eventually he gives up on us because remember the illustration I gave you about the bull moose fighting, and just as how once the battle is decisive, that other moose does no longer contest the authority of the victor? Listen to this. Once you win a couple of battles over the devil and you are on to him, he will still contest you. He’s not a gentleman. He’s not going to go run and hide, but you know his authority over you gets weaker and weaker and weaker, and every time he tries to resurrect his old stronghold, it gets knocked down more quickly and he begins to recognize that he’s lost this person. Lost them! And that’s why it’s so important to understand who we are and what we are about.

My dear friend, we are in a battle. Young people and teenagers, listen to me. Satan is willing to have spirits stalk you for 15 years, if necessary, to catch you at a weak point in your life, and ensnare you and capitalize on so much as a single violation of the law of God. Time is on his side.

You know eventually, of course, the goal is that Satan be totally kept outside of our minds, and when he tries to get thoughts into our minds we just simply dismiss them in the name of Jesus, and then there’s freedom.

Well, we began today talking about Martin Luther. Let me quote to you what he said. Somebody said, “Martin Luther, what do you do when Satan comes to you?” I love it. He said, “When he comes knocking on the door of my heart and asks, ‘Who lives here?’ the dear Lord Jesus goes to the door and says, ‘Well, Martin Luther used to live here, but he has moved out and I now live here.’ The devil, seeing the nail prints in the hands and the pierced side takes his flight immediately.”

That’s the way you respond when the devil opens the door. He says, “I’ve got this suggestion. Commit this sin.” And you say, “Hey, wait a minute. I’m going to send Jesus to the door, and then I’m going to take the door and slam it in your face. I refuse to do anything that submits to my enemy. I am not interested in a truce. I am not interested in compromising with the devil who is nothing but a liar, and I reject him in the name of Jesus, and on the basis of Christ’s authority.” And when you live that way, finally you are a free person. Now you can begin to pursue godliness without always having all that interference.

There still will be interference. There is interference in my life. There is interference in the lives of the staff. Everybody has interference but it is not formidable interference. You can begin to press on and be what God wants you to be because you are free.

Let’s pray.

Father, forgive us for overrating the devil. We know that he is formidable when judged according to us and totally crushed and defeated as we think about You. Forgive us for thinking that our stronghold is greater than Your grace and Your forgiveness and Your strength. And we pray in the name of Jesus that You might set people free today. And we ask that as counselors counsel those who struggle, that You’ll give them unusual wisdom to pray with great liberty and great faith, committing these people to You in their needs. Grant that to us we pray. May we stand fully certain that the serpent has been crushed to the ground, and we crush him in the authority and the name of Jesus. Amen.

Tell us why you valued this sermon.