Erwin Lutzer has led the historic Moody Church in downtown Chicago for more than 30 years, authored more than 30 books, and is featured regularly on three national radio programs. We visited Dr. Lutzer in his church study to get his perspective on spiritual warfare. He shared his thoughts on deliverance, temptation, the role of the community, and why he believes Satan needs God's permission "even to wiggle."
How would you describe to an unchurched person what spiritual warfare is?
I would explain it by saying we have to understand that the material world is not the only reality. There's a spirit world, and all the spirits are not good ones. Many people even outside the church accept that nowadays; just witness the many shows on television that deal with paranormal activity. If you help people understand that there are spirits, and some are evil and we must stand against them, I think most people could connect with that.
So this is a contested universe. How do evil spirits do their work?
Yes, there are spirits at work in opposition to one another. Some are obedient to God; others oppose him. Their primary method is to put ideas (lies) into our minds that we think are our own (that way we don't fear those thoughts). The best example is Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). They decided to lie about the price they were given for their piece of land. And Peter says, "Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?" Now if when Ananias and Sapphira were discussing this over a bagel some morning, Satan had shown up in a dramatic way and told them to lie, they would have been terrified. But they didn't see him. They were unaware of the fact that he had put this idea in their minds. So they weren't afraid, and did not know that ...