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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 they were being duped by a satanic deception. Satan puts lies in our mind about God, about ourselves, and he uses lies to make sin look good.

Isn't temptation sometimes just our selfish desires? How do you make people aware of the enemy's schemes while avoiding a devil-made-me-do-it mentality?

There has to be a balance. The Bible never teaches that we can say to somebody, "Well, the devil made you do it. Therefore you're not responsible." One way or another we do bear responsibility, even if our actions are generated by certain circumstances or because of the devil's lies. Satan can never force us as Christians to act against our will. At the end of the day, we don't overcome the devil by saying "it wasn't my fault." We acknowledge our fault, but we also recognize the devil's role in seeking our destruction.

We don't always know whether something is of the world, of the flesh, or of the devil (often all three may be involved). And I tell people we don't need to know because whether we're talking about pressure to conform to the world, about satanic influence, or about our own lust, the answer is the same. We need the victory of Christ, the Word of God, the armor of God, which I take to be something that we not only put on in prayer but ...

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From Issue:Spiritual Warfare, Spring 2012 | Posted: June 11, 2012

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Displaying 1–5 of 8 comments

Vivin John

August 17, 2012  10:03am

Excellent Article!

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June 16, 2012  8:23am

I can only say thank you so much to you for such teachings as have been coming in the past few weeks. It's been a journey of liberation for me and my ministry. I have been able to understand the way the devil works and how I can find deliverance in God for myself, my family and others that I lead. Keep teh good work up and God bless you so much.

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Grace Kwon

June 15, 2012  1:38am

It's not just a contested universe, but we morally responsible creatures must inevitably choose God's rule OR filthy autonomy.

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Dr. Chandy

June 12, 2012  4:46pm

Go to any city in Asia or Africa have a outdoor crusade under ser antof God demons will manfest in droves and will make the person scream, gyrate, twist and make fearful blood curdling souds. They will manifest when the cross of Christ is preached. Thse demons will admit that they are lying,lesbian and homosexual demons. The person usually is free when these demons are cast out. they were legally vanquished but not vitally. We have had 50 years experience. Some Shamns can send a serpent into a house to bite and kill a person.

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Patti Works

June 12, 2012  4:06pm

This is an excellent article. I really appreciate Mr. Lutzer's biblical and pointed information on this controversial topic. Since I work with women who have been sexually abused, the topics of demonic influence and spiritual warfare come up often. I doubt that the rape of a little girl could come strictly out out of fleshly desires or worldly influence. Thank you for addressing this so openly.

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