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Recognizing False Prophets

Moody Church Hour / Pastor Phillip Miller
The Truth Network Radio
January 17, 2021 1:00 am

Recognizing False Prophets

Moody Church Hour / Pastor Phillip Miller

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January 17, 2021 1:00 am

In ancient Israel, false prophets put lies about God into the minds of the people. The same is true in our day. These false teachers minimize God’s holiness, and exaggerate their own goodness to hide their real motives. We must learn to recognize the lies.

 Click here to listen (Duration 54:30)

Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts

In ancient Israel, false prophets put lies about God into the minds of God's people.

The same is true in our day. They diminish His holiness, exaggerate their goodness, and hide their real motives. Today, how to recognize them when you hear them. From Chicago, this is The Moody Church Hour, a weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin Lutzer. On this broadcast, we continue a 10-part series on The Church in Babylon, unleashing the power of a Spirit-filled witness.

Later, Erwin Lutzer will turn to Jeremiah chapter 5 and talk about recognizing false prophets. Dr. Lutzer comes now to open our service. As you look at the bulletin today, please notice that our emphasis is on the Word of God, because my message actually is going to be about false prophets and false teachers based on the book of Jeremiah, but we want to affirm ourselves and our commitment to His holy Word. So immediately after I have prayed, we will be hearing the Word of the Lord, and then we'll be singing, and that is our emphasis today.

I know that it's been a busy week for you, for me, for us all. Can we just take out a moment of silence, invite God's blessing, and invite His presence? We know that He's here, but we want to acknowledge His presence.

Would you join me, please? Father, we do ask in Jesus' name that you will come to us, reveal yourself to us, make this a very transforming experience. As we come together to worship, may you be honored in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.

Please remain standing. I invite you to follow along with me and your bulletin as we read together selections from Jude. This is God's holy Word. Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ. These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires, their loudmouth boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, in the last time there will be scoffers following their own ungodly passions.

It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in the most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt.

Save others by snatching them out of the fire. To others, show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and forever.

Amen. Lord of hosts, Lord of angels, evermore! God should come to speak his words to Lord Jesus, our Savior for all. Great prophet of my God, let our word bless thy name. I lead you, my joyful youth, from our salvation, praise the joyful news, how soon's morning have hands the truth that gives way in prayer. Jesus, my great, my great, proud, heard his blood and died. My beauty watched and seen from separate light, he sighed, his power of light did once at home, and now it made him your power of hope. The water comes to bloom, I'm better than my God, and love my shepherd, and keep me near thy side.

Look at my feet, and turn my strength to wonder in the golden rain. Christ the Lord and my Lord, my Father and my King, I stand here and I stood, my reigning praise rise to me. That is the power we hold, I sit with living hope, waiting for his name.

Church for Jesus, ruler of all nature, over all God and heaven the Son. He will not cherish, he will cry out loud, of thy soul's glory, joy, and crown. There are the levels, next to the moonlight, long may the moon be like a stream. Jesus is heaven, Jesus is world, who makes the whole world proud to sing. There is no sunshine, there is still the moonlight, and all that we believe shall be yours.

Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines brighter than all the angels have ever watched. Jesus reigns, Lord of the nations, Son of God, and Son of heaven, and glory and honor. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, now and forevermore. Let's say Amen together.

Thank you, you may be seated. Let's sing it with impression, from above upon the shelf. Let the message it untakes, may not be still. Father God, who brought this hatred, let it pass away. Say the Lord will make your heart fulfill. His word will stand, His word will stand. The stars shall fall, and mountains will descend. Lord God, that we meet Him, His promise is sure, His love will endure, and forever His word will stand. Listen to the voices of the world caught up in fear, for the word of God proclaims the victory.

He gives His children courage in the front of gates of hell, with a soul that conquers every enemy. His word will stand, His word will stand. The stars shall fall, and mountains will descend. Lord God, that we meet Him, His promise is sure, His love will endure, and forever His word will stand. His word will stand, His word will stand.

The stars shall fall, and mountains will descend. Lord God, that we meet Him, His promise is sure, His love will endure, and forever His word will stand. Forever His word will stand, His word will stand.

Thank you. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy One, Amen. When a nation is in trouble, or when you are in trouble, what you and I really need is a word, a message from God. And we need that message from God for a number of different reasons.

First of all, to find out what God is like, to find out what He has planned, and then most assuredly, to plan for the future, to find out what lies ahead. In the ancient city of Judah, in this ancient city of Jerusalem, in the land of Judah, I should say, in about 2,600 years ago, 600 BC, there was a prophet by the name of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was speaking the word very clearly to a nation that had forgotten God.

They were worshipping idols, they were into immorality, and they were feeling very comfortable in their sin. And so God anointed Jeremiah and said, Jeremiah, I want you to be a prophet to the nations. And so He told the people that the Babylonians were going to come and destroy their city, destroy their country, and they had better prepare, and they had better repent of their sin.

But the people didn't want to hear it. And so what happened is there were plenty of false prophets, false teachers, who said to themselves and to others, we have a better message than Jeremiah. Jeremiah, all that negativism regarding judgment, we know better than he does. And so Jeremiah had to put up with false prophets. In fact, the false prophets actually ultimately had him thrown into a well, and he was there persecuted by them. Tell you what I'd like to do in the next few moments, and thanks so much for joining me, is to talk about false prophets from the book of Jeremiah, also using contemporary illustrations, and occasionally going into the New Testament to help us to understand what is going on today.

And I'm doing this for a very specific reason. When you're watching television, and you see some of these false prophets on television, and not everyone who's on television is a false prophet or a false teacher, but there are many of them, that you will be able to recognize those characteristics and say, I see that he or she is a false teacher. We need discernment in this day of confusion. Listen to what God said about the false prophets of the time, and you can take your Bibles and turn to the book of Jeremiah.

There's a Bible there in the pew in front of you, and probably if you were in about page 633, somewhere along there you would find the text that I'm going to be using. But the Lord says this regarding the false prophets, they have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, peace, peace, when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed.

They did not know how to blush. Therefore, they shall fall among those who fall. At the time, I will punish them, and they'll be overthrown. What strong words to false prophets who healed the wound of their people too lightly. They taught the people that you can solve your own problem. You know, after all, you can do anything that you want to do.

You can authenticate yourself. Your sin really is no problem. And so what they were doing is basically putting a bandage over a cancer, thinking that the bandage would be able to heal the deep-rooted sore of the human heart. Now, what I'd like to do is to give you four characteristics of false prophets, then we'll talk about some good news. Now, some of you may say to yourself, well, you know, this doesn't seem very loving. For Jeremiah to make these very strong statements does not seem like the loving thing to do. May I tell you that love always tells the truth.

Love always is willing to confront, and that is the most loving thing that you can do. Jeremiah was a prophet who wept. He cried over the sins of the nation and over the things that he foresaw that was coming.

The suffering that is absolutely incredible that we will talk about in the next couple of messages. But for now, false prophets. Turn to Jeremiah chapter five, and you'll notice that it says this in Jeremiah chapter five.

And I'm beginning here at verse 12. They have spoken falsely of the Lord, speaking of the false prophets. They have spoken falsely of the Lord and said, He will do nothing.

No disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. Jeremiah's message is wrong. It's too judgmental. It's too negative.

That's not going to happen. This is God's evaluation in verse 13. The prophets will become wind.

The word is not in them. Thus, it shall be done to them. Wow, that's God's view of the false prophets. Very quickly, notice that they diminish the holiness of God.

They diminish the holiness of God by saying, the Bible says they speak falsely of the Lord. No disaster will come. God isn't going to judge us. The whole idea of judgment is out of vogue.

It's not the kind of thing that you do. As a matter of fact, everybody's going to heaven. In the end, everybody wins. Somebody said that we don't want a father in heaven. What we want is a grandfather in heaven, a grandfather who watches the kids play. And even if they're mischievous, and even if they do wrong things, he enjoys it all.

And at the end of the day, he says that a good time was had by all. That's the kind of God we want. So people today go God shopping because they want a God that is made in their image. So they have the God of self-authentication. They have the God of health and wealth. They have the God of my sexual preference.

Whatever it is that I want, God becomes that to me. That's not the biblical God, and God said some harsh things about prophets who say such things. So the first thing is they, of course, diminish the holiness of God, and they exaggerate the goodness of human nature. They exaggerate the goodness of human nature.

They tell humans exactly what they want to hear. By the way, your Bibles are open to chapter 5. Notice what it says here in verse 30. An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land.

The prophets prophesy falsely and the priests rule at their direction. My people love to have it so. But what will you do when the end comes? The goodness of human nature. You don't have to change. You don't have to confront your sin. It is more important that you be healed than that you be holy. And so people begin to believe that I'm okay, you're okay, you're okay the way in which you are. Somebody said we have cows for milk, we have goats for cheese, we have sheep for wool, and we have God to come along and to confirm all of our desires. That's the kind of God we want. The Bible says that God created man in his own image, and now man creates God in his own image.

Whatever I want God to be, that's who God is. And so what you have is the exaltation of human nature. There's a false prophet on television who garners a huge audience who tells his people things like this. We have been born for earthly greatness. In fact, what you should do is to imagine in your mind prosperity and wealth. And if you have these clearly in your mind, thinking about them and speaking the right words will bring them about. You have power within yourself to do all of these things, just think it. And so you have the power of positive thinking.

No emphasis on sin, no emphasis on the need for forgiveness, nothing like that. All that you need to do is to think it, the power of positive thinking. Now there is some power in positive thinking. Do you remember that little engine that went up the hill and said, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can?

All of its optimism probably helped it, but if it got to the top of the tracks and the tracks were washed out, the top of the hill, it wouldn't matter how often it said, I think I can, I think I can. And folks, today human nature is basically sinful. Now there's a good part to us too. We can both do good and evil. You know what Jeremiah says about human nature in chapter 17? He says, the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

Who can know it? And the very next verse is, I the Lord try the heart. Do you realize that as you are listening to this message today, that God knows exactly what your thoughts are? He knows exactly what your thoughts were last week, what you thought of this morning. God knows the human heart. He knows us better than we know ourselves because there are things about us that we don't want to admit. God knows them. Pascal, the great French philosopher, mathematician, had some wonderful things to say about human nature.

By wonderful, I mean very accurate. He says that man retains an image of God, but he is plunged into the misery of his blindness and lust which is his nature. So there's a part of man that can do good. One day I was watching television and seeing the news and here was a story about a woman who went about with an SUV full of groceries helping the poor and the very next story was a terrible story of a woman who had been brutally assaulted.

And I thought, what a contrast. Yes, we retain the image of God and therefore we can do good, but there's also that part of us that is sinful and that God knows about and false prophets come along and tell us that we're really wonderful people and all that we need to do is to try harder and surely God is going to accept us. That's false prophets. So that's the second thing. They exaggerate human ability.

Let me give you a third characteristic and that is that they have various sources for their knowledge. Now actually I'm in the 14th chapter of the book of Jeremiah where God says this about false prophets and the reason that I'm asking you to turn to different passages is really because the fact that all throughout Jeremiah you have references to false prophets. In fact, chapter 23 almost exclusively is devoted to false prophets.

Maybe we'll have time to read a little bit of that as well. But this is what it says in chapter 14, verse 13. Then I said, O Lord, behold the prophets say to them, You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place. And the Lord said to me, The prophets are prophesying lies in my name.

I did not send them, nor did I command them to speak. They are prophesying to you. And now here are three different sources of their prophecies. First of all, a lying vision.

You often see this on television, don't you? The most bizarre thing can be attributed to God. And if you question it, somehow you are questioning either the Lord's anointed or you are questioning this prophet of the Lord in a way that is going to be detrimental to you. Years ago, I watched some of these false prophets because I wrote about them. One false prophet said, Speak to your wallet and tell it to be full of money. I mean, really?

This is incredible. Another false prophet on one occasion said, Oh, I'm just having a revelation. There are actually nine members in the Trinity.

Wow. And everybody really? During Luther's time, there were false prophets also in northern Germany. And there were those who were having these special revelations, you know, all about God and all about these things.

And, you know, in the New Testament and so forth, the Holy Spirit is represented as a dove. So Luther sarcastically said, I will not accept their prophecies even if they have swallowed the Holy Ghost, feathers and all, he said. So God says that one source is lying visions. Notice the second is worthless divination.

That actually is occultic. Yes, it is true that one of Satan's most dazzling deceptions is to have people speak and they think that they are in contact with the living God and they are actually in contact with demonic powers. The Apostle Paul in the New Testament says this very, very clearly. Listen to what he says there in the book of Second Corinthians, where he talks about false teachers.

Second Corinthians chapter 11, verse 12. And what I do, I will continue to do in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission, notice that boasted mission, this will become important in a moment, they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ, and no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of darkness? No, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, their end will correspond to their deeds.

Wow. You see people on television today who say that they have the power to be able to touch people and they collapse. You know, to be slain in the spirit, this man is so holy, he has so much power, that if you come under his spell, he'll give you some of his energy, some of his God-ordained energy, and he touches people and they collapse on the platform.

Somebody who was a part of the movement did a study of all those who collapsed on the platform to see whether or not it gave them any spiritual power, and concluded that there was no measurable difference between them before and afterwards. Still the same people dealing with the same sins, and yet the thought is that this man has so much spiritual power. I have to tell you, there's no doubt, and I don't want to name anybody, there's no doubt that I have watched television and I can see that there are some people, you can almost notice it in their eyes, that they are demonized people, but they use the name of Jesus all the time.

And you say, well, how can that be? They're using the name of Jesus. The Apostle Paul in this very same passage in 2 Corinthians says that they were preaching another Jesus. There are all kinds of Jesuses out there. There's the Santa Claus Jesus, there's the Mormon Jesus, there's the God of your fantasies Jesus, and so they proclaim Christ, but not the Christ who is crucified for our sins, not that Jesus, it's a different Jesus. And we don't know exactly what Jesus they were presenting there in 2 Corinthians, but notice this, the Apostle Paul believed that it was so much like the real Jesus that he feared that the church in Corinth could not tell the difference. And we're living at a time when there are so many Jesuses out there, and unfortunately, many Christians cannot tell the difference.

It's heartbreaking. Jeremiah says that that's another means is worthless divination. And then he says the deceit of their own minds.

I'm still there in chapter 14, verses 13 and 14. The deceit of their own minds, basically what false prophets do is they look at their desires, and after they look at their desires, what do they do? They fashion God after those desires. I wish we had time to look at this in more detail, but you know that in the New Testament in 2 Peter as well as Jude, there's a reference there to false prophets who follow their own desires. And so they look within and they say, I want to do this, that, or the other thing, and so God comes along and becomes to them everything that they want. And as a result of that, they are led into great sin. You know, the Bible is very clear.

The God says, I am that I am, the Lord says, and not who you want me to be. So that's another way in which false prophets get their particular wisdom supposedly, made up in their own minds. There's a fourth characteristic, and that is they hide their true motives. They hide their true motives.

Now the scripture is very clear about this. In the New Testament, this is the expression that is used for false prophets. It says they are trained in greed, trained in greed.

My heart just absolutely breaks when I get to this. Because what you see false prophets do is they are making money. They encourage you to send money to them. And this money is supposed to become seed money that'll garner you a big harvest. You know, this past week, I was thinking about one false prophet who's on television regularly, who encourages people to send a thousand dollars to him. Now, he never tells you how he's going to use a thousand dollars. So I saw on the internet that there was a man there who was looking at some papers to verify the fact that this man was worth about 14 million dollars. Money that had been sent in, and if you ever see him on TV, he is powerful.

He is even scriptural sometimes. And he will tell you that if you send me money, God is going to use this as a seed, and you are going to get a great harvest, and you are going to be wealthy and be able to pay your bills. Many years ago there was a false prophet on television who told people this, and I saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. He said, if you send money to me, your mortgage will be miraculously paid.

You're going to get a letter from the mortgage company saying that your house has been paid for. Do you believe that? A couple of months later, I was in the city where this false prophet lives and where his ministry is, and so I said to the pastor who picked me up from the airport whether or not he knew about this claim, and he said yes.

And I said, what really happened? He said, the man received a lot of money, but no mortgage was miraculously paid. Is there anybody out there who is surprised at that? Many years ago I attended a crusade held by a false prophet, and I'll never forget as he was taking one offering after another.

People were putting wristwatches into the offering basket. These poor people were giving everything that they had to him. He even had the nerve to say from the pulpit, we're really fleecing God's sheep today, aren't we? Can you believe that? Yet he spoke to thousands of people, many more than I'm probably speaking to today. And so there they are, the Bible says, trained in greed, manipulation, and false promises that are not based on the Word of God. Please don't be deceived by these people. Sometimes I say, and I do say it with love, that sometimes God's sheep can't tell the difference between grass and astroturf.

I do need to say that. I thought I'd throw that one out for free today. No offering afterwards.

Though we could use one here. And I don't mind raising money for specific things, but when I do, I never promise people that if you give, somehow gifts are going to come to you and suddenly you're going to become wealthy. I love to raise money for people who can't raise money for their own, whether it's for orphanages, whether it's for the ministry of Moody Church and our many opportunities to share the gospel. That really excites me and it is biblical, but we never here make false promises as to how you'll be blessed as a result.

You will be blessed, but not monetarily necessarily. Well, they hide their true motives. Their real motive is wealth. And then the other motive that is so important, folks, is pride.

Did you notice what the Apostle Paul says? These people in their boast, they boast about what they are able to do. They want people to look upon them as if to say, oh, they are so holy. And as a result of that, they are so plugged into God. They have a special relationship with the Most High and therefore they want us to be able to almost worship them. I was reading this past week about a false prophet who makes all of these predictions. They love to be able to say, God is showing me what he's going to do in your life. I'm anointing you for special ministry. So one false prophet said to this couple, God is powerfully going to use you in South America as missionaries.

A couple of months later, the wife was actually killed in a car accident. The prophecy did not come to pass. He said to somebody else, you will write a book appealing to their pride that they'd write this book that was going to influence people. The book was never written. You will have an AIDS ministry, another false prophet told this couple, God is going to give you this great ministry.

Never happened. I remember a false prophet, I saw this on television, a couple came forward and said, you know, we'd really like to have children and we can't have children. He said, let me ask you, do you want a boy or a girl? I want a boy.

Spring baby, fall baby, whatever it was. Okay, that's what you will have. You come back next year and you tell us about the birth of this child.

Now, I want you to think about this for a moment. Let's suppose that the couple doesn't have a child. If they have a child the next year, they'd return and this faith healer would take all the credit for it and say, hallelujah, what a miracle. But if they don't, whose fault is it?

It's never his. It's your fault because if you had had the faith, it had happened. But you see, because you don't have that faith, that's your problem.

Why am I preaching this message? My heart breaks for people. I sometimes see crowds. You can see this on TV with false prophets and many of these people are poor.

And why are they there? They're saying to themselves, if I just had enough faith, if I had the same faith as this guru and of this prophet, then I would be able to drive the same car that he drives and wear the clothes that he wears and so forth. I'd be wealthy just as he is because he tells us that if we meet the requirements, we will be if only I could be like him. And these dear people leave their money there and they go home and never experience the miracle because that's not a miracle that God ever promised. Tragic.

Now, I could go on about this because I've seen this so often. Let me give you three quick conclusions here to help us to draw this together and to give us some hope. First of all, number one, remember this, false prophets are God's judgment upon a nation. False prophets are God's judgment upon a nation. What Jeremiah actually says is God says, I'm putting a stumbling block before the people and that stumbling block happens to be false prophets. And Paul, in effect, says the very same thing in the book of 1 Timothy. I want you to just notice what Paul has to say here. For the time is coming, he says, when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and will wander off into myths. But as for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Notice this. People are going to wander off to find doctrine, find a preacher that affirms their own passions. So, you see, what the people did in Jeremiah's day is they said, we don't like Jeremiah's message. What we're going to do is we're going to find a false prophet who tells us exactly what we want to hear. And that becomes part of their judgment because, you see, they're not interested in the truth because the truth bothers them so deeply. And the truth means that they are sinners and they need to repent and come to God.

And they say that's not what we want to hear. And so they turn away and they do their own thing, seeking the kind of teacher or prophet that they want. Secondly, true prophets always preach God's word. I want to read this from Jeremiah chapter 23.

True prophets always preach God's word. You know what Jeremiah says in chapter 23? That the false prophets actually strengthen the hands of evildoers. That's in verse 14 and 15.

Can you imagine that? They strengthen the hands of evildoers. They give people confidence to do evil and say that nothing will bother them. God will put up with it. But then the Lord says this in verse 23. Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in a secret place so that I cannot see him, declares the Lord?

The answer, of course, is no. Do not I fill heaven and earth, declares the Lord? I have heard what the prophets have said, who prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed. I have dreamed. How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? Do you see how deep this goes? Who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?

Now notice this. Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat, declares the Lord? Is not my word like as a fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words, and they give them to one another, and they've got all the dreams, and so forth. So God there makes a contrast between his word, between Jeremiah's word and the word of the New Testament and the words of the Bible. God contrasts that with all the false prophets who are going with their dreams and their visions. He says, what connection is there between straw and wheat?

One is straw, the other is wheat. And what is the message that we need to get to people today? What is our greatest need?

If we're not going to simply heal their wound superficially, what is it that they need to know? First of all, the holiness of God. We cannot remake God in our image. We must bow before who God is. God does not come along and say, I want you to choose whether or not you like me or whether or not you want to change me.

I am who I am, and I change not. That's the first thing that we must communicate to this generation. And the second thing that we must communicate is that he is a God of mercy and invites people to come to him. All throughout the book of Jeremiah, God keeps saying, return to me, return to me, return to me. And in chapter 31, God says that even though this generation has hardened their heart and will not turn to me, and we'll look at that more in future messages, the Lord also says very clearly that there's another generation, chapter 31, that will turn to me and I will give them a new covenant, God says, and they will obey me and I will forgive their sins and their iniquities.

I will remember no more. And when Jesus came, you remember, how he said to the disciples, take eat, this is my body which was broken for you. This blood is the blood of the new covenant in my blood.

What Jesus was saying is, I fulfill the promises of the book of Jeremiah. I am here today to forgive your sins, to receive you. The issue is never the greatness of our sin. There are some of you who are listening today who don't think you need a savior because you don't think that your sin is very big when the Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There are others of you who say to yourself, I've sinned so bad, I've messed up so bad, God can't forgive me. The answer to both of you is God can forgive, he is gracious, he is merciful. If you come to Jesus, forgiveness and reconciliation with God is not only possible, it is a reality for those who believe on him.

Will you remember that? Simon Wiesenthal, I think I pronounced his name correctly, was a Jew, you remember, who survived the Holocaust and in his book Sunflower, he tells an interesting story. He says that there was a young Nazi soldier who was dying and Wiesenthal was there in the room with this soldier and the young Nazi asked Wiesenthal to forgive him for his sins against the Jews.

No doubt it was quite a dilemma for Simon Wiesenthal but he left the room and refused to grant this young man's request for forgiveness. So what Wiesenthal did is he wrote then about it and he sent his dilemma to various ethicists and professors throughout the world and asked, did I do the right thing? Well actually Wiesenthal did the right thing in my opinion because he wasn't in a position where he could forgive this Nazi his sins. It would have been one thing for the Nazi you see to go to those whom he had brutally wronged and in some instances killed, which of course would have been then impossible for him to make reconciliation. But the whole point is simply this, that when we sin we can only be forgiven by the person against whom we have sinned.

In that sense Wiesenthal was right. But there's something that we need to emphasize from the book of Jeremiah and from the whole Bible and that is this that all sin, all sin is sin against God. Whether or not you lie to someone, that lie is an offense against God, a greater offense against God than it is against the person to whom you have lied. Immorality is an offense to God and therefore only God is able to forgive sins. And Jesus Christ came to this world so that God could forgive, God could be holy at the one time over here, we know the holiness of God and at the same time he could be merciful and loving to receive all those who come to him recognizing that all of us have sinned against God and therefore only God can forgive us. That's a message that needs to be heard today because there are some of you who are listening in whose heart God is working right now and pointing out your need for a Savior, your need for Jesus Christ who came to forgive us of our sins.

You know, during the time of the Reformation, official Christendom said to the Reformers, how do you know that you have the right message? Where are your miracles? And the Reformers said we don't need miracles because the Bible says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God onto salvation to all those who believe.

If you want to see a miracle, you come to Jesus Christ and receive his forgiveness, his acceptance, and he'll do a miracle in your heart and you'll be converted and reconciled to God. Let's bow together in prayer, shall we? And before I close this prayer, I'm talking now to you. I'm not yet talking to God. If God has talked to you, would you reach out to him right now and say, Jesus, I thank you that you died for sinners.

I thank you that you invite me to come to you and to become your son or your daughter forever. Would you reach out to him now in this moment of silence? Father, hear the prayer of all we ask. And we thank you that you are a holy God, but you're also a forgiving God. And we thank you today that Jesus died for us. May we come to receive the forgiveness and the cleansing that he offers to all who believe on him. We pray in his blessed name.

Amen. We look to Jeremiah chapter 18 and learn about The Church in Babylon series shows us how to live during times of spiritual darkness. The series is in print as Erwin Lutzer's book, The Church in Babylon. A copy is waiting for you as our thank you for your gift of any amount to The Moody Church Hour. Just call us at 1-800-215-5001.

Ask about The Church in Babylon when you call 1-800-215-5001. Or you can write to us at The Moody Church, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Online, go to That's Join us next week for another Moody Church Hour with Dr. Erwin Lutzer and the Congregation of Historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-03 07:37:01 / 2024-01-03 07:54:29 / 17

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