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Souls In Conflict Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 13, 2021 1:00 am

Souls In Conflict Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 13, 2021 1:00 am

Temptation is so strong because it promises happiness when you follow your own desires. Through three biblical examples, you’ll get to know people who turned down any kind of false sufficiency to honor God instead. Don’t listen to the false promises of sexual temptation, possessions, or success. In this message, you’ll hear three results of honoring God in the midst of life’s difficulties.  Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)


Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. When stock bubbles burst, people lose lots of money in the market. Then there's Job, who lost more than money. He lost everything, his children, his health, his possessions. Still, he honored God.

Would you stay with us? From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, I don't think there are very many of us who could face calamity like Job faced it. You know, Dave, that's true, of course, but Job had his moments also where he doubted God.

There were times when it appears as if he was angry at God, but in the end, he showed that he kept on believing. I think of that marvelous passage of scripture where he says, though he slay me, yet will I trust him. You know, we're so thankful for the ministry of Running to Win, and if you've been blessed as a result of these sermons, for a gift of any amount, these sermons can be yours in a permanent form. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Remember the name of this series of messages is What Is God Up To? It really discusses the sweep of God's purposes from eternity past to eternity future. Thanks in advance for helping us, and now let us listen carefully and be encouraged from the life of a man who lived thousands of years ago but still speaks to us today because of his faith. And by the way, for those of you who are going through times of discouragement, and God is stripping you clean, perhaps, and you really have nothing left in life but him, is he worth it still or isn't he?

That's what the issue always is. Interestingly, Job not only lost his children and his cattle, his possessions, but in the next chapter God says take it a step further and take away his health, and so Job ends up with boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet, and now Satan says through his wife, curse God and die, just be done with the whole thing. Job didn't. He said shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord and shall we not also receive adversity? Isn't God still worth something when he blesses us and in those times when he removes the blessing, God has still value? That's the issue.

That's the issue. So your possessions, the things that you have that God may take from you or from me, the issue always is, is our love for him greater than the blessings that he happens to give us? Let me give you a third example of someone who chose correctly, and that is God versus success. Turn to John chapter 3 in the New Testament, John chapter 3, where we have the story of John the Baptist. I love this story because it shows us John's heart.

The issue was this. He was a popular preacher and people were coming to him to be baptized. They were turning to God as a result of his ministry and then the crowds began to drop off, and the minute that the crowds began to drop off, his disciples began to feel badly for their teacher.

They felt a little embarrassed for him. And so they came in verse 25, it says of chapter 3, there arose therefore a discussion on the part of John's disciples with the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, Rabbi, he who is with you beyond the Jordan to whom you have borne witness, behold he is baptizing and all men are coming to him. What they're saying is, is Jesus is taking away your converts and your crowd is depleting and it looks like your ministry is over. That's difficult for a preacher to admit that his ministry is over.

I've seen it time and time again. Someday it may be very difficult for me to admit that my ministry is over. And maybe I'll need someone to tell me that my ministry is over. But notice what John says in verse 27, a man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. That is one of the most beautiful explosive verses that one could ever read. I'll tell you if we understood that verse, we would never envy anyone who has more gifts and abilities than we do.

We would never be jealous of anyone. We'd be able to rejoice in the success of any person, either in the business world or in what we generally call ministry. We would be absolutely free in our spirits if we understood that a man can receive nothing except it is given to him from heaven.

Somebody with more ability and better looks than you or me, we'd be able to rejoice because if they have it, God gave it to them. And he has the right to give to some people one thing and to others another. A man can receive nothing except it be given to him from heaven. And then he says, verse 30, he must increase but I must decrease. John says it's okay for me, for my ministry to be over.

It's okay for me to go lower as long as a result, Christ, goes higher. Now I want you to turn in your Bibles to 1 John chapter 2 and this is the last passage I'll ask you to turn to today because if you haven't noticed it, and maybe you have, the three examples that I've given you, God versus sexual temptation, God versus possessions, and God versus success, are really delineated for us in 1 John chapter 2 verse 15 and 16. It says, do not love the world nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, here we go now, the lust of the flesh, that's what Joseph encountered, the lust of the eyes, that was Job's problem, or at least God wanted to test whether he had that problem, and the boastful pride of life, the question of John the Baptist's success, all of these struggles, you see, that we face are really the choice between God or the things of this world, and the world is passing away and also its lusts, but the one who does the will of God abides forever. Notice it says, if you love the world, if you make wrong choices, if you choose the things that these three people didn't choose, you do not love God, but the love of the world is in you. What's the bottom line?

Let me give you three brief conclusions. The first is that every trial, every temptation asks us to choose God, and you see, we indicate where we stand in our relationship with God by the choice that we make. We yield to temptation, we devalue him in our minds and hearts. Now, of course, nobody can really devalue God because he is inherently worthy, we know that, but in our minds, we're saying he's not important because I have decided to choose that which he hates, and I love it, and I'm going to do my own thing.

Now you understand why life is so difficult. What is God up to? God is up to training us and wooing us and drawing us so that we might love him so supremely that when faced with trials and temptations, we may always say, God, you are worth more to me than anything else, and I will choose in your direction no matter how difficult it becomes. And even when it appears as if you are opposed to me, I will assume that your word is true that you are for me, and I'm going to hang in with you no matter what.

And what did Peter say? The trial of your faith is more precious than gold that perishes, that it may be found unto honor and glory and praise at the appearing of Jesus Christ. That's what God's up to, glorifying his name through your decision and mine to follow him no matter what. You see, long ago I've learned that you can warn people about sin all you like, and it doesn't help much, helps a little but not much. The much greater attraction is developing our relationship with God, and when we love him, sin does not look good.

Let me give you a second conclusion, very important. When we choose for God, we are choosing for ourselves. When we choose for God, we are choosing for ourselves. You see, Satan has set up a false dichotomy. The impression sometimes is given that as Christians in facing what we call temptation, the real question is, do I do what is good for myself or do I do what is good for God? That's nonsense.

That's not the issue. Because when I choose God and value him, I choose that which is best for myself. Joseph chose that which was best for him.

David did not, and look at the consequences. Job chose that which was best for Job. John the Baptist chose that which is best and good for him, and that's why I can say to you without any ambiguity at all, I urge you, please pursue your own happiness. Pursue your own happiness, but do not pursue happiness on a wrong, imperfect level because that will lead you to pursue sinful ways to become happy, and they will always eventually be aborted and turn to ashes in your mouth. The truest joys, the greatest delight is to delight in God, and that's the route to happiness.

There's no dichotomy here. You say, but Joseph chose God and ended up in prison, but there in prison, God was doing something in his life that was so marvelous. God was using Joseph and pruning Joseph that he might become one of the greatest leaders that God would eventually use to get a nation to go down into Egypt.

It's all part of God's plan, and he knows best. Remember Pascal who said there once was in man a true happiness of which now remains to him only the mark and the empty trace which he in vain tries to fill from all of his surroundings. In vain he tries to fill it. Oh, there are moments when it appears as if he is, but it's vain. It has to be vain, but there are all these, he says, that are inadequate because the infinite abyss that you were created with and that I was created with, that infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object that is to say only God himself.

Let me give you a third conclusion. When I choose God, when I choose God, he is thereby glorified. He's glorified. Now, my friend, today let me just simply say that have you ever thought of how God feels because we forget about him so easily?

We just go ahead and make choices and we say this appears to be good for me, this is where I'm at now, and who cares what God has to say? And we grieve him. One of the things that I'd like to preach on sometimes is the grief of God. He says in the Old Testament the ox knows his owner and the donkey knows his master's crib, but my people do not know me. My people forget me days beyond measure, days beyond measure. He's forgotten until Sundays. He's forgotten until we have a catastrophe and then we say, now where is God? And we blow him off week after week, day after day. We're not in his word. We do not spend time with him.

We do not develop that love relationship and that's why it is so easy for us to choose for ourselves. You really want to bring honor to God, don't you? I think that you do or you wouldn't be here, you wouldn't be listening to this message, you'd have tuned me out long ago. You really, really down deep do want to bring honor to God in the months and years that he gives us to live upon planet earth. I want you to know something, that the way in which we ascribe worth to God is to face tough decisions and choose in his favor by his grace and by yieldedness, as the choir sang a few moments ago, being all that he wants us to be no matter what the cost is and to simply say, God, I want to learn to love you so much that my own desires are going to take second place and in loving you that much I'm doing something good for myself. Now can you believe God to that extent? You see, the reason that temptation has so much power is temptation says to me that if I follow my own desires, I will be made happy.

I will be satisfied. If temptation never said that to me, it would have no power over me at all, but that's exactly what temptation says to us. Are you willing to call its bluff and to say it's a lie when I choose God that is the infinite sense of satisfaction and, and when we choose the pleasures that are on his right hand, we delight ourselves in God.

Those decisions will become so much easier. We say to ourselves, yes, I want to please God and yes also I would like to become a worshiper of God. And so we attend a worship service and we here at the Moody Church have a worship committee and we gather together every week and we plan our morning services and our evening services because we want people to worship God and we choose hymns that enable us to worship God. I understand that and I hope that worship takes place, but I want you to know something that worship means ascribing worth to God and true worship can only happen at great cost. Great cost.

Talk is cheap. One day God says, Abraham, sacrifice your son, please. Abraham says, okay, I've got two sons. I'm going to sacrifice Ishmael. The Lord said, no. He said, your only son, the one that I regard, take Isaac, take him to a mountain and sacrifice him.

I'll bet he never told Sarah what he was going to do, but he got up early and he left and took a three day journey. I would like to hear the conversation between Abraham and his boy and route to Mount Moriah. But interestingly at the bottom of the Mount, this is what Abraham says to the person who was there with the donkey and a servant. He said, you stay here because the lad and I are going to go yonder to the top of the hill and we're going to worship. Amazing. Worship Abraham.

You're going to kill your boy. Abraham said, I know. And that's what worship is. Worship is loving God so much that there is no relationship.

There is no temptation. There is no sin that means as much to me as God. And that's what God is all about in the lives of believers today. Training us to love him so much that angels and demons and men will be able to look at us and say, there are still some people in the world who love God so much that nothing else matters. And that's what he's about in today's world.

And then of course, you know the rest of the story. The Lord came and wouldn't let Abraham kill his boy and the ram was sacrificed in his place. But interestingly, think of the new revelation of God that Abraham had when he came down Mount Moriah. Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide because every time you and I value God so highly that we choose him no matter what, he is glorified and we have worshiped.

We have ascribed worth to him. And every time I choose to sin deliberately, just blow God off, I fail to ascribe worth to him, I lower him and say, he really doesn't make much difference in my life. Now let me ask you today, are you letting God develop that love that is so strong that it enables you and me to make those right decisions? Or are you rebelling against God?

You're rebelling against circumstances, you're rebelling against temptation, you're rebelling against all of the pressures of life and you're saying no to God. God says today, open your life to me, learn to love me so much that you'll be able to say yes to me no matter the cost. Let's bow together in prayer. Our Father, today we want to thank you that you are developing us to be worshippers, to love you. And we pray for those who have never responded to your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And today, Lord, I pray that you might draw them to him, which is the starting point of all love for the Lord God. Do that for us today, Father, we pray. May everyone bowed in your presence make a decision today to love you, to follow you, to seek you. Before we sing a hymn together, why don't you just bow in prayer where you are now, tell God whatever you need to tell him. Choose him above that sinful relationship.

Choose to believe on Christ if you've never done that. Say, God, you're number one. Thank you, Father, for hearing us. In Jesus' name, amen. Well, this is Pastor Lutzer, and as you well know, as we look into our hearts, we have to admit that it is easier to say, God be number one, than to actually experience it. We are all struggling with issues in our lives, and God is always asking that indeed that the trial of our faith might be more precious than gold.

Have you been blessed as a result of this series of messages? For a gift of any amount, they can be yours permanently so that you can listen to them again and again. Share them with your friends.

And this way, I believe they will be blessed as well. Here's what you can do. Go to

That's, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the series of messages titled, What is God Up To? After all, that's a question that we need to answer as best we can from the Word of God. It's a question that you have often thought about, your friends have often thought about, and in this series of messages, we give a sweep of God's purposes all the way from eternity past to eternity future.

Ask for What is God Up To? And even as you do that, thanks in advance for helping us financially. You are investing in a ministry that goes to thousands upon thousands in 20 different countries. Reminder of the info that you need, go to That's, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Sometimes even Christian counselors need a counselor.

Janine in Cannon City, Colorado, listens to us on KTPL. Here's her story. I'm a licensed professional counselor and a Christian. I've always been very cautious about different therapeutic approaches since, of course, the field of psychology is rampant with humanistic and New Age underpinnings. Recently, I went to a therapist myself for chronic pain issues. I specifically sought out a Christian therapist.

She suggested that I try Splankna therapy with her. What are your thoughts about this or any type of therapies that derive from energy psychology? From what I've read, even if it works, I'm leery. Sometimes doctrines of demons work.

I'm so glad that you are leery because I am also. You know, as I looked up this on the internet and looked up other alternative theories of energy psychology, one of the things that I noticed was the absence of scripture. For example, it speaks about the ability to overcome anxiety using these particular therapies. Well, you know, the Bible has a great deal to say about anxiety. The apostle Paul speaks about it.

He speaks about the promises of God that we can believe. That's really the biblical cure for anxiety. Now, I'm not an expert in all of these matters, but in talking to people who know a lot more about it than I do, I understand that neurologically there's really no basis for these kinds of therapies and the kinds of claims that are made on their behalf. The other thing that I notice is that the therapy comes first and then Jesus is added. They talk about the value of prayer and so forth. But you know, when you come to the scriptures, what you need to do is to accept all of them and it needs to be the basis upon which you anchor your belief. And these alternative therapies, it seems to me, oftentimes use the scripture as a means to add on to what it is that they are doing to try to help you.

But at the end of the day, I am very leery and I would warn you about these energy psychology kind of theories. A good word for Janine and for all of us. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Next time we switch from past tense to future tense, looking at what's ahead for those who believe in Christ and for those who don't. Listen for The Final Battle. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-09 17:18:14 / 2023-07-09 17:27:01 / 9

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