Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Great deception took hold in ancient Israel, leading to idolatry and judgment. The same deceptions infect the thinking of today.
The news is filled with the same destructive mindset that caused God to haul Israel into Babylon. 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. Today we continue a series on the church in Babylon. Pastor Lutzer, the level of deception in society today is ramping up at a frantic pace. Tell us where we're going in today's message, When Darkness is Called Light and Light Darkness. Dave, we certainly are living in challenging times. And as I like to emphasize that darkness is called light, light is called darkness, there's a tremendous amount of confusion, and Christians are oftentimes shamed into silence. You know, today is Friday. I hope that as you think about the weekend that you consider going to church, I hope that you do go to church.
I hope that in your area there is a gospel preaching church that is going to encourage you in these very challenging times. I've written a book entitled God's Devil. And speaking of light being described as darkness and darkness as light, God's Devil exposes many of the hoaxes and the deceptions we are experiencing in our culture. And this is the second to the last day that we are making this book available, God's Devil. Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us listen carefully to a text from the Old Testament that relates to us today. I think of another time, and that is somewhere along the line, it was concluded that in our public schools there could be no reference to a creator, that science had to be taught as it is and has been in all atheistic countries where there can be no appeal to God whatever, and we just came from an amoeba. Amoeba?
Is that the word? I forget where I came from. And somehow we all developed into who we are today, explosion in a print factory, and the result was a Webster's dictionary. People were asked to believe that. So we came up through the animal kingdom, like the monkeys sit in the zoo.
Am I my keeper's brother? He asked that question. And the implications of coming through the animal kingdom, huge in terms of who we are, in terms of the uniqueness of human life and so forth. It has to do with all kinds of issues in society, but we said we're excluding God. We're excluding the designer.
I think it was Carl Sagan who said, design, yes, but designer, no. In other words, we're going to do our own thing. Something else happened. We were at the crossroads, and I don't know exactly when this happened or why it happened because I'd have been alive during this period of time, obviously, and as I look at this congregation, I realize that some of you also would have been alive during that period of time.
You can oftentimes tell by the color of your hair, and that is political correctness destroying us. This week I was on the telephone with a woman who investigates textbooks, among other things, and she talked about this company that published a textbook that said that 37 pages, she said, was given to Islam, how Islam gave us peace and architecture and a great civilization. Christianity 13 pages headlined the Crusaders. Christianity gave us the Crusades. Christianity did this and that, and there is a Muslim informant or informer, I should say, on the committee who said that he is going to make textbooks pro-Islamic and if anyone disagrees with him, he said, I will call them Islamophobic, intolerant, and racist.
So that's the way it is. So everybody bows down and says, well, who wants to be intolerant and racist and Islamophobic? Now if you're here today and as a Muslim or you're listening to this message, let me say that we are so glad that you are listening and we are not painting all of Islam with the same brush. I'm simply telling you what someone told me this past week. We have become paralyzed.
And Europe especially, I could go into that, but we must hurry on. So that's the third time when we're at the crossroads and we chose the wrong direction, the great sin of intolerance. You know, someone wrote these words and I hope that I can find them here. If you can believe that there are no absolutes and believe that absolutely. If you can teach young minds that there are no objective truths and yet you teach this truth objectively. If you can close your mind to the ideas of those whom you consider to be close minded. If you can refuse to tolerate anyone you choose to label intolerant. If you consider it immoral to stand against immorality. If you can make the judgment that judgmentalism is wrong and you can further make the judgment that others who judge things to be wrong are just too judgmental. If you can force others to conform to your idea of diversity.
Well, it goes on. The idea is at the end of the line, you really are PC, politically correct, paralyzed. Then there's a fourth point at which we chose the wrong path and that has to do with same sex marriage and for those of you who struggle with same sex attraction, just hear me out. And that is as a result, the destruction of a marriage is well on its way and that's why a governor can sign a bill that says that you can have more than two parents, boys if they're transgender can go into girls washrooms.
What's really going on there is a violent revolt against creation, femininity and masculinity. And so we as a nation are changing the rules and we are choosing the wrong path. God says very clearly, he says, choose the ancient path. That doesn't mean that we should live in the past.
You can learn from the past without living in the past. And God says that we as a nation must choose the right path, the ancient paths, but they said we will not walk in it. Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet, God says, but they said we will not pay attention. And now we should all weep. Therefore, O nation, O congregation, what will happen to them?
Behold, I'm bringing disaster upon this people because they have not paid attention to my words. The Bible is a smooth path for a very difficult journey, but that's where we should go to for wisdom. Thy word is a lamp onto my feet and a light onto my path. We must choose the ancient path, and if our nation doesn't, we must individually and personally and as a church choose the ancient paths.
Now there's a fourth lie, and perhaps it's the worst and the most sobering. It's the lie that the loss of the presence of God is not fatal to worship. In other words, God's presence can leave and we can go on worshiping. You have to understand when you read the book of Jeremiah that Ezekiel was also written during this period of time. And Ezekiel is the one who sees the glory of God leave. I think the description is in the 10th chapter of Ezekiel where he says the glory of God went to the threshold of the tabernacle, then the glory of God went to the outskirts of the city, and then beyond that the glory of God disappeared on the other side of the Mount of Olives. The glory of God left, but the people kept worshiping with or without the presence of God.
Isn't this very interesting? Once again, your Bibles are open, and it says this in chapter 7, and I'm now in verse 3. Thus says the Lord of hosts of Israel, amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words.
Parenthesis. Next week's message is on false prophets. It'll probably want to be one of the most important in this series of messages, because they were the ones that were giving the deceptive words. I'm even going to try to teach you how to detect a false prophet, because they are everywhere.
So don't trust in deceptive words, and here they are. This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord. I mean, we're worshiping in God's house, so why won't he deliver us?
God goes on to say, you're bringing all of your sins and you're not dealing with them. The people said, you know, we can go on with a ritual. We can still sing the right songs. We can go to temple. We can go to church. We can do all these things and still have God and still be religious, whether his presence is there or not. You know, the most distinctive indication of the people of God is that his presence should be among us.
When people come into Moody Church, they should say, surely God is in this place. May it never be said that his presence will leave us, but we can't take it for granted, can we? Now, why this love of darkness? Jesus said, men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. I told you that I was going to give you some hope because first of all, we paint the darkness, then we paint the light. First of all, please keep in mind that the reason for all of these chapters, and we've only touched a few verses, but the reason is because God is saying, what do I need to say to you so that you'll come back to me?
The whole purpose, despite its harshness. And you know, that's why I put off preaching this series for a long time, because there's something in Jeremiah that doesn't really fit my nature in terms of wanting to preach. I'd much rather be preaching a very positive message, and there's a room for that and a time for that. But what God is saying in all of this is, don't you see how serious sin is, and you must turn to me.
That's the whole point. Now, I began this message by saying God filed for divorce against Judah. Did he fulfill it?
No, he didn't carry through with the divorce. All through these passages, what you see is God keeps saying, come back to me because I'm your master. One translation says, I'm your husband. And furthermore, in the end, you're going to come back. Another reason why many of us believe that God is not yet finished with the Jewish people, that there is going to be a time of great restoration, is because Jeremiah describes some events that have never happened when the people are brought back from the different parts of the world and they are in the land and they are worshiping him. So God says, I filed for divorce, but I haven't gone through with it because I do want to bring you back. And once again, you will be my wife and I will be your husband. You see, those of you who felt offended because I mentioned certain sins and by the way, people who are addicted oftentimes are very, very easily offended because what you have is this synthesis between shame and feeling offended and conviction. It's really something, isn't it? But those of you, remember this, the whole point is so that you might come to God and know how gracious and merciful he is and how he's waiting for you to come to him.
So that's number one. Number two, we have to remember not just that God wants our hearts, but God sees a nation and Jeremiah certainly saw his nation in his day and God sees America today. God sees a nation, but God also sees individuals. He sees you as an individual.
Don't get lost in all of this. Look at what's happened to America without looking into your own soul. For example, here's Jeremiah. Notice in chapter four, verse 19, Jeremiah is speaking. My anguish, my anguish, I writhe in pain. Oh, the walls of my heart. My heart is beating wildly. I cannot keep silent for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Listen to me carefully now.
Look into my eyes if you're able to do that. You know what America really needs? It needs more people who will weep because of the sins of this nation. That's what America really needs. I was hoping you were out there for a while.
I thought maybe you weren't. We need people, but not only those who weep, we also need those who work because there are many places where God is doing wonderful things in America. Later on, we're going to talk about the church in Babylon more specifically and show that in the midst of a nation that has lost its way, God oftentimes has not only reform movements but ministries and we could name many of them connected with the Moody Church. So it's not as if, oh, we simply sit back and wait for the judgment.
No, we are active. We are serving. We are representing God in a fallen world in what Augustine called the city of man.
We pick up the pieces of this broken culture and we give hope and help to this culture. So thank you for all those of you who are doing what you can. I wouldn't be witnessing to as many people as I try to, as I connect with people, if I didn't believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation and is the only hope for every individual to be in God's presence forever. I would not be devoting my life to spreading that message if I didn't believe that God called us to this hour to represent him as best as we can and as I say repeatedly in all the different vocations represented at the Moody Church. Finally, this is most important now, Jesus is the end of Jeremiah's search for one perfect man. Did you know, and you know of course today we've been looking at so many different passages, but they're all here. In chapter five, God says to Jeremiah, if you can find one righteous man, I won't judge the whole country.
Wow. Jeremiah begins a search. He says, first of all, he went to the poor people. Surely there, he said, I couldn't find any righteous person. Couldn't find any person who is perfect and righteous. He said, I went to the rich.
I thought, surely those who are upper middle class or higher middle class, surely there'd be some righteous among them. He said, I checked them out. I couldn't find one. He said, I scoured the city of Jerusalem. I went to the various neighborhoods. I'm looking for one righteous man. He said he couldn't find any.
And you know, the same is true in America here. You can go down any street, any alley and any home and you'll not find one righteous person because the Bible says there is none righteous. No, not one.
Wow. We're all tainted with sin, but that's the whole purpose. When we read a passage like that, we should say, boy, aren't we ever glad that now we can get to Jesus really fast because he is the perfect one. He's the perfect sacrifice. He meets God's requirements so that judgment does not need to come to us because if we trust him as our representative, as our savior, if we trust him, he becomes ours. The judgment of God in eternity doesn't fall on us because it fell on him. We believe on him and thank God we have found the one righteous man who can deliver us. Anybody glad for that fact, that we found the one righteous man?
The great deliverer is Jesus. Now for all of you who are listening, no matter where you are in your spiritual journey, DL Moody, who founded this church, said many interesting things, many true things, many pithy things. But there's one quote I want to leave with you and he said this, it is possible for a man, and of course he'd include women in that, it is possible, he said, for a man to be as vile as hell in one moment and be saved the next. Conversion isn't something that just happens over a period of time. Now you know you may grow into an understanding, but the moment you believe you are saved no matter what your past is, no matter what you've done, because the message of the gospel is good news.
It isn't just keep these rules and if you don't you'll go to hell. All of us in one way or another often break the rules, but Jesus Christ is our savior and because we believe in him, we are saved. No matter who we are, no matter our background, no matter our past, Jesus can save anyone.
He can save to the uttermost, the Bible says, all those who come unto God by him because he died in our behalf. I say it again, a man can be as vile as hell in one moment and be saved the next because sometimes we even sing that song, you know, the vilest of sinners who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. So that woman at the airport who was on her way to Montreal, before she left I left her a copy of the gospel of John and explained to her that the gospel is not what she thought it was, but we have a savior to bring us into God's presence to give us a personal relationship with him and no matter which direction our country goes, we ourselves can walk with God.
And if you agree with that, and I hope you do, would you bow your head in prayer? Now after that message that I just preached, do you need to talk to God? Some of you have never trusted Christ as savior. Why don't you just say, okay, that moment, this moment, I believe in him as my righteousness, as my perfect sacrifice, as my savior who kept all the laws in my behalf. Believe and be saved.
Would you right now? Believe and be saved. And Father, we thank you that you are a holy God. We thank you also that Jesus met our requirements of your holiness. So we worship you because you are holy. We ask today, Lord, that you might make us like Jeremiah to weep over the sins of our nation. Help us in Jesus' name.
Amen. This is Pastor Lutzer. You know, whenever I preach the gospel, I'm reminded of the fact that the Bible says that Satan blinds the eyes of those who hear lest they should believe. Now that's a puzzling verse, isn't it? But it is a reminder of the fact that we are involved in spiritual warfare. This is the next to the last opportunity for you to get a copy of a book I've written entitled God's Devil. I wrote the book to show the sovereignty of God over Satan, how we can pray effectively, basing our prayers on the victory of Christ.
For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. And thanks in advance for helping us as we continue to expand the ministry of running to win. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to be giving you that contact info again. Ask for the book God's Devil. You can go to rtwoffer.com or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Together, we are making a difference.
You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. 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. Next time on Running to Win, how to recognize them when you hear them. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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