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Walking Away From God - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
May 23, 2024 12:00 am

Walking Away From God - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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May 23, 2024 12:00 am

God always has our best interest at heart—even when we're not walking in His will.

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Thursday, May 23rd. We tend to make decisions based on what seems best to us. Today's podcast takes us to the story of the prodigal son, reminding us of the dangerous consequences of choosing our own way. God always has our best interests at heart. That is, when you're now walking in His will, He has our best interests at heart. When we're not walking in His will, He still has our best interests at heart. The difference is the way He responds and the way He acts toward us. When you're walking in His will, you have a sense of confidence and assurance.

Since He answers your prayers, He has promised to protect us and watch over us and provide for us and so forth. There's a sense of contentment in a person's life when they're walking in His will. When you choose to walk outside of His will, there's a sense of separation and detachment. And many other things that go on in a person's life when they choose to walk outside of His will.

And it doesn't make any difference what your possessions are, what your position is in life. When you're walking outside of His will, you are walking on a level that is far beneath what He intended and provided and made possible for you to walk. So, I would ask you the question, which way are you walking? And secondly this, have you ever trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and surrendered your life to Him? You say, yes, I have. Well, since you have done that, are you living a godly life? Are you walking in His will?

Is your life really counting? Can you say that I do have that contentment, that peace and that joy in my heart? Or would you have to say, well, I used to. And so, I meet people all the time who say, well, I used to be a Christian. I say, well, what do you mean you used to be? Well, I used to be a Christian. I gave my life to Jesus a long time ago and, but I quit going to church and I guess I've sort of quit praying and reading the Bible and, well, how are you doing? I'm doing fine. Not so. Well, why did you do that?

I don't know. You know, somewhere back yonder I just got tired of going to church and doing these things and so, I just sort of drifted off. Well, there are people who are saved and know that they're saved. And yet, somewhere along the way, they chose to walk away. Now, listen carefully. You say, well, how can you walk away from God if you're saved? Listen carefully. You can walk away from the will of God, but God never walks away from you.

But as far as His effect in your life, it's minimum. And so, what I'd like to talk about in this passage of Scripture is that simple statement, walking away from God. Because I meet people all the time who give me that same story. I used to be a Christian. I used to go to church. Used to do this. Used to do that.

Why not that? Well, and they give me all these reasons. So, I want you to turn to a passage that most of you are familiar with. And you'll hear people talk about this as from the perspective of a lost person. Well, what's true of a lost person is true in this passage. But I want us to look at this the way I believe Jesus intended for us to see it.

And that is, here's a young man who chose to walk away from God. So, I want you to turn to the fifteenth chapter of Luke. And you'll recall that this chapter begins with what Jesus describes as being lost things. For example, there's a lost sheep and He talks about when the sheep is found, there's rejoicing. And then there's the lost coin.

And when the lady finds her coin, she's rejoicing. And then He comes to talk about when this son who was lost returns home. And so, I want us to read a few verses of this fifteenth chapter and we'll take the rest of it as we come to that part of the message. So, beginning in verse eleven, He says, A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the share of the estate which falls to me. So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger man gathered everything together, went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Then when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country and he began to be impoverished. So he went, hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. Now why would you, why didn't he say cows or something like that, camels or something? Because the most disgraceful and belittling thing that could happen to a Hebrew man would be to feed swine in somebody's farm. And so, this is what happened to him.

This is how it came to this. You see, well that didn't apply to us today because we're not here slopping hogs. That's not what we're up to in life.

I want you to listen carefully. Jesus did not give us stories or parables or statements or principles that just to tell a story. It's always with a principle in mind. There's always a truth. And whereas you and I live in the twenty-first century and they live almost two thousand years ago, has nothing to do with this story.

This story is the same. The people involved, as He would imply here, and the circumstances would be different, but as far as the principles are concerned, every single one of them is the same. And so, I want to begin by simply saying this. God will allow you to walk away from Him. He will allow you to walk away from Him. You say, well do we have free will? We have limited free will. Somebody says, well I have my own free will. No one has absolute free will but God. Only He can do anything and everything He chooses, when and where and how and with whom. So, we do have limited free will.

You say, well now wait a minute. If I walk away from God, what's His response? Well, His response is a number of things, but let's think about it this way. You say, well, if I walk away from God, what'll happen?

Will He put pressure on me? Yes. Well, if I walk away from God, will He allow bad things to happen to me? Yes. Well, if I walk away from God, will He send difficult things into my life? Yes. Well, if I walk away from God, will He stop me under certain conditions? Will He just allow me to wreck my life if I walk away from Him?

And the answer is yes, under certain conditions. So, it is a very dangerous thing to place your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and then, for whatever reason, we'll come to some of those. Whatever reason, you decide you're just going to live your life the way you choose to. You're going to walk away from church, walk away from your belief system, walk away from Christian friends. The Bible gets dusty, or maybe you just don't pay attention to it anymore, and your prayers become more and more insignificant until finally you decide, well, He's not answering my prayers, so why should I pray anyway? Can that happen to a Christian?

Yes, it can. And I meet people far too often who say to me, I used to be a Christian, or I used to be saved, or I was born again back yonder, but it's not working now. If you are saved by the grace of God, it's working.

You are not doing something that's very significant. So, what I want you to see, first of all, is that God will allow you to walk away from Him. And that's exactly the first thing that He's saying in this passage because He said, He asked His Father for His part of inheritance. Now, in the family, Hebrew family, the eldest son always got twice as much.

And the younger son got less, and down the line it went. And so, this younger son decides, you know what? I'm tired of living here, and I'm going to have it my way. And so, I'm leaving, and Dad, I want you to give me my part now.

Doesn't that sound like immaturity? Give it to me now. I want it now. I want to spend it the way I want to spend it. And I want to make my own way in life. And besides that, I think you favor my brother over there because he's going to get twice the inheritance. And I'm a little tired of the restraints around here telling me what I can and what I cannot do.

I'm an adult now, and so it's time for me to leave home and do it myself in my own way. And besides that, I've heard some fantastic stories about the far country, that is the distant city. And when I read that, I think about in the state of Georgia, for example, how many young people have thought about going to Atlanta.

My goodness, if I could just go to Atlanta and get me a job and look at all the bars and the restaurants, and they'll mention churches, and the women and the men and this and that and all the other. You see, what happens is deception is a very, very powerful thing. And so, more than likely, he began to imagine in his heart what it would be like to live somewhere else, what it would be like to be able to enjoy some things he'd heard about. And so, what does he do? The Bible says he packs up his things. He gathers it all together and heads out into a different area. Now, how far he went, I don't know, but what happened was, probably had a little bit of rebellion in him. And he just decided, you know what, I can make it on my own.

I don't have to wait till I get an inheritance once when my brother gets his and once you're gone. So, whatever his reason was, he decided to walk away from his family, from his father. And what Jesus is picturing for us here is when a person walks away from their heavenly Father.

I'm going to say it again. You can walk away from God, but He will never walk away from you once you trust Him as your personal Savior. His actions towards you, what He does in you, through you, for you is different, but He doesn't ever leave you.

He says, I'll never leave you nor forsake you. So, whatever his reason was for walking away, people have the same reasons today. It all begins with deception. Think about this, for example.

If you watch television and you let that begin to influence your thinking, people do not realize as they sit in front of a television program, watching their favorite programs or whatever it might be, how much they're getting indoctrinated. You should have this. And ma'am, you ought to look like this. And this is how you can look. And when you look like this, this is who you will get.

You ought to drive this and look where you can live. And if you want to make more money, this is what you do. I mean, you just think about all the things that you are told. You've got to brush your teeth a certain way with a certain thing.

You've got to print with a certain thing. In other words, you wear a certain kind of clothes and a certain kind of label on your jeans. And on and on and on they go telling you how you ought to live. And you think, well, none of that's affecting me till you go shopping. And then all of a sudden, you begin to realize the effect it has on you.

And you look around and see which friends have and how they're living and how they're dressing and so forth. And so, it's the deception of the world. And deception is a powerful thing. And this is how all sin began. Satan said to Eve, now did God really and truly say that day you eat of this tree you will die? And yes, listen to what Satan said. Watch how subtle. You'll not surely die.

Just that one word, you'll not surely die. That is, he's deceiving you. He didn't tell you the truth.

What he's afraid of is you're going to be like him. Deception is a terrible thing. People deceive each other, but we sit oftentimes and we're deceived.

One of the reasons that people walk away from God is they feel they're going to miss something. For example, how many times have I heard some young lady say, well, I want to get married. Well, that's natural, normal.

Well, I'm thirty-six. And time's running out. And so, I want to think, sometimes I'll say, well, what's the time limit? And nobody has an answer to that. I said, have you ever thought about the fact that God may be saving somebody fantastic for you?

Well, I wish He'd hurt and do it. And so, that's the response. And I do understand that people can get anxious about things, but oftentimes people walk away from God because they feel they're missing something. Look at how much fun these people are having. Look, you see, if you listen to people, for example, I remember one time I was in London and I was photographing and I decided I'd walk down the streets full of bars, full of them. So, I said to one of my staff members, I said, look, I want us to go in here about four o'clock and sit down and order us a hamburger and drink us a Coke. And then what I want to do is I just want to watch what happens. Well, I'm telling you, this is the truth. They came 40 and they're about quarter to five and five o'clock and before all that place was jumping and hopping.

And I sat there and he and I were just sort of looking at each other and being quiet and I said, you know what? If you look around, they're having all the fun. And here we sit like two duds over here just looking at each other. And when the world watches that, you know what? They want to go where the fun is. They don't think about what the consequences are when you're drunk, yourself half drunk. And they don't think about that. It's the way it looks.

It's the appeal. And so, people walk away from God because they say, well, I can't have any fun doing this. People want a life with no restraints. And how many times have I heard people say, man, I just want to be free. Well, what's freedom to you? Freedom is just do what I want to do when I want to do it. And I say to them, that is the most dangerous way you can live your life.

Oh, no, no, no, no. Yeah, but that's because you're a preacher. You don't know any difference. And so, they, it's this whole idea of being free to do what I please when I please how I please no matter what. A dangerous thing to have no discipline in a person's life and to think that freedom, because here's how they ultimately interpret it.

Do what I want, when I want, with whom I want, how I want, as long as I want, and when I want. That's not freedom. That's suicide eventually. And so, this is the thing that pulls people. And so, one of the things that I think that we don't often realize, one of the reasons people walk away from God, watch this, one of the most powerful reasons is an unforgiving spirit. An unforgiving spirit will trip you up. An unforgiving spirit, unless it's dealt with, goes deep inside and affects every single aspect of your life, including your health. And so, people walk away from God for different reasons. Not a single one of which is good, right, healthy, or wise, but all of which ultimately brings consequence.

And one of the reasons some people can walk away from God is because they're convinced they're not going to be any consequences. And that's the devil's lie. It's always been.

It still is. And this is what the world says today. Oh, it's not going to hurt you. What do you mean it's not going to hurt you? I mean, sex is not going to hurt you when it's sex with this one, sex with that one, sex with the other. When drinking's not going to hurt you, pot's not going to hurt you, smoke's not. None of these things are going to hurt you.

None of these things are going to hurt you. Isn't it interesting that they can defend all of this while people are dying with every single one of them every day? It's the deception of the devil. When you walk away from God, your mind, you begin to think differently and you begin to rationalize. And next thing you know, you're defending your way. And how often I have talked with people who can defend things that you would, they would never defend.

And one time I said to a lady, I said, look, ma'am, you have been a counselor in your life and you're telling me and you, I said, how many people did you tell that to that you counseled? Well, that's, give me some excuse. You know that you would never tell anybody to do what you're telling me that you're doing. So, how do you rationalize that?

They can't really. It's just a matter of trying to explain it away and it doesn't work. So, when I think about all of it and I think about the steps people go through, here's where it starts. In other words, sin starts in your thinking, your desires. Sin always begins with a desire. Then, from that desire, there's the deception.

It's just simple steps, the deception. You begin to believe a lie. Then you make a decision and then you depart. It's always that way. And this is exactly what happened to the prodigal son.

In his thinking, finally made a decision, finally he departed. So, that's why it's so very wise to read the Word of God every day, because this is the anchor. This is what keeps our thinking right, keeps our desires under control. This is the thing that helps us to see things as God sees them. And if I'm seeing things as God sees them, I'm going to be wise in my choices in life. And so, as I think about the steps that people take and I think about this whole idea of a far country or a distant city, you can live across the street and be a believer. Away from God, you're in a far country. And what makes it worse, you can be saved and sit in the seats week after week and take notes and decide that you're going to live your life the way you see it and you're going to tolerate some sin in your life no matter what because God's not going to send you to hell and you can live in a far country seated right here. Because my definition of a far country is this, any place you live outside the will of God is a very far country. And there are many people who think, well, I'm fine because I go to church.

No. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian. It doesn't keep you to be a Christian. It's where we assemble together to encourage each other, proclaim the Word of God and sing and rejoice and praise the Lord and worship Him. But you can go to church. And I think about many, many people who go to churches that are very, very liberal where the Word of God is not being taught. Here's my whole conviction about that. If you're living in sin and you're coming week after week, my goal is that you get so miserable you either have to get right or leave because that's God's approach.

And I'm going to show you what happened. It's right here in the Word of God. Because I want the best for you and I'm not going to calm something down and make it sound sweet and delightful if that betrays the truth and secondly, if it deceives someone.

How can you do that and deceive someone? But there are many people who live in a far country and think everything is fine. Remember this, the definition of a far country is anywhere you're living outside the will of God. Thank you for listening to Walking Away from God. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or InTouch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of InTouch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-23 02:24:02 / 2024-05-23 02:32:53 / 9

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