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August 14, 2020 1:00 am
There are laws at work in the spiritual universe—laws that can neither be debated, nor circumvented. We may claim freedom from the law as believers, thinking we can do as we please. But God has a word for those of us who feel this way, a word brought to us by the Apostle Paul.Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)
Let us run with endurance race, race, that is, that before us looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecta of our faith.
There are laws that work in the spiritual universe laws, but can neither be debated nor circumvented. Believers may claim freedom from the law, thinking they can do as they please. But God has a word for those who feel this way.
A word brought to us by the Apostle Paul from the Moody Church in Chicago.
This is running to win with Dr. Irwin Leuser, who is clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Luther Joseph ran from afar as wife. He showed a courage not enough of us have these days as we come to understand the need to run from sin.
And you know, Dave, what has happened to the church is this. In my era, we were so afraid of legalism that we decided to open the door to all kinds of things, even things that are degrading and that actually corrode the soul. That's where we are at. That's why it's so important for us to turn to the scriptures and to find out exactly what God expects of the church and the holiness that should characterize us. One of the things that blesses me in the Ministry of Running to win is when we receive reports of changed lives. I have before me a letter that says, Pastor Luter, I would like to say a big thank you because your teachings set me free. I turned 63 yesterday and was listening to Running to Win. And you talked about vengeance belongs to God. Suddenly I had an epiphany. I feel free to let go of my resentment and forgive. You showed me freedom in Jesus. That's the best birthday gift I've ever had. My friend, you have a part in our ministry. A letter like this belongs to you just as much as it does to our ministry. Here's what you can do to help us. Free gift of any amount. Your gift will be doubled during the month of August. We have a matching grant challenge. Here's what you do. Go to RTW, offer dot com. That's RTW. Offer dot com or call us at one eight eight eight two one eight nine DS3. Thirty seven. Thanks in advance for helping us as we continue to hold high the banner of scripture in a very confused world. And now let us open our Bibles once again to First Thessalonians and find out what holiness should mean to each of us.
There are two kinds of laws. There's the law of the stop sign. You can put up a stop sign and then City Hall can say, hey, we don't need a stop sign there. They can take it down. But there's another law characterized by the law of the fire.
The law of the fire says that when I put my hand into the fire, it will get burned. You say, well, city hall could change that. I mean, the Congress of the United States could change that. I'm sorry, Congress can't change that. Because you see that's inherent within it and inherent within sexual sin are certain consequences that can never be expunged or circumvented.
Society tells us that isn't true. But Congress can change that, Hugh Hefner can't change that.
You think of all of the broken lives, you think of the degrading experiences that I don't need to tell you about today because God just put it right in the whole business of sexuality, that there are certain consequences that can't be overcome. And then in the future, God will judge us. You say, well, not us as Christians, because after all, we're under grace. And so it is safe to sin.
Did you know that under grace and how we thank God for grace, but under grace, it's not safe to sin because someday, even at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ.
The Bible speaks about it as a time that connects it with the word terror. Now, that doesn't mean that God is going to judge us or condemn us, because it is true there is no condemnation, which is in Jesus Christ. But when we see our lives just burn up, as would hay and stubble and when we have nothing to offer Jesus. That's why the Bible says live in such a way that you will not have shame at his coming.
It's a terrible thing. Never safe to sin.
Just because you're under grace now, I can imagine somebody who's come in here today says, well, you know, this is just like moody church, you know, moody churches, one of these conservative churches.
And what do you go there?
You get this old fashioned thing preached at you and, you know, maybe you're here today and you wished you had gone to some other church where you'd have heard more pleasant things.
Well, just in case there's somebody listening who feels that way. Paul knew that you were here. And so he had a word for you. Isn't that wonderful? The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Spirit, said, I'm talking to somebody who thinks this is just old fashioned. So listen, your Bibles open, isn't it? Aren't we people of the book?
You'll notice it says in verse seven, for God has not called us for impurity.
But holiness, by the way, that's another reason is the calling of God.
But for those of you who think that this is just old fashioned, here's your verse. Verse eight. Therefore, whoever disregards this disregards not man, but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
So don't leave here upset with me. Because you're very, very uncomfortable. Don't leave here, are you? You just deal with God, OK? I'm out of here.
When I finished this message and I've given an invitation, I'll spend the afternoon preparing for tonight. And you've got to deal with God.
This is very clearly the scripture says the word from God and not the word from man.
Well, the question is how. That's what you're saying is how do you do it?
Well, you'll notice that the apostle Paul says abstain, abstain. It's a command.
You say, I don't have the strength. True, you don't. But with the power of the Holy Spirit and yield edness and the prayers of others, you can change. You can change.
So, you see, what we need to do is to deal decisively with this. Whatever God asks you to do.
Jesus said if you have to pluck out your eye, your one eye, so that you no longer lust, of course, he doesn't mean it literally because you could pluck out one eye and still lust with the other.
But Jesus said, in effect, do whatever you just have to do, just do it. Deal with it. Don't rationalize it any longer. Just deal with it. It may mean canceling your subscription to cable television, chopping up your blockbuster card, someone here in the church a couple of years ago showed me in his hand a blockbuster card all chopped to bits.
He said that's the only way I can stay away from that place. And renting degrading movies. Take that card. Practice plastic surgery on it.
Strong filter for your Internet. And if you're a geek and you can work around it, then become accountable to somebody. We're talking serious stuff here. You say, well, I've invested so much in the direction I'm going. I can't even begin to think that I can pull out. With God's help, you can. Very recently, this letter. Appeared, and that was sent to me and I want to read it to you.
Pastor Leuser, I'd like to share my story with you, it's a story that began in pain, fear, shame, deceit and brokenness, but it ends in forgiveness, hope and renewal started a few years ago when I fell into Internet pornography. I've been a Christian for many years, and I knew I was hurting Christ and to my witness through my sin. But even though I knew it was wrong, the thrill outweighed the guilt.
Thanks to my excellent computer skills, I was able to keep it a secret.
So for the past two years, I was struggling with this issue. I'd go without pornography sometimes for a week or two and then fall back into old habits.
I constantly asked Christ for forgiveness and yet I'd go right back outside.
I looked like an ideal husband and father and probably a good Christian. And yet inside I was in my own personal hell.
No matter how hard I tried to stop, I would crumble under the pressure, even though I felt a genuine shame for my actions.
The shame was easily engulfed by fear. That was in my heart. I was convinced that I could not come forward with my sin. I thought that my wife would leave me and maybe take the kids away. So while the devil kept feeding my heart with fear, he also kept giving me a false sense of confidence that I could keep this secret and nobody would be hurt.
What was initially a secret thrill turned into something I just ended up doing because I could I tried filling my life with other activities, anything to keep me away from the computer. But these were just temporary diversions, and I kept going back to my sinful behavior.
A few months ago, my wife came to me asking me if I had looked at pornography for all of my sneakiness on the computer, I had forgotten one location that was not cleaned up and she happened to see it.
When she approached me, my life flashed before me and I decided to finally come clean and face my worst fears. I had always believed that looking at pornography was the real sin. But what really hurt my wife were the lies, the deceit and the complete disregard of her feelings.
There had been a few times in the recent past where she asked me if I was viewing pornography and each time I answered her, no. I convinced her that I was above such a simple sin. But now, as I finally answered her every question with honesty, not only was I showing her how sinful I had been, but I was clearly telling her, you can't trust me.
He said, I wanted to crawl under a rock and die.
That night, as I was telling her my darkest secrets, a strong feeling filled my heart and mind. Now, I was beginning to see how pornography had taken a complete hold of my life and how it was tearing my life and my marriage apart. I realized that I wanted to be rid of it all.
I did not want it to be in my life anymore. I know that God was working in me that night and he wanted to provide me with true deliverance to the surprise of my wife. I told her that I would confess my sin to our pastor. After barely sleeping that night, I drove to our church the next day to meet with him as I told him all the sordid details, he quoted Scripture and explain that I wasn't the first Christian man to fall into this temptation or woman, I might add. After much praying and tears, I renounced the demon of pornography. I cannot explain it in words, but at that moment I finally felt true cleansing. I had hope.
And even though I did not know what to expect at home, I felt better as a Christian than I had in years.
That night, my wife and I continued to share talking, crying together for hours. We saw revelations of how mice struggled with pornography was a battle of spiritual warfare that caused unrest in our house. For months, my wife had been plagued by this spirit of fear during times when she should have been happy. It was plain to see that my sin was not only permeating into all areas of my life, but it was also unwittingly rubbing off on her.
My sorrow was so overwhelming that I broke down in tears several times, I want a true deliverance. And as a burn victim must endure the pain of having that dead skin peeled away before healing can begin. And new skin can grow.
The same went for me. To be truly free, I had to lay it all out. No more lies. Again, I told her how sorry I was and she told me that she would forgive me. She could see that I was broken, humbled, humiliated and desperate. For forgiveness and restoration, once again, the tears freely flowed at this time not in pain, but because I had fully experienced God's redeeming love and forgiveness.
The stain of pornography was washed away.
These past three months have been incredible. God did such a mighty work in my life that I haven't had a single urge to view pornography, so many images that had scarred my mind have been washed away.
How is that possible except for the power of Christ?
My wife and I are closer than we've been in many years.
I've never imagined that I would have this level of intimate communication with my wife. After what I had done, I look forward to my devotions each day, eager to see what God will teach me. I've also had the opportunity to briefly share my story with a fellow colleague, a single non Christian man who's clearly at a crossroads in his own life. I can't believe all that has taken place, and it's all because of Jesus.
Looking back, it's hard to believe the amount of time and energy I wasted not only surfing pornography, but trying to keep it a secret. What a pathetic life I was living, trying to act like a Christian husband and father on the outside. Yet on the inside, barely behaving like a man.
How I wish that I had made my own decision to come forward with my sin. I regret that my fear overpowered my desire to be free.
I have been scarred by my sin, but my scars are now a reminder that I am winning a battle that I do not have to be a slave to the flesh. There is a world of difference between being a male, but this is critical. There is a world of difference between being a male and being a man.
I am a man once again, taking control of my life, my thoughts, my actions for the glory of Christ, for the glory of my family. By his grace, I will no longer succumb to the easy desires of the flesh. For I was bought by Christ's precious blood. Christ death has given me life once again. And I will not waste my life any longer.
What a letter.
Where do you go from here? 1974, my wife and I and a couple northern Wisconsin.
Middle of winter, we're on our way to a restaurant. They thought they knew where the restaurant was. They were new. They they were new up there. They thought they knew. Here it is in the evening. It's dark. That night it was to get below zero. And we begin to drive, drive, drive, drive. And after five, six miles, they realized they're on the wrong road.
The big Buick was going into the snow. No one had traveled this road in days.
And it was clear we were going nowhere. And we were gonna get stuck. The question was, what do you do? Nobody would know where to look for us. There were no cell phones in those days.
Well, we figured out a way by which we could turn around. When we came to a side road, it was difficult. We jack up the car and put branches under the back wheels so that we could go a few feet. We kept doing this over and over again until eventually we turned around. That night I learned something that when you're on the wrong trail, you you lose you lose time that can never be regained. We lost time that night. In fact, my wife and I have never yet been to that restaurant.
It's true. We learned something else. The ruts that we leave can mislead others. We don't know it was the case, but someone else could have taken the trail because they said, oh, a car's been here. This must go somewhere. David, in the Old Testament, when he committed adultery, he was able to get back to God.
But his kids didn't. Your Rut's may mislead others.
We learned also that the mistake can't be corrected by going on adjacent roads.
And the bottom line is this there never is or was a convenient time to turn around. If you're saying to yourself, well, I want to live differently, but this is not the time to turn around. There never is a convenient time to turn around. Today is the best time to turn around. And by the power of the Holy Spirit and by yielding this and the cleansing of Jesus. And let me say that Jesus is adequate for your sin. Did you know that his forgiveness, his cleansing, the power of the spirit he had you in mind when he died? Your sin is not bigger than his grace. And his forgiveness.
Why doesn't he just deliver us when we try to do it privately? Well, the answer is that God wants the humility, the humility of brokenness.
And he uses brothers and sisters and wives and husbands in the process of healing us and restoring us. You can get into the ditch alone, but you need help in getting out.
And so the bottom line is from God's holy word, for God has not called us to impurity.
But in holiness, we've been called. When God comes the church. Is wholly. Let us pray. Father, we asked today in the name of Jesus. Would you do a work in the lives of all of us who listen to this message? Would you, father? Father, you know the power of shame. The power of shame is so great. We'll do anything to avoid it. We'll continue along the wrong road. Even if it is going nowhere. Help in this moment that those who have listen to this message, by your grace, might shame, shame. Because Jesus did that on the cross. That's what we read in the Book of Hebrews. And we asked today that your Holy Spirit would do in our lives what needs to be done. Now, before I close this prayer, would you pray? And would you tell the Lord Jesus, would you respond to him in light of what God has shown you? Father, we pray. Help us think of the struggle. That's taking place in the lives of many today. Oh, God. Oh, God. The need is so great. We ask that you will come by your spirit. Would you come to church? And help us.
In Jesus name. Well, this is pastor loots or my how we have to hear that word today that God has called us to holiness.
Let me ask you this question. Are you blessed as a result of these messages?
If so, you can have them and you can listen to them again and again. I'm sitting here visualizing people, opening their Bibles, listening to the message, going through the book of First Thessalonians and learning all that God wants us to know or as far as possible to learn all that God wants us to know. Now, free gift of any amount. These messages can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to RTW, offer dot com. Thanks in advance for your generosity, by the way. That's our t w offer dot com or if you prefer, call us said one eight eight eight two one eight nine day three thirty seven. I'll be giving you that phone number again if you need to pick up a pencil, because together we are making a difference and we count on you to help us if you want this sermon series. It is titled When God Comes to Church and hears that phone number one eight eight eight two one eight nine DS3 thirty seven. Or if you prefer RTW, you offer dot com.
It's time again for you to ask pastoralist's, sir, a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Pastor Luser, today's question is short. It comes from Bruce, who lives in Michigan. He asks, Is the prince and power of the air television?
Well, yes, sometimes we think it is. You know, the Bible refers to Satan as the prince of the power of the air. And when radio was invented, there were some Christians who thought, well, that's exactly proof that radio is of the devil because he is the prince of the power of the air. Well, that's not true, of course. There are those who actually know how to explain radio waves. They are not demonic. But having said all that, it is important for us to realize that when it comes to television, it can be the means by which the prince of the power of the air enters our homes. All of those programs that we watch, the impurity, the violence, the cultism, that is the way in which Satan gains an entry into our homes. He is the prince of the power of the air. He doesn't come through radio or television waves or whatever means of communication. There is in the atmosphere. But he does come to us through modern technology. That's why we have to keep our hand on the mouse or our hand on that button.
Thank you, Dr. Luser.
If you too would like to have a question answered, you can go to RTW, offer dot com on the web and click on Ask Pastor Luser or you can call us at one eight eight eight two one eight nine three three seven. That's one eight eight eight two one eight nine three three seven.
You can write to us at running to win 16 35.
North Lascelle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois six 00 six one for Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago to help you understand God's roadmap for your race of life.
Next time, why the return of Jesus to this Earth should motivate us to live lives that are pleasing to God as we await his coming. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Irwin Loser, this is Dave McCalister. Running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church.