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The Truth That Hurts And Heals Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
February 12, 2021 1:00 am

The Truth That Hurts And Heals Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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February 12, 2021 1:00 am

Compulsive behaviors eventually become addictions. Whether it is drugs, alcohol, gambling or pornography, people can become trapped. The grace of God provides the way out that all of us need.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Compulsive behaviors eventually become addictions. Whether to drugs, alcohol, gambling or pornography, people become trapped and cannot find a way out. Today, how the grace of God provides the way out all of us need. 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, as you teach on the power of a clear conscience, we've come today to the truth that hurts and heals. Well, Dave, as you might guess, the text that we are going to be emphasizing are the words of Jesus who said, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. One of the most difficult things that we as human beings have to do, but we should do it, is to be truthful with ourselves in God's presence. But there's more to it than that. Oftentimes we have to be truthful with others also because it is in relationships that we are strengthened and we are given help. And in a world that is drowning in all kinds of addictions, these truths need to be proclaimed. I've written a book entitled The Power of a Clear Conscience, Let God Free You from Your Past. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours.

You can go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I'll be giving you that contact information at the end of this message. For now, you might want to simply sit back, listen carefully, and let God speak to all of us. I actually read about a cocaine addict in New York who was in a room and decided to chain himself to a radiator so that he wouldn't go down on the street and do more coke. But apparently he was able to get the radiator broken and at least a piece of it so that he was able to take it back out on the street carrying this heavy metal chained to it and said, coke has a voice and when it calls, I must go.

Wow. But you know, it's not only cocaine that has a voice, it's alcoholism, it's gambling, it's pornography, various sexual conditions, and it's also self-righteousness that is an addiction, if you can believe it. Where we think that we really don't need as much grace as other people. Well, this is a series of messages entitled The Power of a Clear Conscience. And of course, it's really not possible to have a clear conscience if you are struggling with reoccurring sin and always losing the battle. That's why it's necessary as a part of this series for me to speak about addictions and remember our key verse.

I hope that you've all memorized it by now. 1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 5. For the aim of our instruction is love flowing from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. What we're after is a good conscience.

Now I'm going to make some introductory comments, five very briefly before we turn to the text of scripture. First of all, let me say that this is going to be a message about grace. When it comes to dealing with addictions, people don't need any more condemnation.

They already feel it. That defiled conscience reminds them that there's a part of them that is constantly being defeated. And so what we need is grace.

And at the end of this message, it is my intention to show you God's grace and to leave you there and me there where we all need to be. Second word by way of intro is that we are all prone to be addicts. We're all prone to be addicts. We all love something more than we should.

Ezekiel the prophet spoke about people who put up idols in their hearts. So we'll discover that some addictions are very obvious and known, but there are some that are subtle. So rather than us thinking of the fact that there are some addicts around us, maybe sitting next to us, why don't we think in terms of a continuum and know that all of us struggle with sin at some level?

And by the way, speaking of addictions, it's possible, it's almost not an exaggeration to say that almost every family in America has been affected by addiction. And so let's not fool ourselves. Let's talk about the fact that our sinful nature, the default position is toward addiction.

There's a third point that needs to be made as we begin, and that is critical. Grace does not enter closed doors, doesn't enter closed doors. As I speak today, you may be sitting there and already within your mind you're having rationalizations and reasons why you are the way you are and why you cannot afford to change. Well, God's grace is open and it is wide, but the problem is that oftentimes we don't recognize that, and will you keep in mind that we expect not merely a challenge today?

There's a young man at prayer meeting who preached this week and said that he's not interested in challenge, he's interested in change, and that's what I'm interested in. When I was younger, which was quite a long time ago, I used to think that if I just lay out what people have to do, they can get rid of their addictions, memorize these verses, learn these principles, go home, apply them. Well, now I know that sin is more deeply entrenched. The rationalizations of the human heart go down to bedrock.

Excuses abound, blindness all over the place. All that I can do is point the way and lead you to grace and leave you there. Next, addiction has many causes. Your home, for example, if you're brought up in an addicted home, whether it's alcoholism or other things, you may actually have what is sometimes referred to as an addictive personality. So it may be your home, it may be your friends who led you into drugs.

This past week, I read about that, where a guy said that at work they began to introduce him to it, and, you know, addictions always make life go along much better until life goes along much worse, and then you become hooked. So the point is that it may be friends, but the real problem is you and me. It's your home, it's your friends, but at the end of the day, it's your heart. Someone has said that an addiction is an illusionary promise creating a world of escape. You go into a world of pleasurable sensations.

Promises like a god, but in the end, pays like a devil. Finally, in terms of the intro, there are many, many different matches, if I can use that illustration, that inflame addictions. First of all, you have accessibility. That's one of the reasons that pornography has grown so much as a result of the internet. Accessibility, drugs are accessible. Not only that, there are now people who have a gambling addiction because you can gamble online.

Accessibility, secrecy, very important so that the shame remains hidden. Self-deception. The best definition of addiction I think I've ever read is a short one. I'm not sure exactly who said it, but he said that it is really the blinding absorption of sin.

Oh my, is that accurate? The blinding absorption of sin. You can't really find an alcoholic who can really see the devastation he is doing to his own life, to what is he doing to his family and to his children because there is so much denial and blindness that we simply can't see it in our own little selfish world. So there's deception. There's escape. I've talked to people who say that all during the week they're thinking about what they're going to do on the weekend. It fuels them.

It draws them and so they put up with work because what they're really living for is the weekend when they can finally do what they want to do and this is the world of escape. Life is hard and so what you want to do is to find a place. A place of euphoria. A place where you are in a trance, where nothing else matters except the fulfillment of these desire. All consequences are blotted out of your mind. I'll shake hands with the devil and walk with him over the bridge and then I'll deal with the consequences later. A world of escape. A world of shame that keeps people bound.

Well all that by way of introduction. I'm going to ask you now to take your cell phones if you would please and turn with me to the eighth chapter of the book of John. The eighth chapter of the book of John.

I decided this week if you can't lick them, you might as well join them. And those of you who actually have your Bibles that you brought from home, the two or three of you that did that, you can turn to John chapter 8 or there is also a Bible in the pew in the seat in front of you. John chapter 8, I'm beginning at verse 31. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed on him, if you abide in my word you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free. They answered him, we are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say you will become free? Jesus said truly, truly I say to you everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever, the son remains forever. So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed. Let's just look at the passage for a moment.

I think that the people who believed on Jesus in verse 31 are probably true believers. And Jesus is saying to them, if you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples. You'll know the truth, the truth will set you free. Now, I think that there was a larger crowd out there who was overhearing what Jesus would say to his disciples and so it may be that they are the ones who say we are offspring of Abraham, we've never been enslaved to anyone. How do you say we shall become free?

What do we need to become free of? We're Abraham's offspring. Jesus uses an illustration they'd be acquainted with, truly I say to you everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. What a powerful statement. But the slave does not remain in the house forever. A slave can be bought, can be sold, can be traded, but a son abides permanently. And so if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

I don't want to overuse the word, but I do have to say wow. What I'd like to do in the next few moments is to give you three truths at least and remember this is a flyover. This message as I was preparing it, it dawned on me that I could preach a whole series if we were to unpack all the things that we could think about. But what I'd like to do is to give you three truths that you need for freedom and then what we're going to do is to give you some steps and point the way and you have to with an open heart go the rest of the way with Jesus.

All right? First thing I think that we need to know is we need to know ourselves. We have to know our own heart. You see the people to whom Jesus was speaking, they didn't know their hearts. They said well you know we've never been slaves to anyone. Please notice this, their self-righteousness closed them off to the possibility of experiencing God's grace.

We've never been slaves to anyone. We're the righteous ones. We go to the temple, we pray, we keep the law. What do we need to be set free from? You and I because of the deception of our hearts, we make two profound mistakes when we evaluate ourselves. Number one, we underestimate our blindness. We underestimate our blindness. The Pharisees certainly did that all the time. They didn't see what Jesus was getting at, the deeper issues of the heart.

They were closed off from that. And then the other thing that we do is overestimate our ability. We overestimate our ability. Every time I speak on addictions I usually like to, if possible, and I've done that throughout the years a couple of times, I've read a book about addictions. And this week I was spending some time in a book entitled The Last Addiction.

And it's by a woman by the name of Sharon Hirsch. And some of the ideas I throw out undoubtedly come from my reading. But the point that she is making is that the very last addiction is the belief that we can get out of our predicament alone simply by helping ourselves, by memorizing verses, by saying we won't do it again, by a resolution that says this will never happen again. But it will.

It will. The idea that we ourselves, the self that got us into trouble is the self that can get us out of trouble is mythology. Recently I took a stress test. I don't know if you've ever had them, but they put you on a treadmill. And the doctor said to me, at first you're going to be able to keep up with a treadmill, but eventually you will lose and the treadmill will win.

All right. So for the first three minutes, hey, this isn't bad at all. Just a fast walk. And then after three minutes they increase the incline and then the speed and you say, oh, this is getting a little more, take more energy than I thought.

And then they do that again. And pretty soon you surrender. And you say, treadmill, you win. You win. Do you know what an addiction means?

Do you know what the root word is? It's to surrender to the gods. At the end of the day, we surrender to the gods and it is a myth that we can pull ourselves up and deliver ourselves if only we follow the prescribed path. Sin is deeper. The devil is stronger.

And that's an illusion. Second, what we need to do is to know some truth about Satan. Truth about Satan. Now it's very interesting that, and we don't have time to unpack this whole passage, but if you can skip for a moment to verse 44, Jesus interchanges here with the Jews. And you know, Jesus was very gentle. But when he was dealing with self-righteous people, is it really you say, did Jesus say that?

Verse 44, you are of your father the devil. Try that on when you're witnessing to somebody. Say, you know, I just want you to know that you're of your father the devil. And then see how that builds confidence as the witnessing continues.

All right? But these people are bragging that Abraham is their father. And Jesus says, you're of your father the devil.

And your will is to do the father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning. The devil is never interested in life, always death, and has nothing to do with the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. I've often said from this pulpit, the only time you could really believe the devil is if he told you that he were lying. And then you know that he's speaking the truth. He can only lie. And what the devil does is he puts ideas into our minds that we think are our own so we're not afraid of them.

He did that with Ananias and Sapphira. He came and said, why don't you use a little bit of deception so that you look better in the church than you really are? You can tell a lie. It was actually a half lie. And Peter says, why is it that Satan has put in your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? They didn't know that came from the devil or they'd have been afraid of that thought.

They thought it was their own. Now, the devil has two different sets of lies. To the Jews here, his lie would be, hey, you're righteous. You keep the law. You go to temple. You're not a drunkard. You're not with prostitutes. You pay your tithe. And you know, you're very meticulous in keeping the law. You're OK.

I'm OK. You're OK. We're all OK as long as we belong to this club. It's a lie. For God to overcome their blindness, if I can put it this way, is a greater miracle than the blindness of the prostitute down the way. That's why Jesus said that they go into the kingdom of heaven ahead of you all.

I think he sometimes spoke Texan and said they go in ahead of you all. So there's that lie. And then for those who are bound in the fleshly addictions, oh, he has a ton of lies, lies like you'll never change. And furthermore, you're worthless. You're unloved. You don't have any real value as a person. Look at your past. Look at what people think of you. Are you accepted? Are you the center of things? No. You have every right to hate yourself considering who you are. You have every right to slash your wrists in anger.

You have every right to be anorexic and not eat so that you can control something in your life because you're angry and everything else is out of control. Let me ask you a question. Where do those kinds of thoughts come from? Do they come from God?

I don't think so. They come from Satan. And there are going to be times when you're going to struggle and you're going to have to say, begone Satan for it is written. And you're going to have to stand on the word of God because the lies are going to want to control you. Jesus said, your father is the devil because he lies.

Don't believe his lies. So we need to know something about ourselves, something about Satan, and of course, something about God. He is gracious and merciful.

And in a few moments, I'm going to be giving you an example right from the chapter 8 here of that mercy and that grace. The fact that God gives us the gift of his presence. He gives us what we normally don't have and don't deserve. And he goes with us into the darkest closets of our life. He invites us to open the door and to let light shine there to deal with hidden issues that have plagued us, perhaps for years and years.

And God comes along and he is merciful and gracious. And we need to draw near to him. And if you missed last time, the message I preached on how we draw near through the blood of Christ, absolutely critical to understand. My friend today, this is Pastor Lutzer. And as you might guess, as a pastor, it's been my privilege to get to know people. Oftentimes they have shared with me their struggles.

And I know something of the depths of the pain that many people are going through. Let me tell you one story, a true story about a woman who oftentimes had to go to a mental institution, struggling greatly with her mind and with guilt. One day when her son was about 22 years old, she sat him down and said, I have something to tell you. The man that you think is your father is really not your father. Your father is a doctor who works in the next town. Now you can imagine all that this young man went through trying to figure out his identity. To the glory of God today, he is a minister.

He shares the word of God in many different churches and is very effective and leads people into personal revival. After that, his mother didn't have to go to an institution because the guilt that she was carrying, that guilt dissipated. You know, that's why I've written a book entitled The Power of a Clear Conscience, Let God Free You from Your Past, because there I discuss issues on whether or not you have to confess to others, whether or not you should or shouldn't, giving you some guidance, but also the guidance of a forgiving God.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book, The Power of a Clear Conscience, RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And thanks in advance for helping us because together we are making a difference as we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to so many. You are standing with us, and I thank you. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Those with addictions are usually blind as to how addicted they really are. Next time on Running to Win, more insights from John Chapter 8 on the truth that hurts and heals. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-25 10:37:27 / 2023-12-25 10:46:02 / 9

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