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Souls In Conflict Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 10, 2021 1:00 am

Souls In Conflict Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 10, 2021 1:00 am

What’s the point of being good if the righteous still must suffer? The answer: God has a purpose in every trial you experience. In this message, you’ll meet three people who honored God in their suffering. Although their souls were in conflict, they choose to rely on God. Even when your soul is in anguish, God is still adequate to meet the deepest needs that you have.  Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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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.

Why do bad things happen to good people? What's the point of being righteous if the righteous have to suffer? Today we'll see that God has a purpose in every trial His people experience.

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, sometimes we obey God even when it hurts.

Tell us about the souls in conflict we'll meet today. Well, you know, Dave, in the Bible there are stories of people who under temptation buckled, and they turned against God. But there are also those who endured great suffering and temptation, and they chose in God's favor.

I'm thinking, for example, of Joseph and Job, and also in the New Testament, we're thinking of John the Baptist. What we need to remember is that God is after something when we suffer, and Jesus becomes our example. I'm holding in my hands a book entitled The Bible Code, Finding Jesus in Every Book of the Bible. When you stop to think of it, the Old Testament points toward Christ. The New Testament, of course, is an exposition of Jesus Christ's coming. And in the middle, as we think of it as the middle, you have the suffering of Jesus Christ, the reminder that God works through suffering. I believe that this book, by the way, is going to be a tremendous blessing to you. It's entitled The Bible Code, Finding Jesus in Every Book of the Bible. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to, or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, if you're counting, you know that this happens to be number six in a series of messages entitled What Is God Up To? And if you've been listening to these sermons, you know that the bottom line is that the whole purpose of the creation of the world, this little planet in the midst of an incredibly large universe, the whole purpose is really that God may have an opportunity to magnify himself. That's what it's all about. And no matter where you and I fit into that, the fact is that God has certain desires and ends that he has in mind that he's going to accomplish. And so he allowed sin, the fall of Satan, the fall of mankind, the history of redemption, all of the things that we have talked about to bring to the surface an opportunity for the world, for angels, for demons, for men, and for himself to be glorified.

And that's the bottom line. We've noticed, for example, that in his confrontation with Satan, God is proving that no will that is opposed to him can ever benefit. There's no such thing as a person taking on God and winning and in the end coming out victorious.

It is impossible and God is proving that. Last time we stressed how that the cross of Jesus Christ brings into sharp focus all of his attributes, that there is a convergence of the merciful attributes of God at the cross of Jesus Christ. And if you didn't get the sermon last week, I encourage you to make sure that you have a copy of it by cassette. And so we learned also that the cross magnifies the grace and the love and the compassion of God but also his justice and his eternal purpose. Today I want us to understand that another hidden agenda that God has that is really not so hidden is that he might develop a relationship with us and that he might be able to prove that he is adequate to meet the deepest needs that we as his creation have. He's interested in showing his sufficiency, his worth in our lives.

He is building a relationship of love that exists between us and him and that's what life is really all about. You know it says in Peter, that very familiar verse that all of us know by memory, that the trial of our faith being much more precious than gold that perishes. So it be tried with fire and might be found onto the honor and the glory and the praise of God. Notice that the trial of our faith the scripture says is precious to God. Now how better could God try our faith than to put us in situations in which it appears as if he is opposed to us and then tell us that he is for us and expect us to believe it.

And that's what life is all about. God is constantly putting us in predicaments and situations where it appears as if he is doing things that work against us and yet wanting us to believe that he is actually working for us. That's what the trial of our faith is all about and that is precious to God. And you're in circumstances that God could improve but doesn't.

And you're involved in relationships that are difficult that you wish you could get out of but you can't get out of those relationships and you're saying God why is it that life is so hard? And God is saying I'm doing things that appear to be opposed to you and telling you that I'm for you and I want you to believe it. And that's what the trial of faith is all about. What I'd like us to examine today is the fact that no matter what trial God brings into our lives it really turns out to be a choice that we need to make. A choice in which we can honor God or dishonor him. And whether that is a trial or a temptation it all boils down to the same thing. God is constantly asking us to make decisions in which we can either prove our love and gratitude to him in which we can show how much we value our fellowship with him or we can turn against him and we can devalue our fellowship with him and our love. And you and I are confronted by choices like that every single day.

Some are big choices, some are little choices, but that also always is the bottom line. Now what I'd like to do today is to show you three people in the scriptures who faced choices like that and made the right choice. Normally we use examples that are negative and there are many in the scripture of people who made the wrong choice, but today we're going to look at some souls who were in conflict. That's the title of our message, Souls in Conflict, and they came out choosing God against incredible odds. The first conflict that I want you to see is the conflict between God and sexual temptation. God and sexual temptation. And I want you to turn to Genesis chapter 39, if you would please.

Genesis chapter 39, because as I mentioned to you it's a story of someone who made the right choice. It's the story of Joseph. Recall that he was in Potiphar's house and spending a great deal of time with Potiphar's wife of necessity because of his responsibilities. And it says in Genesis 39 verse 7, and it came about after these events that his master's wife looked with desire at Joseph and said, lie with me. But he refused and said to his master's wife, with me here my master does not concern himself with anything in the house and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I and he has withheld nothing from me except you because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?

Let's stop there for a moment. Let's think through all of the reasons why Joseph could have so easily given into this temptation. First of all because of his location. He was far away from home. He was in a strange language area. He was with people whose culture was different from his. There was no way that his father or his brothers would ever find out as to what he was doing.

You know there are people who come to big cities just to get away from their parents so that they can do what they want to do. Joseph was in a perfect location. Notice also his position. He was doing work for Potiphar and obviously God had blessed him and that made him very vulnerable because a person who is blessed by God thinks this blessing is going to carry on even if I should happen to sin because God understands my weakness etc. He was tempted because of his reputation. People would believe him because of his appearance. Joseph was a handsome man and he felt the full power of the temptation and after all he was single and this is the kind of thing that singles do in the world.

Not all singles thankfully but oftentimes in society that is accepted and then because of his temptress because of Potiphar's wife herself. She was a beautiful woman sexually neglected evidently and she and Joseph could have done this. Then they could have done what all immoral people do, armed themselves with a pack of lies so that they'd be able to give any explanation as to what really happened and they could conceal the whole thing and they could enjoy it and they could get by.

Those were the possibilities. Now you know Joseph did not give in to this temptation but I want you to understand why. It wasn't because he thought of all of the bad consequences that might come as a result of sexual immorality.

I've long ago learned that one can know all of those consequences but there are many people who understand the consequences all too well and they do it anyway because you can always rationalize saying I can get by I can contain the consequences and so there are people today and I'm sure that there are some who are listening to this message involved in sinful relationships absolutely convinced that they can hide it and they can get by with it because they've rationalized it. But there was one thing that Joseph could not rationalize. He said how can I do this great wickedness? He didn't say how can I have this little affair on the side but he said how can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? Here's what Joseph is saying. Joseph is saying God means so much to me how can I put him through this grief?

That's what he's saying. You see a person who doesn't think highly of God says well who cares what God thinks? God isn't that valuable I don't care what God thinks I don't care about his opinion let him think what he wants to think I've got to do what I want to do. Joseph is saying how can I grieve God I love him too much he means too much to me I have valued him my desires no matter how powerful whether we can get by with this or not it is irrelevant I'm hurting God and how can I hurt the one I love and who's taking care of me here in Egypt? My dear friend do you understand the principle the more highly we value God the more we love him the less ability we will have to rationalize our sin because we know that we're hurting him.

You see that's why you can give to somebody all the reasons in the world you can give to young people all the reasons in the world and to older people and to children all the consequences that are built into certain kinds of action and they will say to themselves I can beat the system I can circumvent the consequences I can get by. But there's one thing that you do when you do that you're blowing God off you're saying who cares what he thinks as long as I can get by. Joseph says I love him too much how can I sin against God and I believe that we will never be pure in our lives until we love God so much with all of our hearts and minds and souls that will say I can get by with this I can cheat it can happen and the whole thing can be covered up but what about God I'm hurting him.

Let me give you a second example of someone who faced a test. God versus sexual pleasure Joseph let me give you another soul in conflict turn to the book of Job. Job is approximately in the middle of your Bible that is unless you have a two-year-old child at home who got to your Bible and he shortened its contents. But Job is a fantastic story and you remember God raises the issue of Job's righteousness.

If Joseph's temptation was God versus sexual pleasure Job's temptation is God versus possessions. Now the Lord is saying have you considered my servant Job he's righteous there's nobody like him upon the earth etc etc and Satan says in verse 9 of chapter 1 does Job fear God for nothing? Hast thou not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has on every side? Thou has blessed the work of his hands and his possessions have increased in the land but put forth thy hand now and touch all that he has and he will surely curse thee to thy face. You understand Satan's reasoning don't you? What he's saying is this of course Job is worshipping you of course he loves you you're bribing him you're paying him off you've built a hedge about him you have blessed him you've given him a fine family with children that are known for their righteousness you have given him 7,000 sheep 300 camels 500 yoke of oxen 500 female donkeys and very many servants and he's the greatest man that is in the east.

Of course he's going to worship you if you do that. Can't you see it God he's in it because it's profitable but all that you need to do is to just touch what he has take it all away and he'll curse you he'll curse you. So that was the issue is God valuable to us is our relationship important to us only when it's profitable to believe God what about when it becomes unprofitable and he kicks the props out from under us. I failed to mention that in the illustration of Joseph later on when he said no to Potiphar's wife and she grabbed him and he left his coat with her and fled that later on she told a lie and he ended up in prison for two years of all things in prison for two years doing nothing but choosing God and righteousness. So that's what you get when you serve God and this is what Job gets when he serves God. God takes it all away and the Lord says Satan you can go and you can take everything that he has even his children. I read this passage and I get goosebumps his children they're expendable if you please God says do away with the children have a huge storm come and the fire of God comes lightning comes and wind comes and the Sabeans come and they take away all of Job's cattle and all of his servants and he ends up absolutely totally desolate in one single day and Satan's saying well Job what are you going to do now serving God isn't profitable anymore just like Joseph in the desert or rather in the dungeon I should say are you going to continue to serve God now that it's clear that obedience to God doesn't pay off is he still worth something to you 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 and 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 well my friend this is Pastor Lutzer I have a question for you if you were asked what is the central message of the book of Job what would you say or if the question where is Jesus mentioned in the book of Job how would you answer I'm holding in my hands a book entitled the bible code finding Jesus in every book of the bible I need to tell you it is very attractive it is easy to read each of the sections is about two or three pages but I've just opened it arbitrarily to the book of Job and I've discovered that in Job he is our redeemer whoever lives we're reminded of the words of Job I know that my redeemer lives and that he shall stand on the latter day upon the earth and though after my skin worms destroy this body yet in my flesh shall I see God it's Job's vision of Jesus in the midst of his trials now I mentioned that because this book will help you to find Jesus in every book of the bible for a gift of any amount it can be yours and thanks in advance for helping us if you've been blessed as a result of the ministry of running to win it's because others have helped us with this ministry here's what you do go to that's or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 ask for the book the bible code call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask pastor Lutzer a question about the bible or the christian life starlena in chicago here's running to win on wmbi here's her question i've read proverbs 4 23 time after time keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life what does that mean and how can i guard my heart well you've asked two questions and the first is the easiest to answer what it means is this that the heart is really the place where life makes up its mind this is a critical verse because what it is really saying is who you are is not what other people think you are or even what you may think of yourself ultimately it is your soul it is your thoughts it is your aptitudes it is your loves that's why the bible says that the heart is so incredibly important it is really ultimately who you are so in answer to the first question is what does it mean it means that your heart needs to be guarded as a matter of fact it should be guarded more than we would even guard our homes notice it says keep your heart with all diligence some translations say above all else now we put locks on our doors and so forth but think of the importance of the heart because it's the part that god is most interested in of course he's interested in our bodies as well but as the saying goes you aren't who you think you are but what you think you are how do you guard it there's only one way well it may be a way that has many different aspects to it i'm thinking of the psalms where david actually prays set a guard oh lord around my heart not sure exactly what reference that is but i do know that it is in the psalms so what we have to do is to give our minds to god that is best done before we get out of bed in the morning invite god to keep our hearts and to help us to fill our mind with a word of god which will squeeze out all of the other thoughts that oftentimes want to intrude into our minds and hearts and practice those spiritual disciplines so that when thoughts come into our mind we only accept those that are honoring to god remember the passage in philippians where paul says whatsoever is true whatsoever is pure whatsoever is and he lists a whole category of positive qualities he says think on these things so let me put this image in your mind you and i have to frisk the thoughts that come into our mind and see whether or not they meet the criteria that's the way in which we guard our minds and of course it's more easily said than done some wise counsel as always from dr erwin lutzer 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 sometimes god puts us in tough spots expecting us to obey him no matter what next time on running to win more on the man who lost everything running to win is sponsored by the moody church
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-10 15:25:19 / 2023-07-10 15:33:46 / 8

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