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The Gift We Can't Live Without Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
January 20, 2022 1:00 am

The Gift We Can't Live Without Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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January 20, 2022 1:00 am

Your regrets feel like an irreparable, muddy mess. Sin colors everything. It’ll take an intervention from God to make it right. In this message, you’ll identify the qualities of the righteousness in Christ that assure you of your standing with God. This unchangeable, permanent, and infinite righteousness is based on the believer’s union with Christ. There’s cleansing, like a blanket of white snow, for those who finally give up self-righteousness and believe in Him alone.  

 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. For those running the race of life, the goal line is heaven. Now if there's one thing you have to have to get into heaven, you'll want to know what it is. Today you'll find out just how desperately we all need the gift of righteousness.

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. We're in a series on how you can be sure that you will spend eternity with God. Pastor Lutzer, how can we avail ourselves of the righteousness of Christ? Well, you know, Dave, in the book of Romans and elsewhere, the Bible says that the righteousness of Jesus Christ is received by faith. But I need to emphasize the fact that faith really means trust.

It isn't simply an intellectual belief. It is really a trust of the heart, seeing our sin and then seeing our need for righteousness and receiving it. Now the title of this series of messages is How We Can Be Sure That We Will Spend Eternity With God, and I've written a book by that title.

And at the end of this message, I'm going to be giving you some information as to how this resource can be yours. But for now, let us listen carefully as we discuss the righteousness of Christ, which we don't deserve, but is given to needy sinners. Think of snow. Here you have a messy trails in the snow and some of you looking back in the rear view mirror of your lives, you see those messy trails, don't you? You see what you have done to your body. You see what you have done to other people.

And some of you are still doing bad things to other people right now. And you look back and you see this mess and you wish things could have been different, but the past cannot be changed. And all that you see is the mud and the grime and the dirt.

But then a snowfall comes, 18 inches of snow that blankets the whole area. Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be a scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. And though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. God says, there's the messy trail, but I'm going to cover it and it will be covered by the special pure righteousness of Christ, which is my righteousness so that before me you will be as holy as he is.

And the first characteristic is it is a free gift. What do you do with those who can't forgive themselves? Spoloton who was a friend of Luther did some things he couldn't forgive himself for. He had given some bad advice and he hurt other people because of the advice and he could not be consoled.

If Luther had been living in our century, he would have said, now Spoloton, let's get a couple of things straight. First of all, it was not that big a deal. Everybody is in the same boat as you are. Number two, what you need to do is to work through this through recognizing that you have to feel good about yourself. That's your real problem.

So what I'd like to do is to help you to feel good about yourself. Luther didn't do that. He did not minimize the sin. He magnified grace.

He said to Spoloton in a letter, my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us. He says who are real, great and hard-boiled sinners. He said you've committed a great sin? Oh, come and join us because we're big sinners. You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us as though he could be our helper only when we want to be rid of imaginary, nominal and childish sins. Oh no, Spoloton, he said that kind of a redeemer would not be good for us. He said he must rather be a savior and redeemer from real, great, grievous and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from even the greatest and the shocking sins.

I didn't bring it with me but we have a letter from a man in prison who listens to our radio ministry who wrote, who was guilty of rape, raped for women. He's in jail now and he has come to saving faith in Christ but he is wondering how does a man who has done something so terrible with consequences that are still ongoing and who has had such a terrible effect upon women, how does a man like that ever become at peace with himself? It's not by feeling good about himself or even getting in touch with his pure inner child as some people are doing. It is to realize that God has sent a snowfall and covered the mess. God helps us with the consequences. He helps us work through it but we have a brand new basis upon which we can accept him.

He is not looking at us legally now as those who are such damnable sinners but he sees the righteousness of Christ to be found in him, said Paul, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. And it hurts me to say it but I'm going to say it anyway. God's righteousness is so perfect and so pure that it even can cover a rapist.

And now I've said it. Number one, it is a free gift. Number two, let us remember it is unchangeable.

It is unchangeable. The righteousness that the Apostle Paul received when he wrote the book of Romans is the same righteousness that we receive. It is the same righteousness that is given to every person who believes in Jesus. Some of you don't know who your parents are.

You may have been adopted. Some of you have lived lives where there has been all that rejection and all that pain and you wonder how you can endure. I want you to know today that God gives you the very same righteousness and the same acceptance before God as the Apostle Paul, as Martin Luther or Billy Graham or anyone else whom we may admire as a wonderful Christian.

You have the same opportunity. It is called the priesthood of the believer because there's only one kind of righteousness. It is God's righteousness and it is credited to those who believe and it is yours. Friday evening, our precious daughter Lisa who is 16 going on 22 said to me, Dad, do your prayers count more than the prayers of other people? I think it's easy for children in the home of a pastor to get that impression because whenever we gather together, you know, when there's a church picnic or we're having lunch somewhere always, the pastor, would you say grace please? Always. Why, we have to be ready to preach, pray or die at a moment's notice. I said, Lisa, the answer is no. Depends on the amount of faith in my heart just like it depends on the way in which other people pray but we have the same access, the same blood that covers my sins that gives me acceptability to God is the same that covers you.

When it comes to that, it is the same snowfall that covers our messy trails. It is an unchangeable righteousness. Number three, it is a permanent righteousness. It is a permanent righteousness. Some of you are going to have difficulty accepting this but I want you to understand it clearly and in a future message I'll give you reasons to accept it. You realize that when Jesus Christ justifies you and in saving faith you have believed on him, that gift of righteousness covers all of your sins past, present and future.

All the way. You see, what was Luther's problem? You have all these people who are confessing their sins and they are unsaved. Unsaved. Luther was unconverted though confessing his sins meticulously.

Why? Because the confession only took care of the sins that he had committed so far. He had no provision for tomorrow when he would commit new sins.

Let me ask you a question. How many of your sins were future when Christ died on the cross? Well, I hope you realize that all of them were. Jesus died on the cross and went to heaven and you hadn't even begun sinning yet.

Because you weren't around. When Jesus died, you see, he not only took care of some past sins, he had to look into the future and anticipate all the iniquity that we would do, that the iniquity of us all who are living in this century would be laid upon him. And therefore, when you receive the gift of righteousness, it is good enough to take you all the way to heaven. You say, well, does that mean that we as Christians don't have to confess our sins anymore? Listen very carefully.

We have to. In fact, we have to have deep repentance, but it is never to establish or to reestablish our legal relationship with God. There is a difference between the favor of God, which we always enjoy because of Christ, for he sees us through Christ. There is a difference between the favor of God and fellowship with God. You see, my children, if there is a break in our relationship as happens from time to time, neither they nor we as parents need to be restored as father, as parents and children, but we need to make sure that we are in fellowship. And God asks that and confession is part of the process. But it is never to reestablish our relationship with God, our permanency with him. Oh, I know what you're saying. You're saying, well, you know, that means people can believe on Christ and they can live as they wish. You see, when you become a member of God's family, he makes sure that you do not live as you wish.

There's a whole growing process, but the initial gift is free. And we're going to be talking about the implications of that in a future message. It is a permanent righteousness. Number four, it is an infinite righteousness. You know, sometimes people say, oh, I know the meaning of the word justification. Justification means it is just as if I'd never sinned.

Let me tell you that that is an inadequate definition, partially right, but far short of the mark. Folks, when God justifies us, when he declares us to be righteous, as righteous as his blessed son, it is not just as if we have not sinned. It is as if we have been perfectly obedient to the law. It is as if we have met every one of his infinite and holy, very holy requirements. Because, you see, Jesus Christ represents me before God the Father today. Today he is my righteousness. Today he is my wisdom. Today he is my sanctification. Today he is my redemption.

He is everything that I need today representing me in heaven, and in the presence of God I am being accepted and received and welcomed and loved on his basis. And there is no way that that can be associated with human righteousness. Even if there were a perfect person, he could not die for the sins of everyone like Jesus Christ died for the sins of those who believe.

He couldn't do it. You remember Augustine in his despair as he was thinking about his own sin, and he was thinking of how much God demands and then the light dawned on him and he said, oh, God demand whatever you will, but supply what you demand. God, if you need infinite righteousness, if you need a righteousness that is so pure and holy that belongs only to you, that's fine, but God, I don't have it, supply it. That's the message of the gospel. God says, I give you an infinite righteousness, an infinite righteousness. Finally, it is this righteousness that is the basis of our union with Christ.

You see, in the Bible, more than a hundred times in the epistles, the Apostle Paul uses this precious little phrase. It says that we are in Christ. We are in Christ. What does it mean to be in Christ? It means that God has clothed us with a righteousness of Christ, clothed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.

Jesus, thy blood and righteousness, my beauty art, my heavenly dress. And that's why we're in Christ. That's why Jesus could say in John 17 when he was praying, he said, oh, Father, thou has loved them even as thou has loved me. He says, you're loving them as much as you're loving me.

Wait a moment. God loves Christ with an undying, unbelievable love. And now he's loving us as fallen sinners, as people who want to do good, but end up doing bad oftentimes. And he loves us as much as he loves Christ.

It is unthinkable. But God says, I am loving you for Christ's sake. I am receiving you based on his righteousness.

You are in him. And when I embrace my son, I am embracing you because you are in Christ, received, loved, welcomed. And it would be heresy for you to say, you know, God would love me more if only I were better.

Oh, how many people are in despair because of that? Oh, God is so mad at me. I've had Christians say this. God is so mad at me.

If you only knew what I did, you know how he could not love me. And you see, the devil has a field day and they are driven from the presence of the grace and the mercy of God by their own guilt because they do not understand that God loves us, not even because we have a good day. And I don't want to be misunderstood, but it's not even because we had a warm and wonderful time in our devotions, important though that may be, it is because we are in him, in him. It is the basis of every command in the New Testament. The Bible says that we should put off the works of the flesh, sensuality.

Why? Because you are in Christ, clothed with his righteousness. It becomes the one doctrine that becomes the anchor point, the doctrine that I keep going back to almost every single day.

Some of you have heard me preach on justification by faith before, but I need to preach on it now because it's part of the series, but that's why I didn't begin with an apology because if you're going to be in this church very long, you're probably going to hear this again because you never outgrow it. You never get to the point where you say, well, now we're moving on to real deep things finally. No, it doesn't get any deeper than the righteousness of God credited to unworthy sinners. That is as deep as it can go. How thou canst think so well of me and be the God thou art is darkness to my intellect but sunshine to my heart. It doesn't go any deeper than that. Remember in the Old Testament God says, when you put blood on the door, the angel of death will pass over you. It didn't matter how great the sinners were within, though it is much better to be a lesser sinner than a greater one as I explained last week, but God says it is blood on the door that matters. Now let's suppose somebody would have come and said, oh boy, you're going to get this angel of death and he is going to kill your firstborn tonight.

Boy, is he going to get you. What if the Jews would have said, well, my word. You know, maybe that's true, but here is the unleavened bread and here are the herbs and they depend upon the unleavened bread and the herbs. No wonder they would be in despair. No, they don't do that.

What do they do? They say, hey, look, there's blood on the door. You see, here's what happens. Satan comes to accuse us during the day, during the night, night and day, keeps telling you, don't you know what a wretch you are?

Look at what you did. Don't you understand that you deserve to suffer? What's this business of grace? You don't deserve it.

Someday if you live better, you'll deserve it. All those things, you see, and Christians don't know how to handle the accusations and the enemy of our souls lacerates us because we begin to say, well, now, you know, wait a moment, devil, you have no right to say that. I memorized a verse of scripture last week and I attended church and I am trying and he has a field day.

He just explodes that in our faces and we have nothing to hang on to. That would be like the Israelites saying, well, look at the, you know, there's the unleavened bread here and there's the herbs. No, my friend, the reason that you have devotions is that you might walk with God, that you might know the fullness of the Holy Spirit, but it does not reestablish the firm basis upon which God accepts you, which is the righteousness of his son. What you need to do is what Luther did when the devil came to him and listed his sins. In a dream, he saw all of his sins. And then he told the devil that there were some sins that had been omitted, that the list was incomplete. If you're at least going to list your sins, list all of them. And then beneath the list he wrote, the blood of Jesus Christ, God's son cleanseth us from all sin, the righteousness of God, which is by faith.

That is the way in which you handle the accusations of the devil. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even now on the right hand of the throne of God, who also maketh intercession for us. We go on the basis of blood, Christ's blood shed for us as sinners. After our morning service, we are going to have a memorial service for Jim Theis, who died of AIDS a few days ago. Jim is in heaven today, but I want to explain why he is in heaven. He's in heaven because there was a time when Jim recognized as a sinner that he could believe on a savior who died for sinners. Whether their sins be considered big or small, there was a savior who died for even damnable transgressions. And as he came to die, he could look back into the rear view mirror of his life, and he could have focused on the messy trails, and all of us leave some messy trails, or he could have done what we know he did, and that is to look at the snow that covered it. The terrors of law and of God.

With me, they have nothing to do. My savior's obedience and blood blots all of my sins from view. My name on the palm of his hands.

My name on the palms of his hands. Eternity cannot erase a mark of indelible love and grace. Don't you ever think that you can go to heaven without having the righteousness of Christ and being as righteous as God.

Those are the only ones who enter, but they enter through faith the gift of righteousness given to those who finally give up and believe in Christ alone. Yeah, let us pray. Oh Father, who are we that we should be credited with the righteousness of a spotless, obedient, beautiful, holy savior? And yet we thank you for that precious gift. We thank you today that those who are in despair can finally look at hope.

Thank you that we belong to you forever. We pray today for those who do not know you as savior. Those who may be depending upon religion, their own good works, whatever it may be, we pray that in grace you will overcome the natural resistance of the human heart to the message of grace that they might believe. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. This is Pastor Lutzer. I can't help but think that there are some of you who are driving in a car.

You've heard this message. I suggest that you pull off to the side of the road if the Holy Spirit of God has been speaking to you. And right there, bow your head and receive the grace of God, grace given to the greatest of sinners to all who believe. I've written a book entitled How You Can Be Sure That You Will Spend Eternity With God. It discusses the grace of God. It discusses issues of assurance of salvation.

It discusses how we can indeed be sure and how our doubts can be overcome for a gift of any amount it can be yours. And I want to thank you in advance for helping us because together we are making a difference. Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com. Now, I know that many of you perhaps have not been able to get a pencil in time, so I'm going to be giving you that address again online.

It's rtwoffer.com. Or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book How You Can Be Sure That You Will Spend Eternity With God. Call us right now, 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635, North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. We need more than just a gift. All of us need a miracle. It takes a miracle to set us on the road to heaven. All the effort we could ever expend won't take us an inch in heaven's direction. Jesus told us that what we need is the miracle of the new birth, and that's our topic on our next Running to Win. Plan to join us. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-21 15:22:34 / 2023-06-21 15:31:26 / 9

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