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When Darkness Is Called Light, And Light, Darkness Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
February 24, 2022 1:00 am

When Darkness Is Called Light, And Light, Darkness Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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February 24, 2022 1:00 am

Misconceptions about God have consequences. God isn’t endlessly tolerant, putting up with any attitude or behavior. God had Babylon take Israel captive after Israel had endlessly deceived itself through idolatry. But neither does He impulsively condemn. We as Christians offer His hope, forgiveness, and help today. In this message, we’ll isolate four lies about a nation’s sins. What is it about our concept of God that needs adjustment?  

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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. God had Babylon take Israel captive after Israel deceived itself into idolatry. He will not tolerate endless disobedience from His people.

He did not then and will not today. The story is in the early chapters of Jeremiah. 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. Today we continue a series on the church in Babylon, unleashing the power of a Spirit-filled witness. Pastor Lutzer, we are living in crazy times, you are describing very well in today's message, When Darkness is Called Light and Light Darkness. Dave, what is so important for listeners to understand is this, that as we think about the sexual revolution in America, it is not enough to simply take that which is evil and call it good.

That is only half of the equation. It is not finished until you take that which is good and call it evil. And that is what we are experiencing in this world.

And we experience it through what I call propaganda, where you tell people what they want to hear, but then you give them what you want them to have. I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win. It is because we have so many people holding our hands, figuratively speaking, that we are able to continue this ministry and even expand it.

Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts, and of course the amount that you give is totally your decision. But you need more info. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.

That's rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Because of people like you, this ministry, as I've already mentioned, continues to expand, and we want to help as many people as possible to make it all the way to the finish line. And now we go to the pulpit of Moody Church to continue our discussion of the church in Babylon. It was the prophet Isaiah who said, woe to those who call darkness light and light darkness. The prophet Jeremiah would have certainly agreed. We're living at a time of inverted values where light is darkness and darkness is light. A number of years ago in the legislature in Kansas, a man by the name of Joe Wright prayed a prayer.

Now everybody in the Senate was expecting the usual platitudes that don't mean anything. But he tried to shed some light on our nation, and in part this is what he prayed. We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your word and called it pluralism. We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternate lifestyle. We've exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed time-honored values of our forefathers and we have called it enlightenment.

Well, you can understand that the reaction was immediate. Some walked out of the Senate immediately, and later on he received many phone calls, most of which, by the way, overwhelmingly were in favor of his prayer. But the opposition continued for weeks after that prayer in the Senate, trying to shed some light on a nation that calls light darkness and darkness light. And we see this today morally. I mean, we can refer to what is happening as a result of same-sex marriage and that legislation. Now, of course, boys can enter into girls' washrooms if they are transgender. And if the girls complain, they have no argument because all of the rights belong to the transgender people and not to them. And then the governor of California signing a law that says now in California children can have more than two parents.

They can have three or four or whatever. The total destruction of the family is called progress. We are actually moving down a very progressive way and a progressive road. Light is being called darkness and darkness is being called light.

We could look religiously. And what we find is because of a misinterpretation of the separation of church and state, as a nation now, we have said that all public expressions of Christianity in the so-called public sphere are to be criminalized. So freedom of speech is constantly being marginalized and challenged. And we call that progress. Now, if you're thinking that this message is only going to be reiterating the sins of our nation, I want to let you know that there is going to also be hope.

Most assuredly, as we've begun this series of messages on the book of Jeremiah, hope will be given. And I certainly don't want to give the impression, as some people have, that all of you Christians do is condemn people. And that's all that you really are able to do, as if that is Christianity.

Last week, I found myself at an airport two hours longer than I intended because the plane was late. So I struck up a conversation with a woman there. And of course, immediately, within three or four questions, I was talking to her about God and religion and all those things. She said, long ago, I gave up on Christianity because in my church, it was obeying a list of rules.

And if you didn't obey those rules, you went to hell. And I smiled at her and I said, can you imagine that if that's your view of Christianity, how in the world can that be good news when the gospel is some very good news? Your church has misled you, if that is Christianity. So we're going to be able to offer hope and forgiveness and help, but we have to paint the picture as it exists before we can do that. We have to see the darkness before we come to the light. And certainly no prophet enables us to see that darkness as well as Jeremiah. It is a difficult book.

It's difficult because chapter after chapter, God is angry at sin and God is judging his people. But the parallels between that and today are really endless and very applicable. Now, if you've already felt offended and I'm scarcely into the message, I want you to hang on because at the end of the day, we'll have something to say to you that might be very helpful and transforming no matter what your response so far to this message has been. When we open the book of Jeremiah, and I certainly hope that you were here last time because this happens to be the second in a series of messages entitled The Church in Babylon. And we're really not yet in Babylon in this series.

That's coming up in a number of different messages. But we already see the influence of Babylon in the nation of Judah. And the book of Jeremiah opens with the call of Jeremiah and all that we covered last time. But then it goes on to speak about the fact that God is filing for divorce. God files for divorce with the people of Judah. You know, he says in chapter two, I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness in a land not sown.

Israel was holy to the Lord, the first fruits of his harvest. And so he talks about the time when he courted the nation and now the nation has left him. And God says, I'm about to divorce you.

Now, whether or not God goes through with the divorce or not, you're going to have to wait until the end of the message. But God did divorce the northern kingdom. I explained last time that after the time of Solomon, you have the northern kingdom, which is called Israel.

That's confusing for us today, isn't it? Because today we call the entire land Israel. But that was Israel. The capital was Samaria and the southern kingdom was called Judah. And the capital, of course, was Jerusalem. So you'll notice in chapter three, the Lord says in verse eight, she saw that for all the adultries of that faithless one Israel, God is talking about Judah now. She saw the faithless one Israel. I sent her away with a decree of divorce.

Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she went and played the horror as well. So what God is saying is, I sent Assyria that captured the northern kingdom, 721, and all of the Jews were taken captive to Assyria. And you didn't learn. And now you're doing the very same thing. So I'm filing for divorce with you as well. And the Lord talks about that and says, I will contend with you.

We're not going to go into all the evidence as to why God had a right to divorce his people, except to say that there was a time when I was taking care of you. I was with you there in Egypt. I led you across the Red Sea. And now you've turned to other gods. I know that America is not Israel. But sometimes there are interesting parallels.

It is true that in our history as a country, the Judeo-Christian influence was huge. And now we've turned away from all that, consciously so, as this message will point out. Now, here's what I'd like to do. And thank you for giving me permission to do it.

Though, as I frequently say, I'd do it whether I had your permission or not. And that is, I'm going to give you four lies that a nation gladly believes in the process of turning light into darkness and darkness into light. Nations cast about saying, I want these lies.

Where can I find them? Well, I've isolated four of them. And we're only going to look at a few verses from the Book of Jeremiah.

Obviously, I'm not going to be going through verse by verse or chapter by chapter. You can read that on your own. But here are the lies. Number one, the consequences of our rebellion can be managed. It isn't that serious if we leave the Lord, because we can handle whatever happens as a result of our rebellion.

They said we can handle it politically. God says, you see, Babylon is going to come and he's going to destroy all of you. And eventually that happens.

That's why this series is so important. We're going to weep with Jeremiah when that happens. But you'll notice what the Lord says in verse 17 now. I'm in chapter 2, verse 17.

You have brought this upon yourself, God says, by forsaking the Lord your God. And now what do you gain by going to Egypt? And later on he says going to Assyria.

Assyria was a world power but was diminishing. So the folks of Judah thought, we can actually become allies with Assyria against Babylon or Egypt. They'll help us. So they turned to politics to deliver them. Now I have to say that politics is very important. I was in Washington about two weeks ago and one of our congressmen said this to a few of us. He said, you know, you expect us to enact righteous laws and value-driven laws here in Washington. How can we do that unless you send us people with those kinds of values?

And I thought, you know, he really has a point here. Wow, yeah, how can we expect righteousness and righteous laws to come from Washington in light of who we send to Washington? Politics is important.

But it isn't all important. When God wants to judge a nation, no political party can keep off that judgment. That's what God is saying here as he tells the people, you think you can handle it by depending upon another country.

So they thought that they could handle the consequences of their disobedience politically but also individually. You'll notice he says in verse 22, though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me. They thought we can take care of our sin by some home remedies. All that we need to do is to look at it externally and think to ourselves, we can take care of our own consciences. We can take care of the stain that is in our hearts.

We can do all that on our own because we know that we can wash our own hearts with a water that is, figuratively speaking, within our own hearts. And today, of course, we have many different ways that people try to handle their sin and mitigate the consequences, whether it's through drugs or alcohol, whether it's through pleasure. In some way or another, the consequences of our individual disobedience, those consequences are masked and we want to believe the lie that sin isn't nearly as serious in its consequences as God clearly says it is.

Lie number one, we can handle the consequences. Lie number two, if we follow our rebellious desires, if we leave the living God, we achieve freedom. In fact, that's what it says in verse 31 of chapter two. And you, oh generation, behold the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness to Israel or a land of thick darkness? Why then do my people say we are free? We won't come into you anymore.

We don't need God. We need freedom. And so they thought to themselves it was freedom. But was it really freedom?

No. It was a kind of bondage that you don't notice at the beginning, but as you go along that road, you discover that all of the results begin to come in. For example, in chapter two, I'm actually now backing up in verse 25, where it says, keep your feet from going unshot and your throat from thirst. But you said it is hopeless for I have loved foreigners, that is foreign gods, and we'll go after them. The problem is now they are driven by these foreign gods.

They become heavy users. They discover that these foreign gods, they promise like a god, but in the end they pay like the devil and they discover that they are deceived. So the idea that if we cast off God's restraints, as it says in Psalm 2, let us cast aside their restraints, our restraints. Well, you know what the next verse says in Psalm 2, he who sits in the heavens shall laugh.

The Lord shall have them in derision. And today we are being told that the real path to freedom is the path to do our own thing apart from God's law, and the result is an addictive society. And the people also said that we can be free religiously. We don't need God anymore. Look at what it says there in verse 27.

They're saying to the idols, you are my father and to a stone you gave me birth, for they have turned their back to me and not their face. Well, that phrase in itself is worthy of an entire message, but in time of trouble they will say arise and save us. They'll say we can rebel against God, but in the end when things are really bad, we'll just cry out to God and we'll expect him to come through for us.

And God says, no, not necessarily because you see your heart still isn't right. You think that the path to freedom is to be away from God and to do your thing, but the path to true freedom is to relate to the truth of God. You shall know the truth, Jesus said, and the truth shall set you free. There is nobody as free as a person who is not bound by his sin. And so God says to the people, the path to freedom that you think exists leads to bondage. There's a third lie, and for this we're going to actually turn to chapter six, and that is that the new paths are better than the ancient paths.

The ancient paths have to be left behind. By the way, there are so many great verses we're skipping here in chapter four, for example, it says in verse two and following that the Lord lives, and I'm now actually in verse three, for thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, break up your fallow ground. You know what that word means? It means the unplowed ground. God describes in Jeremiah the different ways that people have hard hearts. So he's saying if you want good seed to fall into the soil, you're going to have to break up that unplowed ground that you've allowed to go to seed with weeds, but it does not bear the right fruit.

What a lesson for us today. But you'll notice in chapter six, it says this, thus says the Lord, I'm in verse 16. Are you able to keep up with me? I keep giving you the reference.

I hope that you are. Chapter six, verse 16. Thus says the Lord, stand by the roads and look and ask for the ancient paths where the good way is and walk in it and find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk in it. God says, I sent watchmen over you saying, pay attention to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, we'll not pay attention. Therefore hear O nations and know O congregation what will happen to them.

Hear O earth, behold I am bringing disaster upon this people. I wonder if our nation, the United States of America hears these words. Last night I was meditating on this message, as I do every Saturday evening. It's amazing how things come together on Saturday evening when you have to preach on Sunday. And it just dawned on me, I thought, where are those points in time when America was at the crossroads?

When America had two roads that it could choose from and at the crossroads, it made the wrong choice. A number came to me and again, don't be offended, just accept the truth. First of all, I think in 1973 when the Supreme Court said that abortion could be performed for any reason or no reason at all. And I know that there are many to whom I'm speaking here today. I'm sure there are those of you mothers who've had an abortion. And I understand, I understand the grief and the anguish. I remember a young woman who said, I don't want to kill my baby, but I get pressure from my boyfriend.

I get pressure from my parents. It's a very, very complex thing. But when the Supreme Court said that preborn infants may be killed either in the womb and oftentimes outside of the womb. Can you even imagine what this has meant to our country in terms of the value of human life? And of course, we offer to all the forgiveness, the grace and the cleansing of Christ. But we were at a crossroads and we took the wrong path, not the ancient path, not the biblical path.

We took a different path and the results are catastrophic. My friend today, this is Pastor Luther. And once again, I want to connect with you heart to heart and tell you that no matter where you are on your spiritual journey, no matter your past, I may be speaking to those who have had an abortion. Remember that there is cleansing and there is forgiveness. The Ministry of Running to Win exists to encourage people, especially to lead them to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

I have before me a letter from someone who says, I'm a single mom of a teenage daughter. Sometimes I fear for the future, but your preaching of God's word keeps me grounded. I pass these messages along to my daughter who's also uncertain about the future. And then they go on to say that they are encouraged because I emphasize the sovereignty of God and the fact that we can believe God even in the midst of a nation that has lost its way. You, my friend, have a part in testimonies just like this. It's because of people like you that we receive these encouraging reports. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner?

An endurance partner is someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. Would you check out the info? Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com.

That's RTWOffer.com. Or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. As a matter of fact, why don't you pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60614. A great deception took hold in ancient Israel, leading to idolatry and judgment. The same deception infects our thinking today. Next time on Running to Win, more on the destructive mindset that caused God to haul Israel into Babylon. Plan to listen. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-31 13:51:34 / 2023-05-31 14:00:02 / 8

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