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A Clean Heart Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
March 29, 2022 1:00 am

A Clean Heart Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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March 29, 2022 1:00 am

Is God really willing to forgive? No Christian can get through a single day without the need to confess sins. That’s why Jesus washed the disciples’ dusty feet: to show we need daily cleansing. Let’s cover some practical issues on keeping short accounts with God and helping others be cleansed.  

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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. No Christian can get through a single day without the need to confess sins.

That's why Jesus washed the disciples' dusty feet to prove we need daily cleansing. Today, we'll cover some practical issues on keeping short accounts with God. 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, you're telling us what happens when Jesus has your heart. Why does that mean daily confession? Well, Dave, you know, the answer that comes immediately to mind are words that are attributed to D. L. Moody, who apparently said, the reason I have to be filled with the Holy Spirit so often is because I leak.

The simple fact is that you and I are oftentimes contaminated by the values and the desires of the world. And so what we need to do is to look to the words of Jesus, the words of hope, the words of warning. But also, I have in my hands a book entitled The Church in Babylon. And since we're on the topic of purity, one of the chapters is entitled The Church, Technology and Purity, Having the Courage to Confront Our Deadly Enemy. This book can be yours for a gift of any amount. Here's what you do.

Go to RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book, The Church in Babylon, even as we think about Jesus wiping our hearts clean. As sinners who come to God and have received his forgiveness and we belong to God and we are saved, as the New Testament speaks about, if we live in sin, fellowship with God is cut off, a cloud develops and we can't come to the table of fellowship with dirty hands or dirty feet. And so the purpose of cleansing is that we might be in fellowship, that we might enjoy God because the scripture says we have that remarkable opportunity to be filled to the fullness of God.

Let's answer a fourth question. How often must I be cleansed? How often must I be cleansed? Well the answer is whenever you become conscious of sin in your heart, that's the answer. And the moment you become conscious of sin, that's the moment of confession. Now you say, well, can we remember all of our sins? Can we confess all of our sins? No, there are some sins that we commit probably that we have forgotten about.

But here's a promise for us. If we walk in the light, that is to say, if we walk exposing ourselves to God, confessing those sins that he brings to our attention, then the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from sins that we might not even be aware of. So we come in openness and honesty before the Lord, opening all of the closets of our lives to him, and we receive his forgiveness and his cleansing. And could I point out that there is cleansing and not just forgiveness so that the conscience becomes clear? And when we do that, then the blood of Christ keeps on cleansing us moment by moment from all sin. You know, one of the ways that you can judge spiritual maturity is to simply ask a question, how much time elapses between the time when you become conscious of sin and your confession so that you bounce back into fellowship with God?

How long a time is there between those two events? Now there are some people who, when they become conscious of sin, even now I'm talking about Christians who've had the bath that Jesus is speaking about. You'll notice, first of all, that there are some who say to themselves, well, I'm not going to confess my sin even though I sinned because I'm going to mess up again anyway.

Well, my dear friend, you might mess up again anyway, but don't let that keep you from fellowship with Christ now. You must confess your sin because if you don't, you most assuredly will mess up anyway. I remember talking to a young man struggling greatly with sexual temptations of various signs, and he decided that what he would do is to confess his sins moment by moment. As soon as they happened, the sins of the mind, he would confess them immediately. He'd say, Lord, this is sin. I acknowledge it to be sin, and I receive your forgiveness.

And he lived that way. He said moment by moment as the temptations came to him, and that brought about a sense of cleansing and release and deliverance. So do not stay away from confession on the idea that you're going to mess up again anyway. You must come when the Holy Spirit of God brings that sin to your mind. Confess it then.

Agree completely with God. Or there are people who say, well, you know, but Pastor Luther, I've committed the same sin so often. I'm embarrassed to come to God with the same sin. We've all felt that way, but let's look at it from God's standpoint. We come to him and say, oh, God, I'm confessing the same sin as I confessed last week. God is saying, pardon me? What sin? Last week? Well, I've forgotten about that one.

Why are you remembering it with so much clarity? Someday I'm going to preach a series of messages, or at least one message, on what God does with forgiven sin. He casts it into the depths of the sea.

Isn't that wonderful? You have all these people who have genuinely, genuinely confessed. God takes the sin and he casts it into the depths of the sea. And here, God puts up a sign near the sea that says no fishing.

And yet you find people constantly fishing, constantly dragging it out, constantly going over it again and again and again. And God says, why bother? God says, as far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions from you.

I don't know exactly how far the east is from the west, but that's a long way away from Chicago, it would seem to me. What does God do with forgiven sin? He remembers it no more. Does that mean he does not know it happened?

Of course he knows it happens. He means I do not regard it. I'm not going to hold it against you. I'm not going to be like some people who say I forgive you and then constantly be throwing it back in your face. God does not forgive that way. Then there are some people who say, I'm going to get back in fellowship with God when I know I can hold out. Well, my dear friend, you may never know that you are able to hold out. God will give you the grace to hold out. What I'm simply saying is this, the idea of walking with God is not just to keep fellowship with God and short accounts, as we are sometimes told.

It is to keep current accounts where my whole life is constantly exposed to God, where thoughts and ideas and all these things that generate in the mind are constantly exposed to God. And the Spirit of God says that's sin. And we say, yes, I agree it's sin. And I agree that you have the right to take it out of my life forever. I agree with you. I agree with you. I agree with you. I agree with you.

I agree with you. A whole life lived like that. When you live that way, then you have a part with Christ. I failed to mention a moment ago that in addition to inheritance, it means indeed that we can enjoy Christ. Do you remember when Martha and Mary, Jesus was in their home? Martha was covered about with much serving and Mary sat at his feet. Interestingly, when Jesus was kind of chiding Martha, and it's a sensitive story because some of you are Martha's and you think that she should be receiving more honor.

I understand that. Some, I've had women say to me, you know, where would the world be if everybody was a Mary? You know, you couldn't have a banquet. You couldn't have a supper. You couldn't see all of the ministries that women have.

Let's not go there. I think I just took a path that I had not intended to take at this point. But let's take it from the lips of Jesus. Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful and Mary hath chosen the good part. That's the phrase I wanted.

Same word as here in the text in the 13th chapter. You have part with Christ, you have fellowship with Christ, and that's the way in which we should live our entire lives in fellowship. How often must I be cleansed? Well, the answer is whenever I become sensitive to sin on my conscience.

One last question. How do we help others be cleansed? You'll notice it says, verse 12, when he had washed their feet and taken his garments and reclined at the table again, he said to them, do you know what I have done to you? You called me teacher and Lord and you are right for so I am. If I then the Lord and the teacher washed your feet, you ought also to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you should do as I did to you.

Truly, truly, I say a slave is not greater than his master, neither the one who is sent greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. What a wonderful story and what a wonderful example. How do we help one another? Well, I think it's through humility. You know what the church really needs today, what all of us needs is that sense of brokenness, that sense of servanthood, that sense of saying I'm willing to wash the feet, figuratively speaking of others since we do not believe for reasons I won't go into that this should be an ordinance as such, but certainly its example is powerful and compelling as we serve one another and in our humility as we walk in fellowship as servants, it encourages other people to say yes, I want to have the same humility and the same servanthood that comes by being joined with Christ. It is through humility, it is through service that we then wash one another's feet and in the process help them to become a part of Christ. What is the bottom line?

Two life-changing observations. First, number one, if you are not washed by Christ, you must remain dirty. If you are not washed by Christ, you must remain dirty. Now listen students, you go to the libraries of the world, you take your courses of comparative religion at the University of Chicago and you find some other teacher out there, some other guru out there that can cleanse the human heart, that can actually reach down and cleanse the conscience and renew the mind and give us that sense of well-being so that we not only are forgiven but that we know we are forgiven and therefore there can be that sense of joy and relaxation in the recognition that we are forgiven by God.

No one else can do that. They can tell you how to live. They can tell you what you should do.

They can even teach you to love. What they cannot do is cleanse the human heart. That is a responsibility that only God can do, that only Christ can do. So, you know, you belong to some other religion, you're into the new age and they're telling you about how to live. Your heart must remain dirty.

Let me give you a second observation, second lesson. No ritual, no ritual, even if performed by Christ, can wash the human heart. No ritual, even if performed by Christ, can wash the human heart.

Why is that in the text here? Jesus, so far as we know, also washed the feet of Judas. If you had looked at Judas's feet when Jesus was done with them, they would have been as clean as Peter's. Judas's feet were clean, but his heart remained dirty.

Verse 11, for he knew the one who was betraying him. For this reason, he said, not all of you are clean. What do you mean not all of you are clean?

Judas receives the same ritual as the other disciples. Oh, no, no, my dear friend, you are not cleansed by a ritual. You are cleansed by personal agreement with God, accepting him, first of all, as Savior, and then responding to a life of yieldedness and agreement, walking in fellowship with God for the rest of your days, constantly recognizing that God is God, we are sinners, and we agree. God says this, we say, I agree, I agree, I agree, I agree, I agree. It's only through that way that cleansing takes place.

It's the transformation of the heart, not a ritual, that can do it. You say today, but is God really willing to forgive? You know, there is that story of the prodigal son who went into the far country.

And let me tell you another story, which has been around a while but I believe it is true, about someone who went and committed all of the sins that he wasn't supposed to commit, violating the rules of his parents and thinking that he could go his own way and being contaminated both within and without. And years later, writing a letter to his parents and saying, I'd like to come back home, but I don't know whether or not you will have me because of my track record. And he said, if you remember, you know, the train, when it goes into town, does go past our backyard.

I'm going to come into town in a couple of days, he said in the letter. If you want me to come back, you tie a handkerchief on a branch of the tree in the backyard. And if I see the handkerchief, I'll stop. If not, I'll keep going.

Well, you've probably guessed the end of the story, but as the train rolled into town, there was a handkerchief on every branch. My dear friend today, the issue isn't Christ. He does say come to me. He does say be cleansed.

The problem is we're like Peter. You'll never wash my feet. And Jesus said, if I wash you not, you have no part with me.

So I have to ask you today, are you washed? First of all, initially, are you saved? Secondly, as a believer, how much time has elapsed since you confessed your sins? Did you wake up this morning and confess your sins and then have an argument on the way to church and you've come in here now with anger on your conscience that is not cleansed and taken away?

How much time has to elapse before you walk in the light and say, Lord, I expose my life to you? Jesus said, if I wash you not, you have no part with me. My friend, from my heart to your heart, let him cleanse you. And let us pray. Our Father, we want to thank you for this marvelous example of humility and cleansing. We thank you for Jesus who is willing to stoop, but Lord, even what we see here is nothing in comparison to what he did on the cross. And we ask today for those who have never believed on Jesus, we pray that they may understand that it is their resistance, not his, that keeps them from the cleansing.

And then your believers whom you desire to walk in purity and holiness. Father, we ask today that there shall be a flood of prayers go up for cleansing, that we might agree with you on everything that you point out, because we know that you do desire our holiness and you desire our undivided love and commitment. Now, I can't end this message without giving you a chance to pray. Would you tell Jesus whatever it is that you need to tell him, in light of what you've just heard?

You talk to him now because he's listening. Father, we pray that you will help us to overcome our love of sin by giving us a greater love for you. We ask today, Father, that in grace you might break through all the defenses, all the excuses, all of the smudge that we allow to build up in our lives, and come and cleanse us individually and as a congregation. Make us clean, free from anger and lusts and covetousness and pettiness and all the things that mar our relationship with you. Come, Father, we pray, and do in us only that which you can do. Have mercy upon us, we ask in Jesus' name.

Amen. You know, my friend, the human heart desires to find so many different ways by which we can somehow bypass repentance and justify our sins. This is one of the last days we are making available to you a book entitled The Church in Babylon. One of the chapters is entitled Five False Gospels Within the Evangelical Church, and each of these false gospels is another way to somehow justify the desires of the human heart. I believe that this resource will be of tremendous blessing to you, giving you insight into the culture but also a challenge to remain true to Christ, to allow him to cleanse us continually and be faithful to him no matter the cost. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours.

It's titled The Church in Babylon. Here is what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com, or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, because this is one of the last opportunities for you to receive this book for a gift of any amount, I'm going to repeat that contact info.

You can go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I believe, yes, you will be instructed, challenged to ask and answer the question, how do we live in the midst of a pagan culture? It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The heartbreak of injustice is very clear in this letter from Cheryl, a listener from Missouri. She writes, My husband has been involved in an adulterous relationship with a divorcee. She is now pregnant, and so my husband has filed for divorce from me. My husband's friends attend our church, but they're talking about God's blessing on my husband and his girlfriend with a baby. I used to pray for my husband and the restoration of our marriage, but now I don't know how to pray anymore.

Satan is attacking my thoughts and emotions. Am I correct in thinking that these people who are willing to support my husband and his sin are listening to Satan's lies? I love my husband and feel sorry for him. However, he has made it clear how much he loathes me and blames me for his unhappiness. How can people believe his lies about me and now think that their adultery is being blessed by true love and a gift from God in this baby?

I feel like I'm the one being punished for my husband's sinful choices. Well, Cheryl, what a story. What a situation.

What a challenge. Let me say a couple of things. First of all, isn't it wonderful that at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ, all of these things are going to be sorted out and reality finally is going to come to the surface? That's why there is the judgment seat of Jesus Christ for Christians to resolve such messy issues that seem to have no resolution here on earth.

Couple of other comments. There's no doubt about it that your husband has sinned very grievously before the Lord and before everyone else, including you, of course, by having this adulterous relationship. And now this woman is pregnant with his baby. What we need to do is to distinguish between the sin and the fact that God may use sin at times for his glory. Certainly all babies are gifts from God, and we need to keep that in mind. Remember David should never have married Bathsheba, but he ended up marrying her, and he himself had committed adultery.

You know the story. And from that relationship, Solomon is born, and Solomon was a great king despite his many sins as well. So God uses the things of this world. Of course, the people in the church are wrong to commend your husband or to talk about God's grace, unless he is repentant. Then they can begin to talk about God's grace. But can you sort all of this out?

Can you track down the lies that are being told about you? Absolutely not. All that you must do at this situation is to guard your own heart. The Bible says, vengeance is mine.

I will repay, says the Lord. So you commit all that to God because you can't straighten this out. Secondly, guard your heart. Above all, the Bible says, guard your heart, for out of the heart are the issues of life. Don't become bitter. Keep committing yourself to God.

Probably it is of no value at all for you to justify yourself. All that you can do is to stand back, make sure that your own response to all of these injustices is to be Christ-like. And God will bring you through this, and I hope that he brings you to the other side someday.

The sun will shine again. Cheryl, our prayer is that, like Job, when God has finished trying you, you will come forth as he did, like gold. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com 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, IL 60614. Next time we ponder the mystery of a man whose heart was so black that he could look Jesus in the eye and still betray him. Is it possible that you or I could be so near and yet be so far? Don't miss A Story of Darkness and Despair, Why Judas Betrayed Jesus Despite Being With Him for So Long. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-14 13:15:09 / 2023-05-14 13:24:11 / 9

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