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A Heavenly Heart Part 1

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

A Heavenly Heart Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 1, 2022 1:00 am

Anxiety isn’t something we can turn off—it has a way of controlling our thoughts. But in our storm of anxious thoughts, Jesus’ promise of heaven fixes our eyes on the shore. In this message, we focus on our eternal destination, reunion, and entrance to heaven: Jesus Himself. What are you focusing on today?   

 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.

To some degree, everyone projects an outward appearance that may not square with inner reality. With regard to salvation, it's easy to make yourself and others believe that all is well when it's far from well. Today, how God delivers believers from a high risk mindset. 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, tell us about today's teaching on being rescued from dangerous rationalizations.

Dave, I love that phrase that you used, high risk mindset. That actually spells deception, doesn't it? And all of us are born as deceivers. We lie without having been taught to lie.

We tweak things to make ourselves look good. And the book of Romans takes us apart piece by piece and shows us that God judges us according to who we really are. And that's why this series of messages is so desperately important. It's entitled, Rescued, What God Did to Save Us. For a gift of any amount, these messages can be yours so that you can listen to them again and again. Here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com.

That's RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, as we listen to God's word, let us open our hearts and ask ourselves, are we self-deceived? What does God have to say on the subject? The book of Romans helps us to explain who we are and the wonder of God's grace. I don't know a diplomatic way to say it, but I need to say flat out that Jesus hated hypocrisy. If you read the 23rd chapter of Matthew speaking to the religious leaders, we are amazed at the words that come out of Jesus Christ's lips. He didn't have these words for the common person and certainly not for those who were in moral failure, but for the religious types, for the folks who were the keepers of the law, for the people who should have known better.

What a stinging rebuke he gave them. For example, he said that you are like a cup that is washed on the outside, but inside, he says, you are full of greed and uncleanness. You go into the cupboard and you see these beautifully washed cups and you think for sure that they are washed, but then you look at them before you fill them with water and you realize that they are full of rot. Jesus also said, he said, you're like whitewashed tombs. You know, you whitewash the tomb, you paint it, it looks so good, but if you go behind the tomb, what do you find within it? Nothing but dead men's bones. And he says, all kinds of uncleanness. Just get behind the facade and that's what you find. And then as if that wasn't bad enough, Jesus went on to say, you generation of vipers, you generation of snakes, how do you expect to be kept from the judgment of hell?

Wow. Think of what Jesus said. You see, the problem with the religious leaders was that they had a persona publicly, but inside they didn't love God with all of their hearts and minds and souls.

They sang the right songs. Jesus said, you honor me with their lips, but your hearts are far from me. Behind in the inner side of their lives, they were into greed and covetousness and self-aggrandizement. And the problem was they were hiding all of this under the cloak of religiosity. Of course, there's lots of hypocrisy in the world, but the worst kind of hypocrisy is the hypocrisy in the name of God. And that's what they were guilty of. This outer shell of religiosity, pompous piety, but in the inner core, no real commitment and humility and brokenness before God.

That's what their problem was. So today's topic is hypocrisy, and we're continuing our series in the book of Romans. And there were certain presuppositions, certain beliefs, myths, if you please, rationalizations that the people of the day were into to kind of justify who they were. And with that introduction, would you take your Bibles, please, and turn to the book of Romans?

And it's very important that you follow along. So the Bible in your pew, in the seat ahead of you, would be page 940. I need you to see this for yourself so that you don't only hear it from me, but you see it in the text. In context, Romans chapter 1, Paul is talking about the pagans and all of their sins. And the Jewish leaders of the time were saying, preach it Paul, it's about time somebody told it to them as it should be told. Chapter 2, Jesus begins with the religious people and says that you are the religious ones.

And now the first presupposition, the first rationalization that I want us to look at is simply this. There were those who said, because we are blessed, we therefore are approved by God. After all, we're the chosen people. We're the ones who have the revelation of God.

Look at what it says in chapter 2 in Romans, chapter 2 verse 17. But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law, and well might they because they were given the law. You boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, and they were qualified to do that. Because you are instructed from the law. And if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who in darkness, you in knowing up so that you can be an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge, wasn't this a great advantage? If you then who teach others, do you teach yourself while you preach against stealing, do you steal, et cetera? Paul goes on to say that basically here's the problem. You think that because you have the revelation of God that therefore you have the approval of God, and somehow you can get by without living the revelation that God gave you.

Just having it is enough. And so Paul is trying to warn them very clearly. And he's saying that you are a teacher of others, but are you a teacher of yourself?

What's going on in the inner part of your being? Are you really living up to what you expect other people to live up to? There is nobody as obnoxious as a person who is religious who expects from other people what he himself doesn't live up to. That kind of judgmentalism God hates. And then in the last part of chapter 2, what Paul is saying is simply this. You think that because you're circumcised, you have circumcision, which is a right that shows the fact that you are under the covenant of God.

You think that that's enough for you. Well, if you read those verses, what you'll discover is Paul says this, that the real circumcision is the circumcision of the heart. And then Paul has the nerve to go on to say this, that a person who doesn't have the right of circumcision, but has a heart toward God is better than you who have circumcision, but you don't live up to what it's supposed to symbolize.

Wow. Let's apply that to ourselves. You know, there are people who say, well, I'm baptized, and I participate in the rituals of the church. I take communion.

I take mass. I volunteer for the choir. I'm involved in various aspects of Moody church life. And somehow you think that that's of benefit to you. But God says this, without the right heart, it isn't. It isn't enough to keep you from the fire of hell. That's what the scripture says. The Apostle Paul is warning tremendously of reliance on any kind of an ordinance or a ritual or some deed that you perform. Let me give you an example, a contrast. In the New Testament, you have a man like Gamaliel, and you also have a man like he was the person who condemned Christ, Caiaphas.

Let's take him. Caiaphas was a man who obviously was circumcised. He was a high priest. But he sided with Pilate against Jesus. And then you have a man in the book of Acts like Cornelius. Cornelius was a Gentile.

He wasn't circumcised. And yet there he was seeking God, humbling himself, wondering how he could be right with God. Think of the contrast of those two. And what is very clearly said here is that just because you have all the advantages of religion does not mean that you are approved by God.

It's a matter of the heart. As a matter of fact, Paul is going to argue that the fact that you have the revelation of God only puts you under more responsibility because unto whom much is given, much is required. What a solemn thought. Maybe I can visualize it this way. Here you will have all these people on an island, and it is dark at night, and they need to get off the island because judgment is coming. And most of the people have wee little pin lights and just enough to see around themselves.

They have no way, there's no light that can guide them off the island, even though there is a bridge that they could escape from, but they can't find it. And then you have a group of people and they have a spotlight that's powerful. It goes and it actually shines for a couple of hundred yards, and they could point the way for themselves and they could point the way for others, but they don't.

They use the spotlight and they analyze it and they spend all of their time talking about it and how much light and how many batteries it has, and so they miss the bridge and they don't give it to anyone else either. That's the Jewish nation. Yes, they are favored. Yes, they are blessed of God. Yes, they received the revelation of God, but what they did with it is keep it to themselves. They were not a light to the Gentiles, and in their religiosity, they missed a personal relationship with him. So the first thing that we must recognize is that there is the rationalization that having the truth means that we are approved by God. God says if you have it, you have to live it.

There's a second rationalization. Now if you've followed the argument so far, and Paul here is arguing very logically, he is pretending that he's having a discussion here with a rabbi. In chapter 3 it opens, he can imagine someone saying, well what advantage then has the Jew?

If circumcision is not automatically a proof of God's blessing, well what's the advantage or what value is there in circumcision if it doesn't save? Paul answers and says, much in every way to begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. Of course there was an advantage to be the Jew. Of course the Jews received the law.

They are the people of the covenant. But what we must recognize is that they took it for granted and they missed the heart of it. But yes, there is an advantage, Paul is saying.

And then he goes on to say, he discusses an issue, another rationalization, and it was this. Well if some of us have been unfaithful, does that reflect unfavorably on God? In other words, if we have been unfaithful in our believing God, does that nullify God's promises and call into question his integrity?

Let me put it that way. And Paul answers that objection now. He says in verse 3, and he can imagine that here's a question, what if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means. Let God be true, though everyone were a liar, as it is written that you may be justified in your words and prevail when you are judged.

So there's a second rationalization. If we don't keep the law, this really proves the unfaithfulness of God. Our unbelief nullifies the promises of God and calls into question his integrity.

Paul says absolutely no way. Whether you believe or whether you not believe, God's faithfulness and God's covenant and God's promises are secure and will be fulfilled. Well I'm going to use this opportunity to get in the middle of a controversy that obviously has taken place in church history and is still very much alive today.

And the controversy is simply this. Does God still have a place for Israel, for the Jews and his program, or did their unbelief and their rejection of Jesus nullify the covenant? There are many people today who love Jesus Christ very much who say that all of the promises that God made to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to David now are being fulfilled to us spiritually as the church.

Here at the Moody Church we disagree with that. Let me read you a passage of scripture from the book of Psalms. It's actually Psalm 89.

Don't turn to it, but I just want you to hear it. Psalm 89 faces squarely the question of whether or not what God promised to David. You remember God says, David, I'm going to give you a kingdom and I'm going to give you a king who is going to reign over your territory forever.

The question is, is that still true today or isn't it? Here's what God says in Psalm 89. Regarding David, I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens. If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules, if they violate my statues and do not keep my commandments, I'll punish their transgression, but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness, nor will I violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once I have sworn by my holiness, I will not lie to David. His offspring shall endure forever and his throne as long as the sun before me.

Like the moon, it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies. Could God, thank you for that amen by the way, I could have used three right there. Could God say it any more clearly? He made promises to the Jewish people and we believe that the fact that the kingdom has been delayed does not mean that the kingdom has been canceled.

It will still happen and Jesus will still rule on the throne of David in Jerusalem and fulfill the promises that God made to David. So the Apostle Paul says, no, he says actually our unbelief does not nullify God's promises. In fact, if you look at the text a little more deeply, what he says actually is, in fact, when we disbelieve God, we're calling God a liar and that can be applied to all of us.

If we look at one of the promises in the Bible that applies to us and we say it isn't true, we are saying that God is a liar and Paul says rather than us saying that God is a liar, let every man be a liar and let God be truthful because at the end of the day, God's truth and faithfulness and promises are there for us. Well, let's look at another rationalization and this one I think brings it home to all of us. The rationalization is simply this, that the grace of God somehow nullifies the judgment of God.

This isn't even very subtle. It's here in the text and it is being lived out in our society every day. Look at what it says, verse 5, chapter 3 of Romans, if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us?

I'm speaking in a human way, by no means. For how then could God judge the world? But if through my lie, God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come as some people slanderously charge us as saying?

Paul doesn't even answer it. He says their condemnation is just. Well, my friend, I can't tell you how critical this message is when I stopped to think of all the deceptions out there, how that the grace of God oftentimes is used to justify sin.

Well, that will be explained in the next message. But I need to tell you that the ministry of Running to Win continues and it is your ministry. It's because of people like you who stand with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.

Did you know that Running to Win recently is now in Nigeria? We're so thankful for the continued expansion of this ministry. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner that's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts?

You want to know more? Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. Click on the endurance partner button. That's rtwoffer.com. Click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. As I consider the ministry of Running to Win, I am so thankful for those of you who partner with us. You are holding our hands but we also want to hold yours because together we can continue to impact people with the gospel. Go to rtwoffer.com.

Click on the endurance partner button or if you prefer call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time once again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. When is it wise to come clean and when is it wiser to keep quiet?

Here's the story of one anonymous man who listens to Running to Win. I became a Christian about two years ago. Before I was married to my wife and before we were engaged, I had sexual relationships with other women. One part of me feels as though I should tell her, but the other part tells me that if I do tell her, she will leave me or resent me for my wrongdoing. My wife is also a Christian. I know what I did was wrong and now want to do the right thing.

What should I tell her? I want to thank you so much for writing to us and I hope that I can give you some light on your predicament, even if I don't specifically answer your question. Couple of things. First of all, you say that you became a Christian two years ago. I assume that you were not a Christian before you were married and you were having these sexual relationships.

And so I'm glad that the Holy Spirit has pointed out to you the fact that you sinned greatly before you were married in having those relationships. The other thing that immediately comes to mind, however, is I'm surprised that these issues weren't dealt with before you married. Seems to me that a couple who is interested in marriage, they should know one another's sexual history so that after marriage, there aren't these surprises and these skeletons in their closets that they need to deal with. Now the question of whether or not you should tell your wife, I suggest that you go for counsel and discuss that with a wise person because there's a part of me that says yes, I think that you owe it to her. On the other hand, because she might not be prepared for that, there may be issues that are between you that things will not fare well. I suggest then that you go to a counselor who knows the both of you, who can adjudicate that issue. Because the answer is sometimes the answer is yes, indeed you should tell. There are also circumstances in which perhaps it's best not to because the past is past and this was before you were saved, before you were married. But you need some wisdom so that you might be able to determine the best course of action. Remember, the issue is what will bring about the best reconciliation?

Is it merely to alleviate your guilt or is it indeed intended to build that relationship stronger as she accepts you and forgives you for your past? It's a question that I can't answer for your circumstance. I hope that your pastor, someone who knows the both of you, are able to do that. And God will be with you through this and even your wife who has been so grievously hurt almost certainly would forgive you with the proper counseling and the proper relationship. Thanks so much for asking.

My heart goes out to you today with a prayer that your marriage may be strong for His glory. Some wise counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you once again, Dr. 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, Illinois, 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Next time, more of our journey through Romans, Chapter 3, where we lose the hypocrisy, take off the mask, and become real people. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-13 12:29:24 / 2023-05-13 12:38:02 / 9

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