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A Wavering Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 5, 2022 1:00 am

A Wavering Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 5, 2022 1:00 am

One choice can cloud the conscience. To save his skin, Abraham bent the truth, telling Egypt’s Pharaoh that his wife was his sister. He tried to out-maneuver the Egyptians rather than trust in God. In this message, we identify four lessons at the junction of trusting or backsliding. God beckons us to return with a clear conscience to fellowship with Him.

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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 save his skin, Abraham tells Egypt's Pharaoh that his wife is his sister. His journey of faith hits an early snag as he tries to outmaneuver the Egyptians rather than trust God. The result?

Stay with us and find out. 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've been telling us about a lie Abraham told and its aftermath. I imagine there are lessons we can all take home from this account. Dave, there certainly is one important lesson we can learn, and that is this.

When we choose to sin, yes, we can choose to sin, but we cannot choose the consequences of our sin. Those consequences are out of our hands, as Abraham learned. You know, I've written a book entitled The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent. I wrote this book so that we might be able to understand Islam better. As a matter of fact, as I look through the chapters, I see here, number one, that we cannot take our own future for granted. When you think of Islam's expansion throughout the Middle East and North Africa, we need to ask ourselves the question, what does Islam really believe? We know, of course, here in America there are many secularized Muslims, and this book is also an encouragement that we might witness to them about our faith in Jesus Christ.

Many of them are open to our testimony and to our witness. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to, or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent. There are four life-transforming lessons from this passage, four lessons that if they became a part of our lives and the fabric of our lives, we might live differently when we're tempted to backslide, when we're tempted to wander away from God, when we begin to learn that backsliding always has more burdens than it has blessings. The first lesson is this, the sin of unbelief. The sin of unbelief leads to other sins.

At root, at root, all sin has as its nucleus unbelief, because unbelief says I know better than God. If I follow him, I'm not going to have the pleasures that I know I should have. I'm not going to have the advantage that I know that I should have.

I'm not going to have what I think should be coming to me. I'm going to be treated unfairly, knowing God is not as profitable as following my own way, so we do our own thing. And at root is unbelief. Luther said it is not possible to deliberately sin unless one first thinks wrongly about God. What he meant was we sin because we don't think God is good and has our best interests in mind.

That's what happened with Adam and Eve in the garden. If you were good, you'd let me eat of the fruit of the tree, but you're not good, so I'm going to go do it anyway, and then I'll be like God and take you on. That's what lies at the root of our sin. Notice also that Abraham had the faith to go, but not the faith to stay. You and I can have faith for the call of God and then lack faith for the care of God. God can lead us to salvation, and we trust Christ for our salvation, but we don't have enough faith to trust Christ for our sanctification, namely our being shaped as holy persons. And yet the Bible says, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. The faith by which you are saved is the faith by which you live. The faith that took Abraham into the land should have been the faith to sustain Abraham in the land.

Same faith, same God. Now as a result of this unbelief and as subsequent sin, what do you notice about this passage? Well, one thing that we notice is there's no altar in Egypt, no altar. Abraham built altars.

We learned in the first part of the 12th chapter. Basically, he went to Bethel and he builds an altar. He comes to Shechem, first of all, and builds an altar. No altar in Egypt, no fellowship with God there. I was talking to a man one time who got involved in a series of sins that kind of spiraled out of control, and he said, you know, during that period of time, he said, I never read my Bible and I never prayed. The altar's gone. It's pretty hard, you know, to be a hypocrite.

Can be done, but why read the words? The fellowship is gone. I may still belong to God, but the fellowship is gone.

The sweetness of communion isn't there. There's no altar in Egypt. There's also no witness in Egypt.

When he was being escorted out of the land, could you imagine Abraham turning around saying, oh, oh, Pharaoh, by the way, Jehovah is the true God. Why don't you believe on him? Excuse me. Spare me. Some of you don't witness because your colleagues know you too well. And you say, because they know me and because of what I've done, my witness is compromised because I'm living in Egypt and doing as the Egyptians do, so to speak. You know that you could make that right.

You know that you could go and you could confess and you could own up and you could even ask your colleagues to forgive you because of what you've done so that you can regain the kind of credibility that you and I need in order to witness. But at root is unbelief. Will God take care of me or won't he?

If I do what is right, is he going to sustain me or is he going to leave me hanging? That's the question. All has to do with faith or lack thereof. The second lesson is that you never backslide alone. If the first lesson is the sin of unbelief leads to other sins, the second sin is that you never backslide alone.

You always take someone with you, often those who are closest to you. When Abraham decided to lie, he got his wife involved in lying with him and for him. But that wasn't the end of it. Abraham recovered from his backsliding, but his nephew Lot didn't.

We're looking into the next message already. We're anticipating it in chapter 13, but you'll notice that when they have this discussion about the land and the disagreement, it says in chapter 13 verse 10, and Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt in the direction of Zor. There was some Egypt that got into the blood of Lot, and he ended up jeopardizing his own life and his own testimony in Sodom and Gomorrah. Because Abraham escaped the effects of Egypt, but his nephew never got Egypt and its sins out of his heart. And then, of course, it was there when they were in Egypt that they acquired Hagar, Hagar the Egyptian, with whom Abraham is going to have a relationship, Ishmael is going to be born, and that's why it's so important that you listen to all of these messages and be here for them, because we're going to discuss Ishmael versus Isaac, we're going to discuss the way in which the Muslims view Ishmael and Isaac and the whole bit, but that's still in the future.

But for now, just know that the Egyptian maid, Hagar, was almost assuredly acquired when they were in Egypt, and all of the problems and the challenges that are going to be brought about because of that. Also, his kids ended up doing essentially the same thing. Abraham had a son by the name of Isaac, as we know. Isaac ended up telling essentially the very same lie when he was in trouble. Jacob then, who is a son now of Isaac, ends up being a deceiver and it seems as if the sin that Abraham perpetuated did not stay with him but was passed on to his sons. Now that's not necessary to happen. If you had an alcoholic father, you don't have to be an alcoholic.

If you had a lying father, you can be a person of truth by God's grace, but you'd be surprised at how often the faults of a father are passed on to his children. And so I remember when we were in the farm and sometimes we'd have Sunday school picnics. I don't know how many of you enjoy Sunday school picnics.

I think they're primarily for kids. We as adults stand around and talk, it seems to me, but we used to have a three-legged race. You know, tie your leg to somebody else's leg to somebody else's. And whenever one person would go down, he'd always drag the others with him because you never go down alone. Sin is never secret. It always has consequences beyond you and beyond the secret.

It always ends up somehow having public impact. So the third lesson or the second rather is that you never backslide alone. The third is this, that it's better to stay in fellowship with God in Canaan, in a famine, than it is to backslide into a land of plenty.

Maybe I should say that again. It is much better to be in a famine in the land of promise than to have plenty in the land of backsliding. Would have been better for Abraham to simply stick it out. You say, well, what would have happened? May I say it candidly? God would have had to provide for him because God says, Abraham, it is to you and to your descendants that I'm giving this land and the purposes of God are irrevocable.

It will happen. God would have taken care of him. But Abraham didn't wait to give God a chance but did his own thing. Backsliding has its rewards. Abraham had received wealth from Pharaoh when he backslid. It has its perks but it always has more burdens than blessings.

It's always a bad idea. It is always better to suffer even if it means suffering in a famine than to turn your back on God to do your own thing. There's a final lesson and that is that God is with us even when we backslide. God is with us even when we backslide. God could have said to himself, well, Abraham, since you're going into Egypt without asking me and since I intended you to stay in the land which I had given you and trust me there, I'm out of here.

Go ahead, do your own thing. What's God doing? He's crossing the border into Egypt.

Of course, God being everywhere but at the same time we speak this way. He goes with him into Egypt. He is there. He gives Pharaoh some plagues so that he will be delivered. God is wooing Abraham. God is moving Abraham and then he has Pharaoh shove Abraham out of the land and God is bringing him back.

And notice what it says in chapter 13 now. He goes into the Negev which is the desert as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been, keyword now verse 3 of chapter 13, in the beginning between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made the altar at first. There he is. The altar is back. Church is back. God is back. Most importantly, fellowship is back. My conscience is clear before the Lord. All the issues of sin that clouded my conscience have been taken care of.

I've done it now. I'm back in fellowship with God. And the detour of the Egypts of our life waste our time, waste our energy, and furthermore, they impact others negatively and they're always a bad idea. But God's there. God's there.

Some of you have known that, received some information recently regarding a young woman, Christian young woman, quick relationship with a man pregnant. Is God there? Yeah, God's there. God is there to help. God is there to minister. God is there to cause repentance and restoration and healing and help because God never abandons his people even when they go to Egypt.

He's there to bring them back. Robin Robinson wrote a wonderful hymn that we often sing, and then he himself fell into sin. And when he was living in sin, he met a woman who said, you know, I've come across a poem that has meant a great deal to me. And the woman quoted the poem.

And Robinson began to cry because he said, I am the author of the words that you've just quoted. Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be. Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.

Prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart. Oh, take and seal it.

Seal it for those courts above. Can you identify with him? God sends plagues to Pharaoh. What does that connect in our minds? Later on, the seed of Abraham is going to be in the land of Egypt for 400 years, and God is going to get them out.

How? By sending Pharaoh some plagues. And this is a picture already here of how God is going to get his own people out of Egypt until the Pharaoh who sent Abraham out, a different Pharaoh, is going to send the children of Israel out and say, get out of here.

And the last plague is going to be the lamb that was slain on the doorpost to keep them from the final plague. Today, God has his arms outstretched and says, oh, backsliders, I will heal your backsliding. Behold, we come to thee, for thou art our God, it says in Jeremiah. Some of you have wandered far away from God.

Some of you have never come to Christ as savior, who died, who is our connection with God, without whom we cannot be born again, without whom we cannot come into God's presence. And even as I'm speaking to you today, the Holy Spirit is wooing you, too, and saying, come to me. Come to me. Receive my gift of salvation.

Receive my son and others of you, he's saying to you. Come back. Come back.

Why are you doing your own thing? Leave Egypt. Get back to the altar. Get back to fellowship. Come back. Get back to me.

Yep, that's what he's saying. Let us pray. Father, in our need, come to us. We can all say, prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.

Prone to leave the God I love, doing our own thing, making our own decisions, dating whom we want to date, going where we want to be, choosing our entertainment, our vacation, without any reference to you. Bring us to that point of submission, we pray. And now if God has talked to you, would you talk to God, whatever it is that he's brought to your attention. If you've never received Christ, say, Jesus, today I embrace you as mine.

If you know him, come back to him. Father, do in our hearts all that is pleasing to you, to come back. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen. Amen. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Luther, and when we come back to God, we always come back to the cross.

But let me ask you a question. Is it possible for the crescent, which of course is a symbol of Islam, is it possible for it to destroy the cross? Muslims say it is not possible for them to worship or to pray in the presence of a cross. We think, for example, of Islam's advances throughout the Middle East, throughout North Africa. We have to ask ourselves such questions, the relationship of Islam with Christianity. I've written a book entitled The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent. We have to understand also Islam in America, and we cannot paint with the same brush all the Muslims who are among us. But I do need to say that many of them are open to discussing their faith and our faith, and we should take advantage of their presence.

But at the same time, we have to know what is happening in America and their long-term intentions. The book is entitled The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent. Now, for a gift of any amount, it can be yours. I believe very deeply this will be helpful. Here's what you do. Go to

That's, or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent. The subtitle is An Informed Response to Islam's War with Christianity.

You and I live at a very important moment of history. God has placed us here, and we must understand our relationship to other religions. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Saturday or Sunday worship?

The issue has divided Christians for centuries. One running-to-win listener, a man named Brandon, asks the question like this, Why does mainstream Christianity keep Sunday holy even though the seventh day, Saturday, was the only day called holy and blessed by God in Genesis and in the Ten Commandments? Good question, Brandon, and I have a lot of friends who believe that we should keep Saturday rather than Sunday.

As a matter of fact, many of these friends write me letters and encourage me to look at the matter again and to try to understand their viewpoint. Now, of course, here on the radio I can only give a very, very short answer, but the early church evidently did keep Sunday. They met the first day of the week. Furthermore, in Romans chapter 14, Paul says, Some esteem one day above another, others esteem every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. Seems to say very clearly that the Sabbath laws no longer apply. If you do keep the Sabbath, by the way, you have to keep all of the laws that go along with the Sabbath, such as don't go a Sabbath day's journey or beyond a Sabbath day's journey.

There were certain laws as to what you could eat and what you couldn't eat. All of those should be kept because they are all a part of the Sabbath observance. Seems to some of us that under grace what God has done is to set aside the Sabbath as the day for worship and give us Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus, and that day then became the day that the early Christians celebrated the resurrection of Christ. And when you stop to think of it, you realize that that is indeed a much better picture of grace than the Old Testament, where you have these detailed laws as they relate to the Sabbath. So continue to study it. There have been many books written on the subject.

It is controversial. But just want you to know that we believe that Sunday is the day that we should set aside for the Lord in worship, prayer, and service. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to have your question answered, you can. Just go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Does having faith mean you always get the best deal? Next time, join us as we see what happened when Abraham allowed his nephew Lot to take the best land, a choice with serious consequences. We'll see why we as believers don't have to manipulate circumstances, since God has our lives in His hands. Thanks for listening. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-23 04:44:57 / 2023-04-23 04:53:18 / 8

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