Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God. Then the ripple effect moved into all areas of life.
As time passed, people began using other people to gratify their desires without commitment. Today, one unavoidable after effect of violating God's moral laws. 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 taken us back to Eden, where it all began.
Remind us what our series is all about. Well Dave, in a single word, I would say that this series of messages is about brokenness. And we don't have to look very far to see brokenness. All that we need to do is to look into our own hearts. But we also discover brokenness in society, among our families. Surely this is a time for prayer. It's a time for tears as we look around and see what is happening in our world today.
And no matter what we see here in the West, it is far worse in other countries. How desperately we need the message of redemption, the message of hope, and that's what this series of messages is all about. I've written a book entitled Life Changing Bible Verses You Should Know.
Actually, I have to say that I co-wrote it with my wife Becca. It deals with all kinds of topics. It deals briefly with issues that range from the fear of the Lord to conscience to what it means to forgive to the glory of God. God is one of the topics, grace. It's a great book to help other people be discipled. But you can also be discipled through this book, Life Changing Bible Verses You Should Know. I believe it will be a great resource in your life. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us listen to the hope given to us by God. What are the effects of shame? First of all, it imprisons the soul. Adam and Eve were not looking for God, believe me. They were running from him.
The Bible says they were hiding from God. It imprisons the soul where people then begin to withdraw because they withdraw from healthy relationships which is absolutely necessary for their wholeness. But they withdraw and they retreat within themselves and the shame begins to feed on itself. It imprisons the soul. It diminishes the soul.
Obviously when we come before God, we are unworthy but this brings about the destructive unworthiness, the belief that one is somehow fatally flawed and that there is no hope for oneself and that even God is not able to intervene because after all, we're so terrible. And so it diminishes the soul. Could I say also it focuses the soul because you begin to think about what caused the shame and it becomes an obsession.
It becomes a preoccupation. Counseling a woman who was abused as a child physically and sexually. She said that as she would go to school, she thought for sure that all of the other students could see within her soul and to see the abuse and the tremendous shame. She said it was as if I had an S branded on my forehead, shame, shame, shame, shame.
You can imagine the healing and the years of healing actually for her to overcome that shame. Do you understand now when it focuses the soul that it actually fuels addictions? And as a result of that, people tend to do over and over again the things that they know they shouldn't do.
Why? Their temple has been desecrated. The boundaries have been violated. The pig has been brought into the sanctuary and so there's no use trying to do better because they are imprisoned with this shame and the shame keeps fueling the thing that produces more shame. You see, that's why men who are obsessed with pornography don't feel free to tell their wives about it because they think that all that they will get is more shame and the shame that they deal with begets that which produces more shame. That's why women who've had an abortion and maybe their husbands don't even know about it, they have kept this secret to themselves living with it saying, well, you know, I'm forgiven by God. Yes, they are forgiven by God, but you cannot be whole until you have a relationship with other people of acceptance and knowledge where others know you and accept you and affirm you as a human being. And so even though they're forgiven by God, somehow it's always there.
It's always there. What is God's answer for shame? Well, you know, the Bible says, and now we're looking in chapter three, actually, of Genesis. Notice verse 20.
I believe that this is so wonderful. It says in verse 21, and the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God says that he has become like one of us and then they're expelled from the garden. But the point is they have garments of skin.
Where did the skin come from? Obviously, animals that God must have killed. And this is in anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ where we will be covered, you see, with the righteousness of Christ. But even better than that in the Old Testament, you have all of that imagery of sin being taken away. Remember the goats upon which sin was confessed? And one of the goats went into the forest and sin was never seen again.
What is God trying to say? He's trying to say that when I deal with sin, it's not just covering it, it's actually removing it. It is taking away the shame. It is taking away the guilt.
It is putting it in a place where you no longer have to look at it. Rodney Clapp, in an article that I quoted from this pulpit some time ago, in a wonderful article entitled Shame Crucified, said that the most dreadful thing about dying on a cross was the shame. In fact, the cross was called a tree of shame.
And Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us, the Bible says, so that we might become his righteousness. And then in the article, he goes on to ask the question, how did Jesus handle the shame? He says, does shame bind us?
Yes, it does, and Jesus was bound. Does shame destroy our reputation? Yes, Jesus was despised and rejected. Does shame reduce us to silence? Yes, he is led as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. Does shame lead to abandonment?
Yes, he was forsaken by God, and he was forsaken by his friends. The Bible says in Hebrews chapter 2, who for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising its shame. In effect saying, I'll take the shame. I won't bypass the shame, because what I want to do Jesus is in effect saying, is to shame, shame, so that shame may no longer have to overpower my people. I will rob shame of its power.
I will take it away so that nobody has to be permanently paralyzed, imprisoned by shame. Because of Jesus Christ's victory over shame, we can be now a community in which we can accept one another despite our shame, because all of us have done things of which we are ashamed. We can create an atmosphere in which people can confess their need and can know that there is hope, not just to be forgiven by God, which is the first step, but also to be received and accepted by others in a wholesome relationship that takes away the shame.
It is seldom that my messages do any good before I preach them, but in this instance, evidently, there is a difference. Many months ago when I told the people at prayer meeting that I was going to speak on the topic of restoring the soul, a young woman in prayer meeting began to think about her own secrets, her own molestation that she experienced at the age of 11 in an alcoholic home where the mother was disconnected and not taking care of the protection of her children. She wrote to me and she said, I put that believer, and she began to share with a believer her great need and what happened to her. She said, I put that believer through torture. The more he knew about my ugly secret, the more I hated him.
I feared that I would be viewed as an ugly secret. In fact, she says, I called him up and told him that I hated him for what he knew, but he replied that he would keep praying for me and not hate me in return. She says, that night I called on God's name as I had never called on him before. I prayed and I said, tonight I'm calling you something that I have never called you before. She's speaking to the Lord. I'm going to call you my father. She said, I prayed and said, I know you as creator, King and Lord, but tonight I need to know that I'm not just your servant.
I am your daughter. She said, the very next morning I was able to see the hand of grace. I felt the cord that began to sew up my wounds. Satan no longer torments me about my past. I yelled back, I am still a child of God saved by grace.
Your series of messages need prayer and fasting because of people like me. We are afraid that our tears will show. I hope here at Moody Church, you are never afraid to cry, but she says, we are afraid that our tears will show.
We are afraid of our stitches, that their stitches will tear. We are afraid others will find out. I wish I had the courage to give you this letter in person, but just writing this to you is all the courage I can muster now. So the letter was given to me, but last Sunday evening she came to me and identified herself. And that's when I asked permission to read this letter.
I'd have never read it apart from permission because people who have been living in shame, the last thing they need is more surprises and betrayal. But this is what she said to me. She said, I had a choice to make. Either I would be an ugly secret or I would be the daughter of God. That's the choice that some of you face.
Do you want to be an ugly secret or do you want to be the daughter of God? A couple of years ago, a student of mine gave me this story, which I read to you. In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room with walls covered with boxes of index files stretching from floor to ceiling. One box was labeled people I have liked. I opened it and to my surprise, each card had the name of a person I knew. Then I realized where I was. This was the catalog file of my whole life.
All the details, big and small, were recorded. Both curiosity and fear stirred within me as I began to randomly open the files. Some brought back wonderful memories. Others triggered shame, so intense that I glanced over my shoulder to make sure that no one was watching. Files included books I have read.
Another, television programs I have watched. There was one, lies I have told, and comfort I have given. Then there was things done in anger, and another file, times I have cursed. There also were files titled people I have helped and prayers I have prayed. I was overwhelmed with the sheer volume of the cards. There were hundreds of boxes and each contained hundreds of cards. I timidly opened the people I have hurt file and was amazed at its depth.
Yet each card had my name and my signature. I was drawn to the file people I have shared the gospel with and was embarrassed that the box was almost empty. When I moved on to the file people I've not forgiven, I was surprised that the box was almost full. I did not have to look at each card because I knew intuitively that these files were accurate.
No mistakes here. I glanced up and the file I dreaded most lustful thoughts was in front of me. A shameful chill ran through my body. I opened the file but only for a moment not willing to test its bulk and its size. Out of the corner of my eye I saw another file, various sexual sins. I pretended not to notice and turned away. I was obsessed with destroying the cards but found that I could not.
Though they were thin they were as strong as steel. In fact I could not even dislodge them from the file cabinets they were in. By now only one thought dominated my mind. No one must ever see these cards.
No one must ever enter into this room. Tears came to my eyes. I sobbed so violently that I began to shake. I fell on my knees and cried humiliated and afraid.
I must lock the room and hide the key. As I wiped my tears away and was about to stand up I noticed that someone had entered into the room. I glanced up at his face and then I saw him. No, not him.
Not him anyone but Jesus. I turned away burning with shame. Then he began to open the files and read the cards. He went from box to box and when I glanced up I saw sorrow on his face that was just as deep as my own.
Why did he have to look at them? After a few moments he walked over and put his arm around me. He said nothing but just cried with me. Then he began to systematically go through the files one by one from beginning to end assigning his name on each card. No, no I sobbed.
You can't do that. I was amazed at how quickly he went through all of the boxes and when he was finished he showed me some cards up close and I noticed that on each was his signature signed with his own blood covering my name. I turned away and cried. By now he was standing beside me. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, it is finished. He waited in silence for me to dry my tears and then he led me out of the room. Suddenly a verse I memorized in Sunday school flashed into my mind. There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.
Together we walked down the hallway but the door was left unlocked. My life was not yet over and there were cards that still needed to be written. A minister friend of mine who committed adultery destroyed two marriages, his own and that of someone else. I rode with him in his car.
I know I've told you this story before. As he put on the stereo as loudly as we could bear Calvary covers it all. My past with its sin and stain we could read shame. My guilt and despair Jesus took on him there and Calvary covers it all. The first step in healing is to be cleansed by Christ's blood.
The decision that many of you here today and listening by radio or other means, the decision that you have to make today is this. An ugly secret or a daughter or son of the living God. Let us pray. Our Father we thank you today that you are indeed the healer of souls. You bind up the broken hearted your word says and you bind up their wounds. Today Father we've opened some wounds. Today Father some people have been awakened to a past and we ask today Father in the name of Jesus that you will grant them the ability to first of all receive your cleansing and then Father to speak to someone in their small groups, someone in their friends and tell them their story and be affirmed in that forgiveness that the shame might be removed. We pray for the deliverance of those Father struggling with pornography, those who are in immoral relationships even now as they're listening. We ask today Father that you will give them the desire and the strength to do what needs to be done to rebuild a desecrated temple. Oh Father we cry up to you today come and heal your people forgive them and set us free. Before I close this message how many of you say today Pastor Lutzer today I accept Christ's cleansing for my past. Would you raise your hands please throughout the auditorium. We thank God many hands more than I can count today accept Christ's cleansing.
Calvary covers it all. Father for those who have raised their hands and those who should have we ask today for your cleansing and your forgiveness and your healing in Jesus name Amen Amen. My friend today I think that you will understand when I say that this series of messages is incredibly important it's applicable to every life who is listening and I want to thank you so much for helping us as we get the ministry of running to win to thousands upon thousands of people. We exist so that the gospel of Jesus Christ is glorified and we delight in its power and no matter where you are today no matter what your past is God is there to help you.
I'm speaking to people today who are in prison I'm talking about those who are living a good life but inside they are corrupt. God is the answer and Christ is the means by which we reach him. My wife and I have written a book entitled Life Changing Bible Verses You Should Know. It's very important because it deals with about 36 different issues issues of doctrine and Christian living that all of us face.
For a gift of any amount it can be yours here's what you do go to rtwoffer.com or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. If running to win is a blessing to you share it with others tell them about this ministry and if you want to right now call 1-888-218-9337. It's time once again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The moment of death is something we all face something that raises questions for everyone.
One running to win listener is trying to sort out the details and has this question. Those of us who die in Christ today do we go to paradise or to heaven? Well you know the answer I think is that paradise is heaven. I can't seem to find a great distinction in the Bible between paradise and heaven. I think that when Jesus said to the thief on the cross today you will be with me in paradise. I think that that paradise is heaven. So the good news is that whether we call it paradise or heaven it is an unbelievable place. Eye has not seen neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him. So no matter what we call it eternity is going to be great.
It sure is. Thank you Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered you can. 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. Driven by our desires we can become experts at self-deception. We'll do whatever it takes to satisfy sexual urges and then justify what we do by believing blatant lies. Next time on Running to Win the list of lies begins. Don't miss Lies We Love, Lies That Hurt. Thanks for listening. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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