Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The woman who wiped her tears from Jesus' feet knew that this man could restore her dignity as well as forgive her moral sins. Today, a woman points the way for us to find the healing of our own souls. 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 message on Jesus, forgiveness and you. Dave, first of all, I want to begin with a personal word.
The great preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon said he didn't know exactly what it was like to be in heaven, but he thought that it came close when he had the opportunity to preach the gospel of God's forgiveness and grace. And I have to tell you that when I preached this message, it was such a blessing to me and I believe it's a blessing to thousands upon thousands of people. Many of you need to hear this message. Many of you know people who need to hear this message. That's why we're making it available in permanent form. Here's what you can do.
Go to rtwoffer.com or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. The series is entitled Restoring the Soul. And here we see how Jesus accomplished it. Verse 44, then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, do you see this woman? I came into your house and you did not give me any water for my feet, but she wept my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman from the time I entered has not stopped kissing my feet.
You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven, for she loved much, but he who has been forgiven little loves little. Then Jesus said to her, your sins are forgiven.
I hope someday in heaven we'll see a video of this incident. What Jesus was saying is that those who are forgiven more love more. The degree of our love oftentimes is dependent upon the extent of our forgiveness and what we've been forgiven for. I remember a woman at Moody Church who said, Pastor Lutzer, I am the woman at the well. I am the woman who committed adultery. I am the woman, these women throughout the New Testament. And she says, I am wrapped all into one.
In other words, I'm all of these ladies. Yet this woman had such a glow on her face and such a love for Jesus that it was overwhelming, because he who has been forgiven much loves much. Now, Jesus wasn't saying, well, you know, Simon, you can't love me very much because you don't have very much that I have to forgive you for.
I want you to know today that Simon was in much greater need than this woman. Thank God at least she could see her sin. He couldn't see his. As he looked down, his judgmental holier than thou knows. He couldn't see that he needed the grace of God.
But what I like is this. Jesus Christ is right in the presence of this bigoted Pharisee and his friends. And right in the midst of these people, Jesus speaks these kind words to this woman who perhaps had not heard kind words for years from a man. And Jesus says to her tenderly, Lady, you are forgiven. It's not only a restoration of forgiveness, but her dignity is restored because she is in the presence of the only one who can speak her clean. And if the man who is at the center of the universe, Jesus Christ, would not have spoken her clean, what if Jesus would have been a Pharisee? What if Jesus would have said, well, you know, don't touch me. Lady, don't you understand I'm the son of God? Don't you understand how holy I am? Go back out onto the streets where you belong.
You don't even belong in this place. What would this dear lady have done? The only thing that she could have thought of maybe to do is to commit suicide because if you're in the presence of the most holy God and the only one who is able to speak you clean and he condemns you, where do you go from there? There is no other place to go. But I want you to know today that there is hope in the presence of Jesus.
I called my mother last night on the phone and she was talking about up in Canada, 35-year-old men committed suicide last week in despair, in despondency, in hopelessness. And I say to you today that in the presence of Jesus, no one, no one has to do that because in the presence of Jesus, you can be spoken clean by the God of the universe and listen to this carefully those of you who cannot forgive yourselves. If Jesus has spoken you clean, who is there in the universe who can say that you're guilty? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies.
Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again and is even now on the right hand of the throne of God. And this dear lady accepted the forgiveness of God. There's a fourth step and that is that she had faith. She had faith. Isn't it wonderful that God birthed faith in her heart? In verse 50 it says, Jesus said to the woman, your faith has saved you. It wasn't her perfume that saved her. It wasn't even coming out of the shadows that saved her, though that was certainly proof of her faith because she wanted to get to Jesus no matter who was around.
Because I want you to know today that really at the end of the day, only Jesus really does matter. But none of those things were important to her, nor did they purchase the salvation. What did she believe that saved her? She believed that there was more grace in God's heart than there was sin in her past. And she believed. I received a letter from a woman some time ago who said that she was working in an office and an older woman encouraged her to begin a sexual relationship which ended in a five year struggle and involvement in lesbianism.
But the woman writing to me said, oh, how I stink to the core of my being. I know God has forgiven me, but I cannot forgive myself. Is there any hope for me? I cry a lot. God forbid that I should be a Judas who felt guilty but still chose the wrong direction.
Is there hope for her? Let me ask you something. Why is it that a woman who's been forgiven by God still feels such condemnation?
I'll tell you why. It really should be a separate part of another message, but I need to tell you that there are many people who mistake, they mistake the conviction of the Holy Spirit with the accusation of the devil. And if you can't tell the difference, you are in one vicious, hopeless cycle. You see, because if you think that the accusations of the devil are God trying to get through to you and that God is condemning you and telling you what an awful person you are, if you listen to that voice, it can destroy you.
The difference is this. It's the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to point out our sins so that we can be cleansed and forgiven. That's the work of the blessed Holy Spirit of God. And once we have confessed our sins and repented of it, the work of the Holy Spirit in that regard ends and that's where the devil takes over. And the devil begins to say, who are you really that you would do that?
Oh, you think that God forgave you just because you repented of the sin. So you really think so, huh? Look at who you really are. Just think.
Just think of it. And then he begins this accusation and some people begin to listen to that voice and they end up in despair. I want to tell you something today. If a prostitute 2,000 years ago was forgiven and cleansed in the presence of Jesus, so can a lesbian be forgiven and cleansed in the year 2002 or 2003 and all the way until Jesus returns. You're not in the presence of just some ordinary person. You're in the presence of God, a very God who has the right to speak you clean. And today there are many of you who need to be spoken clean. Even some of you, God bless you, who've confessed and repented your sins. You still need to hear the voice of Jesus say, you're forgiven. Go in peace.
Wow. Let me say also, and this is the fifth step now, that she accepted, she accepted dignity from Jesus. You say, well, where is that in the text? Well, it's not expressly stated, but I think that's implied when Jesus said, go in peace. He not only said you're forgiven, but he says, here's peace.
I mean, isn't that awesome? Could a prostitute indeed expect more than that, hearing that from the son of God, go in peace? She needed to have her dignity back. It wasn't enough that her sin be taken away, that she be forgiven, but that she'd have this sense of wholeness and healing that is epitomized by the word peace.
Her dignity needed to be restored though her value was never affected by her lifestyle. Let me give you an example. I have in my pocket today, a $50 bill. Somebody went, yeah, quite a bit. Whoever you are out there, I want to tell you something. What if I wanted to give this bill to you? Would you accept it? You say, yes, give an invitation real soon, pastor.
I'll be up here. It's 50 bucks. Well, what if I were to take this $50 bill with which incidentally I noticed last night has the image of Grant, President Grant on it. What if I were to take this bill and, and wrap it up real tight and make a wad out of it so that it's, it's just really in an ugly, in an ugly way, would you still take it? Yeah, I'd still take it.
What if I were to take it and to stomp on it? Would you still take it? Oh yeah, I'd take it. What if, what if I take it to a mud puddle and put it in the mud puddle and stomp on it. Would you still take it? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I take it. What about if, if I were to add some real grime to it, would you still take it?
Yeah, Master, test me. Test me, I'd still take it." Why, because you know that the dirt and the grime has not affected its value. It has affected its dignity, because if this $50 bill could speak, you know what it would say? If it were dirty like that, it would say, oh, please, please take me out of circulation.
Please, please don't use me when you're paying your bill at Mitchell's, please. And then it would say, and above all, please, please don't put me into an offering plate at Moody Church, where we know that all of the money is so pure and so sanctified. But after it would be washed off, it could be put into an offering plate.
Its value was not affected by its dirt. The value of this woman created in the image of God was not even affected by her immoral lifestyle. And what we need to do is to give people back their dignity, but I say to those of you today who are caught into various sexual sins and even addictions about which we shall still speak on another occasion, I say to you today that as long as you recognize that you are a creation of God made after God's likeness, you have value as a person.
What you need is your dignity back so that you can be put back into circulation and know that the sense of wholeness and peace that comes in the presence of Jesus and in the presence of his people. Here's another story in the New Testament about Jesus and a woman. It was a woman who is caught in adultery in the very act, and they bring the woman to Jesus. Notice the double standard.
Where was the man? But there's always been a double standard, particularly in the Middle East, but all over the world, including in our culture as well. But they bring her to Jesus, and Jesus says, well, you know, the Old Testament law says you're to be stoned, they said to Jesus. Jesus said, fine, let's stone her.
Let's fulfill the law. But those of you who haven't committed the same sin cast the first stone. All of the men walk out, and Jesus is left alone with a woman. And he says to her, hath no man condemned thee? She says, no man, Lord. He says, neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more. Change your lifestyle, because I offer you the two things that you need, forgiveness and dignity.
Forgiveness and dignity, and they go together. Do you remember that story of a man who had a messy office? Could be many men, but this one had stacks and stacks of paper. And his secretary always said, please get rid of them. You haven't looked at them in 20 years, you won't look at them in another 20 years, please.
And he always resisted until finally he said, okay, you win. Get rid of all of these stacks of paper, but I want you to make a photocopy of all of the pages first. Today I think I hear Jesus saying, let's get rid of the junk, and let's not even keep the photocopies. Go and sin no more. You say, well, Pastor Lutzer, are you preaching today to Christians or to non-Christians? I'm preaching to both. I'm preaching to those of you who have never received Christ as Savior to tell you that it is only by him that you can be forgiven.
And like this woman, God bless her, she would no longer be a woman of the streets, she would be a daughter now of the Son of God. So I'm preaching that to you. But I'm also preaching to those of you who are Christians struggling with various sins. Some of you thank God as a result of these messages, have already made lifestyle changes. I've received reports of people who have broken relationships and where they have begun to seek accountability.
Why? Because what God wants to do is to purify us as a church and all of us stand in need of his purification. And today I'm going to ask you to do something that maybe we don't do very often here at Moody Church. I wonder if there are those of you who would want to come forward and to say today I want to take my stand in the presence of Jesus and in the presence of others to receive his cleansing, to know that I want to leave here today knowing that I hear the words of Jesus, you're forgiven, go in peace.
Maybe it's a decision that you made weeks ago but you would like to confirm it. Tonight, or rather this morning, let us ask the blessed Holy Spirit of God who's been poured out upon the church to grant his people freedom and joy in his presence. Would you join me as we pray? Our Father, we ask today, Father, that this message delivered in so much weakness might nonetheless be the very word of Jesus to troubled hearts. O Father, we pray, we ask, O Lord Jesus, that many shall not only be forgiven but to be restored and to be in your blessed presence and to know that they are accepted not only by you but by us as your people. Father, it's always all your work but at moments like this we're especially aware of it. Do in the lives of those to whom you have been speaking and they know who they are, do in their lives, O God, something special today. We ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
Amen. Well, this is Pastor Lutzer. Was this message for you? Was this something that you needed to hear to give you hope, to give you direction, to remind you that we serve a Savior who's able to forgive, who's able to restore, who is able to change? Many of you need to simply take out time out of your lives to seek God, to be reminded of the fact that He does love you, He cares for you and He loves you so much He wants to deliver you and set you free. I believe that these messages are a great blessing to many, many people and there are so many and you know some of them. There are so many people who need to listen to these messages and to heed the words of Jesus and to be encouraged by His word and by His actions. That's why we're making this series of messages available to you. It's entitled Restoring the Soul.
For a gift of any amount, these messages can be yours in permanent form. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
Perhaps you haven't had an opportunity to pick up a pencil and write that down. I'm going to be giving you that contact info again. But let me also thank you so much for your prayers and for your support.
Because of people just like you, Running to Win is now in 20 different countries in four different languages and perhaps you've already heard me say we continue to expand this ministry. Thank you for helping us. Ask for the series of messages, Restoring the Soul. Go to rtwoffer.com or you can call right now 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for helping us and take out time today to seek the Lord, encourage someone, and pray for us, and together we are able to make a difference.
Let me emphasize again you can pick up that phone right now and you can call 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the series of messages, Restoring the Soul. God wants to reclaim what is His. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. All of us have a past and some of those pasts are not pretty.
An anonymous listener wants to know this. Can a former pornography addict be hired as a pastor? Is this biblically correct and what does God have to say about this?
Well, first of all, let me say that when the Bible gives the requirements to be an elder in 1 Timothy chapter 3, it speaks about someone who is apt to teach, someone who is a one-wife kind of man, it speaks about the fact that he should not be a striker, he should not be violent. All of those characteristics, it seems to me, are present characteristics. Before a person is converted, perhaps they committed these sins. So, in order to answer your question, I would need to know, is this addiction something that took place before conversion, after conversion? All of that becomes important.
Another question was, how long ago did this take place? In other words, someone may say, well, I'm recently delivered from pornography. That's very different than someone who says that this was a part of my early life or years ago. All of that becomes a possibility. We should never think that God can't lift people out of the dust and the dirt and the mire. God can, and God can mightily use them.
But it would take someone other than me to evaluate you, my friend, because it takes wisdom, someone who knows you, someone who can answer some of the questions that I have in mind. Also, I want to say this. I believe that the desire, the struggle with lust is something that is ever with us. So, the best advice I can give you are the words of Jesus. If your right eye will offend you, pluck it out and cast it from you. What Jesus is saying there is, in the strongest possible way, get rid of whatever it is that causes you to sin. If it's television, cancel your subscription. If it's magazines, where are you getting those?
How are you getting the opportunity to look at pornography? All of us need to make some hard choices in this regard and get rid of that which causes us to stumble. That's just an added word of advice that I am giving you, and I suggest that you have a long talk with some other pastors who know you, who can help you answer your question. Meanwhile, I pray that God might mightily use you in the future as you have victory over your past. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for your helpful advice. 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. Many people have a ticking time bomb inside, their sordid histories. They look back and see horrible abuses they've suffered or others they've abused.
Even though forgiven by God, they feel dirty, and that feeling turns into depression and anger. Is there a way out of being chained to the past? Next time on Running to Win, Dr. Lutzer will talk with us about making peace with your past. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-05 22:36:00 / 2023-04-05 22:45:45 / 10