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Breaking Down The Cycle Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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June 16, 2022 1:00 am

Breaking Down The Cycle Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 16, 2022 1:00 am

There is an epidemic of sensuality online and throughout our culture. Fantasies replace reality, and families are being destroyed daily. In this message, we learn how to practically break the cycle of sexual addiction and sin with something to believe, to do, and to share. Let’s swim against the rising tide of immorality.

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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. There's an epidemic of Internet sex sweeping our culture. Fantasies replace reality, and families are being destroyed daily. Today, how to break the cycle of sexual addiction and swim against a rising tide of immorality available at the click of a mouse.

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, it's tough to avoid the onslaught of sex these days. Sordid affairs fill the newscasts, and divorces skyrocketing. Many are living on a merry-go-round, and they can't seem to get off. You know, Dave, and I don't believe that it's possible for many to get off without help. I say to all who are listening today, if you find yourself in those situations, don't travel alone. Get help. Befriend people.

Let them help you and pray for you. And then, of course, become discipled. That's really why my wife and I wrote a book entitled Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know. It's really a list of 30 or 40 topics that have to do with Christian doctrine, living the Christian life, issues that all of us face, two or three pages on each of these subjects. I think it'll be a great blessing to you, and it will also bless others. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now for some words of hope. Many people today struggle with compulsive, obsessive behaviors. Some people may be obsessed with cleanliness or money, some with drugs, some with gambling, some with alcohol, some with pornography.

Since about 70% of all pornography falls into the hands of children, it should not be surprising that a young man whom we shall call Matt got hooked at the age of 13 when he saw his father's magazines. He continued this throughout college and into his marriage, and he says, I lived like a double agent for the CIA. I led two lives. I thought I could never get caught, but God was on my trail.

In world A, he was that man who could function very well in school and in business and even in his family, but world B had to be hidden. Why is it that pornography is so serious in our society today? Well, according to James Dobson, at least 50% of Christian men struggle at some level with pornography. And the reason that the statistics are that high and maybe even higher are because we were not born with an innate love of gambling or alcohol. That's acquired, but we are sexual beings with strong, unrelenting sexual desires. So naturally, we will gravitate to that which seems to fulfill those desires.

But there's another reason, of course, and that is its availability today. We live in an era the likes of which we have never seen in history. We have movies, we have television, we have videotapes, and now we have the internet.

Last night, Rebecca and I were at a meeting with the Concerned Women for America, and we heard four brief lectures, and a woman gave a lecture as to what she is doing to try to produce legislation so that child pornography and obscenity might be prosecuted, which never happened during the Clinton era. But what she said was startling and frightening, the kind of stuff that is on the internet today, some of the most degrading, some of the most perverted things, the names of which I will not mention to you this morning. And my heart has been so heavy that I need to say to you that if you have the internet in your home, you have a virtual sewer that is running through your house. And you know, every house we've ever had has a sewer, but we paid no attention to it.

It was no problem until it backed up, and then we knew all about it. And in the very same way, the internet may not be a problem until children access it. Did you know that children are becoming pedophiles at the age of 10 and 11, getting on the internet, seeing this terrible material, and then acting it out? Today in America, while we sit here, hundreds of children will discover new kinds of pornography on the internet. A woman wrote to me and said, her 16-year-old son began to access pornography, within days tried to act out what it is that he saw. And he's sitting in jail today.

The story can be repeated thousands and thousands of times. Now I want to say this to you, parents. If you have the internet in your home, we here at the Moody Church, we have a blockage system for all of our computers here at the church, and we're thinking of other ways to be able to use the internet, yes, but also to have strict accountability. But listen to me, if you have children in your home and you do not have a blocking system on your internet, you are possibly exposing to those children something that will destroy them utterly and eventually send them to hell. And if you don't have enough money for a blocking system, would you come and talk to any member of us as the pastoral staff, and we'll make sure that you get enough money to have a blockage system.

You cannot, you cannot allow this. Did you know that City Hall here in Chicago has blocking system for all of their employees because too many of them were accessing pornography? Did you also know that the libraries do not because of the ACLU saying, well, yes, everybody should be able to access kiddie porn, whatever else is on the internet. We're living in a day and age when families need to wake up.

They need to be able to put in place rules and guidance systems because your children are targeted to be destroyed. Of course, there are other kinds of sexual difficulties and obsessions. There's voyeurism, serial relationships, prostitution, pedophilia, and the list goes on. Before we go to the scriptural answer, and thank God there is an answer, and we're going to get to that answer, but let's just take a moment to tour the mind of an addict. Oftentimes the long torturous journey begins by curiosity and exploitation, often in a dysfunctional home. And so to cover the pain, to cover the emptiness, to cover that sense of destruction and loneliness, there may be a turning to drink, to gambling, to cocaine, or to sexual relationships, or to pornography. And the person who begins always thinks, I'll just try it once, and I can control the consequences, I'll just satisfy my curiosity. The problem is that they trip a series of dominoes like a person walking in the dark not knowing that there's a bucket of water on the floor. And they trip these dominoes and pretty soon one line of dominoes goes this way and another that way, and suddenly they're in a whole new world that they can't get rid of.

And the long shameful torturous private journey has begun. And then there's a withdrawal from meaningful relationships. I don't mean a withdrawal from relationships because these people will function well.

They will function in banks and hospitals and Sunday school classes. You say today, Pastor Lutzer, who are you talking about? Are we talking about some addict who's on South State Street? No, my friend, just look around. This is who I'm talking about.

Look up here. This is who we're talking about potentially. All of us must recognize that the problem that we're discussing here today is a problem that pervades society. It pervades our churches. And all of us have the potential for failure. Many of you know who you are as I'm speaking to you today with deep sense of shame and commitment.

And we're going to be talking about that. That is to say commitment to some particular obsession. Then protecting and sustaining this pleasure becomes all-consuming. Rationalizations kick in. A person who visits prostitutes says, well, I really do love my wife, he thinks. Child molesters, they begin to say, well, it doesn't really hurt the child.

We're just exploring various possibilities. And all of this is rationalized. Pornography, it has said, well, everybody's doing it.

I mean, this is common. It can't be bad. And then the cycle begins. And there's that cycle of obsession with the euphoria, the rapid heartbeat, the sense of elation, the feeling now that one is being carried along by a river, just like a piece of driftwood going along a stream.

That something bigger is here. There's a whole new world that continually opens up. And so you go through the cycle of saying, OK, I won't. And then doing it, I won't. And then you do it until finally you give up and simply say, it's all hopeless. I'm just going to do whatever I have to do and protect it as best I can. There's no more fight left.

Isn't it amazing? I grew up in a home where my parents warned me about the power of sin. But all of us need to be warned again and again because the thing that addictions teach us is this, that sin takes us farther than we intended to go, keeps us longer than we intended to stay, and costs us more than we thought we'd pay.

Well, where do we go from here? You know that this is a series of messages titled Restoring the Soul, Healing in an Age of Brokenness. And today we come to this message, which is Breaking the Cycle. Breaking the Cycle, Hope and Help and Healing. But you know, the way to do it is not by just condemnation and preaching against certain things. Because if all that we were to do is to increase the guilt and the self-condemnation and the shame, if that's all that we did, we probably would not help people at all. And I'll tell you why.

Because that does not get down to the level of the appetite, the level of the desire. You can preach and you can hear and you can go out unchanged. I learn a lot from the letters that are sent me. And many of you write to me. Some of you have written to me since the series began. One person said, Pastor Lutzer, and he's speaking as someone who struggled with pornography, but thank God is coming out of that to a sense of victory. He said, I want you to know that there are many of us here at the Moody Church. We listen to your words, but we don't hear what you say. Wow.

We listen to the words, but we don't hear what you say because we're all in denial. What I'm doing isn't so bad. I can handle it on my own. Where do we turn? Well, what I'd like to do today is to give you three steps and these are different than the outline that is listed in your bulletin.

But you'll be able to remember this one very, very easily. I'll tell you where we're going and then we'll begin the journey and we'll be with it until the end. First of all, I'm going to give you something to believe. Secondly, I'm going to give you something to do. And thirdly, something to share.

That's simple enough and clear enough, is it not? Something to believe, something to do, and something to share. First of all, something to believe.

Now, I want you to know that when I came to this, I struggled. What passages of scripture do I use? Not because there aren't passages on these kinds of topics, but because the New Testament is full of them. I thought about Romans 6, but I chose the words of Jesus instead. Two passages that Jesus gave to us, our blessed Savior. The first one is John chapter 8. John chapter 8, you may turn to that.

What is it that I am asking you to believe? It says in verse 31 of John chapter 8, to the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. They answered him, we are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How do you say that we shall be set free? They were talking about physical slavery as a nation. Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now, a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed. When I ask you to believe something, I'm asking you, first of all, to believe something about slavery. Jesus said, if you commit sin, that is, if you are constantly sinning, if you are under sin's dominion, you are really a slave and you are really a slave to sin. Slaves don't wake up in the morning and tell their master what to do. They don't say, I want you to do this and that.

No, it's the master who says, I want you today to obey me. What do you want me to do, sin? I want you to buy that magazine.

I want you to get that video. I want you to go cruising to find a prostitute, whatever it is. What happens is sin is in control and all that a slave can do is say, yes, master, here I am. I'm here today to do your bidding.

Whatever it is that you ask, I'll do. I read a book on sexual addiction where it says that the addict really has no choice. Now, he does have a choice, but in this particular area, he may not. I need to be clear here because there is hope, as we'll see in this message, but I'm simply saying that in terms of the commitment to sin, he is pushed along. I've given you the illustration in a different context of a little boy in Marshall Fields who is in one of his little carts and he was angry and crying and turning his little steering wheel to the right, but he was going to the left because his steering wheel was disconnected from anything that mattered. It was his mother who was controlling where he was going. The very same way sin says do this and we say, no, I'm not going to, but you go in that direction anyway.

But notice the contrast. Jesus said, picking up on this idea of slavery, he says the slave doesn't live in the house forever. Perhaps thinking of the Old Testament story of Hagar, you remember who was put out as the slave woman. And Isaac, though, is the son.

He gets to stay in the home, doesn't he? Jesus said the slave does not live in the house forever, but the son does. And if the son, the Lord Jesus Christ, sets you free as a son or as a daughter, why then indeed you are free.

Freedom plus. Jesus is saying that the key to no longer being a slave of sin is to be a son or daughter. Now today I am speaking to sons and daughters.

I'm assuming that you are a son or a daughter even though there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, listening to this message who've never trusted Christ as Savior because that's the first step. But you see, the reason that sonship is so important is it gives us our dignity back. It gives us our dignity. It gives us also privileges.

Privileges. In other words, what we can do is we now have the authority to no longer be subject to the slavery of sin because we're sons and daughters of the Almighty. You say, but Pastor Lutzer, I am a son or a daughter of the Almighty and I am still living like a slave.

Yes, that certainly is possible, but my point is it is unnecessary. You've bought a lie if you think that there's no hope because the son is stronger than the slavery. What a wonderful passage of scripture we read together today from Romans chapter 6. Sin need no longer have dominion over you. You are no longer slaves to sin. Why did Paul say that?

He says that when Jesus died on the cross, it isn't just that Jesus died for us, blessed though that is, but that we died with Jesus and he who is dead is freed from sin. The power of slavery, the obligation to slavery is over in Jesus. But so many people, so many people discover that that they are still slaves. And you know why? It's because they go on unwilling to deal with their slavery. And you know why?

Because they lack desperation, because only desperate people are really delivered. This past week we were discussing this message as a staff at our staff meeting. One of the staff members said that someone whom some of us know who's a professor in a leading evangelical seminary gives a testimony of being really addicted to pornography. And the thing that changed him, that woke him up, was when he began to realize that the next step in the domino system for him was to visit prostitutes. When he began thinking about doing that, he finally said, you know, I'd better do something. Up until that time, his sin was manageable, you know, he could handle it. But he wouldn't allow himself to cross that line, and it wasn't enough to simply say, no, I'm going to draw a line here because I won't do that. No, because you're not in charge, thank you, sin is. And if it's the next domino, as you allow these dominoes in your life to fall, it'll be the next thing you will end up doing, because you're already doing things you promised yourself that you would never do.

So he had to go back to the root and deal with it, and not only did God free him, but he has a marvelous ministry today, and at one time has preached from this pulpit in the last few years as a delivered man. So what do I want you to believe? I want you to believe that Jesus, the son, is stronger than slavery. I want you to see yourself as a son and a daughter of the almighty. I want you to know that you have a sense of dignity, that the thoughts that you have about yourself as being so unlovable are not God's thoughts about you. They are your thoughts, not his.

He loves you, he cares about you, and you're fully and completely redeemable in the most thorough way imaginable. The son makes us free indeed. My friend today, everything that you have heard is true, completely true, but at the same time, we cannot fight these battles alone. If you're not a member of a church, if you're not part of a group, if you don't have friends who can pray for you and guide you, you'll soon discover that the temptation to return to your former life becomes very great and sometimes almost impossible to resist. My wife and I have written a book entitled Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know. One of the many topics we discuss is renewing the mind. That's something that is absolutely important if we're going to overcome temptation, and by the way, temptation is another one of the topics. I think that this book will be a great blessing for you and to you. It is actually covers a number of different topics, all of them briefly, but it introduces you to doctrine and Christian living.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to And I want to pause to thank the many of you who support this ministry, because as you frequently hear me say, together we are making a difference.

Ask for the book Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know. Go to, or if you prefer, you can call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. Let me give you that phone number again, 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 understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Breaking the cycle of moral failure is a process, not an event. The cure requires three things, something to believe, something to do, and something to share. Next time, we focus on what each of us must do in order to be free. Plan to join us. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-04 11:50:34 / 2023-04-04 11:59:06 / 9

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