Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. It's the height of folly to think we can hide our sins from God. That's what David wrote about in Psalm 32. Caught red-handed in great sin, David came clean before God and man.
Today, what it takes to be fully forgiven by the God who sees everything we do. 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, why is it that some people think they can hide anything from God? Well, Dave, someone I spoke to put it very clearly. He said, I had two compartments in my mind and I actually thought that I could kind of seal off a compartment where not even God would be able to enter.
It was like a closet. I would keep those thoughts, those attitudes there. Well, of course, what David says in Psalm 32 is that we cannot hide our sin. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sin is covered. I don't know about all those who are listening today, but I have to say that I personally have experienced the grace and the victory that comes when we take this Psalm as our own. And by the way, I want to say to all who are listening, we're going through a very exciting time.
We're coming almost to the end of this offer. But if you make a gift to the ministry of Running to Win, it will be doubled. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thank you for helping us get the ministry of forgiveness to thousands upon thousands of people. How did John Wesley put it?
Excuse me, Charles Wesley. My chains fell off. My heart was free. I rose, went forth and followed thee.
Notice how David describes it. Well, now we're back to verses 1 and 2, aren't we? He says, blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
God took the ugly mess and he sent a snowfall to cover the ugly trails and all of the ruts in the road of my life. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. His sin is covered. God no longer imputes it. He no longer holds us guilty as a result of it. Oh, yes, consequences may continue as David experienced, but that sense of guilt is gone. There is now freedom. You'll notice in verse 1, he says, God, you forgave me.
Isn't that blessed? Notice verse 7, you are my hiding place. Now that my sin is forgiven, we're back in fellowship.
You forgave me. You hide me. Indeed, you preserve me from trouble and you surround me with shouts of deliverance.
You forgive me, you hide me. Verse eight, you guide me. This now may be God speaking.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you. The whole idea is this that when I was at a fellowship, I had no sense of God's guidance. Have you ever prayed for God's will? You say, I want God's will. God show me your will. And even when you are praying, you are walking in disobedience out of fellowship with God, with sin in your life that you're not willing to expose to the old seeing eye of God. Just try that. Well, don't try it. But if you do, you'll find there's no sense of God's guidance because you know what God is saying is God is saying, look, you know, you're asking for guidance over here, but look at what's over here.
If you deal with this, then we can talk guidance. God you forgive me, you hide me, you guide me, you inspire me. Notice it says in verse 11, be glad in the Lord and rejoice so righteous and shout for joy all you who are upright in heart. Finally, you qualify to sing in the choir because now it is not merely words that you are singing, but from the heart you are giving praise to God because of the freedom and because of the conscience that has been cleansed and that's done by God.
So he says, Lord, Lord, thank you for freeing me. In fact, David says, you know, during that time when I was part of the coverup, I was like a horse or a mule. Verse nine, do not be like a horse or a mule without understanding which must be curved with bit and bridle or it will not stay near you. I know something about horses, nothing about mules, but I can imagine how stubborn they are. Like that old story about a man who hit a mule with a two by four and the person said, why don't you just speak to him? He said, I have to get his attention first. David says, that's the way I was, stubborn, unwilling to be led by God like a horse that is unbroken or a mule that is determined to go nowhere.
And David is saying, now don't be like I was. Don't hide your sin. Don't rationalize it. Don't tell yourself that you're not as bad as somebody else because of it. And don't ever think that somehow it'll go away if you simply ignore it. Because as I mentioned, time will deaden the conscience, but time never cleanses the conscience.
The stain is still there. So I have to ask you, what does it take in your life and mine for us to really genuinely confess our sins before God with all honesty and allow God to go into all the crevices of our life? I'd like to bring you some lessons that we learned from this that I hope will be transforming. I hope the Holy Spirit of God will use these lessons for as long as you live.
And for some of you, that could be an awful long time. First of all, we repent. We repent not when we see the light, but when we feel the heat.
We repent not when we see the light. People say, oh, I hope he sees the light. Well, you know, how much more light does he need? I mean, he's got all the light. He's listened to all the sermons. He knows the truth. He was brought up in a Christian home. He knows the light. He's seen the light, but he's never really felt the heat.
Notice this in the text. David just didn't say it was my conscience that was bothering me. He said, day and night, your hand, verse four, was heavy upon me. This is God bringing about misery in David's life so that his misery in the cover up is so great that he says the idea of exposure, no matter how costly that is, I'm willing to do it because I can't live with myself anymore.
The misery is that great. When I was a student in seminary, which seems to be getting further and further away in terms of time, we had to study Greek. We had to learn Greek.
One day, the prof whom I greatly respected sent us all to the chalkboard and we had to parse various Greek verbs. I think that's what you do. You parse them. You decline nouns, don't you, and parse verbs?
At least that's I think what we're supposed to do. Well, I wasn't that good at Greek. You know, my mind is more philosophical.
I like grand ideas and all of these details to memorize. And so I was there and I was a little embarrassed. And so I stopped back from the chalkboard and out of the corner of my eye saw what my friend was writing and I knew that he was good in Greek. So I wrote down his stuff like that comedian says, you know, I could have done a lot better in school if only the guy sitting next to me had been smarter. So I thought, OK, I know that that was wrong, but I'll live with it.
I'll manage. Have you ever tried to manage sin that you're not willing to face? I forget how much further it was in the school year, maybe just a couple of days, as I recall. We had a communion service at the seminary and my conscience troubled me so much. I was in so much misery when that service was over. I spoke to no students.
I went directly to the props office. He wasn't there. I waited until he came, didn't have an appointment, sat down, said there's something on my mind I need to tell you. I cheated in that Greek class and I told him now he was very gracious to me.
But you know what? At that moment, I wouldn't have cared too greatly if he had said, hey, you're you flunk the whole semester. I would have hurt, but I've been willing to flunk the semester. Because the hand of God's misery was so much upon me, I couldn't function.
With a hand of God on my life because of sin that I had committed. You know, that's the only thing that brings us to repentance. Is when our misery in our sin is greater than our desire for self protection. See, that's why it sometimes has been said that there are psychiatrists who are trying to put people to sleep whom God is trying to wake up. I can't sleep. Well, there are many reasons and taking medication for sleep is perfectly fine.
I've done it once in a while, especially to overcome jet lag. But there are times when when the hand of God is on you and you'd better listen to what God is saying and you'd better give God time to show you what the problem is within your soul. That's the first lesson.
Let me give you a second. God would rather bring one of his children to repentance. God would rather bring one of his children to repentance than maintain his reputation in the world.
Let me tell you why I say that. In the case of David, when Nathan was speaking the word of God to him, this is what God said. God says, David, you've caused the enemies, my enemies to blaspheme. Because, you see, word spread from the palace all throughout the nations that David was an adulterer and a murderer. Everybody knew it. I mean, if the king does it, it gets talked about. It's not in the Jerusalem Post. CNN couldn't pick up the story at that time yet, of course.
But certainly people talked. And God says, you know what, David, because of your sin, you made me look bad because all the other nations are saying, oh, King David worships God. But just look at him.
He's just as bad as everybody else. And they couldn't contain their glee over this king who pretended to know God, to act this way. So why didn't God participate in the cover up?
Why didn't he have Uriah go home? Cover up David's sin. I mean, God would have looked better. God says, I'm willing to have my reputation tainted in the eyes of the world to get through to one of my servants who is hiding sin and won't come clean.
Wow. Either we will cover our sin or we'll expose it and let God cover it. Third, the world is really divided into two categories, two categories of people, not a racial divide or educational or geographical divide. Two categories, the forgiven and the unforgiven. And if you talk about the unforgiven, there are two categories. First of all, there are those who are unconverted. They've never been forgiven. And many of you who are listening fit into that category.
And you know probably who you are if you're dead, honest. But then there are also those who who are Christians. They have received Jesus Christ as savior and they belong to him. And legally and judicially, their sins have been forgiven by God. He has imputed to them the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But they're out of fellowship.
And they're out of fellowship because they don't want to deal with issues that God brings to their attention. Like that man who purports to be a Christian, fills out a form for for workers compensation, says on the forum that the accident happened at work. It didn't happen at work. It happened when he was hunting. But he fills it out.
And now every month receives a check that was obtained fraudulently. His pastor said to him, now, aren't you willing to come clean on this? You have to confess that you have to make it right.
And his response is, do you think that I'm stupid? If I went to the labor relations board and told them that I had signed a document fraudulently, they'd throw me in jail. The pastor says, there are some things that are even worse than jail. One is the hand of God on your life, day and night, reminding you that you have sinned, that you've not taken care of.
There is something worse than jail. And that is displeasing God. And then there are those who are unforgiven, who've never been converted. For you, you don't begin by confessing your sin.
Did you know that? Martin Luther confessed his sin six hours at a time in the monastery in Erfurt and was not converted. First of all, you can't remember all of your sins. Secondly, tomorrow's another day with new sins.
And so you're kind of in a cycle. No, what you need to do is you need to accept Jesus as your substitute. You need to receive him as savior so that he gathers up all of your sins in one bundle and through your faith and through his work to give you the ability to believe you are then converted.
Your name is written in heaven and you belong to God. Thanks to Jesus. You say, well, how was David saved? He was in the Old Testament. Jesus hadn't come yet.
Yeah, that's right. Jesus was still more than a thousand years before Jesus would come. But already then the Bible teaches us very clearly that God was imputing. David was saved on credit. We all know what credit cards are.
We enjoy it today. We pay for it today, but actually then we pay for it further down the line. God says, David, you're going to be saved because Jesus is coming and your sin will eventually be imputed to Christ, who is the only lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And so even way back then, God says, I'm going to take your sin and I'm going to put it away, but not permanently because Jesus hasn't come yet to make that perfect sacrifice. And so David too was forgiven by Jesus. And what you need to do is to receive him as your sin bearer, as your savior.
I urge you to believe on him. There was a man who was walking along a seashore and he looked back over the trail that he was creating along the beach and he noticed it was Helter Skelter. It was because he had been walking absentmindedly. It wasn't going anywhere in particular. And he looked back and he said, you know, that's the story of my life.
Not going anywhere in particular, just kind of waltzing through life aimlessly. He spent some time in the home of a friend and then he walked back the same way and expected to see his footprints, but they were gone because the tide had come and God was giving him a new beginning. Blessed are they whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit. So I ask myself the question as I ask you the question today. Are we willing to come honestly openly and say, Jesus, here I am, exposed in your presence, begin there, then going to those possibly whom we have wronged, but saying at all costs, I want to be right before God and man.
Let's pray. Our Father, we want to thank you today for this marvelous song. We thank you that there was a time when David finally decided that your hand was too heavy upon him and then his iniquity was acknowledged. I don't know what represents here in this congregation. There may be those who are involved in adulterous relationships, sinful relationships among singles, whatever it is we ask in the name of Jesus.
Perhaps there's been stealing dishonesty. We ask in the name of Jesus, would you enable us to come clean? How many of you say this morning, Pastor Luther, God has spoken to me and I'm willing to come clean. Would you put your hands up all throughout the audience? I see people in all three sections doing it.
What about in the balcony? Any of you say, God has talked to me. I want to come clean. Father, grant grace, oh God, we pray to each and for the many who didn't raise their hands, may your hand be upon them for good. And we pray that the day may come when they say yes, whatever, whatever, I'll be obedient. Do that, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen. Well here at the Moody Church, as I gave an invitation, I did ask people to raise their hands, to encourage them to become completely honest before God.
And I lay that challenge before you as well. God knows he understands. You aren't going to surprise him by what you confess.
He already knows it, but he wants to hear it from you. And oh, blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Let me ask you, are you blessed as a result of the ministry of running to win? As you know, we always exalt Jesus Christ, the good news of the gospel.
We seek the transformation of lives through the proclamation of God's word. Would you like to contribute toward a matching gift fund? You know, we have some friends who are saying that they are willing to match any gift given to the ministry of running to win during this month. Any gift given is doubled.
That means that your $10 becomes $20, and of course your $50 becomes $100. What an opportunity to help us. I want to say a special word to those of you who have never connected with us. Would you consider helping us?
Becoming a part of what I like to call the running to win family. Now here's what you do. You go to rtwoffer.com or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. That is go to rtwoffer.com. Of course, rtwoffer is all one word.
Rtwoffer.com or call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. It's time again for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Christian baptism, it takes many forms and can have a variety of meanings. Ashley has written, Pastor Lutzer, concerned about her own baptism.
Here is her story. In my past, I was baptized because it was something my mom decided for me. I did not understand it at all, and I don't agree with a lot of things that went on at the church I attended at the time. I've come to understand that the things I once called mistakes, I now see more clearly as sins. Recently, I've been attending church consistently, and I feel as if I'm growing closer to God. So I was just curious to know, is it wrong for me to be baptized again, knowing that I will understand things more clearly the second time around? Ashley, I believe that the answer to your question is no, it is not wrong for you to be baptized again.
The reason I believe that, Ashley, is because in the 19th chapter of the book of Acts, you remember, there were those who were baptized by the baptism of John, and they were now being re-baptized, having understood the gospel more fully, and having received Christ as Savior. And so they were baptized a second time. I interpret that to mean that there's nothing wrong with being baptized again.
If the first time you may have been so young, maybe you didn't even know what was happening. Some people are baptized as infants, for example. Or if you were baptized as an adult, but as you say here, your mother made the decision, and you weren't really living for Christ, and you didn't know what it meant, I think it would be great for you to be baptized again.
And this time, as an adult with better understanding, knowing that through baptism we are saying no to the past and yes to the new life that we have in Jesus Christ, I would encourage you to be re-baptized. Thank you, Ashley, for your question. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for your answer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or you can 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. Next time, we turn to Psalm 37 and see what happens when we wait for God. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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