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So, You've Done It Again Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 6, 2022 1:00 am

So, You've Done It Again Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 6, 2022 1:00 am

Addiction is a blinding absorption to sin. For many of us, there’s no way out of the cycle of sin, forgiveness, restoration, and back again. In this message, we hear three laws of sowing and reaping in the flesh or the Spirit. Is there any hope that we can break the ruthless pattern of addiction? 

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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. Often, we get tripped up in the race of life by returning to the detours of past behavior. For some, it seems there is no way to break out of a cycle of sin, forgiveness, restoration and back to sin. Today, we begin to find that way 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, Israel as a people went from spiritual highs to terrible lows, and we as believers often do the same. Do you believe the cycle can be broken?

Well, Dave, if you're talking about addictions, the answer is yes, but I need to emphasize that oftentimes people cannot get out of this habit of repeated sin without help. By that, I mean becoming accountable in a small group, meaning the fact that we are always going to be tempted, but there is hope for everyone and that's why this message is so incredibly important. And of course, there'd be no message such as this were it not for the coming of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.

And after Christmas, we think of the New Year. I'm holding in my hand a very special devotional, 365 readings, one for every day of the year. It's a great gift for your children, your grandchildren, and for yourself. It has to do with science, biology, paleontology, cosmology, and every page has a color picture.

I'm looking through it and I can see pictures of elephants and dogs and flowers, all illustrating God as creator. Now, for a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to That's or call us at 1-888-218-9337. The title of the book is Have You Considered?

We've never offered it before, but it's available right now. Now, if I sin in a big way, I can be forgiven in a big way, and then I can talk about God's grace in a very big way. Those are the words of a college student who just began to understand the meaning of grace. The question before us today is how does God deal with people who take advantage of his grace once they understand it? And understanding grace is the beginning of the gospel. What about the man who was going to give his wife an abortion, a Christian man, a medical student, and before he did, he prayed this prayer. He said, O God, forgive the sin that I am about to commit, but guide my hand.

His wife happened to die in the procedure, and that's why this story that I'm telling you came to light. Now, the reason I'm preaching this message is, if you recall, this is a series of messages titled After You've Blown It, Reconnecting with God and Others. The reason I preach it is because the last two messages in the series, if you remember, had to do with God's matchless grace. The fact that God forgives us and takes all the guilt away, and there's no one who is here today that has sunk so deeply, but that God can cleanse you and forgive you and take your sin and cast it into the very depths of the sea.

But, you know, after hearing that, it might be that someone says, yeah, but. So I can take advantage of God's grace. I can simply presume that God is so good, he's going to forgive me anyway. It's safe to sin. So this message is a warning to tell you why, even after you understand grace, why it is never safe to sin. When the Apostle Paul was writing the book of Galatians, and I invite you to take your Bibles and turn to that New Testament book, when he was writing it, he was writing to a church that was in danger of being engulfed in legalism. Legalism was the view that grace wasn't totally to be received, it had to be combined with the law. And so there were those who said, yes, we are saved by grace, but actually we're saved by the law also. And Paul is writing against that and saying that's wrong, don't go there. But he was also well aware that there were some people who are going to say, well, this really is great news. What we can do is to sin and get by because God is so gracious, he'll forgive us anyway.

And you know, there are people today on both sides of the spectrum. There are those who say, when we explain the gospel to them and say, did you know that it's possible for you to know that your sins are forgiven and when you die you will go to heaven and you can have that assurance? They will say, wait a moment, don't you dare tell people that. Because the minute you tell people that, they're going to go out and they're going to believe on Jesus and then sin to their fill. And so what they are is stingy on grace. Paul would say, don't do that, don't ever be stingy on grace. But at the same time, what he's saying is, don't you dare think that what I'm saying gives you license to sin. I'm now in chapter 5 of Galatians verse 13. You, my brothers, were called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather serve one another in love.

Don't you misunderstand, don't misuse grace either. Now, God's answer for the fact that we are prone to sin even after we have believed on Christ as Savior, God's answer really comes in two parts. The first part of the answer is, let's recognize that salvation means a change of our very nature. Before we trusted Christ as Savior, we loved sin. Sin with all of its desires captivated us. Now that we've accepted Christ as Savior, we have a whole new set of desires.

For example, we love God. There was a graduate student over in Europe who was involved in an immoral relationship while his wife was here in America. And a friend of mine said to him, you know that God sees what you're doing. And he said, he said, well, of course God sees it, but he'll forgive me. That's his job. Do you think that person was actually born again?

I don't think so. That's not the way a Christian talks. A Christian can be caught in sin, but when he's caught in sin, he is grieved because he is grieved the blessed Holy Spirit of God. He's not flippant about God's forgiveness.

So God says, the first answer is that I actually give you a new heart. In the Bible, you have clean and unclean animals. A sheep is presented as a clean animal. A sheep doesn't like to get its fur dirty.

As a matter of fact, it loves quiet waters. That's why it says that in Psalm 23, so that it won't get its wool wet. But a pig, we all know that a pig is a dirty animal, an animal that loves garbage. Now you could take a pig. You could wash a pig. You could blow dry a pig. You could put a bow tie on a pig. You could give a pig a lecture on the benefits of cleanliness and remind him that cleanliness is next to godliness.

But the moment he's free, he'll find dirt and mud. There's only one way to change the pig and that is to give him the nature of a sheep. When God converts us, he gives us a new nature with new desires, a new love for God, a new love for righteousness. And this creates conflict. That's why Paul says also here in chapter 5, he says, verse 16, live by the Spirit and you will not indulge the desires of the sinful nature for the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.

They are in conflict. Is there a Christian here today who's not understood or felt this conflict, this desire to please God? And yet we're left with sinful desires and so there is conflict. But the first part of the answer to those who say, well, once you trust Christ, you can live the way you like. The first part is that the transformation that God brings in our life is powerful, long lasting and goes to the very depths of our desires. But the second part of the answer is God's discipline.

My wife and I, as you know, have three daughters. We also now have three sons-in-law and we never withheld any forgiveness that we had to extend to them. And as it turned out, sometimes they had to receive our forgiveness also. We never ever skimped on grace, but at the same time there was discipline for disobedience.

And that's what God does in the life of every single believer. You find it throughout the Bible. It says in the book of 1 Kings in the Old Testament, it says regarding Solomon who loved many strange women, Solomon was into relationships.

He had wives and he had mistresses, hundreds of them. Isn't it interesting that in verse 1 of chapter 11 it says in the book of 1 Kings, Solomon loved many strange women. God was displeased with him. And you go on in the chapter and it says, and so God raised up adversaries against Solomon. God was saying, Solomon, I'm going to bring difficulties into your life so that you might know that you're going down the wrong path. Even in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, you remember he was given a thorn in the flesh.

Some people think that that's proof that Paul must have been married, but he was given a thorn in the flesh. Because God says, I've given you revelations and lest you exalt yourself above measure, unless you, lest you fall into the temptation of pride, he says, I'm going to give you a thorn in the flesh to keep you humble. You know what God does? And I'm speaking now to believers for a moment. What God does is he brings roadblocks into our lives when we are disobedient.

He does that. And you and I have seen believers who have disregarded all of the roadblocks, who have knocked down one roadblock after another after another after another as they've wandered away from God and they become increasingly entangled and they can't figure it out that God is getting their attention. It is the Father who is disciplining them for their disobedience. Now, that doesn't mean that everyone who has adversaries, everyone who has a thorn in the flesh, it's because of some specific sin.

That's not the case. But when we have difficulties, we should look long and hard into our hearts and say, God, is there something within me that you're trying to get my attention about? Now with that, what I'd like us to do is to move on to another passage of scripture right here in the book of Galatians, where Paul is going to talk about the consequences even of sins that have been forgiven. Because forgiveness is one thing, but some of the consequences continue. And Paul is going to give us now another way in which God disciplines his children. It is through the laws of sowing and reaping. You'll notice in chapter six, he says in verse six, anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

He may be talking even about financial gifts to the teachers of that day. And then verse seven, very solemn verses. My message today is a warning. Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction.

The one who sows to please the Spirit from the Spirit, he will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Some of you in a previous context have heard me give the laws of sowing and reaping, and I would like to just review them today. And then we'll draw some applications and explain why this message should change us forever. That's the agenda in the next 15 or 20 minutes.

Don't look at your watch to see whether I stay within those limits. The first law of sowing and reaping is we reap what we sow. You sow onions and you don't get bananas. And what he says is if we sow to the sinful nature by the television programs we see, by the movies that we watch, by the materialism and the greed that is in our hearts, by the dishonesty with which we conduct our business, we sow to the sinful nature. We receive what we sow. We receive more sensuality. We receive more love of materialism.

The effect goes on in the lives of our children and on and on it goes. We sow anger over here and we reap greater anger over here because we sow what we reap. But if we sow to the Spirit, if we are involved in the disciplines of the Christian life, if we sow the seeds of meditation in the Scriptures, the seeds of prayer and worship, and we sow the important seed of church attendance, because it's here you see where we connect with the body that the choir has just sung about.

And it's here that we develop relationships and it's here that our faith is strengthened. If we plant these seeds we will reap the benefits of righteousness and wholeness. And so the first law of sowing and reaping is that you reap what you sow. The only person who doesn't reap what he sows is the amateur gardener who probably reaps something else. But there is a law that what you sow you reap. There's a second law and that is that we reap in a different season than we sow.

We reap in a different season than we sow. When I was growing up we had lots of room for gardens. In fact, my mother had a big garden and we as children all had our own small gardens. And we would plant corn and onions probably and peas and a few other things and then we as kids would run out every day to see whether or not there were any peas or carrots or corn. In fact, we watered it so much I remember watering my garden so much every single day that pretty soon all of the seeds began to wash away. But what I was expecting was an immediate harvest planted one day should be their corn the next. No, that's not the way it is. You reap in a different season than you sow.

There's a time to plant and there's a time to harvest and those two opportunities do not happen at the same time. When I was growing up I had a couple of friends and I remember one who used to steal candy and gum from the store. I remember even going to church with him and he would pull out some gum and candy and say look at what I just stole. This was a Sunday school kid. Isn't it interesting that a little later on he stole clothing and a little later on he stole a car with some of his buddies and as a result of that he ended up in jail.

Why? He began to sow over here in one season when it seemed as if his seeds were very controllable. After all, stealing some gum and candy is a pretty small thing. But because those seeds began to grow and the tree began to sink in its roots he ended up reaping over here something quite terrible. I'm not sure what he ended up doing after that.

Who knows? Maybe the next would be a bank robbery because you don't sow in the same season that you reap. It takes time. There are consequences. The Bible says in Proverbs 22 verse 8, those who sow wickedness reap trouble. But if you sow to the spirit, and now I want to speak to all of you who are in children's ministries here at Moody Church or elsewhere, this is so important. You don't reap in the same season that you sow. Sowing with children is very difficult work, isn't it? There are some of those kids, those brats you just like to take the Board of Education and apply it to the seat of learning. You know the feeling. But I want you to know today that some of the most unruly, impossible children have turned out to be some of the most wonderful Christians, mightily used of God.

But you don't see that, do you? That's why I believe that the verse here, verse 9 was actually written, for Sunday school teachers, for kids club workers, for camp counselors, let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Don't give up. The little boy or the little girl whose life you are touching, only God knows the potential of that child who is now irritating you to death or close. The scripture says those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying precious seed will return rejoicing, carrying his sheaves with him. We don't reap in the same season that we sow. Keep sowing good seed. You will reap a harvest. There's a third law, and that is that we always reap more than we sow. We reap more than we sow. I remember my father going out into a field of grain and he would take stalks of grain in the fall before harvest, rub them in his hand and count the kernels. Because he knew that if every stalk, if indeed each stalk was planted by one grain, if there would be 30 kernels in his hand, he could expect maybe 30 bushels to an acre because he planted, you know, one bushel per acre.

So now he would, now he would have 30. And that's the way it is. If you sow to the flesh, you reap more than you sow. David committed murder and the Lord came to him and said, David, your sin is forgiven. Your guilt is taken away. He said, wash me and I shall be clean. And God says, you shall be clean. But guess what, David?

The sword will never depart from your house. And David lost four sons as a result of the seeds that he had planted. You reap more than you sow.

This is Pastor Lutzer. I want to clarify, of course, that that's why it's so important for us to be able to distinguish our own cleansing from the effects of our sins. See, there are plenty of people who are continually overcome by the past because they are looking at the consequences of their sin and forgetting that like David, they can be washed clean. Guilt can be taken away, even if the consequences continue. Well, the reason we can have this opportunity to share about God's forgiveness is that Jesus Christ came to earth.

And that's, of course, what we are celebrating just in a couple of weeks. But I'm holding in my hands a book for the new year. It's a wonderful devotional. It is a full color illustrated book that emphasizes God as creator. I wish that I could give a copy to you so that you could see it for yourself. It's a wonderful book for your children, for your grandchildren, but also a book for you.

If you were to read every one of these brief descriptions every day of the year, you'd be surprised at how much you would learn about God and His creation. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to That's, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, I'm going to be giving you that contact info again, but thank you so much for your support for this ministry.

It is because of people just like you that running to win can continue to expand. Ask for the book Have You Considered? We've never offered it before on this broadcast.

Go to or call us at 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.

You can't avoid gravity, and you can't change the speed of light. Neither can you book the system that says, What you reap, you sow. God uses this principle to teach His children to not sin. Sometimes, though, the lessons are hard. Next time, more from Galatians chapter 6, as Erwin Lutzer talks further about the laws of sowing and reaping. Thanks for listening. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-06 03:23:52 / 2022-12-06 03:32:21 / 8

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