Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
You can't avoid gravity and you can't change the speed of light. Neither can you buck 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.
Stay with us. 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're teaching us about dealing with repeated sin, and I believe you're taking us again into Galatians chapter 6. Yes, Dave, and I do that because it is so clear that whatever you sow, you reap. It is so important for us to understand the doctrine of sin. We understand ourselves much better.
We understand society. And as a result of that, we understand more clearly the need for the gospel than the coming of Jesus Christ to earth. I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry. Now, if you're blessed as a result of listening to Running to Win, I can tell you it's because other people just like you have invested in this ministry. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner, someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts?
Of course, the amount that you give is entirely up to your discretion. Here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com. Did I say that too quickly?
RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for helping us get the Word of God to thousands upon thousands of people. 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 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. What is an addiction? An addiction as we know is blinding absorption to sin.
That's true. But how is an addiction developed? It is the end result of toying and playing with sins that should have never been a part of our life in the first place. And you and I know that no matter what the addiction is, whether it's alcoholism, whether it's drugs, whether it's sex, whatever it is, that that addiction usually can only be one when God finally brings a person to the end of himself and he becomes absolutely desperate and he cries out to God and says, help. And God says, at last, I have your attention. And now we're in business.
Now we can do something. How are addictions developed? They're developed because we reap more than we sow. We sow and we say we have it under control here.
These seeds are small. That's why Paul says in this verse, do not be deceived. The deceit is it's under our control.
And eventually it spirals out from under our control and takes on a life of its own. You remember how the Israelites complained to God about the fact that they had manna and they wanted meat. And God didn't like their complaining. They said, you know, God, we don't like your menu here in the desert. Manna in the morning, manna in the evening, manna just as a bedtime snack, manna for breakfast. God says, you know, you ought to be happy with manna. I'm giving it to you. I know you don't like the cafeteria, but you should put up with it. You know, part of this is your discipline too. And they just kept calling God and God says, okay, you want meat?
Fine. He says, I'll give it to you so that it comes out of your nose. See, that's the answer to the student who said, well, if I sin in a big way, I can be forgiven in a big way and I can talk about God's grace in a big way. And God says, yes, yes, all that is true.
But you know what? You are going to be hooked in a mighty big way because you've not taken sin seriously. So we reap more than we sow. Did you know that in context, as I mentioned, Paul actually is talking about giving and that is true that if we, if we plant good seeds of generosity, we also reap more than we sow. It says in second Corinthians, he says, Paul says, the reason that you should give is not just because the church has needs. What you should give, he says, is to increase, and I've pondered this phrase often, to increase your harvest of righteousness. You're generous over here. God feels free to bless you over here with a harvest of righteousness. You sow some seeds here and you're blessed over here. It's not saying that every dollar you give, God is going to give you $10 back.
Just send in your offering and your credit card is going to be miraculously paid. Not that kind of nonsense. But God is saying faithfulness over here will breed blessing over there, greater blessing than you could imagine. You say, well, Pastor Luther, how do we put this all together so that our lives are changed? That's why we're here, right? Aren't you in church today because you're saying, God, I want my life to be different from now on and forever?
I hope that's why you're here. First of all, keep in mind that a harvest is inevitable. A harvest is inevitable. Every single day we are either sowing to the flesh or we're sowing to the Spirit or we may be doing both. But the simple fact is that there is a harvest coming and we cannot change last year's harvest.
And we can change the harvest of the future by planting different seeds. Could I say that even confession does not change the harvest and its inevitability? If you're involved in repeated sin and all that you do is commit the same sin and then ask God's forgiveness and do the same thing, the same thing, the same thing, what you'll discover is that you too are sowing and reaping. And you may of the flesh be reaping destruction because not even confession can save the harvest.
If a man kills his wife, an unborn child, and is indeed guilty of that murder, he can receive God's forgiveness and cleansing. That's what grace is all about. But the consequences will continue. But a harvest is inevitable.
And every day we change the equation. Secondly, we need to both pull out weeds and plant seeds. We have to pull out the weeds and plant seeds.
How do we pull out the weeds? We pull them out, and I'm talking to Christians now, we pull them out through confession. And then at the same time, what we do is we replace those sins with habits of righteousness because we want to plant some good seeds. You know, in Central America, there was a woman who in those cultures where they bring their clothes to a river to wash them.
Sometimes women gather at the river together with a bundle of clothes. And this dear woman, God bless her, she felt so much shame and embarrassment because her clothes were so dirty that she refused to open her bundle, but simply took the whole bundle and dipped it in the river back and forth, and then took it back home. You know, that's the way some Christians confess their sins. I have a good friend who always confesses his sins this way. Oh, God, forgive my sins, for they are many. And I'm sure they are.
Mine are. God has never let me get by with that kind of confession. God says, yeah, you confess your sins because they are many. Would you please list them for me so we know that we're agreeing on what is sin and what I have the right to take out of your life forever?
That's what confession is. It's agreeing with God. It's saying, God, I don't want any of these weeds in my life. I want you to uproot them, not merely cut them off. I want them actually uprooted. Now, if you become a hard-hearted Christian, what will happen is those seeds will not be planted.
And furthermore, the weeds you may cut off, but the roots will stay. God is saying to you and to me today, open your life and your heart. Get rid of those weeds through confession. Plant seeds of righteousness. Begin to find help. Begin to study God's word.
Begin to devote yourself to the things that really matter. And I want you to know today that your development as a Christian can be measured by how long it takes between conscious sin and conscious heartfelt confession. Ideally, the minute we become conscious of sin, at that moment, we should look up to God and say, God, I have just sinned. Cleanse me because I love you so much. I don't want to be out of fellowship with you.
And so in this moment, please put away the barrier that is between you and me so that I can be back in fellowship with you. Remember this, the goal that God has in mind is for us to have a greater passion for Christ than our passion to sin. And that only happens when we weed and when we seed and God gives us a harvest of righteousness. There's a final lesson. And the final lesson is that sin is the most expensive thing in the universe.
Nothing comes close in terms of cost. It costs so much that when God says, I'm going to deal with it, I'm going to send my son to die on the cross to make atonement and he will bear the eternal penalties for all who believe. Isn't that wonderful? Because we've trusted Christ as savior, the final penalty, the eternal penalty does not rest on our shoulders. It rests on the shoulders of our sin bearer, of our substitute. And God says that that substitute is bearing your sin so that you don't have to bear its eternal consequences.
We have certain consequences in this life and those are the things we're talking about. But eternally, we have been saved from all condemnation, all condemnation. But sin is so expensive that if you do not trust Christ as savior, if you do not turn to him and say, I'm going to bear the penalty for my own sin and I'm going to go my own way, if you say that, your penalty will be an eternal penalty of separation from God because sin is so expensive.
It costs and it'll cost you so very much. George McDonald who influenced CS Lewis said that there is a principle of hell and that principle is I am my own. That's the principle of hell.
The principle of heaven says not my will but thine be done. Today I'm talking to people who perhaps think I could not even possibly believe on Christ because you don't know what I'm bringing to the table. You don't know who I am. You don't know my background. You don't know my needs. You don't know my sins.
You don't know my addictions. I want you to know today that when Jesus died his death was so complete and so wonderful that God says if you humble yourself and you come just as you are with your need, not even having to change, you come and you let God change you but you come that there can be forgiveness and cleansing and you will not have to bear the eternal penalty of your sin. But if you say no, that penalty will be yours forever.
So you've done it again. Rush to Christ to be forgiven, to be cleansed and if you're a believer begin to understand his grace toward you. And if you've never been saved, if you are here, come to him.
Believe on him so that your penalty will be his and he will bear it. Do you remember John Newton? We know his story, don't we? He's in a ship and it is there that he is suddenly overcome.
The name of the ship is the Greyhound. He's overcome by a tremendous storm. Sailors curse God. He begins to call on God. When they get to the end of the storm, finally he finds a New Testament that is on the boat. Now remember, this is the guy who gave people prizes if they could think of some new way of sinning that he had not tried. So he had done it all. And he began to read the New Testament and he said, you know, Jesus meets my need exactly.
Isn't that wonderful? He meets our need exactly. He believed on Christ and became a minister and he wrote that wonderful song. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind.
But now I see. That's the grace that saves us and it's the grace that keeps us and disciplines us all the way to the heavenly home. Let's pray. Our Father, with great inadequacy we have ministered today, lest the blessed Holy Spirit helps people in this moment, it shall be all for naught. For those who know you as Savior, Father, teach us to take sin seriously. And for those who have never trusted you, we pray that they may embrace you as their Savior right now, knowing that there's no one who has gone too far, fallen too deep, but that they can believe. Grant them that ability even now. And before I close this prayer, what is it that you need to say to God right now?
You talk to him based on what you've just heard. Father, I'm believing that you've done a work in the lives of many people, but it's only begun. Follow through with it, we pray. In Jesus' name, amen. My friend, perhaps you realize that I as a pastor never get tired of preaching that amazing grace. And of course, we would not have that amazing grace were it not for the fact that Jesus Christ came to earth, and we're about to celebrate that special event called Christmas. I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win.
Perhaps you've heard me mention that we are in 20 different countries in four different languages, and of course heard around the world, thanks to the internet. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner to help us get the gospel to even more people? Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com. Now, when you're there, you click on the endurance partner button. As you might guess, rtwoffer is all one word.
Go to rtwoffer.com, click on the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. From my heart to yours. Thank you so much for helping us. Thank you for the large congregation of people that help Running to Win get to so many different countries and reach so many different people with the good news of the gospel.
I'm thanking you in advance. It's time again for another opportunity for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Today's question, Dr. Lutzer, comes to us from Rob in Virginia, and this is his story. I can't help but believe that many Christians have become little more than modern-day Pharisees casting stones at sexual sinners and supporting policies which subject them to a lifetime of scorn and pillory. I read about a group of Christians that was organizing residents block by block to petition the city council for tougher ordinances against released sex offenders. The outcome was that sex offenders who lived there were required to move, and the restrictions are so severe that none of them will ever live there again.
Can you imagine Christ helping to organize a group of citizens to get the harlots kicked out of Jerusalem? I'm one of thousands of men who have been convicted for Internet solicitation and have been given a long prison sentence. There ought to be a more merciful way to deal with sexual crimes. Why doesn't the Christian community become more active in helping to protect everyone's dignity? Why am I made to suffer in such a severe fashion a homosexuality and adultery run rampant?
Released ex-convicts are dumped back into society without any hope of success since society views them as once a criminal, always a criminal. Christians should never forget that our primary responsibility is to redeem and to restore and to recover what is lost. Well, Rob, I want you to know that as I read your letter, it is with mixed emotions and feelings. I certainly don't agree with you that it was wrong for Christians to get organized and to make sure that sex offenders are not to live in their area. And the reason for that is because of what happens to children.
If I had children, I would be protective also, and you need to recognize that. And you know, you bemoan the fact that you are suffering severely and I understand that and will speak to it in just a moment, but remember what you were willing to do or what you have done and what sex offenders do, ruining children oftentimes for the rest of their lives. Your letter makes me wonder whether or not you recognize the seriousness of this kind of sin. Now, on the other hand, I can be very sympathetic with the fact that there is a lot of shame and a lot of guilt and we as Christians have sometimes not helped people overcome that through the forgiveness of Jesus. So I want to reaffirm to you, Rob, that God is able to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. He can cleanse your conscience. And even though you are there in prison, having that experience, God can be with you there in prison and can even use you in prison. At the same time, recognizing that the greatness of your sin is up against the greatness of God's grace and God's forgiveness.
And thankfully, grace wins. Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. Now a comment about the prison system. I agree with you again that oftentimes prisoners, ex-offenders are simply dumped out into society and they're supposed to sink or swim on their own. And that's why you have so many people who end up back in prison. They go back to their own sins. Maybe they don't have money. So they begin to steal.
I understand all that. And these problems are huge, but let's never minimize the impact of sexual offenders in the lives of children. And for that matter, in the lives of others. Rob, cleave to God, receive his forgiveness. And even if I might suggest also, forgive the Christians who have hurt you. Maybe they weren't as loving as they were supposed to be, but they were doing what they thought was right for their children and for their community. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. 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. Ever hurt someone you care about? Handling the ongoing pain we cause when we sin is a daunting but necessary task. Next time on Running to Win, how to seek forgiveness from those we've hurt, and then watch as God brings new hope out of our bad situations. Don't miss Reconciling with Those You've Hurt. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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