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The Willingness To Change Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
February 8, 2023 1:00 am

The Willingness To Change Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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February 8, 2023 1:00 am

Too many Christians are nursing past wounds, afraid to let the secrets out. Yet like a skilled surgeon, God can create a clean wound that will heal properly and fully. In this message from 1 Corinthians 10:13, we process three characteristics of the way of escape. How do we find healing from our past?

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Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer
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Erwin Lutzer

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Nothing beats the exhilaration of running at full speed. Too many Christians can't because of secrets they're afraid to reveal. It's time to open the door and let in the light of God's forgiveness.

Stay with us to find out how to cast off the weights of your past and be free. 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 any of us think we can hide from God? You know, Dave, when you ask that question, I'm reminded of an incident that happened many years ago when one of our grandchildren was about two or three years old. He and I were playing hide and seek, and he was supposed to hide. He went under a tree in plain sight and cupped his eyes in his hands and thought that because he couldn't see me, I couldn't see him. I laugh about it to this day, and that's the way we are with God.

We think to ourselves that we can hide from him, and if we hide from him, he can't see us, but of course he can. Let me ask you a question today, dear listener. Do you have a tattoo on your soul? By that I mean you have something that happened to you that you've not been able to get rid of. It's the past that keeps dragging you down. I believe that this series of messages and a book I've written entitled Putting Your Past Behind You will be of tremendous help. Here's what you do.

For a gift of any amount, you can go to rtwoffer.com, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. No matter the depth of your discouragement, remember God is there for you. Lord, why is it that you are not coming to my need? God, how long are you going to put off justice? Lord, how long are you not going to answer my prayers? Lord, where are you when I need you? He spilled out his heart to God. And yet you get to the end of the psalm and you find that God is pouring grace and salve into his wound. There is nothing wrong with you sharing with God the depths of your hurt. In fact, if you want your past to be broken and its negative influence to be smashed, a good place to begin is to tell God all of your hurts in depth and with intensity.

That's a good place to start. And you know why it's a good place to start is he doesn't tell anybody. He doesn't stand up in prayer meeting and say, you know, I have a prayer request that I'd like to share because somebody shared a need with me that I would like to pass off onto you so that you can pray for too. God keeps secrets.

The text says that God is faithful. May I speak to you plainly? If I didn't believe that God had the ability to put your past behind you and give you a new beginning, I wouldn't be in the ministry because I am not interested proclaiming a God who is able to deliver people from only small sins. Do you really think that to God your past with all of its ugliness, your past with abuse, your past with moral failure, do you really think that it is greater than the faithfulness and the ability of God? If you do, that's part of the reason why you're bound. The first link is secrecy, but I want to remind you that your experience is common to the human race.

The second link is hostility toward God. I want to remind you that God is faithful who will not allow you to be tested beyond what you are able to bear but makes a way of escape. And that's the third assurance I want to give you today. There is a way out. There is a way of escape.

Before I give you God's way, let me talk about the ways of the world for just a moment. They have their escapes too because the hurt is too hard to bear. The raw pain of rejection is too hard. The wound is too deep. The poison is too strong.

It's too filled with acid and hurt. So there are ways that people try to escape. Let me name some. They're all false. The first is denial.

Denial. Remember talking to a young man whose mother had done everything she possibly could to ruin his life. And you know mothers can do that just like fathers can do it.

Mothers can do it too. And yet now as an adult when he began to confront his mother with all that she had done, she stood there and she denied the whole thing, though he remembers it with clarity as to what life was really like when they were being brought up in that home. She denied it.

Maybe she actually did forget it. The human mind can forget unpleasant things that we have done rather quickly. Denial.

There are some people who when they are confronted with their past and their faults and their sins absolutely cannot handle it because to look at themselves for one minute would be too awful. And so they collapse into denial. It's been estimated that 80% of all child abusers who when confronted with what they have done deny that they have done it.

And only when the evidence becomes overwhelming do they finally say yes, it's true. Denial. Second, substance abuse, alcoholism. It's just a way to deaden the pain of a guilty, frustrated, empty life. Compulsive behavior, overeating, overspending, running from here to there, oftentimes a sign that there are some people who simply cannot live with themselves because to see themselves alone for a minute is unbearable.

And so their behavior becomes very unpredictable. It's the way of escape or projecting blame. Everybody else is to blame. You know, you're caught with something red-handed but you cannot admit that it is you.

It's always somebody else. And oh how we as human beings do that with such great ability. Well that's not God's way of escape. Now that's the way many people try to cope.

They try to escape. But the problem is that that chain just becomes a little tighter because the third link in the chain is dishonesty. It's dishonesty. An unwillingness to see yourself for what you are in the presence of God and say I am at fault. I have a need. Within me there is festering all kinds of emotional and spiritual sores and I need to be healed. Oh that's hard to say that.

It's always somebody else. Now what is God's way of escape? I've been thinking about this message for a couple of weeks and I finally concluded that there is no one answer to God's way of escape because I think it's the brilliance of the scripture. Just to say that there is the way of escape without defining it. Why? Because every situation the application of that way of escape may be just a little different.

That's why. But let me give you some characteristics of the way of escape. First of all we know that God's way of escape always involves honesty. It is always being willing to be able to say God show me who I am. Show me who I am in your presence. Show me who I am in relationship to other people. I lay myself out before me oh God. Search me and see if there be any twisted wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Lord I open my life to you. It always involves honesty.

It must. For God is a God of truth. It always involves humility. That means that you are willing to consult someone else.

Somebody that you're willing to go to. Often as a pastor I've heard people say to me, pastor I'm going to tell you something now that nobody else in the whole wide world ever knows about me. And I often think to myself isn't that tragic to think that here's a person 30 or 40 or 50 years old who has to tell me something that nobody else in the whole wide world knows. They have borne that secret all along.

They have lived in their own private hell. They have cut themselves off from the possibility of help because God's remedy is always humility. Being able to admit to someone else in candor and honesty the hurt and the aches and the pains and the sores of the soul. God's way always involves that. That's what the body of Jesus Christ is all about. It's one of the reasons why he gave us brothers and sisters is that there are people whom you can trust with your past who will still accept you and love you and affirm you despite the hurt. And then of course God's way always involves some hurt.

That was actually my third point. Honesty, humility and hurt. Notice it says, the way of escape is given to us by God that we may be able to endure it, endure it and there may be pain in the endurance.

Let me explain it to you this way. You see there are some people whose life if we could see them spiritually and not physically we would see that their life is full of festering sores because of their past. Bad background, abusive parents, rejection, hurt, bad marriage, name it. All kinds of sores. But the problem is that unless they know how to have those sores healed and they use the ways of escape that we have mentioned that come to us from the world, those sores always remain open wounds. What God wants to do is to take those open wounds and turn them into scars because scars mean that there's been healing. But in order to do that he has to perform surgery. And so what the Lord often does is he reaches down and he takes his knife and that knife hurts and he cuts deeply and he cuts painfully. But he does it that he might heal. He wounds us that he might heal us so that we have a clean wound that can heal. Now how does God do that? He does it by confronting ourselves with him and our humble acknowledgement and willingness to see who we are. You know there are some people who are involved in addictions. There's some people who are involved in great excruciating painful emotional turbulence and they will never be free from it because there are things in their lives that they are unwilling to face.

They do not want to bear the pain of going back and being able to uncover the hurts that brought them to this point. You know in the Old Testament there's a very beautiful story. A man by the name of Hosea. The Bible tells us that Hosea was asked to marry a prostitute. God says I want to use your wife as an illustration for the nation.

Hosea did. He had two children by Gomer and then when he had a third he recognized something that had been a suspicion but now it was a painful reality, namely that the third child that she bore was not his at all but belonged to another lover. That's why he called the child lo a me which means no kin of mine.

You're not related to me. You belong to somebody else. One day he returned home and Gomer had left and she went from one lover to another.

Speak about sexual addiction. One relationship after another Gomer went from man to man until she fell into the arms of a man who could not take care of her at all and Hosea saw it and actually went to that man and gave him money so that he could do a better job of looking after his girlfriend Gomer. And then the text tells us eventually she fell into the hands of a man who couldn't take care of her at all and decided to sell her like a common slave and Hosea was in the audience and the auctioneer said how much am I bid for this woman and somebody said 14 shekels and a bushel of barley and Hosea up the ante and the text says I bought her back to me for 15 shekels of silver and a bushel and a half of barley and he brings her home. What a story of love. But you know what it says in the second chapter. God using her as an illustration of the nation Israel says I will bring her back to me and I will allure her and I will speak comfortably and I will speak lovingly to her and then the Lord says and I will give to her the valley of Achor as a door of hope.

The word Achor means trouble. God says I will bring her into trouble until that trouble becomes for her a door of hope and then the Lord says I will betroth her to me forever. I will betroth her to me in faithfulness and in righteousness. Hebrew scholars tell us that what that means is that when Gomer is brought back home her husband is going to consider her as a virgin once again. Oh physically she can never be a virgin again but spiritually he's going to give her a brand new beginning. Past is going to be blotted out and she's going to be made over in faithfulness and righteousness.

He's going to remarry her and she'll be betroth to him in loving kindness and know the Lord. What is the bottom line that I'm saying today my friend? I don't know your past. I don't know the secrets that you have brought to this meeting. I don't know the hurts. I don't know the pains but this much I do know that there is no valley that you are in but that it is a valley that has a way leading out. There is no trial that has overtaken you but such as is common to man and God is faithful who will not allow you to be tried above that which you are able but will with the trial make a way of escape so that you can endure it and endure it successfully.

He takes the open wounds and he turns them into scars healed and he enables you to begin again. Do you want a new beginning? Do you want the past to be blotted out? Do you want to be cleansed from the past? Do you want to be delivered from the chains that bind you? Do you want to be set free? Jesus said if the son shall make you free you shall be free indeed. That's what Jesus is all about to speak you free. You willing to humble yourself?

Willing to be honest? God is here to give you a new beginning. Let's pray. Father we look upon people in the outward appearance but you see the heart and you know right now the pasts that people have brought with you many of them already cleansed and forgiven but in many instances still the past lingers on with its awesome power.

Oh Lord Jesus please grant us grace. We pray that every single person here today may experience a sense of deliverance and freedom as they break the chain of secrecy and hostility and dishonesty and choose at any price to come clean that you might be able to set them free. Do something very special among us we pray and now why don't you talk to God and why don't you just say this, Lord I'm willing to do anything that you ask me to do to be free. Any price to be paid? Anything in my life that I have to make right?

And any counsel that I have to seek? I'm tired of a past that throttles me, controls me. I want it to be laid to rest, forgiven and free. Tell the Lord that. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen. Well my friend this is Pastor Luther although you just heard me pray I really do feel that I should pray again encouraging you come to Jesus Christ as you are.

Don't try to clean yourself up you come to him. Father I pray that you might use this message in a mighty way for those who have lost hope. Help them to know that their past need not control their future because you are there for the greatest of sinners. In Jesus name.

Amen. Louisa Tarkington wrote these words, I wish there were a wonderful place called the land of beginning again where all of our mistakes and heartaches and all of our poor selfish grief could be dropped like a shabby old code at the door and never be put on again. I quote this in my book entitled Putting Your Past Behind You. It's a book that I have written to help people with their hurts, with abuse, with all kinds of experiences that make us think that we cannot make progress in the Christian life.

You know someone like that in fact you might be just that kind of person for a gift of any amount this book can be yours. I need to explain that we here at Running to Win are committed to giving to all our listeners information and resources that help them in the Christian life. Here is what you do go to rtwoffer.com now I hope that you have a pen or pencil handy rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

Ask for the book Putting Your Past Behind You, subtitle Finding Hope for Life's Deepest Hurts. Once again that contact info rtwoffer.com and thanks in advance for helping us. Running to Win as you've heard me say before is in 20 different countries in four different languages and we are seeking to expand this ministry.

Or you can call us right now as a matter of fact at 1-888-218-9337. Time now 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 Byron in Ohio. In a sermon you said that pluralism is here to stay in America and we should get used to it. Well, should we do nothing about it? Can a person like myself just ignore people who boldly swear, tell dirty jokes, and make fun of the Bible and Christ? Am I to tolerate this kind of behavior when the Bible says, don't hide your light under a bushel? Well, Byron, I'm so glad that you're thinking about these things. First of all, I think you misunderstood what I said. When I said that pluralism is here to stay, I didn't mean that we should simply get used to it in a bad way and accommodate ourselves to it. What I meant was we need to be able to learn to witness in the midst of a pluralistic society.

In other words, it is here to stay, but what we need to do is to rise to the occasion and ask ourselves this simple question. What is the best way for me to be winsome and convincing in my witness for Jesus Christ in the midst of all of this darkness? I would say, Byron, we have to live respectfully. Respect others with their diverse viewpoints and religions, because if we want them to respect us, we have to respect them. Secondly, we need to realize that the debate isn't simply intellectual.

I think all of the good arguments are on our side. The real issue here is spiritual. That's why we need to pray, we need to seek God, and we need to be available for opportunities that God gives us to witness, because the issue isn't even so much the dirty jokes and the fun that people might make of the Bible. Beneath all of that, there is a deep spiritual hunger, and you and I need to be able to tap into that and to pray that God will give us wisdom to know how to do that. So Byron, keep witnessing for Christ, absolutely let your light shine, and for the glory of God, let's make an impact in the midst of our declining culture. Some wise counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. 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 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, Illinois, 60614. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago to help you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Next time, pardon for the unpardonable, real help for those who think they may have crossed a line that condemns them eternally. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-08 07:04:32 / 2023-02-08 07:12:51 / 8

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