Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. After the race's final turn, a runner far back in the pack loses hope.
There is no way he can ever break the tape. People who have addictions feel the same way, hopeless until they come face-to-face with the Christ who can make them clean and 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, some say it's simplistic to say, never take that first drink, but that's not bad advice.
Dave, two thoughts come immediately to mind. First of all, I absolutely agree with you. My parents taught us as children that if you never take a first drink, you can be assured you'll never be an alcoholic. But I also want to comment on your intro when you say that there are those who are running the race and some people think that they can never break the tape. In a race, only one person wins, but biblically, in the race of life, we can all win. And that's why I wrote the book entitled Putting Your Past Behind You.
Regardless of your past, you are in the race, and I believe to the glory of God, you can run successfully all the way to the finish line. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
That's rtwoffer.com or 1-888-218-9337. Let's learn together how to run this race successfully. He's bound by guilt and shame. Secondly, he's bound by euphoria. He's bound by the euphoria, by the experience, by the inrush of pleasure that he feels, tentilating his whole body as he's involved in addiction. It's a pleasure he can't bear to be without.
The voyeur who looks through windows may look through a window for three hours standing there in excitement, already enraptured with euphoria, looking for perhaps 20 seconds of partial nudity. You have the adulterer. Did you read the book that was written by our former police chief here, Richard Brezek? He and his wife wrote a book on sexual addiction, which tells about all of his affairs. Interestingly, he says, quote, for me to make a phone call was the equivalent to a junkie shooting heroin.
And he said that when he didn't reach one of his girlfriends he would actually cry and go into withdrawal. It was his shot of heroin, his exuberance, his excitement, his euphoria. And what can we say about gamblers who have the excitement of taking risks and making a bet? What about the alcoholic who receives that exhilaration through the bottle? And that is why alcoholics become so absolutely terrified lest anything should ever come between them and that precious bottle. They don't want God.
They don't want their family. They don't want anything to separate them from that which helps them get through one more day. The euphoria helps them to survive. Feelings that the addict believes he cannot be without. Yes, he's bound by euphoria.
He's bound by fear of rejection. Just put yourself into an addict's shoes for just a moment. What is it that an addict needs desperately? He needs to feel human and nobody can feel fully human. Nobody can feel fully fulfilled unless there is some other human being in the world who knows all about you and who still loves you and accepts you despite what you're doing.
They don't have to accept what you're doing, but they have to accept you. That's the nature of personhood is to have other beings, human beings know you and still love you, but an addict can't have that. He fears that if he exposes his life to somebody, he's going to be written off as a sick pervert.
He can't stand the fact of exposing himself to people in terms of his own lifestyle and his own desires, and yet it is exactly that kind of friendship and openness that he desperately needs to get out of his prison. Have you ever wondered why Alcoholics Anonymous is so successful? You see, they've been able to overcome that one problem. They've said, look now, if we get a group of alcoholics and they're all in the same room, any alcoholic that walks in knows that he's going to be accepted because he is among those who are in exactly the same predicament as he. And that's why you have Alcoholics Anonymous and you have Gambler's Anonymous and now there are groups that are starting up for those who are into sexual addiction, all of which trying to create an atmosphere where there can be some honesty and still some acceptance. Perhaps it should be a legitimate criticism of the church that these groups in the past at least have had to meet outside of the church and they were begun outside of the church because within the church where everybody walks in victory all the time and nobody has any problems, who in the world would want to share their addiction, right? They're bound by fear of rejection, bound by loneliness. Now don't tell me, oh yes, I know so and so and he was an addict and he was surrounded by people.
I do not mean that people aren't around. It's possible to have people all over the place and to be dying inside because addicts feel genuinely that nobody really, really, really understands their point of view and what it is that's happening within their souls. Bound by loneliness and then the biggest chain of all bound by a sense of worthlessness. Now if you're brought up in a home where you were abused child where you were called name slap beaten, irrational anger on the part of your parents if you were abandoned and it was clear to you that you were a burden to your mom and dad. If all of that was true of you, how difficult it is for you to look at yourself and believe that there is something worthy about you. You feel like dirt and you act like the dirt that you feel is within your soul. Now do you begin to understand why addicts find it so hard? It is because once you begin to deal with all of these chains, you find out that the painful experience of all that you've gone through, including perhaps hatred towards your parents and all of the excruciating experiences of life, the loneliness, the abandonment, the meaninglessness, all of that needs to be dealt with. And it is so painful that some people say I'll hang on to my addiction rather than let go. Well enough, enough of the negative stuff.
What is the way out? I want you to turn to 1 Corinthians for just a moment. 1 Corinthians chapter 6. We always think that sin is something new.
I think it was invented by Hollywood. They didn't invent sin, they just helped a lot of people do it better. 1 Corinthians 6. The city of Corinth had 1,000 free prostitutes, homosexuality all over the place, church trying to survive in the midst of that environment. 1 Corinthians 6.9. Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. And my, how we have a lot of deception today. People commit all of the sins that are listed and they try to justify them before God because they exchange the truth of God into a lie.
But he says don't be deceived. Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor effeminate nor homosexuals nor thieves nor the covetous nor drunkers nor revilers nor swindlers, we might like to add gamblers, they shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Scholars wonder does this mean that these kind shall never get to heaven? Well obviously these kind shall get to heaven when they come to Christ as Paul says in verse 11. But perhaps also inheriting the kingdom is different from entering it but one thing is absolutely clear that when God lists these sins he takes them very seriously and he's saying to us please do not redefine these sins to make them look as if committing them is okay with God.
And because I'm in a hurry today I can't list all of the examples that I hope to give you of people who do that sort of thing. But now notice verse 11. And such were some of you but you're washed, you're sanctified, you're justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the spirit of our God. Scholars ask why did Paul say those three words in that order? He should have begun with justification, sanctification, then being washed but he begins with being washed, he begins existentially.
That is to say he begins with the people's experience and then he moves out. He says you folks fit into that category and frankly I cannot think of an addiction that does it not have its roots essentially in the sins that are listed. And he says but now he says you're washed.
Oh what a good news to an addict. All the pollution, all the shame, it's like taking a hose and cleaning the gutter and just letting all of the dirt and the garbage run off as the clear water runs over the area that is being cleansed. You're washed. The shame has been taken away. All those voices that condemn you have been silent.
You are washed he says. You have been sanctified that means set apart. You're special to God.
You know that that's what sanctification means. It means being set apart, being honored. You know there are some people who are into art and they have beautiful pictures in their home and they have some pictures that are so big that when they build a new home they build the home so that it will accommodate a particular picture. They say we want a spot for this picture and so they'll deliberately accommodate that picture.
Now if the picture could talk if it could understand it would feel important. Would say my goodness I am being sanctified. I am being set apart.
This owner thinks I'm so special that he's building a place just for me. Imagine the good news to an addict. You are so special to God that God has set you aside for himself.
You are important. There is a purpose for which you can begin to live and you do not have to spend the rest of your life in that awful awful awful cycle of addiction. Because remember an addict drinks to overcome the problems that have been created by his drinking. He gambles to make up for the money that he has lost in gambling.
He's involved in relationships because of the fact that his own relationship has been broken because of the relationships that he has. And now suddenly Jesus says I am going to set you free. You're going to be cleansed and set apart for God special treatment. You're justified Paul says. You're declared righteous. Listen to me my friend those of you who are struggling with some kind of an addiction or some kind of a sin whether you want to think of yourself as an addict or not get this good news. When God justifies a sinner he gives to all of them the very same righteousness and stature before God.
Isn't that good news? You know all those religious types that have never had a problem in their life? They don't get any other kind of righteousness than the righteousness of God which is given to all the addicts who come to Jesus Christ. Roger Montgomery was telling me about a pastor that he was being discipled with and he said the worst thing that this pastor had ever experienced was some kind of an addiction to golf. You know the type. They've never had a single temptation in their life. There really are no people like that.
There are only people who pretend that that's the case okay. I want you to know I don't care how deeply you have fallen and how many times you have failed when you come to Christ you have credited to you the same righteousness that was received by Dwight L. Moody the righteousness that is received by every single sinner and God elevates you as a son of God in a joint area with Jesus Christ and you're given stature. I don't know if you notice this or not but I'm trying to wrap three sermons today into one and trying to do it all on time. Do you know what Paul continues to say in the rest of the passage? He says the whole Trinity is rooting for us and helping us. He says in verse 15 do you not know that your bodies are a member of Christ and incidentally if you're a member of Christ and I'm a member of Christ it follows by elementary logic that we are actually members one of another and that's why the body of Christ should be involved in helping people overcome their addictions. He says we are joined to Christ verse 19 he says we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and verse 20 he says you have been bought by God at high cost you're special to him. God the Son God the Spirit and God the Father all involved in a person who comes to Christ tired of the chains weary of the secretiveness of the whole experience coming to a Christ that delivers. I hope someday you listen to the whole interview that we had with Roger Montgomery because you will find that after God saved him for two years he went through he says and this is his word excruciating temptation.
He said it was so bad that he would call that pastor up and say I think I'm going to go into some of the areas of Chicago and I'm going to seek a partner tonight and the pastor would say stay exactly where you are because I'm coming to pick you up to take you to my home. Slowly as he began to understand the power of Christ there was deliverance and there was transformation of his heart. Let me speak plainly addiction is basically a battle between two gods. On the one hand you have the God of lustful desire and that is being energized by the God of this world called Satan that car that is out of control the propelling of your desires to be fed only to discover that those desires are hungry and more hungry the next time around and constantly on and on being driven.
That's a God. On the other side you have the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ about whom Jesus said when he before he was born he shall save his people from their sins. That's what the Bible says and Jesus said you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
But in order to know that truth there has to be an exposure to the truth. There has to be a willingness to face the pain as you give yourself to Christ after having received the free gift of eternal life that he grants to all those who believe on him. What did Roger Montgomery tell us? He was kicked out of a Bible school for homosexuality. He understood the doctrine of justification by faith but in the back of his mind he always thought that he had to change first to get good enough for God to accept him.
Thank God he was desperate enough one day to realize that that is terrible destructive theology. That's why I like the words of the song just as I am without one plea but that thy blood was shed for me and that thou bidst me come to thee O Lamb of God I come. You come as an alcoholic you come as a sex addict if you please you come as a homosexual you come as you are trusting God to do what you cannot.
Such were some of you but you're washed. Imagine what that means sanctified set apart for God justified and the whole Trinity rooting for you to make the transformation. Let's pray together. Our Father we pray for those who have been bound for years with various hidden sins addictions whatever we may call them.
We think of those who have lied to cover their sin they've made excuses they have changed the truth of God into a lie. We pray today that you will just help them to walk free. In the name of Jesus we pray that the chains that have so securely been riveted around them suddenly be broken off the power and the cleansing of Christ change the human heart in Jesus name.
Amen. Well this is Pastor Lutzer. I can't help but think that I'm speaking to many people who ought to spend time with God right now. There in his presence pour out your soul let him know of your disappointment your hurt the abuse that you endured the struggles the addictions lay them before the Lord. This at least would be a step that would be the beginning of walking with God in a victorious way. Do that today don't let this day slip by until you've been in God's presence. I've written a book entitled putting your past behind you I believe it'll help you in your Christian walk for a gift of any amount it can be yours simply go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'll give that to you again rtwoffer.com. It's time again 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 RG who lives in Virginia. He writes I've listened to your running to win broadcasts for several years and recently heard your series that dealt with stubborn sins. My bad habit involves adulterous behavior of which I have repented thousands of times. It has destroyed my marriage and I am desperately seeking a way to truly repent of this sin but it's almost as though I am possessed by some kind of demon. I am so ashamed embarrassed and desperate that I really cannot bring myself to share this struggle with even my closest Christian friends or church officers. Pray with me that I might finally find forgiveness and truly repent of this sin. Also please pray for my wife that she might find it in her heart to forgive me. Well my friend what a lifestyle you've lived and what a predicament you are in. Number one what you need to do is to find someone whom you can trust and you need to go to that person and say I need to pray with you I need to confess to you what I've been doing.
Because you see as long as it remains totally private the devil will use it and exploit it. I've known people in essentially the same kind of predicament you are in and the moment they confessed it to someone else it was as if a release came. Evidently your wife knows about your adulterous behavior and that's why you request that we pray for her that she might forgive you. But let me tell you this are you thinking that all that she needs to say is I forgive you and everything is supposed to be okay?
I hope that that's not what you're thinking. You see in order to be reconciled there are three elements there has to be forgiveness but there has to be trust and in your case it might take a long time to gain her trust back and third there has to be respect. Apart from that you really can't have reconciliation. So what you need to do is to begin with God. You need to break from these sins with the help of other believers and with a counsel of a trusted friend or friends that's number one and don't let your shame keep you bound and prevent you from doing that because if not worse things lie ahead. Secondly you and your wife need to enter into counseling.
There needs to be some wisdom that is given to you in your situation and what you need to know is that you have a long way to come back to her but begin soon. Remember the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Please begin today. 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 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Next time, the hurt and healing of abuse, an honest portrayal of the damage done in all too many families through physical, verbal and sexual mistreatment. Our next message may bring tears for any who find themselves reliving the pain of the past but those tears may be the gateway to freedom and forgiveness. So be sure to listen to Pastor Lutzer's next teaching and take a moment to invite a friend you know to listen with you. You'll hear words for both the abused as well as the abuser. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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