Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. First John chapter 2 says, If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Today, a look at the great divide we all face as the media and the Internet assault us with a deluge of impurity. 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, it's said that we are to be in the world, but not of the world. These days, it's getting really hard to maintain the difference. Dave, I certainly agree with that, and I have to say that I've lived long enough when the church was years ago accused of legalism, and legalism is wrong if it leads to self-righteousness. But on the other hand today, what we find is that the gates are all open. It seems as if the church oftentimes has lost its standards. Individuals, of course, are tempted because of technology, and we're living in an era in which the fight for holiness, if I might put it that way, is more difficult than ever. I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win.
Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. We look to you, because you are a part of this ministry, and at the end of this message, I'll be giving you info as to how you can connect with us. This happens to be the third message in a series titled, Guard Your Heart, Sexual Purity in a Media Culture. One of the things that we've learned so far is that technology is not neutral. The media is not neutral.
It comes with a bias against holy living. Someone has written these words, technology has developed a dynamic of its own and passed out of human control. Neil Postman says, technology has displaced traditional culture to our great harm, and it's true, isn't it? We are obsessed with technology. During the Christmas season, what is it that is purchased the most? It is updates on technology.
Now, this was back in 2008. Teenagers averaged 2,272 text messages a month, which averages out to about 80 text messages a day. Psychologists and doctors say that it is the leading cause of anxiety distraction, failing grades, repetitive stress injury, and sleep deprivation.
37% of our teenagers say that they have sent sexually suggestive messages in some form of the social network, and half, more than half, say they have no rules for how they use the internet, iPads, iPhones, and all the other technology that is out there. Now, in the midst of this, the Bible says this, and I want you to take your Bibles and turn, if you would please, to 1 John 2, because we're going to be there in just a moment. 1 John 2, it says in verse 15, do not love the world or the things that are in the world.
I need to stop right there and ask you a question. How do we reconcile the fact that the Bible says we're not to love the world with the fact of John 3.16, for God so loved the world? Well, the enigma is not hard to unravel. Sometimes the word world refers to people, and that's, of course, what John 3.16 is all about. For God so loved the world of people, and we're to love the world of people, but we're not to love the world system, which the Bible says is in the hands of the evil one. And technology and the media in ways that have never been true throughout history have presented these values to us, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, such as even video games. And I don't have time to discuss that today, but we'll probably comment on that in more detail in a future message.
There it is, technology. Throughout 2,000 years of church history, the church has debated as to how to relate to this world. Of course, the world in which they were discussing this was entirely different from ours.
But there were those who said that the answer is separation, and monasteries came about as a result. What you do is you separate from the world. Let me tell you about a family that Rebecca and I know very well. In fact, we know them so well that whenever they travel through Chicago, the children stay with us. And I'm going to call these children kids, even though they're in their late teens and 20s. At my age, I think I have the right to call them kids.
And they were in our home again before Christmas and then before that in the fall, and they come through and they stay with us, and we love to be with them. But I want you to understand who they are. They belong to a specific denomination, which I will not mention because not all people who belong to this denomination agree with this lifestyle. But they are growing up in homes and in a church where there is no internet. You can have a cell phone, but it can't be an iPhone.
You can't access the internet with it. No radio, no television. If you ask them, how do you know what's going on in the world? They say, well, sometimes we're in town and we read the headlines of the newspaper or maybe neighbors tell us. Now, I want you to put your mind around this.
Here are two children in our home, and sometimes there have been more than that. And these kids, in their 20s, have never heard of Lady Gaga. They have no idea who J-Lo was or is. They're not concerned about whether or not Brad and Angela get married. It's never occurred to them. As a matter of fact, if we had mentioned to them and said, now tell us what you know about MTV, I'm convinced they'd have said that it is a certain chemical farmers use to kill weeds. They've never heard of this.
They have been totally isolated from pop culture completely, knowing nothing of this. So what are these kids like? Well, for one thing, they want to sit down and they want to talk to you. They look you in the eye. We had wonderful conversations about God.
They'll tell you where they are in their Bible reading and they'll catch you up to date on their families and all of those other things. And I bet, excuse me, let me rephrase that and say I venture to say that none of them probably have eating disorders. Because, you know, the whole idea that somehow your body has to fit a certain shape and if it doesn't, you are devalued and nobody will look at you, that has never occurred to them. They have never heard of Britney Spears.
And so as a result, they are unaffected by it and we just had such a delightful time with them. And of course they're modestly dressed because the whole idea of modern culture with the dresses that young people wear today and all that, they don't have any of that. Now you say, well, we can't do that. We can't isolate ourselves like that. I mean, clearly they are divorced from culture. They have no idea what's going on. They have no input into culture and on and on we could go to give reasons why we don't want to go there. After all, what about the socialization process?
How do they socialize if they don't know anything about pop culture? And so I understand that we don't want to go there. But you know, they don't have it all wrong. Just two days ago, yes, two days ago, I heard about a man in a church, not this church, though I'm sure it's happened at Moody Church and may even be happening now. I heard about a man who connected with a woman online and got an online romance going and then when his wife discovered it, he did what most people in that situation do, confessed to only as much as he absolutely had to and hid the rest.
And then months later, of course, it all crops up with all of its ugliness again because he left some roots in the ground. I'm sure that these young people have problems because I know they do. They have a sinful nature. But probably if you're raised in a culture and in a church where there is no internet, probably those kinds of incidents do not happen because they can't happen. It's not all bad to be isolated like that. Well, you say, but Pastor Lutzer, we can't go there.
That's just nothing but legalism. Okay. All right.
I hear you. So let's go to the opposite extreme. This is what Stephen Gallagher says the average teenager encounters today, the average teenage boy. While waiting for his younger sister to get ready for school, he turns on MTV and catches some of the latest videos, most of them filled with plenty of innuendo and skin. Later that morning, he has health class. His teacher refuses to take a moral stand against premarital sex or even homosexuality and a text message from a girl who thinks he's cute casually lets him know that her parents will not be home tomorrow night. While he walks down the hallway, he overhears the popular boys talking about the girls that they've hooked up with on the way home from school. He stops at a friend's house to log into social media, cruise the latest picks and posts from their friends, hoping that some of the girls they are looking to hook up with have responded a few hours later, he's home in front of the TV where the characters of his favorite shows regularly engage in various sexual scenarios.
When his sister isn't looking, he scans her stack of Cosmo girl in 17 magazines drinking in the seductive advertisements and on and on it goes and then Gallagher says, why are we surprised that we have so many sex addicts today? So the question that we have to answer in the moments that we have left is this, what do we do if we are going to redeem the media for the glory of God? Now I know of course as I mentioned last time, the internet is being used mightily to spread the gospel.
I get that, but I'm talking about our individual personal private use of the media. What do we need to do now? What I'm going to share with you in this message is kind of hard stuff and I prayed that I would have the proper balance between being pastoral, which of course I always want to be and putting it very clearly and remember whatever I say to you applies to me as well.
What an agenda for the next few moments. You know, it was Tozer who said that men today think that the world, that is Christian men, is not a battleground but a playground. We're not here to fight, he says, we're here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land. We feel very much at home.
What is there in the world that we haven't imbibed? We do feel at home. What's this business about being strangers and pilgrims and singing this world is not my home. This world is our home.
Name one thing that the world has and listens to and watches that we don't. And then it says we are not getting ready to live, the average Christian thinks, but we're already living. The question is how do we live it to the full?
All right, all that by way of introduction and getting us into the text of scripture and then talking about technology and the Christian. 1 John chapter 2, you'll notice it says this, do not love the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride and possessions.
It's not from the father, it's from the world. When John says don't love the world and he speaks about the lust of the flesh, that has to do with our basic human fallen desires. Of course, there are good lusts and good desires.
If we use the word desire, the desire to eat, the desire for sexual intimacy, the desire to enjoy ourselves. But all of these have been perverted because of the fall and the world now sucks us into its mold and it's the desires of the flesh. Remember the last message I preached, I mentioned that we have within ourselves a flammable substance and with all of the sparks and with all of the fires that are burning out there, they set us a flame within and turn on your television set at any time and you can see that. So John says here that we should not love the world and neither the things that are in the world.
And of course, we'll talk about those implications. Secondly, it says the desires of the eyes. You could in context actually translate the word desire here to refer to craving, the craving of the sinful flesh, which we have of course, whether there'd be a media or not.
Fighting the passions is not a new challenge for the Christian. Even those who were in the monasteries had to because as we learned last time, it arises from our inner nature, but it's the stimuli without. It's the stimulation without. And then it says the craving of the eyes. Your eyes have an appetite.
They crave certain things and the power of the eyes to influence the brain and to have a permanent effect on who we are and what we value is powerful and unrelenting. And then he goes on to say, by the way, you remember Achan, the Bible says he saw a garment he wasn't supposed to touch or steal. He saw, he coveted it and took it. And then it says hid it in his tent.
Isn't that technology? It gives us an opportunity to see, to covet, to take, and then to hide. And John says that's the world. And then he says the pride of possessions. Actually the pride of life is a good translation.
It refers to possessions, but notice this, the first two categories refer to that which we don't have, which we would like to have. We covet. And the second category now is to take pride in what we have, the pride of life. And could we say that, as you've heard me say at another occasion, pride of race, that's the root of racism is the pride of life. Pride of race, pride of grace, our abilities, which are given to us of God that we take credit for. Pride of face, oh my. You know, today beauty is the gold coin of human worth. You know, you young people and many of you are here today and some of you young ladies are very beautiful. There's a sense in which I feel sorry for you because our culture is going to put so much pressure on you to become immoral.
The pressure is going to be huge and unrelenting. Years ago I was preaching in a Bible college and I said the same thing I told you now and I said, I think beauty is a curse. Later on a student told me that a girl went into her room and said, oh God, if beauty is a curse, smite me with it and may I never recover. But those of you who are striking in your appearance, so many more opportunities you will have than the rest of us, but so many temptations. So you have pride of race, pride of grace, pride of face, pride of place.
Who are you? Look at where you work. Look at what you own. You know, Pastor Wiersbe, who preceded me here as pastor, said on one occasion that when you think of the world, the Bible says, first of all, we shouldn't be friends with the world. You know what James says? He says that to be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God.
Wow. So Wiersbe says you shouldn't be friends with the world and then if you are friends with the world, you're spotted by the world. James uses that illustration in chapter one, spotted by the world. And then we should not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And then if not, we may be condemned by the world. How seductive it really is. But the question is, how do we counter it? How do we say to ourselves, well, we're going to use technology privately and personally, but we're going to use it for the glory of God.
How's that going to work? Well, let's look at the text again and remind ourselves of a couple of things. First of all, every heart, every heart loves something. Every heart loves something. In fact, the Bible is very clear about this and we are basically desire driven.
Whichever is the greatest desire wins. So I would like to give you three or four ways in which we should love God and we'll relate it to the temptations of this world and we'll see how God leads us from there. First of all, you'll notice it says very clearly here that if you love the world, verse 15, the love of the Father isn't in you. What it means is that you and I should love God exclusively. He should have full right into every single crevice and closet of our minds and heart.
Nothing cordoned off that says this is for me. Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, loving God exclusively. John Piper put it rather bluntly but clearly. He says, if you love the world, you're a God-hater.
Now is that too strong? What did I quote from James? You adulterers and adulteresses. Don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity against God?
I guess Piper is right. That if we love the world, it really doesn't matter how loudly we sing on Sundays. It doesn't matter how many verses of Scripture we memorize. The fact is that the love of the Father is not in us if we love the world because clearly we're to love God exclusively and the love of the world and love of God are mutually exclusive. Have you had the experience as I know I have and you probably also where you come home from church maybe or maybe you've had a great time in your devotional life and you just say to yourself, you know, I just really met God and you've been cleansed, you've confessed your sin, and your relationship with God is just so satisfying. Then you get home and you flip on the TV and you see a sensual scene and you begin to carry it out and you begin to see it and immediately this love for God that you had begins to drain away like a pitcher that is broken at the bottom and the water drains out.
It doesn't mean that you're not a believer necessarily but it means that you can't love the world and love God simultaneously. Well this is Pastor Lutzer and I'm sure that you realize that the ministry of Running to Win has a tremendous impact in the lives of thousands of people here in America but also overseas because we are in Arabic. I'm holding in my hands a letter from a single woman who lives in Algeria and she is telling me that in her country of course there's a tremendous amount of pressure on Christians and she says, Running to Win is helping me to feel closer to my Lord and in my faith and then she adds, we benefit from the episodes and we are asking for your prayers.
My friend, there are people just like you who are helping the gospel of Jesus Christ to get into these countries. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. We are dependent upon you. Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com and when you're there you click on the endurance partner button or if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let me remind you that every testimony we receive is a testimony received by you, our partners. Go to RTWOffer.com, click on the endurance partner button.
Let me give you that again, RTWOffer.com or 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 find God's roadmap for your race of life. With technology now omnipresent, how should believers renounce loving the world? Should we permanently unplug from the internet?
Should we toss out our HDTVs? Next time on Running to Win, another positive action step we can take in the ongoing battle for our hearts and minds. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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