Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Peer pressure makes young people text all day long. Social media is replacing real face-to-face communication. Our addiction to technology and the rapid breakdown in morality go hand in hand. Today, how the grace of God gives us a way out of this mess. 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, is today's moral collapse worse than that of, say, ancient Corinth in Paul's day?
You know, that's a very difficult question for me to answer, except to say this. In Paul's day, it was very external. Debauchery was everywhere. Today, it can be brought into our homes and into our bedrooms. I remember a mother saying to me that when I gave my 13-year-old daughter a cell phone, I did not realize that I might as well have given her her first shot of heroin.
She is instantly addictive, and that's why this series of messages is so critical. But let me ask another question. When Jesus on the cross said, Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing, was that a blanket forgiveness to everyone who was around the cross? Well, those are the kinds of questions I answer in my book entitled Cries from the Cross. And for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Of course, as you might know, it deals with the various sayings of Jesus, even when he was nailed on the cross. Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
Ask for the book Cries from the Cross, A Journey into the Heart of Jesus. The pollster George Barna says that the media exposure, media exposure has become America's most widespread addiction. In an article entitled The Changing Shape of Temptation, he says those sexual sins are nothing new.
Viewing pornography online continues to escalate and take on new forms. About half of Americans admit to spending too much time in the media. Most Americans, 59%, say that they don't do anything to avoid the temptation.
And why do we give in to temptation? 50% don't know. 20% say it's a means of escape. Another 20% say that they enjoy it. And then there are a few other categories, but only 1% say it's because of sinful human nature.
Only 1%. Really reminds you of the fact, doesn't it, that the human soul is incapable of properly assessing its true condition. Well, this is a series of messages entitled Guard Your Heart, Sexual Purity in a Media Culture.
This past week I received a letter, an email, from one of our missionaries in Hungary saying how desperately needed these messages are there, where the young people have all the exposure and many of them have no rules at all, but that's the way it is in America as well, isn't it? And then I received a letter from someone who attends here who says that she's distressed over this series because it seems as if I don't recognize the benefits of technology. So I want to set that record straight. Of course, we're very thankful for technology.
Who would want to go back to the horse and buggy days? Thank God for technology. And in all of the ways that you can think of, technology has improved our lives. I'm only speaking about the negative side and I'm affirming the fact that it doesn't come to us neutral because built into many of the engines of technology, there are already hidden values that sometimes are thrown at us the minute you open your computer. Now, this past week I had the privilege of looking at a documentary called Captivated. It's an excellent one. I wish that every Christian family listened to this documentary, throw it on a screen and watch it. It talks about the fact that the impact of the media is incredibly negative. It says that the more time in television, the more time in movies, the dumber you get. That's the words of this documentary as it talks to experts across the field, though it is very Christian in its orientation. They said, for example, that young people who are constantly texting one another, not only is their attention span beginning to shrink, seriously shrinking, but in addition to that, they just play off of one another and what their friends think is the most important thing. And they are not thinking any great thoughts, reading any great books or really involved in any real meaningful way in life. In fact, many of them are finding a way to escape and whoever wishes to escape from reality is really trying to escape from God. The trivial is emphasized and glorified.
And then you have these stories, which I hope you get an opportunity to see. They interviewed families that decided that for one month there would be no media, none. Everything was shut down. How do you think that went down with the children? Well, it depends, of course, how addicted they were to the media. And many of them argued, you know, we can't do without it, our friends, blah, blah, blah, blah. But the parents stood with it and said, no, this is the direction that we are going and we're going to make sure that we have many family events and family fun times and we're going to do things together and we're going to work on projects. One young lady said a month later, now when we watch television, we don't even know what the real pull was.
Why was it that we were so obsessed with TV? And then they interviewed a school principal who said that six parents came to him and they said that their children had ADHD. And the whole point was we need medication for these hyperactive kids. Principal said, yeah, go ahead, get medication.
But before you do, let's try an experiment. Give them three good meals a day. Cut out all of the, of the trash that they are eating. Three good meals a day.
Find out what nutritious meals are like. Number two, play with them for an hour a day. Let them play. The parents said our neighborhood is far too frightening.
It's unsafe. And he said, well then go outside and play with them, which the parents did for an hour a day. Put them to bed by nine o'clock at night and no media.
I think he did say a half an hour a week, maybe. Later on the parents say, huh, after weeks of this, our kids are normal. Folks, when are we going to learn that this constant bombardment, that the distraction, the constant need for noise, the constant need for looking at this video or that video, when are we going to learn that that bombardment of the soul defiles the soul and draws us away from God? You know what the problem is?
I had a quote, but I didn't get a chance to print it out. And it's by a writer who says, and I'm paraphrasing now, that the chains of habit and addiction are so light you can't feel them. You don't even know that they are there. But when you try to get rid of them, suddenly you discover that they are as strong as chains. Now I can imagine somebody saying, well, you know, I just can't. You gave us these assignments and you know, every one of these messages has an assignment and the same will be at the end of this message. But I can imagine that somebody says, well, you know, I sort of tried the assignment, but the passions are so strong and during this week I failed. It may well be that I'm speaking to some people at least who this week spent more time in the media, even more time on the internet looking at salacious pictures than they did reading their Bible.
The passions are so strong I fail so repeatedly, what shall I do? And then there may be another question that they ask and that question might be, when is all of this going to end, all of this struggle? If you're asking that question, I'm so glad that you did because I have an answer for you. Maybe it's one that you have been waiting for, maybe you haven't been waiting for it. It will end when you are laid out in a coffin and the pastor says such nice things about you that your friends think that they wandered into the wrong funeral parlor.
I didn't expect you to laugh, but I did expect you to smile at least. Then it'll all be over. Chuck Swindoll says this, speaking about lust. He says it is no respecter of persons and it isn't, is it?
Whether it's pastors, missionaries, people after God's own heart, we're all on a continuum. Swindoll says it never gives up, it never runs out of ideas. Bolt your front door and it will rattle at the bedroom windows.
Crawl into the living room it will and then it'll show up on the TV screen or wink at you at the magazine rack in the den. It'll always be there, but it's not hopeless. It's not hopeless. What we need today after the messages that I preached and the ones that still are part of this series are going to get very strong because at some point, and it's probably the last in the series, I am going to have to speak about addictions because what I am discovering as I'm reading is so distressing it drives me to tears, especially those who have been molested, those who began their addiction early in life and the stronghold is overwhelming and my heart says to you there is hope and the only reason I refer to such things is because of my concern for you and as we shall see today my concern for Jesus.
And so all that still is in the future. But for today I want us to just look back and think about grace. What we need is grace at this moment because failure is everywhere.
How do we respond to grace? So take your Bibles and turn if you would please to the book of Titus. Titus, and if you're using the Bible that is there in the seat ahead of you, it is actually Titus page 998, 998 and the book of Titus chapter 2 is what we are looking at. Titus chapter 2 and I clearly am confused with my notes here and that's perfectly fine. That seldom happens but in a contingent universe anything is possible except squeezing toothpaste back into a tube.
In a contingent universe anything is possible. I now have my notes straight. It's actually Titus chapter 2 and I'm picking it up at verse 11. For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled upright and godly lives in this present age. Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things, exhort and rebuke with all authority.
Let no one disregard you. Four lessons that grace teaches us all lessons of hope and transformation and as we shall see at the end of this message doesn't matter who you are there's hope for you. First of all grace teaches us a lesson about forgiveness, a lesson of forgiveness for the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people. Now it doesn't mean that everybody is saved, of course not. The apostle Paul sometimes uses language like that when he's talking about all different kinds of people and of course it's available to all people but not received by all people this grace and what he means is it is available for all kinds of people that is despite the kind of sin that they are dealing with and all of us deal with many different sins from time to time.
Whether theirs is this addiction or that addiction or no addiction but just the whole garden variety sins we all sin and fall short of the glory of God so it's not only different kinds of sins but there's no doubt that it also is the extent of sin the depth of people's sin. Can you imagine this can the God of the universe institute salvation and not take into account the enormity of some people's sins? Of course not. Would he have a salvation that could not possibly be applied to a pedophile for example? Would it be a salvation that could not possibly be applied to a murderer or to someone involved in some form of sexual sin? Did God cut them out because he says I came to redeem all those who are basically good but just need a little bit of redemption because of small nominal sins?
Of course not. You know when the Bible says in the book of Hebrews so clearly that he is able to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by him that can be interpreted to mean to the uttermost to all of eternity or regarding the depth of their sin. He is able to save even to the guttermost those who come unto God by him. The issue is not the depth of your sin. We must concentrate on the wonder of the grace that saves the greatest of sinners. The grace of God has appeared for all different kinds of sinners and for that we should rejoice. There is no pit so deep but that God is deeper still. Now for those of you who have received Jesus Christ as your Savior and I realize that I'm speaking also to those who haven't but if you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior keep in mind that no matter how often you fall you always have to bounce back.
You have to bounce back. 1 John 1 9 if we confess our sins he's faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us. Number of years ago at Founders Week there was a missionary who told this story. He said that he was on his way to a Bible study to lead a Bible study and he said along the way strewn along his path on the sidewalk were pornographic pictures and magazines and he stopped to look and he gazed at these and then he walked on to his Bible study. His conscience was telling him don't you dare teach the Bible study.
Who are you? What if what if the people saw you and so you call yourself a Christian you call yourself a Bible student who can instruct others look at what you just did. So he faced a decision. Does he go through with teaching the Bible lesson or doesn't he? First he thought no I can't my conscience condemns me but then he was reminded of 1 John 1 9 and he went off on a corner and prayed and not only received God's forgiveness which is part of that verse but also the cleansing that goes with it.
The forgiveness the cleansing is the subjective part and he waited before the Lord long enough to know that even though the images were in his mind those images had been not only forgiven but he was cleansed from their power. He would have been wise if you'd have thought of Micah chapter 8 verse 7 where the Bible says rejoice not against me oh mine enemy though I fall I shall rise again though I sit in darkness the Lord shall be a light to me and he went and he taught his Bible class. You say oh Pastor Lutzer you know you're minimizing sin no I'm not minimizing sin I'm magnifying grace the grace of God that brings salvation that has appeared to all men. The first lesson is the lesson of grace the second lesson is the lesson of deliverance. I'm now in verse 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions to live self-controlled upright and godly lives in this present age. You see the grace that saves us is the grace that trains us. It's not God's intention that you and I would live the Christian life sin ask forgiveness sin ask forgiveness.
No God has something better than that in mind for all of us. He says that the same grace that saves us in the depths of our sin is the same grace that grants us the power to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled. Now you and I know that that's not a matter of the will it's not a matter of the human will that says I am going to change which is where many of you may be and you are headed for a fall. It's a matter of depending upon what Christ has already done.
There's no doubt that the Apostle Paul when he wrote this was thinking of other things that he had written such as in the book of Romans that we can consider ourselves dead indeed unto sin because we died with Christ and it says in Romans chapter 8 that we through the spirit must put to death the deeds of the body that we can live. It is through Christ's power. Let me put it clearly and I hope it will be clear for you. You could go through the New Testament and discover that every command is based on what Jesus Christ has done for us.
It's all based on what he's already accomplished. So you are not left helplessly in the midst of your struggle. You are to make sure that you renounce this and by the way I haven't emphasized it enough God has worked it so that we really can't do this independently without fellowship and accountability but that's a separate story we'll talk about later. Notice that it really comes down ultimately to fellowship with Jesus Christ. Now from my heart to yours today as a personal testimony the thing that has motivated me to deal with secret sin in my life the greatest motivation is my fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ and to know that Jesus is grieved because of my sin and when I realize that because I love him you can rationalize it all but you remember David against thee and thee only have I sinned. When Joseph was tempted you remember what he said how can I do this great sin and sin against God he said what I will do will hurt God and the more you and I love God and love his son the Lord Jesus Christ the more willing we will be to say whatever it is that God requires I will do. My friend I hope that you love God all of us of course wish that we loved him more but the truth is that one of the marks of conversion is that God births in our hearts a desire to love him that doesn't mean that we understand him we do not understand his ways but we do love him because we trust him. You know when I think of Jesus Christ on the cross it is indeed a remarkable story of his victory even when he was dying I mean here's a thief who says remember me when you come into your kingdom and Jesus says today you'll be with me in paradise how I wish I had time to expound on that but you can learn what I have to say in my book entitled cries from the cross a journey into the heart of Jesus hope that you have a pen or pencil handy because here's how you can connect for a gift of any amount this book can be yours go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 did I say that too quickly rtwoffer.com 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 find God's roadmap for your race of life many believers are bound in moral sins sins made easy by anonymous internet access to porn what can motivate any of us to point that mouse somewhere else in our private moments next time on running to win the one bottom line reality that will convince us to reject sin and make right moral choices thanks for listening for Dr. Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church
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