Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Many believers are bound in moral sins, sins made easy by anonymous internet access to porn. Today, the one reality that will convince us to make right choices rather than follow a slippery slope into sexual sin. 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, once upon a time, porn was hard to get and shame prevented most from seeking it.
Now, it's a mouse click away and costs nothing. Dave, you're absolutely right and this is a burden on my heart because if you talk with men especially, though not men exclusively because women are also involved, what you discover is that the addictions are deep and abiding oftentimes in people's lives. And you know, I need to emphasize that there's no way out of that pit unless you receive help. Help from God but also help from the body of Christ and that's why it's so important for churches to have those kinds of sharing times and groups that are committed to purity because we can't do it on our own. I believe so deeply that the ministry of Running to Win is needed today and I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry. Because of you, we are in 20 different countries in four different languages preparing to go into another language all because of the support and the prayers of our listeners.
Would you consider becoming an endurance partner, someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts? Here's some contact info. You can go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com or you can pick up the phone and call 1-888-218-9337. Of course, I'll be giving you this info again after this message.
Thanks in advance for helping 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. So there's a lesson here and it is a lesson also of obedience and a lesson of deliverance. We've had a lesson of forgiveness, of deliverance and now a lesson on focus. You'll notice what he says, how shall we live? Verse 13, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.
And that's what we're to wait for. The fact is that Jesus is returning. Now I don't think here that the apostle Paul is necessarily distinguishing the rapture from the church from the glorious disappearing.
He's talking there about the consummation of the age and the revelation of Jesus Christ when he returns. And that's what we should be looking for and motivated by. You say, well, yeah, throughout 2000 years, people have been looking and being motivated by it and it hasn't happened.
But nevertheless, it is a good motivation because we know it will someday happen. Now, because I knew in advance that I was preaching on this passage today, when I woke up in the morning in accordance with my usual prayers, I also prayed today. I want to live in such a way that I would change nothing if I knew that Jesus was going to return tomorrow. We have to live that way because Jesus might return tomorrow.
By the way, you know, when you look at the history of the Christian church, what you'll discover is this. When Christians are in trial, when they are under persecution, they begin to look to the return of Jesus Christ and it is motivating to them. In an affluent society like ours, the return of Jesus Christ is marginalized. Why should we look forward to his return when everything seems to be going quite well?
Thank you very much. So God makes sure that we have lots of trials that we might keep our eyes focused on the return of Jesus because return he will. We should live all of life under the watchful eye of the returning Christ.
So there's a lesson here on motivation, a lesson here on focus. There's also a lesson on perspective and this to me is the most important part of this passage. I hope that you're looking at it in your Bibles. You'll notice it says regarding, by the way, have you ever heard it said that nowhere in the Bible is Jesus explicitly called God?
If you have heard that, just look at what I read. The appearing of the glory of our great God and the savior Jesus Christ. Could that get any clearer?
I don't think so, but now notice I'm going to give you an opportunity to clap in just a moment. It says, who gave himself for us to redeem us. Folks, if this doesn't motivate you, I guess there's no way you'll ever be motivated. To redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. What is Jesus after in our struggles?
Jesus is after purifying us that we might be his own possession and doing it for himself. You say, well, you know, my main motivation is to make sure that I overcome this addiction. I'm going to go after this addiction. That's not your main motivation. Your main motivation is that you might be purified by Christ for his glory, for his possession, and to specifically please him by your own life of righteousness. That's really the motivation.
And in the process, of course, he's going to deal with your addiction. But to think that your addiction or your habits are really the main focus is to miss the point of it all. I've been so struck with this this week because you'll notice that it goes on to say zealous for good works. You know, of course, that there's so much discussion about the church today, books being written about the church, what we should be doing, what we shouldn't be doing. Should we be in politics? Should we not be? What is politics?
All of that because we look about and we're losing all of our battles. I mean, really, we're in a moral and spiritual freefall here in the United States and the church doesn't seem to have much impact. I don't know because I can't see the mind of God, but my suspicion is that the reason might lie right here is that purity precedes power. You'll notice it says that he might purify for himself a people. What does it say in the fifth chapter of Ephesians? Christ gave himself for the church that he might cleanse her so that he might present the church to himself in all of her splendor. Does the church today appear in all of her splendor? Without spot or wrinkle or any such thing that she might be holy and without blemish, a holy church. And if you love Jesus, you say, therefore, I want to be holy for him.
That's the biggest motivation. In order to help us understand this, I'd like to read a story. This is taken from the book Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan and his mother.
They wrote it together. Now, get the picture about Christopher. Christopher was deeply into homosexuality, but he was also a drug dealer, so he got busted for drugs. After being busted for drugs, he discovered that he was HIV positive. The impact on his family was huge.
His mother, at least at that point, had come to saving faith in Jesus Christ and she continued to pray for him, which is such an important part of this remarkable story. And while he is in prison, after accepting all the arguments, you know, you can't change. Don't try to change me. I've got my own lifestyle. He says, I was in a survival mode, and this is when he was in prison, as I paced along the perimeter of the cell block, steering clear of any interaction with other men. I turned back toward my cell when I passed a garbage can overflowing with trash. I realized that my life was just like that trash. I had grown up in an upper middle class suburb of Chicago. My dad had two doctorates.
I'd been on my way to becoming a doctor myself. Now I found myself among common criminals. Trash. Not even my friends wanted me.
They wouldn't even accept a collect call. I was nothing but a reject, a throwaway. And then he said, he looked at this barrel of trash and noticed at the top of the trash, there was something that caught his eye. I bent over and picked up a Gideon New Testament. It was brand new and not even opened. I carried it back to my cell and thought, well, I've got time on my hands.
I might as well have something to do. As I sat on the metal bunks cold mattress, I opened to a small book. I opened the small book to the gospel of Mark. Well, as you guessed, Christopher came to saving faith in Christ. But now I want us to understand how he saw something that I believe you and I have missed in all of our struggles, in all of our identity issues.
Listen carefully. He says, as I continue to read the Bible, I realized that my identity shouldn't be defined by my sexuality. Paul says in Acts 17, for in him we live and move and have our being. Christ should be everything, my all in all. My sexual orientation didn't have to be the core of who I was. My primary identity didn't have to be defined by my feelings or sexual attraction. My identity was not gay or homosexual or even heterosexual, for that matter.
But my identity as a child of the living God must be in Jesus alone. God said, be ye holy, for I am holy. I always thought that the opposite of homosexuality was heterosexuality, but actually the opposite of homosexuality is holiness. God never said, be heterosexual for I am heterosexual, but he did say be holy for I am holy. For the longest time, I could never see myself becoming straight. It was a burden because I felt I had to somehow become straight to please God. When I realized that heterosexuality should not be my goal, it was so freeing.
The thing was that if I became straight, I would still deal with lust. Therefore, I knew that I shouldn't focus on homosexuality or even heterosexuality, but on the one thing that God calls everyone to, namely holy sexuality. Holy sexuality is not focused on orientation change, becoming straight, but on obedience.
And I realized that obedience means no matter what my situation, no matter what my feeling, gay or straight, I must obey and be faithful to God. He talks about holy sexuality as belonging in marriage, but then he continues the second scenario of holy sexuality as singleness. Single people must devote themselves to complete faithfulness to the Lord through celibacy. This is clearly taught throughout the scripture and abstinence is not something unfair or unreasonable for God to ask of his people. Singleness is not a curse. Singleness is not a burden. As heirs of the new covenant, we know that the emphasis is not on procreation, but regeneration. Then he says that in some instances, singleness may not be permanent, but it may be. Holy sexuality doesn't mean that I no longer have any sexual feelings or attraction, nor is it the obliteration of my sexuality either.
God created us as sexual beings, et cetera. So the question is, if I continue to have these feelings, I neither asked for nor choose. Will I still be willing to follow Christ no matter what? Is my obedience to Christ dependent on whether he answers my prayers my way?
And now catch this. God's faithfulness is proved not by the elimination of hardship, but by carrying us through hardships. Change is not the absence of struggles. Change is the freedom to choose holiness in the midst of my struggles. I realized that the ultimate issue had to be that I yearn for God in total surrender and complete obedience. Sexual orientation isn't really the issue. It is whether or not you're willing to be holy, he writes. What an interesting and profound insight.
I think that the text here would agree. It's not, how can I overcome my addiction? I'm going to overcome my addiction. Oh, the question is how do I allow Jesus to purify me so that I will be an honor to him as a member of his family and his own possession?
That's really the issue. And when that becomes dominant, your relationship with God now takes precedence even over all of the different ways that we have to try to solve our problems. By the way, this book is entitled Out of a Far Country. And in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that Christopher is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute.
He's a graduate of Wheaton College and he teaches part time at the Moody Bible Institute. Don't ever undersell the grace of God. Which leads me to my assignment for you.
You ready? For every hour of media this week, you give an hour to reading the Bible, preferably the book of Psalms, but it can be some other book, giving praise to God and developing your relationship with Jesus Christ and seeking the purity that he wants. Is that fair enough? You say, well, we can't do that. You know, if you watch a movie for an hour and a half and then I have to read the Bible for an hour and a half. Oh, life is so tough, isn't it?
My friend, look into my eyes if you can. If the Christian life living wholeheartedly for Jesus, if it were easy, everybody would do it. But not everybody does it because it is hard. What if Jesus, when he was going to the cross, when that cross was laid on him, what about Jesus if he had said, you know, this is really unfair. This is hard and it's unfair. I'm being crucified for something I didn't do. And furthermore, I'm being crucified.
But look at all the people out there. They're not being crucified. Why should I accept this unfairness? Well, thank God he accepted that unfairness because it is through that act of redemption that you and I are redeemed today. Give him praise, would you? So the first thing is to balance all the time that you give to media to reading the word and don't complain to me about it being too difficult.
I don't want to hear that. Secondly, write out a one page description of what a holy life would look like in your situation. All the issues that you'd have to deal with as you allow Jesus to purify you.
All of the lies that might have to be uncovered and we will talk about that in a future message. Because at the end of the day, it isn't about us. It is about Jesus purifying us for his glory. He is preparing us for another world.
That's the whole point. And as we respond to him, he's there to help us every single step of the way. Let's bow together in prayer. Father, your grace is so undeserved and we confess to you today that we are so absorbed with the issues of the media, many with the impurity that the media offers. Today, Father, come to deliver us.
Help us to remember that the real issue is all about you and not about us. And for those who have never responded to God's grace, we ask that they shall do that even as we sing together of the undeserved matchless grace of God. Speak to us, Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen. Isn't it wonderful that God responds to our weakness?
I'm holding in my hands a letter from someone who listens to us in Spanish because that's one of the languages in which running to win is broadcast. This person says, God has shown me his love and his care through your program. I now see my weaknesses, frailties and sins, how deep it is and how much I need God every moment that I breathe. Though I am broken, God has delivered me from many dangers and bad decisions. Thank you. Testimonies like this belong not to our ministry alone. They belong to you, those of you who support this ministry.
Would you consider becoming an endurance partner, someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts? Of course, you need more info. Hope that you have a pen or pencil handy. Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com. And when you're there, click on the endurance partner button. Or if you prefer, you can call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. RTWOffer.com. Click on the endurance partner button or call 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. How should believers handle the Internet?
Do we abandon our culture's technology or risk seeing sexual images while trying to engage the world we live in? Next time, guidance from 2 Corinthians 6. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-10 03:26:28 / 2023-03-10 03:34:28 / 8