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Discernment, Discipline and Discipleship Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
March 13, 2023 2:00 am

Discernment, Discipline and Discipleship Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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March 13, 2023 2:00 am

Media and technology have tremendous benefits, but Christians are pulled in two directions. Do we avoid technology or risk exposure to violence and sensuality? In this message from 2 Corinthians 6, we find two commands about separation from the world. Rules keep us from certain sins, but they can’t produce righteousness.

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

Either abandon technology we can't live without and become isolated from culture, or risk exposure to violence and sexual images while trying to engage the world we live in. Today, guidance from 2 Corinthians 6. 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 would be nice if one stellar mountaintop experience could prevent believers from ever sinning again. Well Dave, of course, that day is going to come in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our natures will be changed, and we will sin no more.

You know, Joni Eareckson-Tada, who's been in a wheelchair for about 50 years, she said that what she looks forward to most in heaven is seeing God without any sin coming between. But up until that time, we struggle, and that's why these messages are so critical in a world of technology. And at the end of this message, I'm going to be giving you some information regarding a resource that we are making available to you that I believe will be a blessing.

It will draw you closer to Jesus, and it can indeed transform your life. So you stay tuned. I want you to imagine for a few moments that thieves were to come into your house and steal your children. They break down the door and come through the window, smash it. You'd call the police and you'd be very desperate, and if those kids were ever found again, you'd make sure that the door is double-bolted and the window's unbreakable glass. But what if I were to tell you that thieves are in your home and they are stealing the soul of your child, but they are leaving the body there so that you have to feed the child and clothe the child, but his soul, his heart, belongs to someone or something else. And those thieves happen to be right in your home and you've welcomed them into your home. They may even be in your child's bedroom, television set, the Internet, the Xbox, the iPhone, the iPad.

They may all already be there, stealing your child's soul. Let's speak for a moment about video games. Many of them are violent, where you have to kill people.

There's even a game that recreates the assassination of President Kennedy, so you virtually get to be where Lee Harvey Oswald was to see whether you can do as well as he did in blowing the president away. And yet there are many people who allow their kids to have violent video games as if God has no opinion about this. When it says so clearly in the Psalms, God says, the one who loves violence, my soul hates. God's got an opinion about violence and we know about the statistics, violent video games, violent angry children.

It's been documented in so many ways. Not just violence, but occultism. One day a member of the pastoral staff and I were called to an apartment here in the area where there was a child about 14 obsessed, obsessed with this particular video game and he couldn't sit down. Even when we were there, we said, please sit on the couch.

He'd sit for about five seconds, hop up again, pace the floor. What his parents didn't know is that he undoubtedly had been demonized because he was into not just Dungeons and Dragons and all that, far worse than that, the occult demonization of our young people, frustrated, angry, hyper, hyperactive because of video games. I could tell you other stories, but I must hurry on.

So here we are. Now, it's not as if I'm saying that there are no good video games. I mentioned earlier in an earlier message that our own grandchildren play video games, hopefully helpful ones. There are those that, you know, train children how to solve puzzles and how to do things and even how to build and what have you. But I've discovered in my reading that even some of those are very addictive until the child begins to live in this unreal world, disconnected from parents and eventually disconnected from God.

So they need to be supervised in a very careful way. And what do we say about the kind of music on the internet? Pornography, I was going to tell you that 50% of all teens have accessed pornography. And then I read a more recent statistic that said it was 80%. All of this is happening in our home.

Cell phones, some kids sleep with their cell phones on so that they can get text messages or others can connect with them. What a wonderful day here in the city of Chicago. I know it's a little cold here and we have people watching from all over the world, but we're enjoying worshiping Jesus. And while we are here worshiping the Lord God, there are people who are meeting, who are plotting to steal the heart of your children and to lead them into addiction because it is the addicts that are going to pay the bills. It's the addicts that are going to make the money. I've read how these people are well-funded. They've got lots of money and they have from cradle to grave plans oftentimes through computers and through television to capture the heart of your child in one stage after another after another.

How else are they going to make their billions of dollars? They're there plotting to get your child. Believe me, Hefner wants your 10 year old boy to be addicted so that his kingdom can continue.

And that's the world in which we live. 14 year old, true story. He's brought up on the mission field, but his parents get a computer and he begins to go off into, you know, all of the adult websites, does the same when they come home. And then he's found molesting a girl, a six year old girl in the neighborhood.

Parents have to leave the mission field the whole bit. You say, oh, a bad boy. Are you kidding me?

A good boy, good boy, brought up in a Christian home, prayed for, probably dedicated. You can't get any better than that. But that's what good boys do because of seductive images that are in their minds and they can't get away from them. That's how powerful the media of sight really is. And so that's what we are looking at today.

Now, lest you think that I'm bashing technology so that nobody has to write me again and tell me I'm bashing technology. I want to read. It was about a week ago I met a man who attends here, but he couldn't attend last time because he was on his way to Hong Kong on Saturday. So I told him, I said, watch in the hotel, watch the service.

And he did last time. He talks about how grateful he is to God for the Internet. What a blessing. What occurred to me, he said, was I could have chosen to listen to this message or I could have just as easily turned on the TV and ordered an X-rated movie. It really comes down to where my heart is and what you said the week before that we can choose to love God more than sin. I'm thankful for the Internet and media, but I must constantly be on guard as a wise man. I must constantly be on guard to use it for his kingdom for good in my work. And in so doing to choose to love the Lord more than I love to sin. So yes, of course, the media technology has its tremendous benefits. And by the way, welcome to all those who are listening around the world today as they've tuned in to our worship service.

In fact, let's give them a hand, shall we? Now, this happens to be the fifth in a series of messages titled Guard Your Heart, Sexual Purity in a Media Culture. Next time, I'm going to have to talk about addictions. We're going to look into the mind of an addict. I'm even going to tell you what I think a wife should tell her husband.

If her husband is into pornography, that will be the last message in the series. And then I'll have an assignment for some of you that will really be pretty radical. But if you love God, you might be able to do it. The passage of Scripture for today is 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians. And I'm going to speak on separation. Now those of us who grew up in the church as young people years and years ago, we aren't millennials anymore, by the way, just in case you're wondering. Those of us who grew up, we used to always hear about separation. And then my generation came along and we said, you know, it's just petty rules. You just have rules and people think they're righteous because they keep the rules. So separation has fallen out of vogue. And of course, it's true that there's a kind of separation that is really negative that gives the impression that you're righteous because you've kept the rules.

Rules are able to keep you from certain sins, but they cannot produce righteousness. I like to tell the story that about five miles north of here, there's a whole area of the city. I forget the boundaries, but a hundred thousand inhabitants, none of whom watch X-rated movies, none of whom smoke, none of whom drink. And that's true. It's just north here, you can find it on the map.

It's called the Rose Hill Cemetery. And their negativity does not produce life, if you notice carefully. But with that background, you'll notice it says in 2 Corinthians 6 verse 14, three areas in which we must separate. Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Fellowship has light with darkness, Christ with Delil? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

Let's stop there for a moment. The whole idea of yoking comes from the Old Testament, where the Bible says that you shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together because they are unequally yoked. Now, Paul doesn't say it here, but in the other letters of Corinth, the 1 Corinthians, he helps us to understand that this is certainly applicable to marriage. Now, if you're married to an unbeliever, you should stay married to him. But Paul would say that believers should only marry believers.

Don't be unequally yoked. He's talking about a commitment that actually indicates our own binding relationship with a person. Clearly, Paul isn't saying that we shouldn't have fellowship with unbelievers. That was the Pharisees' problem. They refused to mingle with sinners and the brokenness of the world. And we see that error. So that's not what Paul is talking about.

Of course, we should mingle with the people of the world. What he's talking about is binding relationships. Another one that Paul speaks about is Christians should not bind themselves to unbelieving people in court and then take another believer and bring him before a judge to court. But Paul is saying, therefore, do not have these binding relationships that are going to mislead you and eventually, you know, the yoke is going to be unbearable.

Sometime I may expound on that more specifically. Secondly, he talks about separation in worship. Let's look at the text. When he says, by the way, what accord has Christ with Belial? Belial is a synonym for the devil. So first of all, Paul talks about light and darkness. Christ, of course, is over the light. Belial or Satan is over darkness. And he's saying, what do these two have in common with one another? The obvious answer is nothing. Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

But now notice this. What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said, I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them. I will be their God and they shall be my people.

What a gracious, beautiful promise. Now when Paul speaks about the temple of God with idols, in Jerusalem, the temple when it was built was to have no idols in it. And the children of Israel, the people of Israel were constantly falling into idolatry. All throughout the Bible, read Isaiah, Jeremiah, idolatry was their great sin. I used to always wonder, what was the fascination with idolatry?

Why would you be worked up or interested in bowing before a stone or a piece of wood that somebody has made? And then I heard a lecture from an Old Testament professor one time who explained that the attraction of idolatry was sexualization. It was sexual freedom.

It was orgies. And that's why a man by the name of Stephen Gallagher has written an excellent book and he's entitled it Sexual Idolatry. If Paul were living today, there is no doubt that he would give us the very same message that he gave to the church in Corinth and says, what concord is there?

What relationship is there? What is in common between the sexual idolatry of our culture and the temple of the living God? That's Paul's question. And what the Apostle Paul wants us to understand is this, that what is at stake in all of this is the presence of God. As God has said, I will dwell with them and walk with them. You know, when you read the Old Testament, you discover that all of those rituals and the sacrifices and the temple, all of that came about because God says, I am providing a way by which I can have fellowship with people without being contaminated. And of course, in Jesus Christ now, you and I know that we can have fellowship with God because he is our high priest. He is our sacrifice. And thanks to him, fellowship is possible. And Paul is saying, if you really want to worship God with clarity and a pure conscience, if that's what you want to do, how can you be worshiping at this idolatrous idol of sexuality and at the same time think that you can worship God? What he's saying is you can't. Therefore, he gives two commands here, two commands. He says, therefore, go out from their midst.

Is that verse 17? Go out from their midst. In other words, young people separate from those in school who do drugs, separate from those who brag about all of their hookups, separate from people who are going to drag you into sin. Businessmen separate from those who want you to do illegal and wrong things.

There is a time when you have to come out from among them even at great personal cost. But then it says also, and touch not the unclean thing. You know, many years ago, Leadership Magazine had a long article by many years ago, I mean probably 20 years ago, on a man who was a minister, but he was very much addicted to pornography and he wrote this long article about his struggle. In it, he would talk about how he would go preaching and then he'd go to the hotel room and look at all of the recent pictures. And I remember he said, can you sense the schizophrenia? Well, obviously, the schizophrenia is I want to worship and walk with God.

But how can I do that with this idol over here that constantly occupies my attention? What is it that brought him out? What motivated him to finally say whatever price I need to pay, I'm willing to pay so that I'd be free of this?

After all, he could have continued to secretly have his habit. He said it was the loss of the fellowship of God. He said because I love God.

There are people today who love God, who are bound by various addictions. He said I loved God. But he said as long as I was doing this, I knew that I was grieving the Holy Spirit and my fellowship was always broken even when I confessed it. If I fell into the same sin again, I was morally limited. And as a result of that, he said what brought me out was the verses scripture I asked you to memorize. You remember every one of these sermons has an assignment. And the verse is, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. He said that was the motivation.

Finally, when I saw that God wanted to walk with me and love me and I had the privilege of serving him, he said that's what brought me out of it. All right. Now notice he says, come out from among them and be separate and don't touch the unclean thing. Young people, don't touch that violent video game. Don't even turn it over and to see what it says on the back because you and I as human beings, and we've all been there, have been overcome by curiosity.

Don't even touch it. You know, we as men, we like the remote control, don't we? And women like to watch something on TV. Men only like to try to find something to watch. And I don't know what we as men are looking for.

I'm sure it's some cooking program. You know, I told you years ago that the reason that the man of the house likes the remote control is that even remote control for him is better than no control at all in the home. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. And if the verse of scripture drew someone out of pornography, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. What that means is we always have to see God in new light. I've written a book entitled, Christ from the Cross, a Journey into the Heart of Jesus. Perhaps you've heard me mention before that a friend of mine said that he reads this every year before Easter.

As a matter of fact, I know many people who do. It reminds us of Jesus when he died on the cross, the sayings that he gave, and the reminder of the fact of the tremendous price that was paid for our redemption. I'm looking, for example, at chapter 2, the words of Jesus to the thief, today you shall be with me in paradise. Just think of that. And think of this thief who died and was actually with Jesus that very day. There's so much in this book that I think will be a blessing.

It'll help you to understand the cross better and draw you nearer to Christ. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.

Hope that you had a chance to write that down. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let me tell you how much we deeply appreciate your involvement in this ministry. This is not the ministry of a church or an organization or a man. It is your ministry. Let's hear from you.

1-888-218-9337 or rtwoffer.com. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Jason listens to us on WMBW in Chattanooga, Tennessee and asks, My question deals with 1 Timothy 4.8. Paul claims that bodily exercise is of little profit in light of godliness. But aren't we supposed to practice self-control with our diet and be the temple of the Holy Spirit?

I would think our bodies should always be in order to serve others and be maintained by activity and exercise that promotes health. Can you clarify this verse? I'm glad to clarify it, Jason, because I think that the Apostle Paul would agree with you. Of course, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and Paul himself uses athletics, he uses the Greek games to motivate us to godly living and certainly he would not be opposed to such things as bodily exercise. The real answer is in the context. You know, Paul says that bodily exercise is of little value in comparison with godliness and godly disciplines.

That's the emphasis. Because even though you may have physical exercise, if you are not exercising yourself spiritually, obviously you're losing out. You know, if you had the choice, and none of us has the choice to simply do A or B, but if you did, it's much more important that you be spiritually attuned than you be physically attuned, if I can put it that way. So I think that the Apostle Paul is not denigrating physical exercise. He's simply saying that in comparison to the spiritual, physical exercise isn't as important.

From Wise Council on Bodily Exercise, from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Pastor 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 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. The Bible says, Touch not the unclean thing. We need to make choices that honor God, and where that mouse pointer goes is a choice we make every day. Next time on Running to Win, how to make the right moral choices and say no to the wrong ones as our message on discernment, discipline, and discipleship concludes. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-13 05:25:23 / 2023-03-13 05:34:02 / 9

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