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Judging Conduct Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 29, 2023 1:00 am

Judging Conduct Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 29, 2023 1:00 am

Differences of opinion exist concerning many topics in Christian circles. Paul helps us navigate these disputable matters. In this message from Romans 14, we see three timeless principles of judging other Christian’s behavior in the household of God. Should we refrain from passing judgment on others or exercising personal freedom?

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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.

Life is a race. Helping a brother or sister stay on track is more important than flaunting your Christian liberty. Don't be a stumbling block. That's one key principle involved in judging our conduct. For more principles, stay with us. 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, as we turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 8, should Christians compare themselves to each other in terms of conduct?

Well, Dave, I'm not sure that I can answer that question with a definite yes or no. The Apostle Paul does say elsewhere that those who compare themselves with themselves are not wise. We understand that. You should not compare your success with that of someone else. But on the other hand, we should expect Christians to look at us and to see Christ. In many respects, I'm thinking, for example, of the words of the Apostle Paul, who said that people should follow him the way in which he follows Christ. I want to emphasize that we are making available to you a book entitled Who Are You to Judge?

Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies, so important in a world that has lost its way. Here's what you can do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

I'll be giving you that contact info again at the end of this message. For now, let us listen. And so what Paul says is this, to verse 9.

And sometime when you have a moment, you should read the whole 8th chapter. But it says in verse 9, be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. Paul says, man, if you feel that you can eat that meat, go ahead and eat it. But don't let it be a stumbling block. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you have this knowledge, namely that you can eat it, and he's seeing you eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols?

Paul says to be a stumbling block means that you may be the cause of leading this person back to his former way of life. That's very serious. Forgive the trivia.

I've already warned you. But I remember in Canada, a man who was converted out of gambling, a life of gambling and booze, and he always used to go to the local pool hall, and that's where he would shoot pool, drink, and gamble. When he was converted, he realized, you know, that lifestyle has to go because I just can't handle it. It is sin.

I've got to change, okay? So he comes into the home of a Christian, and I remember being there. It was in a Sunday after the evening service. We were invited to some friends. He goes into the basement, and there is a pool table. And this new Christian was really surprised. Christians play pool?

What would Paul say? Well, that pool table is nothing. It's like a ping pong table that I have more acquaintance with. I'd like to take anyone on who wants to challenge me on that, by the way.

You have to schedule it about four years ahead of time, but give me time to practice. I mean, it's nothing. The pool table is nothing. But listen, if that person were to insist that this man begin to play again, it could be the bridge to lead him back to his former way of life, just as when the people in Paul's time would have Christians over for dinner and insist that they eat meat offered to idols. You'll notice what Paul says. He said this person's violating his conscience, and it could be the means by which he is drawn back into idol worship again.

So don't do that. That is serious. In fact, Paul even uses a very strong word. He says in Romans, this destroys your brother. Paul says curb your liberty. And he says keep your own convictions to yourself if you think that there is going to be this kind of controversy. He says in verse 22, I'm back in Romans 14 now.

Romans 14, 22, so whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God. And don't go out there and try to bring people into some activity that could lead them back into some former snare. That's what it means to not be a stumbling block.

So Paul says curb your liberty. Don't be a stumbling block. Be willing to say, hey, I give up this activity, or I'm not going to eat meat.

Paul says if eating meat causes a brother to stumble, I won't eat any of it if it's going to lead him back to his idolatrous lifestyle. What are the timeless principles? Number one, don't judge one another.

Number two, don't put a stumbling block in one another's way. Number three, don't violate your conscience. Don't violate your conscience. You'll notice what Paul says now in verse 23. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. Verse 23, but the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats because his eating is not from faith, and everything that does not come about from faith is sin.

Wow. Paul is saying, can you do it with a clear conscience? Or when you do it, would you be condemning yourself? Now you see, the conscience is something that's based on, it's given to us by God, but if it isn't trained right, sometimes people have a bad conscience about something that they should be able to participate in, but until God gives them knowledge and gives them freedom, they had better not participate in it so that they can do it in faith and say, I know that God looks down from heaven and sees this, and he enjoys my doing it because it's right for me to do.

If you can't say that, don't do it even if other Christians can. For the last time, I'm going to ask you to forgive the trivia, but I'm going to talk about myself. I guess that is trivia, most assuredly. I was brought up with the idea that card games are really, in some sense, occultic. I've never played any card games at all, except about 20 years ago with our daughters, I think I played a couple of games of Uno. You remember Uno?

Anybody here remember Uno? So apart from that, I have no desire to play, I'm not signing up for any lessons on how to play, and so I go into a Christian retirement center with all these believers who've walked with God for 30 or 40 years or longer, and people who are more godly, I'm sure, than I, and after dinner, you know, they're playing every card game. You know, there's canasta and poker and all kinds of stuff going on there, and I'm looking at that and I'm saying, I'll just confess to you what I was thinking, being a little more honest than I should be, but you clapped a few minutes ago, so. My first thought was, you know, I don't think this is a good way to go. It's not probably the best way to prepare for eternity.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if these people all got together and began to write letters to missionaries together and began to get involved in other people's lives, but that was a judgmental thought, so I'll put that on the shelf. The second thing I thought was playing these games, huh? Look at those ugly things on those cards.

I wonder what they represent. You see, for me, don't miss my point, some of you may, for me to play that might be a violation of conscience. I couldn't do it in good faith, so I shouldn't, but I also can't judge those who have the faith and who believe that that's okay.

I have to back off and say before his own mastery stands or falls, it's not for me to judge pulses. Don't violate your conscience. Now, it's not that these people were in any way a stumbling block to me.

I found no compelling temptation to go back to some former hidden way of life, but it's a conscience matter. Number four, you serve God and his glory, not yourself. Look at what he says in 15 verse 1. We who are strong ought to bear the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

Wow. So I was working on this message. The question that I have to ask, and I'm asking those of you in the balcony as well as those of you on the lower floor and those of you who are listening in other ways, how much time do we give to please ourselves? We're not supposed to because notice this, verse 3, even Christ did not please himself as it is written, the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. Jesus did not please himself. Now, there was one sense in which of course he came and he delighted to do the Father's will, but the Father's will was not very cushy.

The Father's will did not have a lot of perks. The Father's will involved the cross and because it involved the cross, you know, Jesus said, I'm not going to please myself. I'm going to please the Father and I'm going to die for others. Now, there's our example. Could you even imagine what that would do to Christian conduct if we applied that verse to ourselves? But now notice what he goes on to say in verse 5.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ so that with one heart and mouth you may, here's the phrase now, and it's actually the phrase of our worship theme today, with one heart and one mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. What that means is something deeper than any possible rules could ever be. We're talking about something now that transcends all of the judgments that we make sometimes externally so superficially. Now suddenly we have to ask, does this activity glorify God and that's transcultural and everyone in every situation has to ask that question. So you tell me that you have the freedom to go to the theater. Is that what you're telling me?

It's what some of you are telling me. Are you doing this for the glory of God? Do you sit there and say through this God is glorified? I think I cut out quite a few movies. You say, you say, oh yes, I have the freedom to watch television.

You have the freedom to watch television to take the risk with all of that impurity. Okay, fine. Are you doing it for the glory of God? And will you shut it off when it no longer glorifies God?

Will you do that? You say, oh, I have the right to be on the internet. I have the right to be addicted. Like some people are hour after hour playing these trivial, I'm sorry here, I'm being judgmental, but it's coming out, these trivial games that will amount to nothing in the day of judgment. And you have the right to do that. Are you glorifying God by what you are doing on the internet?

Is that, you know, if, if suddenly you're on the internet and the phrase comes out, the glory of God, does it fit? Let's talk about the bears. We mentioned the cubs.

Let's mention their parents, the bears. You're telling me that you have the freedom to skip church, to go to watch the bears? That's what you're telling me?

Okay. Before your own master, you stand or fall, separating glory to God. And I'm not judging here.

It may, maybe there's a friend that you need to go with who needs to know Christ the savior. I'm really not asking these questions pre-judging what the answer is. I'm saying that the basis upon which we make those decisions should be, I want to glorify God in my body and in my spirit and with all that I am. Therefore I have one fundamental question. How do I live the few days that God has given to me on planet earth? That's the question.

Wow. So my friends, how are we going to go? You say, well, pastor Luther, what is the bottom line? I'm getting there. I can see the runway.

The plane is already hitting. The bottom line is this folks, and this is now not only for you as a Christian, but for you who have been listening in, who are not part of the Christian family though we certainly wish you were. Listen, Christianity is not a matter of rules. It is a matter of relationship.

It is intimacy and joy in the fellowship and the service of Christ. And that's what it's about. Certainly the rules have their place.

Absolutely. But rules themselves cannot grant life. They cannot bring you to God.

And it's the relationship that matters. Oh, you say that Christianity has so many restrictions. Just like Eve, when she was there in the garden, you know, she had so many trees from which she could eat. And what does Satan do? He highlights one tree and says, you can't eat of that tree, can you?

And he blinded her eyes to the hundreds of trees in the garden from which she could eat. And he does the same to us today. He says, well, you know, Christians don't do this. Christians don't do that. Look at how narrow they are. That's not the point, my dear friend.

Christians long to know God and to please him. Do you remember that story of the kite? It's only a fable, of course, but the kite said to itself as it was being held down, you know, if I could just get rid of that man who had the string, that man who's holding me, if I could just get rid of him, then I could fly real high and I could even go as high as the stars. That guy's restricting me. Look at those rules that hold me back. Well, one day the string broke and the kite said to itself, now at last I can fly as high as I like and I can kiss the stars if I like.

But you already know what happened. The kite came crashing down to the ground because there is a law of physics that basically says this, that the string that holds a kite down is actually the string that holds it up and the God who gives us restrictions and the God who gives us principles and the God who gives us rules. If we want to touch the stars in our lives, if we want to really soar, the best thing is to put God in control and say, Father, cut out of my life all the things that do not bring glory to your holy name.

For that reason we were created and it is for that reason that we must live. Let's pray. Our Father, today we want to thank you for your word, for its relevance. Thank you, Father, for believers. We pray that you will deliver us from a judgmental spirit.

For those who are critical of this and critical of that and they don't understand that their own personal agendas are all wrapped up in what they're saying. Oh, Father, we pray, help us to cut through it all. And at the end of the day, to cultivate our relationship and our love for you, grant us a passion for God that is greater than our passion to sin. And we pray that, Father, as I prayed for myself, for the staff, for the leadership, and for everyone who's heard this message. In light of what we've said today, what is it that you need to say to God?

Whatever it is, you talk to him. Father, we are needy. Guide us according to your holy will and purpose. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.

Well, my friends, this is Memorial Day and we're reminded of those who gave their lives for our freedoms. I believe that oftentimes we take for granted the wonderful gifts that God has given us, the opportunity to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I've written a book entitled Who Are You to Judge?

Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies, and this is one of the last days that we are making this volume available. I think it'll be of tremendous help. Here's what you can do. Go to,, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, this book deals with a number of different issues. It has to do with discernment when it comes to theology, when it comes to conduct. Once again, let me encourage you to go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

And thanks in advance for helping us. The Ministry of Running to Win goes around the world because of people like you. Thanks to your prayers, your investment, and together we are making a difference. Ask for the book Who Are You to Judge?

Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The loss of a child leaves enormous emotional burdens on the parents left behind.

Kim contacted us with this story. We had a son, an only child, who died of a drug overdose. I feel we let him down because my husband and I divorced. At any rate, he was essentially a good child who knew he was doing wrong. I was so distraught that I contemplated following him to heaven, if you know what I mean.

Joey accepted Jesus as his Savior at the age of 12. My question is, do Christians who commit suicide go to heaven or hell? And what do you say to the person who says, if my child is not going to be in heaven, I don't want to be there myself? Kim, I just need to first of all begin by pouring out my heart to you and saying that I'm deeply touched by your question. Obviously, there are no emotions that can even begin to go as deep as the ones that you have described. To know that you've lost your precious son and to lose him in such a way makes it exceedingly difficult.

So let me try to unravel a couple of things that you've said here in your question. First of all, your son Joey, if he accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at the age of 12, yes, I believe that he is in heaven. Sometimes Christians do die under strange circumstances.

They not only die in accidents, but yes, sometimes they commit suicide as well, and I'll talk about that in just a moment. But if Joey was a true believer, believers can sin, and they sometimes die in that sin, tragic though it is, I believe that you can take comfort that he is in heaven. But now let's talk about the issue of suicide and you as a mother.

Believe it or not, I've had this question asked me a number of times. People might be surprised to know that I've talked to people whose child committed suicide or whose child died in a way that Joey did, and they've wondered, should I commit suicide and go to heaven to be with him? Well, the answer to that question is no. Suicide is always a bad idea.

It is putting a period where there should be a question mark or a comma. So no, don't commit suicide. A couple of things. First of all, the sun will eventually shine in your life. I can guarantee you that. I've told people that, and a couple of years later, they've admitted that I was right. But more than that, keep this in mind, that even though it is true, I believe, that Christians who commit suicide do go to heaven, not only is it a bad idea, but you should be aware that suicide always is an indication of failure and not blessing.

So don't do it. But next, you say, what about the person who says, if my child is not going to heaven, I don't want to be there? Yes, you do want to be there, even if your child isn't in heaven. The Bible says that God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. I believe that these could be tears of regret, most assuredly.

They could also be tears of deep grief because of some loved one who is not with us there at the pearly gates. But here's what will happen. God will give us his perspective. We will look at everything through his eyes and not our own. And if God can be happy in heaven, you'll be able to be happy in heaven too, even if a loved one isn't there.

No question about that, but I know it takes faith to believe it. And once again, my heart and prayer for you is that you might be healed in your spirit and trust God through this very, very difficult time. Kim, we at Running to Win want to thank you for being willing to share your story with us. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer.

If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at 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. It's in great demand but in short supply. It's easy to spot but hard to find. That rare something is integrity. People of integrity are honest and forthright and have the reputations to prove it. Next time, improve your integrity score by listening to our final message in this series, Judging Character. Thanks for listening. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-29 02:25:44 / 2023-05-29 02:34:40 / 9

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