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Becoming Like God - Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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September 1, 2023 1:00 am

Becoming Like God - Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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September 1, 2023 1:00 am

Many embrace the cultural mantra, “If it feels good, do it.” But Christians shouldn’t conform to the world’s rationalizations for sin. In this message from Ephesians 5, Pastor Lutzer points out three ways we are called to be like God. Since we are God’s children, we take on the characteristics of our heavenly Father.

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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.

Doing your own thing, it's a cultural ideal these days. Even many Christians like the, if it feels good, do it philosophy. But God has severe warnings for those who won't do His thing, fleeing evil and becoming conformed to the image of Christ. Today, tough words from Ephesians 5 about our duty as believers.

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, we've all heard the phrase, I'll make you an offer you can't refuse. It seems God is making the same kind of offer in Ephesians 5. You know, Dave, when you look throughout the scripture, you discover that God always is making us offers that we should not refuse. He's telling us that the path of blessing is to follow Him with all of our hearts.

The problem is not on His side, the problem is on our side. And certainly, even as we open the scriptures to Ephesians 5, we shall see this with a great deal of clarity. I'm so glad to be able to offer to all who are listening this sermon series entitled Between Heaven and Earth. It's a sermon series on the book of Ephesians, and perhaps you've been able to listen to some of the messages, but not all of them.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours in permanent form. Here's what you do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Remember the title of the series, Between Heaven and Earth. And now we open our Bibles to Ephesians chapter 5. Friday morning, this is the email that came from a radio listener.

He says, I'm a man and he gives his age and his name. I have a beautiful wife and a child. I'm born again Christian, but the gigantic problem I'm fighting, no one knows about. And it has taken me far from the Lord. Pastor Lutzer, I am addicted to pornography and I can't seem to overcome this cursed weakness. It makes me want to do things I would never want to do.

Could you please help? Is there any hope for me overcoming this weakness that I hate so much? If my wife knew what was going on behind her back, she would divorce me right away and I'm determined to not let this happen. I need your help.

Please write back for my marriage and life depends on getting help. Now let's read that and let's read the text here. No immoral, impure or greedy person, such man as an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Do not deceive yourself. What is the answer for this man?

I haven't written back yet, but will most assuredly. He needs to experience the cleansing of Christ. He needs to be in the scripture for the renewing of his mind. And that's why this message ties in with the one that I preached last time on breaking stubborn habits.

And the previous one has to do with the renewing of the mind. All of that is important. But at the end of the day, I want you to know that he cannot fight this battle alone.

He just can't do it. The key phrase there is this. I am fighting a battle that no one knows about. In a moment, we're going to talk about darkness and secrecy, the power that it has in the lives of people. What he needs to do is to find a confidant. I am very sorry that his wife has the opinion that if she knew this, he said, she would divorce him. That's too bad because she could be a tremendous help in helping him overcome this if she did not take this so personally.

But that's another matter. But what he needs to do is to find someone who's going to help him and pray with him and hold him accountable because you cannot come out of that pit alone. But I want you to notice what the text says, that that kind of impurity, he says that if that is characteristic of a person's life, if this is the way he lives day in and day out without any evidence that God is working in his life and bringing him to repentance, and I'm thankful to say that this man does give indication that he seeks repentance and restoration. But if all that were not present, if he simply did it without any compulsion, with all the rationalizations, we most assuredly would have to question whether or not he was born again of the Spirit because to walk like this is to walk after your father, Satan, not your father, God, because the text says that you are a holy people. We live in a day and age that is so difficult, so difficult.

Never before in history have you been able to be in a motel room or hotel room and have pornography just on the television set. But Paul would say, don't deceive yourself, don't excuse it because it's part of society. Don't be deceived with empty words, for because of such things, God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient, therefore do not be partners with them.

Get help. How can we be like God? Well, first of all, we walk in love, not the kind of love that we've just talked about here in the last few moments, but the kind of love that is forgiving, the kind of love that is sacrificial. That's the way you begin to look like your father who is in heaven. Let me give you a second way that we can be like God, and that is to walk in light. It says in verse 8, for you are one's darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, and find out what pleases the Lord.

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said, wake up, oh sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine upon you. Why should we walk in light? Because God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. And what is that light? It is the light of God's righteousness. It is the light of God's holiness. It is the light of reality. Have you ever been caught in a sin that you have justified, and then suddenly somebody comes along and says, you know, I saw you do that, and they rebuke you, and instantly you know to the depths of your being that you have been deceived and sinful, because reality has come to you, you see. And there are many people who do not accept reality.

They do not live because they've lived so long with rationalizations and with such a sense of denial that only God can get through to them. In ancient times, as the people read this text, they'd be reminded of the fact that you'd go into little stores, just like you can do in the Middle East today and other countries as well, that oftentimes have no lights. It's very dark, and you want to buy a piece of cloth, you want to buy a sweater or whatever, and what you have to do is you have to take it outside to the light to really look at it, because the light is reality. Now, we know that God is light and in him is no darkness at all, and how do we walk in the light? We walk in the light through a sense of openness and honesty in exposing our lives to him and therefore being honest with whatever it is that God brings to our attention. In a primitive country where they wash their clothes in a river, a woman took weeks of clothes and bundled them up, and then she took them to the river, but all around her were other women who were washing clothes, and she was so ashamed at her dirty clothes that she never opened the bundle.

She just took the whole thing and dipped it in the river several times and went home. That's the way some people are in their relationship with God. They say, well, you know, I've confessed my sins. Oh, God, forgive me for whatever I might have done. You might have done.

Give me a break. What do you mean you might have done? Others say, you know, pastor, there's something wrong in my life, but I don't know what it is. Well, there was a pastor who had really good wisdom when somebody came to him and said, you know, there's really something in my life that's wrong in my relationship with God, but I don't know what it is. He said, get on your knees and guess at it. Just guess at it.

You'll probably hit it right. There are times, you see, when we have to take our lives and we have to open that bundle and sin by sin, as the Holy Spirit brings it to mind, we confess our sins and we deal with it, and when we do, we are cleansed from all unrighteousness, and this is what the Bible says there in 1 John. If we walk in the light as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another. Now, you look at all the commentaries and they interpret it this way. If we walk in the light as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another. I have fellowship with you, you have fellowship with me, I have fellowship with the pastoral staff. You know, that's not the way I interpret it, because I once did, many, many, many years ago, I took some grammar.

Many years ago. But notice the antecedent. Do you remember that word, antecedent? If we walk in the light as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another. I have fellowship with God, and God has fellowship with me, and the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sins. That's what it means to walk in the light.

Openness before God, no hiding in his blessed holy presence. And you see, the Scripture says, now, regarding the things of darkness, it says, have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness. Why are the deeds of darkness so fruitless? It's because fruit never grows in the dark. It needs light, it needs sunshine. And if all that you do is you hide all the time in your little dark world with your addiction, whatever that might be, and you hide in that world, you are an unfruitful work of darkness.

That's all that your life will amount to. And then it says, rather, expose them, for it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. We should not be too curious about what the wicked do. So what the Apostle Paul is saying, walk in light, and you will be like God. You walk in love, and you walk in light, because you are children of light, and everything is manifest that is light. Oh, the power of light. A moment ago, I talked about the man addicted to pornography, the power of light, taking this secret sin and exposing it to a small number of people who can love you and pray with you and to whom you can be accountable, a tremendous power. But secrecy is the devil's workshop.

It is there that the chains of sin are bound. Oh, the secret alcoholics. I was talking to some kids, some children from a marriage of a rather well-known man, Christian man. And they said, you know, our dad is an alcoholic, but he won't admit it.

What do we do? And nobody knows about it. The secret things of darkness expose them.

I mean, I'm talking about doing it in the right way in that context, but the texts have nothing to do with it. And then Paul throws in something that could be a song, Awake, Oh Sleeper, Rise from the Dead. I don't know how many of you have ever been to Ravinia. Ravinia is a place that you can go up north here and hear marvelous, marvelous concerts. And you have a full-fledged orchestra playing some of the great classical music pieces. And if you've got lots of money, you can buy a ticket and actually go into the canopy area there, the band shell area and the spared the elements. But, you know, if you don't want to spend that much, you can just lie out on the grass on the other side where thousands of people will join you on a beautiful evening. Well, that's where we were.

The Lutzer's were picnicking there a couple of weeks ago and lying out on the grass and sitting on long chairs and just looking at the glorious sky and listening to this beautiful music. Well, at the intermission, there was a man whom we had not seen before, but he came very close to us and he lay down, looked at the stars for about a minute and then zonked out and snored during the whole second half of the concert. When it was over because everybody was clapping, he woke up, shook himself, stood up and joined the standing ovation. I should have gone on over to him and said, wake up, oh sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ's light will shine upon you. But don't miss my point. There are some Christians who are going through their life asleep and they figure that when the trumpet blows, I'm going to be raised and I'm going to be there with Jesus clapping my hands pretending that I was serving him all along.

Bill Berchie, who is on the platform today, is he actually perhaps over here if he's to be identified here, said that he saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, Christ is coming back, look busy. As we can snore through the experience, but in the end it's all going to turn out well. How do we look like God? First of all, very important, we walk in love. We walk in love.

Can't be reproduced by the world. We walk in light because God is light. And thirdly, we walk in wisdom because God is truth. Notice what the text says, verse 15, be careful then how you walk.

I love the King James, can't improve on it. Walk circumspectly like a cat that's walking across a wall with all kinds of jagged glass. Every single step is thought about and carefully considered before it is taken.

That's what it means to walk carefully. Not as unwise, but as wise, making most of every opportunity. I also like redeeming the time, buying it out of the marketplace. Everybody gets a total of 1,440 minutes a day and time is like a coin. You can only spend it once, but once it's spent you can't have it back.

And if you don't use it wisely, at the end of the day, the money disappears and then you get a new set, but that's it. And you know when we worship God and when we spend time with him, if that is time taken out of hectic schedules, if that is time that it really costs us a lot because there are so many other things that we could be doing, I think that those are the very times that are most precious to God. We walk in wisdom because God is truth. And when you look at it, the more wisdom we have, but of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. The more you think about it, of course, the more you begin to realize that the wiser we are, the more God-like we are.

What I'd like to do is to summarize all this simply by bringing it down. First of all, obviously the Apostle Paul is assuming that children take on the characteristics of their father. Children take on the characteristics of their father.

By his own word begat he us through the word of truth, begotten by God. And so we begin to look like him in the sense that we begin to have his characteristics. I read a story some time ago of some folks who adopted a little boy and the father was saying that as he looked into that little boy's eyes, he wondered whether or not he would ever recognize the boy's natural father should he appear.

Would he just recognize him walking down the street because he had so long gazed into the eyes of that little boy and he now knows how his father would look? I want you to know today, friends, that we represent God to the world and they should be able to look into our eyes and into our lives and into our conduct and they should be able to say that's the way God must be. You do know the story, it is true, of a little girl who was lost in a church and when the pastor helped her find her parents, she looked up to him and said, are you God, mister? Are you God? Am I God? Am I God? Are you God? Are you God to the people with whom you work in that factory? Are you God representing him with love and with light and honesty and openness and with wisdom because you're Godlike? Let's be honest and say that many people make up their mind about God based on the way his children live. Many people make up their mind about God based on the way their children live. His children live, I should say.

Let me give you a negative example. Here's David, the great king of Israel. He commits adultery. Notice that David is not walking in love. He is walking in lust. He is not walking in light. He is walking in darkness. Nobody has spent more time covering his sin than David and yet nobody's sin is more widely known.

We could say with authority that the cover just did not work. Nobody was walking with less wisdom. David was walking in foolishness. He was not walking in wisdom and what did God say? God says, David, I'm going to discipline you and I'll tell you why because word of what you have done has spread to others and catch this now, thou has caused the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. They're all saying, he's the man of God. He serves Jehovah and just look at him. God says, you, David, are causing my reputation in the world to be ruined. Now, God in himself, his reputation is always beyond any human individual, but I mean in terms of what people are saying. That's a negative example.

Now, there are plenty of positive examples. In fact, the apostle Paul says that we should adorn the gospel by the way in which we live. If we had time, we'd show that the scripture even says that wives should live in harmony with their husbands and slaves should be obedient to their masters.

Why? To adorn the gospel, to make it look good so that people would say, now that's the way I would expect God to be. You remember that story about Alexander the Great? He had a man who, soldier in his army, who deserted out of cowardice and Alexander was personally reprimanding him. And finally, as the discussion ensued and became more heated, Alexander the Great in great frustration looked into the soldier's eyes and says, and what is your name? He said, sir, my name is Alexander. And Alexander flew into a rage, the story goes, and took the man by the scruff of the neck and held him up against the wall and said, either change your character or change your name.

One of the two. How well do we represent God? Do we live up to his name? Oh, I'm not saying are we perfect. God knows we're not perfect. But do we represent him well in the pushes and pulls and the tugs of life because we walk in love and light and wisdom? Are we good mimics of God? What is he up to in our lives? He's reproducing himself. He's implanted within us his own nature so that we can be God-like. It's a struggle.

But that's his agenda and that should be ours. Would you join me as we pray? Now, Father, we want to thank you today for the privilege of knowing you. Despite all of our failures and faults, we delight in the fact that we know you, the living and the true God.

We wish that we would represent you better. We would hope, Father, that the people with whom we work would say, where's all that love coming from? Where's that honesty, that light?

Where's that wisdom coming from? And that we might point them to you, whom we love. Oh, Father, you've implanted your nature within us. Help it to break forth.

Help it to break forth. And for those who are here who do not know Christ as Savior, we pray that you will draw them to the Father of lights. Do that, Lord. Father, please complete the work that you've begun and do not let this message simply pass over. We ask, Lord, that even after we have left, that your words from your book may burn in our souls. Do not give us rest until we represent you well. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Amen. You know, near the end of this sermon, you heard me say that oftentimes it's difficult to represent God because obviously we are imperfect. But you know how we can overcome that? It's through humility.

It's through not pretending that we are something that we aren't, but admitting our frailty with a humble spirit. And when people see that, they will be attracted to the hope of the gospel that is within us. I believe that this series of messages will be of tremendous help to you, and you've listened to some of them, perhaps not all of the messages. The title of the series is Between Heaven and Earth, and we're making this available to all who connect with us.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. And remember that we make these resources available to help you in your Christian walk. Well, I hope that you have a pencil or a pen. Here's what you can do. Go to That's, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thank you in advance for helping us, and we trust that our ministry is a blessing to you. Tell others about it so that the gospel may go to many.

Go to, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635, North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Pastor Erwin Lutzer has concluded Becoming Like God, the fifteenth message in his series Between Heaven and Earth, taken from Ephesians. Next time, we'll learn about the wonderful things that can happen when the Spirit has His way. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-01 02:28:20 / 2023-09-01 02:37:34 / 9

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