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The Worst Decision Ever Made - Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
September 19, 2023 1:00 am

The Worst Decision Ever Made - Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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September 19, 2023 1:00 am

The paradise of Eden suggests the ideal place to live a carefree life. But Adam and Eve had no excuse for following their sinful desires. In this message, Pastor Lutzer provides three hopeful principles embedded within God’s judgment after the original sin. Were it not for the grace of a redeeming God, there would have been no hope.

This month’s special offer is available for a donation of any amount. Get yours at rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. 

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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. When you hear the word Eden, you think of the ideal place to live a carefree life. But the real Eden didn't stand a chance. When Adam and Eve sinned, paradise turned sour. Life would be hard. Were it not for the grace of a redeeming God, there would have been no hope for our rebellious race.

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, what would have happened if Adam and Eve had not fallen?

Well, Dave, two thoughts come immediately to my mind. First of all, I'm not sure exactly what would have happened if they had not sinned. But secondly, it really does involve the entire plan of God going back before the creation of the world. But the good news that we want to focus on is simply this, that God did not abandon them when they did sin. He helps us in our bad decisions. If you are blessed as a result of this ministry, as we give the hope of the gospel to millions around the world, would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.

Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision, but you need info. So here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com.

Now when you're there, you can click on the endurance partner button, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Meanwhile, let us always be grateful for God's grace. And it says in verse 19, by the sweat of your face, you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken, for dust you are, and to dust you shall return. Life is going to be difficult. Earning a living is going to be a real sacrifice. Things are going to work against you. The environment is going to work against you.

You're going to have to overcome it. Conflict now is going to become a part of the human experience. All that happened as a result of sin. So God says, first of all, I'm going to give you a promise. Secondly, he says, I'm cursing your environment, and you yourself are under the curse. You're under a judgment because of what happened, and your offspring also will be. But in addition to that, God says, I'm going to show you some mercy. There's going to be mercy available in your situation.

Because I need to ask you a question today. Most people think that God had plan A. Plan A was that man wouldn't sin. In fact, I heard a sermon that was sent to me on cassette one time entitled God the Gambler, in which the message went like this, that God gambled that Adam and Eve wouldn't sin. And then when he lost the gamble, he upped the ante, and he sent Jesus. And maybe nobody would believe on Jesus, but God is constantly gambling. I have no idea what Bible he's reading.

And if he's reading it, I don't know whether or not he believes it. You read the New Testament, you discover not only that God was not gambling, I'm going to say this, and I know it's going to raise a lot of questions in your mind, but God from eternity past, it was read today in our scripture reading, and you do listen to the scripture reading when it's read, don't you? God chose us in him from before the foundation of the world that we should walk in love. It says in 2 Timothy chapter 1, 9 that Jesus Christ loved us and saved us in the mind of God from all eternity.

Wow. The scheme was known to God and looked at properly. It was part of his eternal purpose. The lamb slain from before the foundation of the world, God created that he might redeem. This was not a surprise to God. God wasn't in heaven saying, well, you know, I was hoping that they'd obey, and what do I do now?

If that's your God, that's not the God of the Bible. I know, of course, that that raises objections. I'm sure that we have with us today some motor boaters.

You know motor boaters? Yeah, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but. Did Eve have free will, you say? There was some graffiti that was spray painted onto a subway system in Pittsburgh that says Humpty Dumpty was pushed. Was she pushed? For our purposes today, let's simply say that Eve undoubtedly did exactly what she wanted to do. She followed her desires, and yet God knew, God understood, and God was more than ready. Now notice the mercy that he shows.

He gives a promise. He curses Adam and Eve along with the environment, but notice what it says in verse 21. And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skin and clothed them. If you're in the habit of underlining your Bibles, that is one verse to underline, to ponder, and to think about God's mercy. Now the scripture says earlier that they clothed themselves with fig leaves. What was wrong with fig leaves?

If you had lots of them, you could make dresses, and you could make shirts, and you could make all kinds of nice clothing with fig leaves. But God says two things in this verse that are critical. The first is this, that when it comes to sin, the soul that sins will die.

That's a basic principle. And if you are to be forgiven, and if your shame is to be covered, and if your sins are to be taken away and no longer held against you, first of all, you need someone to die in your place. Fig leaves can be taken from a bush.

They can grow back. They're basically inanimate, and they don't qualify to cover you. It has to be an animal, because without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. And this animal now becomes a type of the coming of Jesus Christ who is going to die, who is going to shed his blood. Because if we are to be exempt from our sins, someone had to die for us, and that's why the Bible says Jesus died for sinners. He died for sinners, and he shed his blood that we might be covered and that our sin might not be held against us. Secondly, notice the text God says, the Lord God made the clothes for Adam and Eve. God says, Adam and Eve, if you're to be properly covered so that I will accept you, you need to realize that only I can supply the clothes that you need. Yes, later on, they were instructed to kill their own animals, symbolic, of course, of Jesus Christ, but right from the get-go, God was saying that if you are to be covered, if your shame is to be hidden and your sins forgiven, then the truth is I am going to have to supply the clothes.

And in Jesus, he did just that. Who's responsible for the death of Jesus? Herod, yes. Pilate, yes. The Jews, yes.

All of us, yes. But God is also responsible. It pleased the Lord to bruise him, and he was offered as a lamb slain and by the predetermined counsel of God, Peter tells us. And so it is God in Jesus who supplies the clothes, the righteousness of Jesus Christ by which we may be clothed, symbolically speaking, so that we can be forgiven, cleansed, and welcomed into God's presence. And that's why David says, how blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven and whose sin is covered.

And only God can do it. And the difference between Christianity and all the other religious options out there are fig leaves on the one hand, the best that you can do to cover yourself, and what God supplies, on the other hand, in Jesus. So God says, I'm going to show you mercy. Also, very quickly, they were expelled now from paradise. You'll notice it says, the Lord God says, man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, now lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever. Therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden. Verse 24, he drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden, he placed the cherry of them to keep every way so that they would not participate and eat of the tree of life. You see, if they had gone back into paradise and tried to eat of the tree of life, they'd have lived forever. And God says, I'm preventing you from doing that because if you were to live forever as sinners working in this world, what a horrid existence with all of its disease, with all of its struggles. That would be a condemnation.

That would be too much. So God says, I'm going to protect the tree of life and I'm going to give you a gift. The gift is called death so that there will be a way out of your misery so that the transformation of salvation that we understand as the scriptures unfold will be given to us so that we will no longer be, you see, confined to this earthly body with its tuberculosis and its cancer and its pain and its hurt. And God says, I'm going to prevent you from living forever because that would be awful.

And so they're out of the garden and guess what? There's no return to paradise. Can't go back to innocence. Can't pretend that the fall didn't happen. Can't go back in our lives and say, well, pray like the teenager did. Lord, I pray that this accident I've just had may not have happened. It's too late.

You can't go back. Well, this is a series of messages on making the best of a bad decision. So why should our lives be changed because of what I've told you so far?

Let me give you some lessons and some understandings that I hope will help you in your need. First of all, it's clear that God begins where we are and not where we wish we were. I'm going to say it again. God begins with where we are and not where we wish we were. God is going to begin to work in Adam and Eve's life, but no longer in paradise.

He's going to be in his work right where they are. There is no return to paradise. There's no return to innocence. Some time ago, I was riding on a plane and sitting next to a young woman who began to tell me her story. She told me, she said, you know, I'm pregnant and I'm on my way to visit my sister to get my head together to know whether or not I should marry the father of my child.

So we talked possibly an hour. Her pastor thought that she should marry the young man. I, of course, had no special insight at all because oftentimes those marriages do not work out very well. But of course I didn't know her, nor do I know the young man. But then she said this.

She said, I wish that he would marry me for all of the right reasons and not just because I'm pregnant. And I thought, I understand what you're saying, young lady, but you know what? There's no return to paradise. There's no return to innocence. I say to you today, there's no return to your virginity once it has been lost.

Can't get back there. Today I speak to somebody who says, well, you know, I made this huge mistake marrying the person I did. And by the way, the third message in this series is going to be on living with a foolish vow.

You might want to bring your friends to that as well. But I can imagine somebody saying, well, you know, I just made a mistake. Well, yeah, yeah, you made a mistake. Adam and Eve made a mistake.

But you know what? You can't undo what you've done. You can't go back to paradise. You can't go back to innocence.

And what does God do? He begins to work right where we are and not where we wish we were. Can't go back to those teenage years when you could have made all the right decisions.

Too late for that. Here you are today, with all kinds of histories you wish that you could change, but you can't change them. But God comes to us right in the middle of our dilemma, right in the pain of life, facing all of those wrong decisions. And God says, I'm going to begin where you are at. And that's why everyone listening to this message, God wants to begin in your life exactly where you are. Paradise is closed to you. Secondly, God begins with restoring fellowship.

Very important. God begins with restoring fellowship, not canceling the consequences. He begins by restoring the fellowship and not canceling the consequences. The consequences of their sin is just going to boomerang. They touched a series of dominoes, and those dominoes are going to fall, and they're still falling today in my life and yours. But God says, I want to restore fellowship and we'll deal with the consequences later.

They will not be canceled. Wow. This is tough stuff. Here's Adam and Eve. You know, when they were clothed now with these skins and garments, God says, now that you're properly dressed, I can walk with you again in the cool of the day.

We can have fellowship now because your sin and shame is covered, but, but the consequences are going to go on in your family. Just imagine Eve, she gives birth to a little baby boy and they look at this little baby and she says, oh, you know, he looks just like I do. And Adam looks at him and says, oh, oh, you know, when he smiles, he looks like I do. Of course, they really didn't know how they looked since they didn't have mirrors, but we can imagine all of this is going on and she nurses him and she thinks this precious little boy.

In fact, she says, I have gotten a man from the Lord. God gave me this son and they call him Cain. Cain grows up and murders his brother Abel.

Talk about the quintessential example of a dysfunctional family. It's not a new idea, new word maybe, but not a new idea. Yes, Abel is a righteous man because he offers the proper sacrifice. It's a blood sacrifice. Cain gives the fruit of the ground.

It's something like, here are my fig leaves, Lord. God rejects Cain and God accepts Abel and the jealousy becomes a torment for Cain and he kills his brother and he's the kind of guy who kills his brother, leaves him dying along the side of the road, walks away and then feels sorry for himself. And there are still people like that right now living and some of you know people just like that.

They can stab you, walk away and then feel sorry for themselves. All there with the text. But God says in the midst of this failure, you and Adam, to Eve he says and to Adam, the two of you can walk with me in the midst of the curse, in the midst of the mistakes and through it all you will see my loving hand. Well there's another lesson and that is that God begins and I don't know exactly how to phrase this.

I was working on it even this morning to get it right. After I talk about it I think you'll understand what I mean. But God begins by working now also through the consequences. Or we could say that God begins long term.

That's one of the ideas I had in my mind. God works within the situation. Maybe that's the best way to put it.

He works within the situation and not from outside the situation. And all throughout history what you're going to see now is this conflict. There's going to be the curse, there's going to be the sin and alongside of it there's always going to be grace and there's also going to be mercy and there's also going to be triumph and the two are going to march through all the pages of history. And God says rather than exempting you from the consequences I will help you in the midst of those consequences to develop within you things that you couldn't experience if I simply kept taking you out of your predicament. We think for example of young women sometimes pressured into having an abortion by a husband, by parents, by boyfriend. You know we made this mistake, let's just take care of it, okay? We don't want the sin, we don't want the shame, we don't want anybody to know, just go and take care of it.

Get us out of this situation. I think for example of a man by the name of Felix Manz. Felix Manz is somewhat of a hero of mine because he was willing to die for his faith way back in the 1600s in Switzerland. On five or six occasions I've stood at the Rathaus in Zurich where the drowning occurred and the river, the Lamont River runs right there and what they did is they tied his hands like this and then they shoved him out on a little boat and they made it capsize and the voice of his mother was heard above the waves urging her son to remain true to the faith. And by the way what was he dying for? He believed that one should be baptized upon profession of faith rather than infant baptism.

And the Zurich City Council says that anyone who believes that has to be drowned either by fire or killed with a sword. We take religious freedom for granted, don't we? That's what it cost in those days for your convictions. Why do I mention him? Well I'm sure that if he had been born in our generation or conceived in our generation he might have been aborted because he was conceived out of wedlock, lived with a lot of shame in those days.

But he's a hero of mine. I could stand here today and I could tell you stories of people whom you know who are in Christian service today who are people who were conceived out of wedlock. And what God does in the midst of sin and the curse and mistakes and regret and challenges alongside all of that there is mercy and there is grace and there is forgiveness and there is help and there is taking our messes and turning them into something beautiful. God's been doing that ever since Adam and Eve were in existence.

And the same God who helped them is the God who helps us. You're here today and you say I have a bad marriage. Where is the escape hatch?

What are the requirements for me to get out of this? God may be saying to you, you know what? I want you to stay where you are.

Of course as you've heard me say many times if there is abuse go get help. But still at the same time what God says is rather than exempting you from the consequences I'm going to work in and through and in spite of and against the consequences and my purposes shall be accomplished in your life in a way that you could not possibly predict. Because the God of Adam and Eve is our God and he can help you right where you are with everything that you brought to this service today. Let us pray. Father we want to thank you that in your grace and in your love you have saved us. We thank you that sin all of its horridness is neither a surprise to you nor are you inadequate to be able to deal with it. In this series of messages would you grant us the faith and the grace and the strength to believe that you are here right where we are seated. Someone driving a car listening to this.

Someone sitting in their home listening. Right where we are there is where your grace comes. Help us to receive it we ask in Jesus name. Amen. Well talk about God's grace coming to us where we are.

I have in my hands a letter from someone who says I have terminal cancer and will die within a year. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior 20 years ago and I know where I'm going but your teaching is exactly what I've needed to solidify my faith. My friend it's because of people just like you that we receive reports of this ministry. And I want to thank the many of you who are a part of the running to win family as I like to call it.

Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Well of course you need more info so you can go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. The person who wrote to us about his cancer his name is Stan. There are many people out there just like him who are deeply grateful for people just like you who help us get the message of hope and the good news of the gospel wherever people find themselves. Right now go to rtwoffer.com click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at running to win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. Whatever the reason all of us make some bad decisions the challenge then is what to do about them. Our current series brings hope for those who've made choices they'd give anything to make again. Next time lessons from the people of Israel during the conquest of Canaan. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-29 15:09:45 / 2023-10-29 15:18:34 / 9

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