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Ending The Denial Game–Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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April 16, 2024 1:00 am

Ending The Denial Game–Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 16, 2024 1:00 am

Only God can help us discover who we really are. Over time, we can become accustomed to denying our reality and who we’ve become. In this message from Psalm 139, Pastor Lutzer outlines three steps to freedom from denial from King David’s prayer. There is a way out of the pit called denial.

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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. Denial, it has seven characteristics, emotional numbness, superficial friendships, a lack of trust, being manipulative, being a selective listener, having a critical spirit and having a hardened heart.

If any of this describes you, you may be playing the denial game. Today, the way out, 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, do you think more people are in denial now than ever before? Well, Dave, I think so, primarily because of technology. You know that technology is instantly addictive. And when we see teenagers on their cell phones and we think of computers and television, all of this, of course, bombarding our culture and particularly affecting our young people, they are led into guilt and they are led into denial. We live in an incredible age when we need God's help. In fact, we need his redemption. I've written a book entitled Living with Your Passions, and I wrote it because I understand something of the power of sexuality. For a gift of any amount, we're making it available to you. We think it'll be a tremendous blessing. Here's what you can do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book Living with Your Passions, and let us ask ourselves, are we living in denial? First of all, those of you who live in denial, you will find that you have emotional numbness, emotional numbness, because all of your emotions have to be put on autopilot. They have to be put on hold because there is no way for you to really express feelings. Feelings must be denied.

You shut down your feelings. Secondly, not only emotional numbness, but superficial friendships, superficial friendships. The reason for this is obvious because in good communication, communication within the family means that I reveal to you my hopes, my fears, my dreams, my disappointment, my anger.

It reveals who I am. But if all that is shut off, then of course there's nothing to do except to talk about very superficial matters and you never really feel that you know the person with whom you are communicating. Third, there is lack of trust, lack of trust.

After all, if you can't trust people who were supposed to protect you and care for you, how then can you trust others and how can you trust God? And if you're writing that down, number three, lack of trust, add very quickly the inability to give and to receive love. Many people are in relationships like that. Their partner or their family tries to love them and they rebuff every attempt to love because once again, love involves feeling.

Love involves communication and love involves trust and they have built a wall around themselves and they say in effect, I dare you to love me and no matter what you do, I will misinterpret it as rejection. Lack of trust. Number four, manipulation.

Why? Because you must give the illusion that things are orderly. So you begin to manipulate others. If you are an abuser, you manipulate others so that they do what you want and so that you will not have to look at yourself and if you are a victim, you manipulate because you have to give the illusion that the charade that is being acted out in your home is real.

And so you begin to use other people to accomplish the things that you would like to see accomplished and you generally use guilt to manipulate others and make them feel that whatever is wrong is their fault and not your own. Number five, selective listening. Selective listening. Here is a child who is crying out, wanting his father to understand his pain and trying to understand what is really going on and the father of course has all the information that comes to him, comes through this selective grid and is interpreted in such a way that he cannot hear the child's pain.

He is immune to it. In that book, The People of the Lie, Scott Peck tells a story of how a father and a mother actually gave their son a Christmas present that was the very gun, the same gun that his brother had used to commit suicide and they didn't understand why it caused their son some pain and some hurt. It's because if you are living in denial, you do not see other people's needs. You are only concerned about how reality is interpreted from your standpoint. And then the last two points that I have refer primarily to the victimizers, not the victims, but those who are in denial often have a very critical spirit. They are critical of others because you see, they want to minimize their own faults and they want to maximize the faults of others so that they continue to live within that sense of satisfaction.

When they hear about ministers falling into sins such as we've had in the past with some of the televangelists, these kinds of people love to hear those stories because remember it is very important that they remain secure in their evil and one way to keep that security is to find others who are doing the same thing, preferably others who are even doing worse so that you can justify yourself and will not have to look into the mirror to see who you really are. Critical spirit. Remember that story of a man who left a bar half drunk and somebody took some strong cheese and smeared it under his nose and as he walked out into the clear night air, he said, the whole world stinks. In other words, everybody else is wrong, but there's nothing wrong with me. Number seven, a hardened heart, a hardened heart. You tell a lie and your conscience bothers you. You tell enough lies and your conscience will no longer bother you.

It will be something like a siren that is tied to a dying battery and soon your conscience will be able to lie consistently and it will not trouble you and then you begin to live a lie and you become totally deceived. This is why the Bible says in the book of Hebrews that we should strengthen one another and we should take care of one another and encourage each other. It says, lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Why is sin so deceitful? It is deceitful because we may not even be aware of our sins.

In other words, there are those who are deceived because one of the characteristics of deceit is you do not know that you are being deceived. Now I want you to think of that person who has put all these walls around him like a protective shield. His body is but the shell for a spirit of denial that inhabits him and he will not face up to who he is no matter what.

His defenses are full of proof. He can't get through. Nobody seems to be able to get through. The family can't. The church can't. He even thinks God can't. Well, enough analysis.

Enough, enough, enough. Take your Bibles now and turn to Psalm 139. Psalm 139 and I would like to outline briefly the answer to the problem of denial.

Psalm 139 where David gives a remarkable account of his relationship with God. Step number one, notice it says in Psalm 139, O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me. Number one, admit you have been found out. You've been found out.

Your cover is blown. God knows. God knows. God knows everything. Do you realize that you can never talk about God behind his back? Do you realize that there is no way that you can ever get away from the almighty and he has scrutinized you and he knows every single thing that you have ever thought. Every lie that you have ever told. All the manipulation and the deceit of your heart that you have been even keeping from yourself is an open book to God and he sees it there in all of its ugliness and in all of its horror.

God knows. He has searched you and knows you and there isn't a single thing that you could tell him about yourself that he does not know and he knows a whole lot of other things that you don't even know about. You're thoroughly known.

In this Psalm, David says, O Lord, you have searched me completely. He says, you know my downsittings and my uprisings. He says, you see my thoughts are far off. Long before I have fought them, you already know them. He goes on to say that the number of times that I sit down and stand up, the words that I say are known by you. Oh God, your knowledge of me is so infinite.

It would fill many good sized libraries if it were all written out all about me. And here I thought I was hiding. In fact, he says, not only old God, do you know me entirely, but he says, old God, you know me continually. Is there no place where I can go to get away from God?

Must it always be that his sight is totally riveted upon me? He says in verse seven, where can I go from thy spirit or where can I flee from thy presence? If I ascend into heaven, thou art there. And if I make my bed in a shield, behold, thou art there. Oh, you say, I want to get away from God. I'm going to travel at the speed of light.

No, don't bother. It says, if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there will thy hand lead me and thy right hand will uphold me. You say, oh, but I do all of my evil at night. That's what people do. Like one man I read about got up in the middle of the night and did his evil. His wife didn't even know it. He left the bedroom, left the house, committed immorality, came back.

She didn't even know about it. Look at what the text says here. Verse 11, if I say, surely the darkness will overwhelm me. It says in verse 12, even the darkness is not darkness to God. And the night is as bright as the day.

The darkness and the light are the same to almighty. He sees you do it at high noon and you thought nobody was watching. God has found you out. He knows you continually. He knows you entirely.

He even knows you eternally. David goes on to say, long before I was born, God knew all about me. He says, when I was being fashioned in my mother's womb, he says, and God was putting all of the sinews and the bones together and the Lord was embroidering me.

That's what the Hebrew text means, in my mother's womb. He says, oh God, he says, they're all in your book. All of my members were written before I was formed. You knew my hands. You knew my toes. You knew my mind. You knew how I would look. All of this was already a foregone conclusion before I was born. That's how accurate your knowledge is of me. What's the answer for denial?

Give up the game. You have been found out. God knows.

God knows. Number two, you ask God to help you find yourself. Ask God to help you find yourself. Look at what David says in verse 23. He says, search me, oh God, and know my heart.

Why is that a contradiction? Verse one, oh Lord, thou hast searched me and known me. Verse 23, now God search me.

No, that's not a contradiction. In verse one, David is saying, oh God, I know that you have searched me whether I wanted you or not. You didn't need my permission. You know all things and you have searched me. But now, Lord God, would you come and show me what you see?

Would you show me what you see? God, I know that you know all about me, but I don't even know all about myself. There are things about myself that I would never be willing to admit, but oh God, show me who I am. Bring your flashlight and let us go through the closets of my life that I have tried to keep shut.

All of the things that I have denied and helped me to open those closet doors one by one that I might finally know who I am and to see the searchlight that you put upon me. You know one of the problems we have, one of the reasons we have problems with the doctrine of hell? It's because we say, how can God have good people in hell forever? That's because of denial that we say such foolish things. Do you realize that once God shows people what is really in their heart, throughout all of eternity in hell, they will say, God is just.

I'm getting what I deserved. Finally, they will see reality and they'll know how bad it actually was. That's why everybody in the Bible who saw God always saw their own sinfulness, whether it is Isaiah in the Old Testament whom the Lord gave a revelation to and Isaiah you remember said, oh, he says, I am a sinful man. And the Lord God came and touched his lips because he saw his sin. And God says, here is cleansing. David said essentially the same words. Peter in the New Testament said the same words. Job, your member said, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself and I repent in dust and in ashes. Everybody who sees God sees themselves.

And it's a terrible picture. That's why number three is receive God's cleansing. Receive God's cleansing. If you are a victimizer, I want you to know that Jesus can cleanse you of that great evil that you will not even admit to yourself. Jesus Christ will cleanse you. We read in the New Testament just moments ago, he is the propitiation for our sins and not for hours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And when Jesus died on the cross, he not only died for victims, but he died for victimizers. And what he wants you to do is to face up who you are so that he can transform you into something that you can be for his glory. And even those of you who have lived in denial because of evil that has been perpetrated upon you, I want you to know that there is a cleansing for you too, even though you are not guilty for what happened to you. The sense of shame and impurity. Christ can come and touch you and cleanse you.

This past week a woman told me that she had been abused as a child. And she said that only recently now in adulthood, as she had people pray for her, has she sensed the cleansing of Christ to get rid of shame that was imposed upon her that was not her fault. Jesus, the friend of the wounded heart. I want you to know today that Christ is able to cleanse you from all of the things within the human heart. Now there are those of you who have a past and there are closets that have been opened that God has cleansed.

There's no use opening those closets again, but there are many of you who are still living with a past that throttles you and controls you. And then finally let me say, just let God love you, would you? Let God love you. You see we are so into love that is totally dependent upon performance that we say, well how can God love me if you only knew?

Well I don't know, but I want you to know that God knows and he loves you anyway. That's grace. That's the matchless, incredible grace of God. That he loves us even though he knows us so thoroughly and so completely. You think of an iceberg, we're told that 10% is above the water, 90% is beneath it.

As the sun begins to shine on that iceberg and melts the top, then the bottom begins to come up and eventually it gets its chance to be melted too. And as we allow the sunshine of God's love to enlighten our hearts, we will find that the things of the past begin to come up and God begins to siphon them off and to take them away and within time there is healing and there is stability and there is forgiveness and cleansing and there is hope. There is hope. One day when Jesus was on earth he was speaking to a man who was sick, crippled and said to him, what is it that you would want me to do for you? We look at that and say, you know that's sort of foolish, I mean isn't it obvious that man would want to be healed?

No, no that wasn't a foolish question because sometimes it isn't that obvious. Remember that there are some people who would much rather live with those closets of secrecy. There are those who would draw the mantle around them and say not even God is going to come into my life. And so they keep them at a distance because they say I will not let God in and search me and show me what he sees. You see it isn't so obvious and so I ask you today what is it that you would want God to do for you? Jesus is the friend of the wounded heart.

David says search me oh God and know my heart, try me and know my anxious thoughts and see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. There are some of you who are listening to this message who ought to get alone with God and pour out your soul and let the tears flow and let all the bitterness and the hurt and those closed closets swing open and you spill it all in the presence of God who knows everything and who will enable you then to pour grace into your heart and soul. And by the way some of you don't know what has happened in your past.

You can't remember it all. You can also take comfort in the fact that God was there and he knows because he knows all things. What is it that you want God to do for you? Let's pray. Our Father, we do confess that all of us live with denial. We shrink from the spotlight of your holiness.

We have a great discrepancy between what we are like and what we think we are like because reality is painful. But Lord Jesus we thank you too that you know the whole story and therefore Lord since we've been found out we want to use this moment to open our lives to you and to simply say Lord Jesus show us what you see and then come and cleanse us and help us to deal with reality. May husbands and wives do that together in your presence. Now before I close this prayer I want you to talk to God. What is it that you need to say to him?

Whatever it is tell him. Lord Jesus we thank you that you have heard us and thank you that you know. You know. Thank you. Amen. Well this is Pastor Lutzer and I certainly want to invite you or urge you rather to let Jesus Christ into those closets in your life that I spoke about just a moment ago.

Swing the door open. Now Jesus I'm sure will give you wisdom as to what your next step should be. But all of us are tempted to live in denial. There's a dark side of us that we want to hide from others and we think that we can even hide it from God.

Well we can't. I've written a book entitled Living With Your Passion. Some of the chapters have to do with I can't let her go. What about those relationships that are so difficult and yet sinful?

Regarding homosexuality, sexual freedom, can Christ change us, the control of our thought life, on and on. We believe that this book will be of tremendous blessing to you. That's why we're making it available to you.

Here's what you do. Go to That's or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337. I wish that you could look into my heart right now because you would see how appreciative I am for all of you. For those who listen, for those who support this ministry, together we are making a difference and perhaps you've heard me say it before that Running to Win is in fifty different countries in seven different languages.

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. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Pastor Erwin Lutzer helping all of us end the denial game by getting honest with the God who knows us through and through. This message is another in our current series on pulling together in a world tearing apart. Anger, it flares up to hurt those we love the most. Next time on Running to Win, the first part of Freed from Anger, finding your way out of the anger trap. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-16 02:08:10 / 2024-04-16 02:16:42 / 9

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