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Christians In The Courtroom – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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May 24, 2024 1:00 am

Christians In The Courtroom – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 24, 2024 1:00 am

Jesus never complained when He suffered. But too often we take fellow believers into court over civil matters like money or property. In this message, Pastor Lutzer gives three biblical reasons why suffering wrong would be a great privilege. God’s justice and grace can be displayed even in our grievances.

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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. Jesus never complained when He suffered, so why do we haul fellow believers into court when we think we've been cheated? We think we can get justice from unbelieving judges. In reality, God wants us to get our justice from His hand. Today, why it's better to suffer wrong than to tarnish the name of Jesus in a court of law. 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 has to hurt to sit for days in court wrongly accused of harming another believer.

Well Dave, you know, it's very difficult to untangle these kinds of situations. One believer says to the other, you did this, the other denies it. And of course, the apostle Paul knew that even in his day, Christians were tempted to go to secular courts to resolve church issues, civil issues. Now I like to emphasize that if there's abuse or crimes going on, of course it is necessary for us to expose that and lawsuits sometimes develop, but we have far too many lawsuits Christians suing Christians without being willing to commit the matter to God. You know, we're offering a book I've written entitled When You've Been Wronged, Moving from Bitterness to Forgiveness. Of course, it includes a chapter on Christians in the courtroom. We're making this available because we believe it will help you tremendously in your spiritual journey.

And I say that with great sincerity because no matter where I travel, no matter how I have ministered or where I have ministered, people conflicts, bitterness, misunderstanding is everywhere. For a gift of any amount, we're making this book available to you. Here's what you do. Go to

That's or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now let us listen to God's word. You can always find it somewhere else to go to church and not use what has happened in your life and your submission for the glory of God. You can escape what God wants to do in your life. And sometimes elders and sometimes people in the church are not infallible. They aren't infallible. Sometimes they make mistakes, but people who are under subjections say despite the mistake, all accept their wisdom and trust God through it.

So what he said is that you show a lack of submission. He says, you accept defeat and not blessing. Notice in verse seven to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong?

Why not rather be defrauded, but you yourselves wrong and defraud even your own brothers. What Paul is saying is for openers, the very fact that somebody in the church does something wrong to you and then will not make it right, that in itself is a defeat. But then that the person takes you to court, the person whom you have wronged, he is becoming a part of that defeat. He is submitting to the worldly system regarding the resolution of a conflict and he's doing it in the wrong way.

A Christian attorney said that in all the cases that he has seen, when a Christian goes to court with another Christian, then he does not receive blessing even if he wins the case. So you win the case. Okay, you do, but at what cost and at what expense? Suffering wrong as we shall see in a moment is highly prized by the apostle Paul and highly prized by Jesus. Would you not rather suffer wrong? In taking a brother to court, you participate in his guilt, assuming that he is guilty.

Now I need to talk with you very, very practically about some matters. First of all, if you are taken to court, if you are sued, you certainly have a responsibility and a right to protect yourself. The apostle Paul, when he was in difficulty, he appealed to his Roman citizenship. So if someone serves you papers, you have really little option except to respond. In fact, attorneys tell you don't talk to the person who is suing you. And so they cut off brother from brother and sister from sister and they simply tell you now no talking, no phone calls, no cards, nothing until this is resolved. And because you're a part of a legal system now, you have to go along with that and you have to defend yourself.

Also, I need to say that I do believe that Paul here is talking about civil cases. If you as a woman are married to a man and you discover that he's a pedophile and is dangerous with your children, whatever you do, don't say, well, we're just going to let it happen and suffer wrong. You have a responsibility to yourself. You have a responsibility to your children.

You have a responsibility now in those matters of criminal activity where the state has an interest. And so in no way are we simply saying that you always need to accept what is happening and suffering wrong. Paul is talking about grievances that have to do with money and property issues and those kinds of dealings among people. Also, if you are married to someone like that, he should really be regarded as an unbeliever. It's part of the responsibility of the church. Next message in the series is on reconciliation.

And I'll explain that more clearly that you get to a certain point in a person's life where his behavior regardless of what he says needs to be interpreted by fallible human beings as him being one who is not a believer, in which case it would seem to me the Apostle Paul's warnings and admonition does not directly apply if indeed such a person is an unbeliever. And thankfully, thankfully, there are today Christian arbitration organizations. There are those who say that what we will do is we'll provide an attorney, maybe a pastor along with the attorney. And there's such a thing as binding arbitration where two Christians who can't resolve a dispute come together. And after they've come together, the case is heard and a decision is made. And in advance, both parties agree that they will accept whatever decision has been made. This surely, surely is a much better way.

And of course, the legal fees are minimal in comparison to all of the legal fees and the meandering that goes on within our judicial system. So we do need wisdom in the application of this text. But I need to emphasize that Paul is saying that it is better for you to suffer wrong and to be defrauded. That's the last reason why he gives why Christians should not take other Christians to court. You avoid the privilege of suffering.

Now I can imagine I'm speaking to somebody who says, I can't believe what I'm hearing. The privilege of suffering. I've suffered and I don't consider myself blessed or privileged. Actually, the whole series of messages that I've preached in this series is entitled suffering wrong. Someone who saw the series title said, you can't be preaching that because nobody is willing to suffer wrong today.

And I said, well, you never know. I'm preaching to a group of Christians. There may be those who are willing to suffer wrong.

Sometimes we have no choice. Let me give you three reasons why biblically suffering wrong would be considered to be a great privilege. First of all, because you identify with Jesus. You identify with Jesus who, when he was reviled, reviled, not again, when he suffered, he uttered no threats, but kept committing himself to the father who judges righteously. Jesus said, I'm being falsely accused. I'm being constituted and considered a great sinner. Slander is against me. Injustice is against me.

The hatred of the Romans and the hatred of the Jews is against me when all that I tried to do is to do good, but I keep entrusting myself to him that judges righteously. I'm not going to lash out. I'm not going to vaporize the people who come for me and use my awesome power to simply wipe them out and tell them what I really think of what they're doing. Can you imagine what you and I would do if we had the power of Jesus in a situation like that?

We'd make sure that we were going to set it straight. Jesus said, I don't need to do that because I have a father who judges righteously. So first of all, because you identify with Jesus. Secondly, it gives God an opportunity to display his grace.

It gives God an opportunity to display his grace. In fact, all suffering gives God an opportunity to display grace in our lives, but there is no suffering that is as painful, in my opinion. There is no suffering as painful as the suffering of injustice. You see, if you get cancer or some other disease, I mean that can be excruciating and terrible, but there's nobody really who's trying to get even with you. Nobody who has slandered you. Nobody who has stabbed you in the back.

No friend who has betrayed you. Those kinds of hurts, the latter hurts that I've mentioned, they go deep into the soul. They are a part of who we are. It is those kinds of hurts that keep us awake at night. And what keeps us awake at night is this desire for revenge to finally see the score even. And there are times when we will not see the score even in this life. But what an opportunity it is for God to display his grace, to say, in the midst of all of this, I pour grace into your soul.

Grace upon grace, like an elastic band stretching to the extent of your need. You see, injustice has a way of cutting us deeply, but in the middle of the cut, God comes along with healing, healing within our souls. And there's a third reason. It gives a testimony that you believe in another world. You believe in another world.

This is critical. I am not telling you today to give up your desire for justice. The desire for justice is built into our lives. It is part of who we are. It's part of the creation of God in his image.

We desire justice. I'm simply asking you to be willing to have the faith to punt the ball to the Supreme Court of the universe. Notice what Jesus said. He kept entrusting himself to him who judges righteously, to believe that there is a day coming when every single wrong will be answered. You say, well, but, but you know, the person who's suing me or has done me evil, he is, he's a member of God's family and he's going to be in heaven. When we get to heaven, God's going to forget all about these things.

Oh really? What Bible are you reading? You must be reading the reversed vision.

That's what the judgment seat of Christ is all about. Here's a couple who walk hand in hand. They're married.

They have children. The man runs off, marry somebody else, goes down to the South somewhere and lives in luxury and money and won't even make child payments. And let's suppose he is a Christian, not acting like one, but let's just suppose for the purpose. And now suddenly they both die and they get to heaven and God is going to ask them, oh, just walk hand in hand in the heavenly kingdom and forget everything because, because after all, you're both Christians and you're both accepted just like Jesus is accepted.

It's not the way it's going to be. That's why it's called the judgment seat of Christ. And that's why it says, dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves. That's why another day is coming and you entrust your case to a higher court. And you know that someday justice will happen. Someday the truth will be revealed and every, every injustice will be answered. And in the case of the unsaved, they will have to bear the full brunt of their evil for all of eternity as their life is dragged out in the presence of God.

So justice rules. We think of slavery and its injustice. James in his book makes an astounding statement because in those days, many of the same things happened.

What happened is rich people exploited the poor, had them work real hard in their farms and in their work and then never paid them. And so James in chapter five is talking to rich people and he's speaking with biting sarcasm about them and their exploitation. And then he says, I'll skip to verse four, behold the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud are crying out against you. And the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. God is watching.

And what James is saying, and these people didn't have the opportunity to appeal to various things that we might have the same opportunity to appeal to. But what he's saying is be patient in suffering because there's another world coming. There's a world when justice will, will prevail, when the exploiters will be exposed because the cry of the oppressed has come and reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. What I'm asking you today is to simply, simply turn over that terrible desire to get even, to simply give it to God and to say, God, like Jesus, I'm going to keep entrusting myself to him who judges righteously. Thank you, Jesus, that sometimes, sometime I, I know that the truth will come out. Righteousness will prevail. The innocent will be vindicated. The exploiters will be exposed. That brother who lied about dad's will, will have to answer to God.

And I'm willing to entrust my case to the highest court. You know what God will do? He'll pour grace into your soul and he'll use injustice to make us more like Jesus.

It hurts, but it helps. Father, for all today who suffer because of injustice, Christians doing evil things against others. Father, we, we wish that we could right every wrong. We wish that the truth would come out in every situation.

We wish that every person who was chiseling wills from family members would be exposed. We wish for that, but we can't have it in this life. We thank you that another day is coming when Jesus, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, God of all gods will rule and justice will prevail. Now, Father, for your people, how we wish that we had more time to help them to transfer the weight of their own pain to you, but grant them that ability. We pray in Jesus blessed name. Amen. Amen. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer.

How relevant is the message that I have just preached? Well, less than three days ago, my wife and I met with a woman who was very wronged in a lawsuit. It's a very complicated story, but in principle, of course, it's happened a thousand times. And she was willing to simply give the matter to God because there are so many issues in this life that we cannot resolve. But God says, vengeance is mine. I will repay. Now we're going to be speaking about reconciliation in a future message, but the point is this.

There are times when reconciliation cannot happen. We're making available to you a book I've written entitled When You've Been Wronged. We want you to have it because we believe it'll be of great help to you as you navigate the conflicts, the people conflicts of life.

Very quickly, here's how you connect with us. You go to That's or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337, the title of the book When You've Been Wronged, Moving From Bitterness to Forgiveness.

Thanks in advance for helping us financially and that contact info once again, or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337. Name of the book When You've Been Wronged. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. How to handle the bodies of the dead is a question troubling Helen, who researched the matter in the Bible. She writes, In 1 Samuel 31, 12 I read, And they took their bodies, that's King Saul and his sons, from the wall of Beit Shea'an, and came to Jabeth and burnt them there.

Afterward they buried the ashes under a tree. So why can't our bodies just be cremated? One denominational leader says, It doesn't matter to God if it takes five years or five minutes for our bodies to turn to dust. I firmly believe it doesn't matter to God who is able to make something out of nothing.

Pastor Lutzer, what do you think? Well Helen, thank you so much for your question, and I know that this stirs a lot of controversy. And you're absolutely right, as far as God is concerned, He can take nothing and make something of it. So ultimately cremation is not a sin. And of course sometimes it is necessary. You have those who died on 9-11, I mean they had no option, their bodies were totally burned. And you find that repeatedly today in war and in fires and so forth. And you also have instances where there might be a plague, where it might be wise to burn bodies. But I also maintain very strongly that if you as a Christian have a choice, you should be buried. And the reason for that is, number one, the apostle Paul says it is like a seed in the ground, 1 Corinthians chapter 15. And just as we put a seed in the ground, so the body is put in the ground, and then it grows.

And of course that growth is referred to as the resurrection, when it is raised. Also the early Christians always buried their dead because they followed the example of Jesus. And He, by the way, I think is a much better example to follow than the one that you cited, where after war some bodies were burned.

And furthermore, it indicates the sanctity of the body. When you burn a body, you disrespect it in a way that you don't when you bury it. You know, pagans often burn bodies. And of course in a pantheistic world, the belief is that as the body burns and all of the elements go back into the air, it is going back to nature, back to the Great One. Well, we as Christians don't believe that. We stand against that very firmly, and we know that when bodies are buried they disintegrate, and eventually they just do become dust and other dust might be mixed in with them. We understand that, but the symbolism in the New Testament is powerful. So I would say, Helen, if you can be buried, if you have that option, take that option.

It best represents the day of resurrection. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, and thank you, Helen, for your question. 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. No one ever said that reconciliation is easy. It can be very hard.

But this is certain. Reconciliation is necessary. It can take years to form the deep divisions that keep families and former friends apart. And it may take time to heal those wounds. Next time, Pastor Lutzer takes a look at the high cost of reconciliation and the commands Jesus gave us for handling church discipline. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-24 02:24:42 / 2024-05-24 02:32:49 / 8

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