The High Cost Of Sexual PurityDr. Erwin W. Lutzer | February 10, 2013
Selected highlights from this sermon
Would you know an addict if you saw one? Not an addict to drugs or alcohol, but an addict to media technology. In this message, Pastor Lutzer gives us four signs to look for in an addict, and ways we can deal with those in our lives who are addicted to media technology.
He also reminds us all that at the center of everything is what Jesus has done for us and how only He can truly change a person.
How are you all doing with guarding your heart? The Bible says, “Guard your heart with all diligence.” It’s your most important responsibility because out of it, the Scripture says, are the issues of life.
Well, this is the last in the series of six messages entitled Guard Your Heart – Sexual Purity in a Media Culture. We’ve spoken about such things as video games, mobile devices, iPads, iPhones, the Internet, and all of those matters, which I’ve pointed out, are not neutral but are actually weighted against us.
What an interesting technological age we live in. Before Christmas there was a couple here that were sitting near the front, and they told me this later on in the Visitors’ Center, and said that I could share the story. The wife with her iPhone took a picture of the platform, and then she e-mailed it to her father, and said of her husband, Dick, who, by the way has always wanted to go to Moody Church (one of those life-long dreams), “Dick is in heaven.” He’s getting the e-mail and saying, “What happened?” So he wrote back. “Dick in heaven? Heart attack? What was it?” “No,” she clarified as she sent the next text message, “not the heaven of heavens, but I mean he is at Moody Church, which is about as close to heaven as you can get.” (laughter)
I have a friend who likes to take pictures of gravestones. He has visited the graves of hundreds of people, most of them famous, and most of them Christians – people from the past that have influenced Christianity - because he is a Christian professor. So he tells me that he takes his iPad and it must have a GPS system, and he types in the name of the grave that he wants to visit when he’s in the right cemetery, and he says he just holds his iPad like this and it takes him all the way to the grave. I thought, “Okay, uh-huh! (laughter) All that you need to do with an iPad is to type in some wrong websites and it will take you to the grave actually.” As a matter of fact there is a book about addictions that has been written entitled A Banquet in the Grave, and if you don’t watch it, the media will take you to your grave.
Well, today I have the responsibility of fulfilling two promises that I made to you throughout this series of messages, and today, God willing, I hope to fulfill them. Number one, I promised you that we would look into the mind of an addict to see how they function, so that we understand them better, and then beyond that I am going to answer another question, and that is, “How should a wife respond to her addicted husband?” But before we get there I want to clarify a couple of matters.
First of all, even though I am going to talk about the man being the addict, and I’m going to talk about he and him, the fact is that I am not naive to the fact that there are many women who have their own addictions. It’s just that when you are preaching you can’t always say he or she, or him or her, so I’m going to be talking about him, but you may be a woman and I may be talking about you or someone else whom you know.
Secondly, it’s important to realize that when I talk about the actual traits of addiction, as I will in a moment, it’s not merely an addiction to pornography on the Internet or some other way. That actually is the characteristic of all addicts.
And then third, I’ve been using the word addiction rather loosely throughout this series of messages talking about addictions, but actually the experts give it a more refined definition and narrower definition, and they would say that not everyone who uses a substance, for example, is addicted, and then they specify what they mean by addiction. And generally speaking what they mean is something like a person who is obsessively compulsive about his addiction. They talk about a person who really believes that they are powerless over it because it is as if there is another power that is carrying them along, and the thought of giving up their addiction is unthinkable because it is basically the centrifugal force of their life. And so even while they may be at work, they are very distracted because all information and all relationships and all circumstances are filtered through their particular addiction, and they think about it all the time. That’s why they are not very good workers at times because they are so distracted because they live in another world. It’s the addiction that holds their life together they think, even when their life is falling apart.
So with that introduction now what I’d like to do is to give you three or four characteristics of an addict so that we understand them a little bit better. And some of you know a lot more about this than I do because you may be living with one, but here goes.
Number one, an addict does not want his private obsession disturbed. He wants life to continue to go on. He does not want this part of his life disturbed, and the reason is because remember you can’t understand addiction unless you understand the meaning of the word trance. It’s as if he is in another world. That’s why he’s willing to take such foolish risks. It’s because this world that he has created is a world in which he lives, and you can’t understand it unless you realize that there is euphoria and a sense of anticipation. And just planning his next foray into his favorite addiction causes his heart rate to increase, and he is almost in another world, but he should give this up. Something in which he has invested so much time and oftentimes so much money, it is unthinkable. He does not want his life to be disturbed.
Second, an addict will fight against any intrusion into his private world. Now he’ll fight clean if he can. He’ll fight dirty if he has to, but he will try to prevent any intrusion because remember he’s got shame issues and guilt issues, and he is bound by these, but he also has this attachment which he can’t even think about really dealing with. And he does this in a number of different ways. First of all, he’ll deny it for as long as he can, and for an addict, telling a lie is no big deal because very probably his entire life is a lie, and so he says to himself, “What’s one more lie among so many?”
So he will lie but when he can no longer do that because he’s been discovered his next step it to minimize it. “Well, okay, but it’s not that big of a deal and it’s not hurting anyone.” Remember throughout all of this experience he has been convincing himself and other people that his addiction doesn’t really affect anyone. That is, mentally he is telling himself that. Mind you his family may be coming apart, and his relationship with his wife is critically broken. There’s nowhere to go because all of the intimacy has been compromised. But nonetheless he will tell himself it’s no big deal and why should you be worried about my own issues. What he’d really like to have is for his wife to simply say to him, “Well, I forgive you,” and have a bandage put on his cancer and move on. Don’t dig too deep. So it’s to minimize it.
And then there’s a third response and that is to accuse. “It’s your fault.” Now he becomes very critical. Now if you have ever lived with an addict, and fortunately I’ve never had that privilege (if we can call it that) but I’ve talked to enough people who have, and I’ve done enough reading to realize that particularly when it comes to something like alcoholism people will become totally irrational. In other words they’ll make you think that you are really the problem. Or if you are an abuser, “You caused me to slap you,” so that it’s somebody else’s fault, and they can almost drive you insane because reality is so twisted. No matter what happens in terms of reality, no matter what the issue really is, all truth is taken and turned a half turn so that it comes out as something very different than you remember reality to be, and they’ll keep you off base along this line. But at any rate, it’ll be your fault. It will be the boss’s fault. It will be the church’s fault. It will be somebody else’s fault, and he himself digs himself deeply into this wall of denial. Remember, I’ve told you before, and you’ll probably hear me say it again, that denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. It exists everywhere. Do I have to repeat that for some of you? (laughter) So the second thing is he fights any intrusion into his life.
Third, he will seek help when he has to, to assuage his conscience. Remember what he’s doing is he’s living with all of this psychic energy that is being soaked up, trying to act normal in the world and get this aura or normalcy, when all of this other stuff is going on here, and so if he’s told he has to go for counsel, eventually he’ll go for counseling but not with the intention of radical change. He needs to assuage his conscience so that he feels better about himself, and then he can say afterwards, “Well, you know, as far as counseling is concerned, we tried that.” Mind you, as soon as the counselor begins to encroach upon his particular problem and get him to own his own stuff, he usually withdraws from the counseling session because he doesn’t like it when responsibility is placed upon his shoulders. And so he tries to garner as much support as he can, as much self-pity as he can possibly get from other people, and he’ll be sure to tell his side of the story to any one who will listen.
Now here comes a critical point. He may actually at some point recognize how bad off he’s been. There’s a moment of clarity. Usually it happens because something tragic happens. If he’s an alcoholic it’s because he lost his job again, or he got into some sort of a crime, and so what he will do then is he may even repent and weep. And the wife thinks to herself, and I’m not yet at the point where I’m talking about the wives and their response, “Boy, this is really great. There’s been a breakthrough.” Actually there hasn’t been a breakthrough because what he hasn’t been willing to do is to deal with his appetite. The appetite for that addiction is still there, and if he is able to be free from it for a week or two, it actually only strengthens his resolve that the next time he can do it again, because after all it’s not that big a deal, and he isn’t an addict anyway because after all he quit for two weeks which proves he can quit. And we’re back to Mark Twain’s remark. “Of course I’m not addicted to smoking. I’ve quit a thousand times.” So what he’ll do now is he’ll plunge back into it because the bottom line issues have not been dealt with.
Another characteristic, and my notes say that I’m on number four now, is isolation. It’s very important for him to live alone, to be alone. Relationships bother him. Why? It’s because whenever he looks into somebody else’s eyes, all of the truth about himself is there. And so he prefers to live alone. I’ve mentioned this in messages many times that one of the ways in which we stay healthy emotionally is in relationships. And that’s why men should be involved in men’s groups and our TMC communities, and women also, because it is in fellowship and relationship that we maintain our balance and sanity and our emotional and spiritual health. But he doesn’t want to do that. He’d prefer to be alone because it’s in aloneness that he experiences his addiction, and nobody is to find out about him because there’s too much shame.
So there’s avoiding. There’s rationalizing. There’s blaming. There’s manipulation. Eventually it may end in violence and all other things. What a picture of somebody in slavery – the slavery of sin.
Well that’s a quick look at the mind of an addict. Now what should a woman do? And here I am speaking to the wives because this happens so often. She discovers that her husband is into pornography or she discovers in other ways that she’s really living with an addict, or maybe she’s been living with one for years, but here’s her struggle. As a Christian woman she says to herself, “The Bible says very clearly that I am to submit to my husband, that I’m to respect him. Therefore if I rock the boat, if I go for help, if I seek help, if I confront him, I’m really disrespecting him, or I am not submissive to him. After all I am to be submissive to him as the Church is submissive to Jesus.” Now when she looks at her husband she’s finding it a little hard to find Jesus there. Actually you can go ahead and laugh at that because what wife here today wouldn’t say that she’s often looked at her husband and had some real tough times finding Jesus in him? We’re all guilty, but as a result of that she struggles, so as I’ve thought about this and I’ve consulted a counselor who does quite a bit of counseling, this is my wisdom to you.
I know that the pulpit isn’t always the place to do counseling but today it’s going to be, and in a few moments we’re going to be turning to the words of Jesus, because that is most important. But I believe that a wife should say two things to her husband with respect, not in anger, at the right time where there’s an environment where they are able to communicate, and not in a moment of conflict when words are flying all over. But she needs to respectfully say two things to him.
Number one, “I will not enable you, and that means I will never lie for you, and I will never cover for you. If you are mean and attack my children, I’ll go for help. If you become abusive, not only will we go for help, but if necessary we will separate because things cannot continue on the way they are, but I will not be an enabler.” And I say that to you today, because I believe that if you enable sinful behavior, that itself is sinful, or to put it differently, it is sinful to enable sinful behavior. So you need to make it very, very clear that this is not where this marriage is going.
The second thing is also equally important to say, and that is, “I’ll not try to fix you if you don’t want to be fixed.” You know, so often wives say to themselves, “Well, you know I’m going to correct him and I’m going to make him, and I’m going to shame him.” He doesn’t need any more shame. He’s full of shame, but she thinks to herself, “If I shame him, if I nag him, if I get after him, if I humiliate him, surely he’s going to change.” You cannot change somebody. You cannot fix anybody who doesn’t want to be fixed. And if you are trying to do it the way I’ve described it is almost certainly wrong.
So what happens then? Well, he has an option. If he says, “I don’t want to be fixed,” you need to go for help. You need to receive counsel to know what to do, and every situation is different, but you just need to let him know that things can’t continue on the way they are. Now if he says, “I want to be fixed,” now you have something to work on, but one of the rules that you have to emphasize at that particular period of time is this – the rule of honesty. You say to him, “I am going to be an understanding wife,” and please be an understanding wife.
You know, when we’re talking about addicts we’re not talking about some strange people that we’ve never met. These are human beings. Many of them were brought up in broken homes where the father and mother were all addicts of some sort or another. Addiction was their means of escape. It was the means of escaping into this unreal world of pleasure and euphoria and trance, and so for us to be condemnatory, and all that we can do is condemn and lay shame upon shame, doesn’t help at all.
But what she has to say is this. “I’m going to be an understanding wife. If you agree to wanting to be fixed I’ll be here for you through the whole way, but there is one rule (There may be more but at least one.) and that rule is this. You must be completely honest when we are in counseling, and when we are going through this.” That’s because, you see, reality can always be redeemed. Lies cannot be redeemed. You can’t redeem a person. You can’t fix a person unless he’s finally going to be honest. And so that’s the way in which, in my opinion, you work through this.
And then, of course, as we’ll mention in a moment when we talk about appetites and all, and I still have more to say than probably I have time to say it, but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway.
It’s time for us now to turn to the words of Jesus. Let’s turn to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:27-28 where Jesus talks about radical answers to sin questions. And this is what He said. "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’”
Yesterday as I was thinking about this I thought this is a universal indictment of human nature. Is there any human being that has not lusted? I don’t know of any. If after the meeting you come and say that you never have lusted, I can’t help you. There was once a preacher who said that he couldn’t help people who lie.
So Jesus is speaking here and having a very high standard. Now the thing that we must keep in mind is that this doesn’t mean that lust is equal to adultery, any more than hatred is equal to murder, as if all sin is the same. That’s not true at all. Ontologically it is the same in the sense that they have to be forgiven and God hates all kinds of sin, but it is wrong for us to say that one sin is equal to another. Of course it isn’t. The Bible even talks about a sin unto death, and then it says that there is a sin that is not a sin unto death. So it’s wrong for us to think that way. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount clarifies that. He says, “If you say this to your brother the penalty is this but if you say this it is hellfire.”
But what Jesus is saying to the self-righteous Pharisees is this. “Just because you pride yourself in not committing adultery, that doesn’t mean that you are not dealing with the core sin question, because God looks upon the heart.” That’s what Jesus is saying. So don’t think of yourself as righteous. And what Jesus wanted the Pharisees of His day to realize, as we need to realize, is that what we really need is a redeemer. We need somebody to stand in for us. We need Jesus to meet all of God’s requirements on our behalf so that we can be justified, and so that we can be declared righteous despite our struggles with sin. It is Jesus Christ’s obedience that is received by the Father that you and I have the privilege of getting in on when we trust Him as our Savior and we believe in Him as our Lord. It is then, you see, that we take care of it, and that’s one of the things that Jesus wants to do in the Sermon on the Mount. He wants to so show us our sin so that we cry up and say, “I need a Savior,” and certainly in this passage of Scripture we do just that.
Now we continue on and Jesus said this and He’s still talking about the same subject. Matthew 5:29-30 says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
Now Jesus is speaking here surgically and very radically, isn’t He? You know, the phrase causes you to sin in Greek actually has the idea that you are entrapped. We could almost use the imagery of you wanting to catch an animal and so you take and you dig a hole and you put some leaves and branches over it, because what you want that animal to do is to step on it and then be entrapped. Jesus is speaking about whatever it is that is causing you to become entrapped. For a man it is the eye most assuredly. No matter how often we tell women that I’m not sure that they fully understand it because Jesus talked about the right eye. For women it may be the gentle caresses of a hand. Jesus said, “Whatever you need to do.” You say, “He’s not speaking literally, is He?” Of course He’s not speaking literally. I mean you could have your right eye cut out and still lust with your left, for example, so Jesus is not speaking literally, but what He is saying is literally true. It is better to go to heaven with one eye than to be in hell with two. So it’s literally true. Jesus is saying in the strongest possible language, “Whatever it is that is causing you to stumble, take care of it.”
One day I was in my study meditating on this passage and I asked myself the question, “What would it actually be like to have your eye cut out or your hand cut off?” Now in a day when there was no anesthetic could you imagine somebody coming with a knife and just taking your eye and cutting it out, and your eye falling onto your lap? I would say that that would probably hurt. Or have your hand cut off?
Here are the implications. Number one, it is painful, but sometimes we have to make painful decisions for Jesus. I have counseled men who are in love with a woman who is not their wife. They say, “You know, I’ve met my soul mate. I mean we really connect. It is a beautiful relationship,” they tell me and I don’t argue with that. It may be a beautiful relationship. Eve, in the Garden of Eden, when she looked at the fruit, said, “You know, it’s a very beautiful fruit on that tree,” and it was beautiful, but God said “No.” And no matter how much it hurts, no matter how deep the investment in sin, Jesus is saying, “Even if it is painful, stop it and do whatever you have to do to keep from falling into the same pit.”
So the first thing is it’s painful. I met a man who said, “I am falling in love with a woman at work who is not my wife.” I said, “Change jobs.” He said, “Well, I can’t. I’ve got a wife and kids to look after.” (laughter) Now, think about that one. So what you’re going to do is hook up with this lady, and maybe in the end not worry so much about your wife and kids. Jesus said, “Do whatever you need to do!”
Secondly, it is thorough. After you’ve had it done and your eye or your hand is in a plastic bag for a week awaiting some analysis by an expert, it’s a little late to say, “I don’t know whether or not I should have done this.” It’s thorough.
You know it was A. W. Tozer, one of the great preachers, who said that it is the part that we rescue from the cross that is really the seat of our troubles. And it’s really true, isn’t it? You’ve heard me say before that if you’re going to jump across a chasm it is much better to do it in one long jump than in two short ones. (laughter) And when you deal with sin you really have to deal with it thoroughly. As a matter of fact, when it comes to cancer, for example if they are dealing with it surgically, you don’t want to just have the cancer cut out. I think that you’d probably say to the doctor, “Cut a little bit beyond it because I want to make sure that you’ve got it all.” Jesus said that whatever it is that is causing you to stumble (to go into sin), do whatever you need to do. It is thorough.
Third, it is worthwhile. Jesus said it is worthwhile because it would be better indeed to arrive in heaven with one eye than to be in hell with two. It is worthwhile. The pain of breaking off relationships, the pain of dealing with issues deeply that keep causing us to sin, that pain is actually worth it in the end. Absolutely! Imagine being whole. Imagine being free from your addictions so that you can inter-relate with people. Imagine receiving, as it were, a new marriage because the issue that exists between the two of you has been taken care of. “Just imagine that,” Jesus is saying, and it is worth it.
Some of you singles who want to justify immorality because you are single Jesus would say, “As you make a strong stand for purity and you choose the life of celibacy, it is tough. It is hard,” but Jesus would say, “Do you know what? It is worth it because I am there with you and it is better to go through your pain and your loneliness in fellowship with me than it is for you to live in sin and in the process hurt me – grieve me - because of your sin.” So Jesus is saying, “Do whatever you need to do.”
If you’ve been following this series of messages you know that each time I’ve given an assignment. Every message had an assignment, and this time your assignment is called unplug. You know if it’s television that causes you to sin, unplug it for a week, for a month. Maybe unplug it permanently. I know of at least two men who have told me that they wouldn’t have television in their home because it just caused them to sin.
You know John Piper, the well-known pastor there in Minneapolis, does not have a television set in his home. And I’ve heard other pastors speak and say, “Well you know, that’s a little bit extreme.” Well, maybe, but it would be better for him not to have a television if indeed (and I’m not saying this would be true of him because I admire him greatly) it were to lead him into sin. Jesus is saying, “Get radical. Unplug.”
Now, you know, if you need the Internet because it’s part of your work, fine. But join Covenant Eyes where a friend of yours can track all of your sites that you visit on the Web. And when you decide to unplug tell somebody that you are unplugging for a week or whatever it is that you decide to do, or permanently, so that they can check up on you and they can see whether or not you followed through. We are so weak. We need one another, and we need accountability. So you ask God, “What do you want me to unplug? What is it that causes me to continue to fall into sin?”
Now what I’d like to do is to give you three bottom lines as we wrap up this whole series, and each of them is very, very important.
Number one, remember that God loves you just as much when you fail as He does when you succeed. God loves you. You know, we’ve been talking about addicts but the fact is that most of them because of their shame and their guilt have no sense of being loved. In fact, their great fear is to be exposed because if they were exposed nobody would love them they think. Well, I hope that’s not true, but God loves.
Now if you want an illustration of this, think of those of us who have children. When our children misbehaved we didn’t say, “Well, now I love you less.” At least, I hope that you didn’t say that. In fact, sometimes when they misbehaved it really brought out the emotional love in us as parents even more because we saw that the misbehavior was leading them in dangerous paths and that’s the way God is too. He is a father. The Bible speaks about God as a Father, even in the Old Testament in Psalm 103 where it says clearly that the Lord is our Father and He is gracious and merciful, and like a father treats his children, so the Lord treats those who love Him.
So don’t ever be discouraged and say that my situation is helpless. It is absolutely not because if you know Christ as Savior you are the object of God’s love, but He’s waiting for you to say, “You know, it’s really time that I ended this game and became honest” because truth sets us free. Lies never really set us free. They only increase the slavery. So number one, be encouraged. God is there.
Secondly, one appetite must replace another. This is absolutely critical. You say, “Well, earlier in the message you referred to the man who wept but he didn’t deal with his appetite. How do you deal with the appetite?” Well, the answer is you can’t deal with it in a vacuum. You can’t deal with an appetite simply because you’ve even done the assignments that we’ve handed out as this series has progressed. You cannot do that. That doesn’t go to the level of appetite.
You say, “Well, then, what were the assignments all about?” The assignments – unplugging, three consecutive days without television every week (which I have basically done now for about five weeks) – all help those who desire to really walk with God in purity but they find themselves falling back from time to time. So the assignments help that, but they don’t help the person who doesn’t want to be fixed, or the person whose need is really deeper, or the person who has a wrong appetite.
Now the problem here is this. If you think only in terms of the negative you’re never really going to change because as I mentioned, the negative doesn’t change us fundamentally. It sets up circumstances so that we can change. “Well,” you say, “what do we do?”
A number of years ago Rebecca and I had lunch with a rather famous couple. I won’t mention their names even though the story of the wife has been written up in a book, but just know that they are rather famous. And this is her story. She was a street girl in Los Angeles. I think if I remember correctly and I’m not exaggerating, she had four or five abortions before the age of 20. She was full of drugs and the whole ugly lifestyle. She wanders into a mission in Los Angeles and is gloriously converted because Jesus saves sinners. Aren’t you glad that Jesus saves sinners? (applause) But she knew that she had to think differently. So what she did was she joined a Bible study. She became discipled, and then she told us that through this period of time, in a matter of weeks she memorized over 450 verses of Scripture. She said she was immersed in the Word. Why? It is because the Bible says in the book of Romans that “we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we might prove the good and acceptable will of God,” and as a result of that her whole mind had to be reprogrammed. And the Word of God does that and it does the transformation so that it actually even takes care of the appetite. Why? It’s because, as you see, your appetite for God now is being developed and therefore the other appetites, which drag us down, are losing their power.
Jesus talked about a demon that left a person and then the person was totally empty and then seven more demons came in that were worse than the first. And it’s the principle of replacement. You know those families that I told you about that unplugged the television set for a full month? They organized things for their children to do so that something took its place. I should have emphasized that more throughout the whole series of messages. It comes down to the transformation of the human mind.
You know there’s a story about a man who took a bottle and just jammed wires into it. So the wires were jammed into this bottle and then he took a hammer and he hit the bottle and the bottle broke and shattered, but all the wires retained their same position. That’s the way it is. Jesus comes along and says, “I set you free,” but it doesn’t mean that immediately all the wires, so to speak, are put back in a proper relationship. That is the process that the Holy Spirit does when we fill our minds with God’s Word, and we become God pursuers with our whole heart. Then God says, “I’m going to step in and I’m going to help you.” (applause) It isn’t just the negative. It’ll never do it at the level of desire.
Finally, always keep in mind that the centerpiece of everything here at the Moody Church and the Bible has to do with Jesus Christ because here’s the thing. We are all condemned as sinners. As I mentioned, all of us have broken God’s laws. We are all on a various continuum of struggle with sin. If we put the addicts way over here, many are on a lower rung perhaps or on a different trajectory, but we’re all struggling with sin so why should we shame people and try to cajole them and so forth? We are fellow travelers here at the Moody Church and we want you to come along for the journey, but it has to happen with your involvement in our ministries in the lives of this church and the opportunities that are there for healthy relationships and help. And remember this. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ died for sinners and took our place and bore our sin, and that when we receive Him as Savior we receive His righteousness. And He stands in for us and meets God’s requirements on our behalf.
You say, “Well, if that’s true, why all this emphasis on us dealing with these individual sins and addictions?” It’s because even sins for which we will not be condemned still destroy us, and that’s why. You know, you look at the ministry of Jesus. Think of how open He was to sinners – the publicans and the sinners and the prostitutes. Jesus is hobnobbing with them. Why? Imagine a woman of the streets who was a sinner and all the self-righteous Pharisees saying, “Oh, if He were a prophet He’d know what kind of a woman she is and He wouldn’t allow her to touch Him.” In the presence of all these self-righteous people Jesus looks at her and says, “You have been forgiven much. You love much. You have been forgiven. Go and sin no more.” And He said it right there in the presence of all these self-righteous people, and oh, how they hated that He accepted prostitutes and forgave them.
Listen! You’ve heard me say it before. We have a great Savior for great sinners. All right? (applause) And in Jesus we find rest. Praise God! Let’s pray.
Now as we end this time, do you need to pray to God, by the way? We’ve had six weeks of messages on this. Why don’t you just talk to God for a moment. What is God saying to you? What issues do you need to deal with?
Oh Father, we are all broken. We are all in need. We all stand condemned but we also in Jesus stand received and loved, and so, Father, we thank You, and we ask that Your Holy Spirit would do a mighty work in all who have come. Help them not to forget this message. I pray, Father, that in the night they might awaken and remember it, and that during the day when they go home they will remember it, and they’ll respond to whatever You ask them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.