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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - #thestruggleisreal

Skip Heitzig - #thestruggleisreal

Skip Heitzig - #thestruggleisreal
Skip Heitzig - #thestruggleisreal

Most all of you know about Robert Louis Stevenson's famous book called The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And that's a story that most people know. It's been made into films, et cetera. But here's the premise, there's this London doctor named Dr. Henry Jekyll who comes up with a potion. He develops a potion that allows him to turn into another man. And the other man is Dr. Edward Hyde. Mr. Edward Hyde.

Now Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde couldn't be more different. Dr. Jekyll is nice, well-respected, helpful. Mr. Hyde is a cold-blooded murder. At first, Dr. Jekyll can control Mr. Hyde, but eventually, Mr. Hyde just emerges whenever he wants to, and starts taking over the show. So the storyline follows this struggle between these two personalities vying for control of the same body.

And the struggle of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a familiar story and a familiar struggle for all believers, because we have two natures. We have the nature we were born with by Adam. What is our fallen human nature. And the new nature implanted within us by the second Adam, by Jesus Christ at the new birth. And those two, they're very different from one another and they don't get along with each other. There's a struggle that takes place.

Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, himself, he was a Christian, and he was asked by somebody, where did you get the idea? Where did you get the model for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? And Stevenson said, I found it in my own nature. See he learned that every believer has a battle. The battle is with supremacy, control. And he wrote, "I find there is always a struggle with the beast that lives within me."

Last week, we looked at what it meant to follow Jesus, with the hashtag "follow me." And we saw from Jesus's own lips, He said, "if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." But here we get the rest of the story. In Romans chapter 7 is the continuing story of the follower. And we discover that even those who follow him best can struggle the most. Case in point, Paul the Apostle. In Romans chapter 7 we go, this is Paul the Apostle? Writing these words? He's Mr. Spiritual. He's Mr. Apostle. He's the author of 13 New Testament books, and this is his struggle?

Now there is a hashtag in social media called #thestruggle or #thestruggleisreal. And I always like to do a little research on this, because I don't know these things. But I discovered that on Instagram alone, a huge portal for social media, The hashtag #thestruggle shows up 3.3 million times. And the other hashtag #thestruggleisreal shows up 2.2 million times. So 5.5 million examples of the struggle. So there's a lot of people out there struggling with a lot of things. The funny thing about it is if you look at the hashtag where it's posted, #thestruggle or #thestruggleisreal, it's not really much of a struggle. It's like this over dramatized, here's a piece of chocolate cake, I don't know if I should eat it, the struggle is real, man.

Some people genuinely struggle, other people it's just like, it's there. But the struggle is real. However, for the believer, this is a very apropos hashtag. It fits perfectly, because we want to please God. We have a desire to do God's will. We want to help. We want to encourage like Dr. Jekyll. But the problem is there's a battle, it's raging within us. The old us, the Mr. Hyde, tries to emerge and ruin everything.

And sometimes the battle is so fierce that I know some of you have even had thoughts like this, I must not be a true Christian. I must not be a true believer. I mean, I'm really struggling with this in my life, this issue, this habit. So it must mean because of my struggle that I'm not a true believer, because true believers don't struggle like I struggle. And no one knows the kind of struggle I'm going through. Here's the newsflash, yes, they do. They all do. They're just not admitting it.

I think if we were to get really honest, and we were to look at our lives individually, I wonder how much Jekyll is there and how much Hyde is there. I wonder how much the nice, wonderful, righteous person is there, and how much of the evil, sinful, old nature is there. And I would say it's a combination of both, because the Bible says that and we've experienced that. So in Romans chapter 7, here is Paul getting very, very candid about his struggle. And beginning in chapter 7 verse 12, I want to show you four reasons why this struggle is so real.

I struggle because of what I know, first off. I struggle because of what I know. Now I'm going to jump into verse 12 even though, you'll notice the first word is "therefore," so it's a concluding remark based on an argument Paul has made. But I just got to jump in here. And then I'll explain what he's therefore-ing. Verse 12, "Therefore, the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not. But sin that it might appear sin was producing death in me through what is good. So that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. For we know..." now see, so this is what we know, "we know that the law is spiritual."

Stop right there. What we have here is a typical Pauline argument, or an argument proposed by Paul the Apostle. That is, Paul, will make a statement and ask a question, and then answer the question. He does that, by the way, 61 times in the book of Romans. There are 61 questions that Paul asks. And why does he do that? Because that's an old style. It's a rhetorical style. He'll ask a question as if the reader is asking the question, and then he'll answer it. And he does that to further his argument, to kick the can down the road, and to develop his argument.

So Paul has been speaking about the Old Testament law. The covenant made by God through Moses to the children of Israel. And he's been speaking about the law and our relationship as New Testament Christians to the Old Testament law. We know what the law is. It's a set of rules and regulations, Commandments given by God to the nation of Israel, don't do this, don't do that, do this, do that. And Paul makes the statement that the law is good. The law is good. It's good. It's holy. It's just. And he says it's good a few times.

Why is the law good? Well, first of all, the law is good because it was given by God, and because God is good, the law that he gives is good. The law reveals the righteous standard of a holy and perfect God. David said in Psalm 19, "the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul." Another reason the law is good is because the law is Scripture. And Paul said to Timothy, "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable." So even the law portion of the Bible is good and profitable, because God is good, because it's Scripture.

And there's another reason the law is good and that is the law is foundational to our faith. Who is it that we believe in? Who is it that we trust? Who is our Savior? Jesus Christ. Well, do you know that Jesus fulfilled the law? He said, in the Sermon on the Mount, don't think I've come to destroy the law. "I didn't come to destroy it, I came to fulfill it." So Christianity, we understand, has as part of its foundation Judaism. And part of Judaism is the law and unfortunately, many Christians try to live in a house without knowing much about the house they're living in. And the house we're living in is one where God has given a Revelation to the Jewish people that pointed at Jesus, we believe in Jesus, but we can't neglect the foundation.

It's interesting that of all the surveys done of Americans' belief system a large portion of Americans say that they try to live by the Ten Commandments. Ever heard that? I've heard that a lot. What do you believe in? Well, man I just try to live by the Ten Commandments. OK, and follow up question, do you know any of the Ten Commandments? See that's the clincher, because the same survey says, while most people say they live by the Ten Commandments, they can't name them.

You shouldn't kill people? OK, good. That's one. Keep going. Ahh. Most Americans can't name them. Well, how do you keep the Commandments you don't even know? So one of the reasons we believe in teaching through the Bible is so that you get a full knowledge of the foundation of our faith from the Old and through the New Testament. However, the problem is the more we know, the more we struggle, because as we go through the law it sets that standard, that bar is set pretty high, this is the standard of God. Here's a holy, just, righteous God giving His standard.

And all that does is show me how far I have to climb. And I can't climb very far. That's the frustration. It's like the joke I've told so many times about the kid who had the dream, and in the dream there was a ladder stretching up to heaven and people were going up, but before they went up the ladder, they had to take a piece of chalk and mark the rungs of the ladder for every sin they committed. So he's climbing the ladder, and he's marking the rungs with his chalk, and he says, the next day, hey, dad, I had a dream last night about heaven, and I was climbing up the ladder and you were climbing down the ladder. Well, what was I doing climbing down the ladder? He said, you said you were coming down to get more chalk.

So when I read the law, when I read the scripture, I see the standard of a holy God. It shows me how far I have to climb and I can't climb very far. So that high standard causes me to look for a solution. And the solution is found in whom? Jesus, because He's the only one who kept the law, He fulfilled the law. "I didn't come to destroy it, but to fulfill it." So this is why Paul in Galatians chapter 3 says, "the law was our tutor," our guardian, our instructor, to bring us to Christ, to point the way to Jesus, as the solution.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes, "I do not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the law. The law is the needle and you cannot draw the silken thread of the gospel through a man's heart, unless you first send the needle of the law to make a way for it. If men do not understand the law, they will not feel that they are sinners, and they will never value the sin offering. There is no healing a man until the law has wounded him. No making him alive until the law has slain him." So I struggle because of what I know.

But there is a second reason I struggle. Not only do I struggle because of what I know, as I look at that standard. But I struggle because of who I am. Go back to verse 14. "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin." So here I am over here going, I agree with David, the law of the Lord is perfect. But the problem is I'm not perfect. That's the problem. I am perfectly imperfect. That's what I also discover. In revealing God's standard, it also reveals how sub-standard my own life is. It reveals my own sin. So the problem isn't with the law, the problem is with the law breaker.

I agree with the law. I read and go, yes. I know that I should live that way. I know that I should love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. I know that I should love my neighbor as thyself. The law is good, the law is right, the laws just, but the problem isn't with the law, it's with me. And so a criminal. Let's say a criminal is arrested, apprehended. And he's caught red-handed, committing a crime. Let's say he's even seen by 10 witnesses. It's unmistakable. It's on video, everything. So he gets caught, and taken to jail, goes to trial, he's convicted, he goes to prison. How ludicrous would it be for the criminal to sit in his cell going the problem is the law. No it's not. The problem is you. The law shows the standard for society. You broke the standard. Thus, the problem isn't with the law, the problem is with you.

"The straight edge of the law shows the crookedness of my life." Romans chapter 3, verse 24 "for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Hey, do you remember as a kid, the first time in school you looked at stuff through a microscope. It was so exciting. And maybe you remember your teacher saying, now kids take out a piece of your hair and put it under the microscope and look at it. And you thought, this is going to be awesome, because I just washed my hair, and I used that really fancy conditioner, so it's going to look really sleek and nice. And you look at it under a microscope and it's really gnarly and dirty. There's even stuff, like, crawling on it. In that microscopic level, you know, it just shows, yuck. The law is like the microscope that shows the reality of your life before a holy, righteous God.

Now look at verse 14 again. "For we know that the law is" what? Spiritual. What does that mean? What he means by the law is spiritual is that it's spiritual as opposed to merely physical. That is it deals with the inner man. It deals with inward attitudes, not just outward actions. How do we know this? Because Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, quoting the Old Testament law said, "you have heard that it was said by those of old, you shall not murder." That's outward action, murder. "But I say to you if you're angry at your brother without a cause, you are guilty." That's inward attitude. Again, he says, "you have heard that it was said by those of old you shall not commit adultery." That's outward action. "But I say unto you, if you lust after another woman in your heart, you have already committed adultery with her." Inward attitude.

It's not just governing the outward actions. It also touches the inward attitude. Now the mistake that people like the Pharisees made is they interpreted the law as merely physical. And in doing so they were very smug about keeping it. Did you know that Paul the Apostle was once a Pharisee? And you remember his little testimonial in Philippians chapter 3, when he goes back over his life.

And he says something like this, look, if anybody thinks he can brag, I can brag more. He says, "I was circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel of the tribe of Benjamin. I'm a Hebrew of the Hebrews, as touching the law a Pharisee, concerning zeal, I persecuted the church." Listen to this statement, "concerning righteousness that comes from the law, I was blameless." Can anybody say that? Paul said it. Paul said, when it comes to keeping a righteous standard according to the law, I was blameless.

You know why he said that, because up till that point he considered it only merely outward, and not inward. So I keep this rule, and that rule, check, didn't murder, check, didn't commit adultery, check, didn't steal anything, check. So I have favor with God, because I keep a set of rules. Ah, but he came to realize that law is spiritual. It's spiritual.

Now I want to notice this, I want you to go back a little bit. Go back to verse 7. "What shall we say then is the last sin? Certainly not. On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, you shall not covet. But sin taking opportunity by the commandment produced in me all manner of evil desire for apart from the law, sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died."

Now notice the one Commandment that he brings out as an example is the 10th Commandment, "thou shalt not covet." Why does he do that? Because the 10th Commandment is vastly different from all the previous nine Commandments. The previous nine Commandments deal with to outward action, the last commandment deals with inward attitude. That's why he said, the law is spiritual.

Because I'm reading the Ten Commandments and I come to that last commandment that says, "you shall not covet." You know why that's different? Because you can covet all day long and nobody sees it. You can't murder all day long and nobody sees it. Everybody's going to see it. You can't steal stuff all day long nobody sees it. They're going to go to your house and see all the stuff you stole. But you can sin inwardly by coveting, having a strong, illicit desire for something or someone, and nobody sees it. So it's inward. It's spiritual.

By the way, covetousness leads to the breaking of all the other commandments. It's that desire that leads to the breaking of the other commandments. For example, a disgruntled employee gossips because he or she covets power that they don't have. An aggressive nation goes to war because they covet more land, or more control, or status. A spouse commits adultery because that person covets another's affection or regard. So this is why Paul just concludes in Romans 3, the whole thing, by saying, "there is none righteous. No, not one."

And here he tells you why, because the law is spiritual. It deals with something going on the inside, not just the outside. So I struggle because of what I know. I struggle because of who I am. There's a third reason I struggle. It's because of what I do. It's because of the experience I have had in my own life. Look at verse 15 and see if anyone here can't relate to this. "For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do that I do not practice, but what I hate that I do. If then I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me that is in my flesh." My flesh being my unredeemed, fallen nature, the Mr. Hyde.

"Nothing good dwells. For the will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do, but the evil that I will not do that I practice. For if I do what I will not do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, or a principle, that evil is present with me the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man, but I see another law, or a working principle in my members warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members. Oh, wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from this body of death?"

Now everyone of us can relate to that. The struggle of the old nature that we got from Adam, and the new nature that we got from Jesus Christ, the last Adam. I don't know how many baseball fans we have out there, but I grew up going to Dodger baseball games. So I kind of know all those old times, and I've kind of kept up with some of the heroes of that, and most everybody knows the name Tommy Lasorda.

The famous, one-time manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Well, Tommy Lasorda was talking about his own personal struggles that he's had in his life, and he said, "I took a pack of cigarettes from my pocket, and I stared at it, and I said, who's stronger, you or me. And the answer was me, so I stopped smoking. And then I took a vodka martini, and I said do it who's stronger, you or me. Again, the answer was me, and I quit drinking martinis. Then I decided to go on a diet. And I looked at a big plate of linguine with clam sauce and I said who's stronger, you or me. And a little clam looked up at me and answered, 'I am.'" And Tommy Lasadora said, "I just cannot beat linguine with cream sauce."

C.S. Lewis once said, "no one knows how bad he is until he's tried to be good." Like Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, there's always a struggle with the beast that lives within me. Now here's the newsflash, the beast is never removed, and the beast can never be improved, and that is why we struggle.

I know God gives you a new nature. I know that with that new nature, you crave Him, you long for Him, you long to please Him, but we're chained to a dead man. And wherever we go, it's like we carry that corpse on that chain with us wherever we go.

Interesting, I found out that near the city of Tarsus, you know of Tarsus that's where Paul the Apostle was raised, in Tarsus. Near the city where Paul grew up, there was an ancient tribe that used to punish its murderers in a very interesting way. It would take the corpse of the murdered victim and tie him to the body of the murderer. That's how they'd punish him. They'd tie, as close as they could tie, the body of the one they murdered to the living murder.

And what would that do? It would kill that person. Kill the murderer. Why? Because the body that it's strapped to is decaying, gets really gnarly, and smelly, and all of that disease and bugs will transmit from the dying corpse to the living body. And through that decay will infect, and eventually, over a period of days, kill him. It could be that that is the thing that Paul has in his mind when in verse 24 he says, "oh, wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?" That he has that punishment in mind when he cries out.

But this is our experience. This is our experience. Paul said, "the flesh wars against the spirit, and the spirit wars against the flesh." That was describing us. That's the civil war we experience. Galatians 5:17 he says, "our sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just the opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other." That's the Dr. Jekyll that's the Mr. Hyde. That's our experience.

Now that is not an excuse to be sinful. Rather that's a notice to be mindful and an incentive to be careful. And that's important, because many Christians stop right here. It's just like hashtag #thestruggleisreal. I'm struggling. So their whole life, they never come to a place a victory, but they just wallow in this struggle. It's like you've been given new life, resurrected life, but yeah, I want to go play in the cemetery.

And so for some people, for many people, it's like when your washing machine is stuck on the spin cycle and just goes bluh, bluh, bluh, it doesn't shut down. Many believers are just sort of caught in the sin cycle. How's your life? Bluh, bluh, bluh. Just up and down and around. It's like a rocking chair, there's a lot of motion, but no forward momentum. Which leads me to the fourth, I struggle because of what is possible.

I struggle because of what I know. I struggle because of who I am. I struggle because of what I do. And I also struggle because of what is possible. Now look at verse 24. There's that cry, "oh, wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from this body of death?" Followed immediately by, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord so then with my mind I serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin." Romans 8, verse 1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit."

There is some debate as to that last part being part of the original, I won't deal with that right now. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh on account of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according the spirit."

Now we're getting somewhere. Now we're getting somewhere. Now Paul is exhausted, he's ready to give up. He shoots the flare. Right? He shoots the SOS signal. He says, "oh, wretched man that I am." By the way, the term "wretched" carries with it a note of exhaustion. At the end of chapter 7 Paul's at the end of his rope. He's exhausted. He's been trying to do this on his own for enough time and so he just cries out in desperation. And the best thing about Romans chapter 7, is that it leads to Romans chapter 8.

Because here is Paul saying, I can't get rid of Mr. Hyde myself, I need a source beyond my ability. "I thank God through Jesus Christ." You know, I don't know what you think about Alcoholics Anonymous, but I got to tell you there are some principles and that organization that they have right. And number one, they have the fact that you have to admit that you've got a problem. You stand up in a meeting and go, I'm so-and-so and I'm an alcoholic. You have to admit you've got a problem. The second thing you need, and they know you need, is you need a group around you for accountability's sake. That group is going to help pull you out of some of those holes of addiction. And the third thing they realize is that you can't do it without a higher power.

Now I got to tell you something, we need to admit that there's a problem before that problem can get fixed. We also need the body of Christ around us for accountability's sake to pull us up when we fall. And we need the power, not the higher power, the highest power, the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. And that's possible. Verse 4, Romans 8, probably the crowning text of this section. Notice what it says, "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled."

What's the next word? Next word? "In." Please notice this. "That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us." Not by us. Not by us, in us, by somebody else. And who's that somebody else? "I thank God through Jesus Christ that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us." In us. Who saved you? Did you save you? Did you save yourself? You pull yourself up by your own bootstraps? You going to heaven in your own good works? Did you? No you didn't. He saved you.

Well, listen if he save you, He's the only one that can sanctify you, grow you up, mature you, give you victory over, it's not like, I'm saving you, you have to do the rest. No, the one who saved you is also the one who sanctifies you. We like to say that Jesus cleans all the fishes that he catches. Do fish clean themselves up enough so the fisherman goes, I like that one. Look at it, it's clean. In fact, I'd rather have the fish cleaned, cooked, filleted, with a little tartar sauce on a plate, then I'll draw it up from the water. Not going to happen.

No, the fisherman takes it, cleans it, prepares it, eats it, et cetera. You come to Jesus as you are. He loves you the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you the way you are. So He takes you, and He cleanses you by His blood. That's an instantaneous moment. But then He cleans you up, and gives you victory. But, I want to make this point, I struggle because of what is possible.

Listen, "the whole reason I struggle..." "the whole reason I struggle is because God is at work." The very fact that there's a battle inside of me should cause me to rejoice. There wouldn't be a battle inside of me unless God was at work. Listen, if I was dead to sin, spiritually dead, there wouldn't be a battle. If I was dead to sin, spiritually dead, I'd just indulge in it. I wouldn't fight it, I'd just do it. Have fun in it. The fact that I struggle and battle only proves I'm a child of God. So the battle itself shows me the possibility that there is for the Mr. Hyde to be subdued and the Dr. Jekyll to be in control.

So let me encourage you with two closing thoughts. Two closing thoughts. There is a struggle, but there is also victory, and that victory comes by walking in the spirit. Galatians 5, "walk in the spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts..." the desires, the covetous cravings, "of the flesh." I know we go, yeah, but I got this problem, I got that problem, and I'm looking at these problems, and I'm dealing with these problems, and I'm immersed in these problems. Part of the solution is to turn away from all that, and turn to I'm busy in God's word, I'm busy in God's work, I'm fellowshipping with God's people, I'm reading what He says, I'm praying, I'm doing things to help people, and I'm so busy doing that, I don't have a whole lot of time to deal with this. "Walk in the spirit, you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."

Cars today are propelled forward by what we call "a storage principle." The storage principle is that fuel is stored aboard the vehicle, consumed by the vehicle that propels it forward. When the fuel runs out you go to a gas station and what do you do? You fill it up. That's the storage principle. In older times, cars, or trolley cars, were propelled by the contact principle, not the storage principle. That contact is made with an electrical source and as long as the contact is maintained the car is propelled forward.

How do Christians live? By which principle? Both. Both the storage and the contact principle. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and in the Bible it says, "be filled" it's in the present tense, be constantly being filled with the spirit. And also the contact principle, Jesus said, "if you abide in me..." a word that means make contact with me, constant living communio, "you will bear forth much fruit." So we take the storage principle, the contact principle, and we are propelled forward. There is a struggle, but there is victory.

The second word of encouragement, and I close with this thought, if you have fallen, you can get up. I've seen the commercials. I've fallen and I can't get up. You can't say that as a believer. You've fallen? You can get up. Every parent knows this. I have never yet met a parent who trains that little child how to walk, remember the first steps? They take a step and then what do they do? They fall down. Plop. Have you ever seen a parent go, I'm out of here. I mean, if you can't even walk. This is so easy, everybody can walk. You've ever seen a parent do that? You'll never see a parent do that. A parent is patient because you're learning how to walk.

Don't you think that's implied when Jesus said, he called salvation "being born again." When you are born again you come as a child. And as a child you don't have it wired. You plop. You fall. Don't you think your Heavenly Father knows that and anticipates you're going to plop? But here's the deal, don't stay there. Don't stay there. Don't wallow in it. Don't wallow in it. Because if you wallow, you can't follow.

"Follow me," Jesus said. It's recent, we read that last week. Paul is saying, you don't have to wallow, you can follow. You've fallen, you can get up. You can get up. And you can move forward, and there is that place of victory.

Father, thank You for this simple, but yet very profound truth spoken by this brilliant apostle Paul, who lays out the case of our relationship to the rules and regulations of the Old Testament law. And the struggle, because of what we know, the struggle because of who we are, the struggle because of what we do, and the struggle because of what is possible.

And that great statement gives us hope that it is possible to follow You, to walk in Your ways, although You anticipate our imperfection. And You are there to cleanse, and to pick up, and to dust off, and to give us strength, and teach us how it's done so that eventually, we're not going to be 25 years old falling down in the same gutter we did when we were 5 months old. We're going to be walking, and running, and climbing, and soaring, maturing.

Lord, I just want to close by praying for those who maybe have thought they have had a walk with You, but they realize they haven't. Maybe some have come to an end of their rope like Paul, they've even said, oh, wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me? And they need to make a commitment to Christ. Others Lord are our people, believers, and they don't even know how to classify themselves. But they have wandered away from you.

And pushing aside the debate of where they were ever really saved or not, we just come to the reality of now. We're dealing with some who have fallen away, walked away, they're not walking with you presently. And there's an ache and a desire that they have to know forgiveness, to know a Father who will pick them up, and dust them off, and embrace them, and teach them how to live.

So Father we just pray for those who are struggling with that decision of following Jesus. And Father we pray that the decision would be, yes, I've decided to follow Him.

Our heads are bowed, our eyes are closed. If I'm talking to you, and I'm touching on certain things you have been noticing or feeling, if you're somebody who isn't following Jesus right now. You've gone to church, maybe you've decided to keep some rules, and us assume that if I go to church and keep some rules, I'm just going to go right to heaven. And that would be a foolish thing for you to think.

I hope you've come to an end of yourself. And if you have, I'm so glad you have, because there is hope. As you cast yourself upon Him to save you, and to clean you, and to mature you. If you've walked away from Him and you desire to come back. Either one. If you are willing at this point today, to give your life to Christ, to follow Him, I want you to raise your hand up in the air, just so I can see it. I'll acknowledge your hand. And I'll pray for you as we close a service. Raise your hand if you're saying, in effect, Skip, pray for me. I'm going to give my life to Jesus today. I'm going to ask Him to cleanse me or I'm going to come back to Him today. I'll bless you to my right. And you right to my right toward the middle. Anyone else? Please, raise that hand up high enough so I can see. To my left. Couple of you right over here to my left. Way in the back of my left. Anyone else? Anybody? Toward the back. To my left. Right here to my right.

Father, thank you for each and every person with that hand raised. Strengthen this choice. Strengthen their lives. Fill them with a peace, an assurance, a joy, a relief, and Lord, I pray that they would feel the embrace of Your love melting away, Lord, the insecurity that they experience in Jesus's name. Amen.

Would you please stand your feet? We're going to sing this last song as we close it. I'm going to simply ask, and I'm going to ask you to do it quickly. If you raised your hand, I want you to step forward, and come right up here to the front. This won't take long, and we're not going to stay long on this. But Jesus called people publicly, and this is a cheering crowd. You can make a stand for Jesus in a cheering crowd. God bless you. God bless you. If you raised you hand, please come forward. I'm going to lead you in a word of prayer. Yes, so good. So good.

Those of you who have come forward, I'm going to lead you now in this prayer, and I'm going to ask you to say these words out loud after me. Mean them from your heart as you say them, you're just asking Jesus to take control. Say:

Lord, I know I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus. That He died on a cross, that He shed His blood for my sins, and that He rose again. I turn from my past. I turn from my sin. I turn to Jesus as my Savior. Help me to live for him as my Lord in Jesus's name. Amen.

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