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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Permission To Quit

Steven Furtick - Permission To Quit

Steven Furtick - Permission To Quit
TOPICS: Limitations, Potential, Do The New You

Tell me what these cities have in common (pop quiz): Austin, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Kansas City, Missouri; Denver, Colorado; St. Louis, Missouri; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Toronto, Ontario. Elevation Nights tour, April 18-27, 2023. All of those cities, we're coming. Go right now and check it out, and we will be there soon. Here at Elevation today, I hope we didn't overwhelm you with new songs. We didn't do a single song that's on Spotify today…all new songs…because it goes along with my theme for this year. Don't just do you. People run around… "Do you". Do the new you. Do the you God created. Do the you God is changing. Do the you that is going to walk into the opportunity that is before you full of faith, acknowledging your weaknesses but confident in your strength in Christ. Do the new you.

We're going right back to Ephesians 4, so you might as well sit down and settle in. Right back to our key verse. I'm done arguing with the Lord. When he tells me to preach something, I'm just going to stop fighting it so he doesn't have to put my hip out of socket, like Jacob over there in the Old Testament who I mentioned last week. I'm going to just go with it. Along with our groups doing immeasurably more, I'm preaching from the book of Ephesians. The fourth chapter snuck up on me, because I always liked Ephesians 3:20: "Now unto him who is able to do immeasurably more…" Then, when I got into chapter 4, I found out what more looks like, and that helped me. It's helping me so much. Man! God is working on me. I'm glad too. I need him to. I'm not there yet. I have not achieved Ephesians 4:24 yet. Tell me if you have. "…to put on the new self, created to be like God…" I'm not there yet. I've reached some goals in my life. I think I've grown, but if that's the goal, to be like God…oh man. I'm going to need Jesus. I thought I just needed Jesus to get me to heaven when I die, but then I found out I need him in my habits for everyday life.

Now, a lot of times, when we preach about Jesus, we talk about your new home in heaven. "You're not going to hell; you're going to heaven to be with Grandma and Gabriel and God". Then we forget to mention, "Okay. Hey, just like we need a new home in heaven, we need new habits in our lives". Let me read this Scripture, and then I'm going to talk about "Do you," which I know is kind of… When you hear people say that it feels good, right? Like, "Hey, man, you know, probably a 57-year-old shouldn't have that haircut, but do you". "I mean, that's a little tight. It probably fit you better in a previous season, but if you can rock it, rock it. Do you".

I'm all for that uniqueness. If it's a mohawk you want, get you a mohawk, if your parents say you can get a mohawk. I like your blue hair. Do you. You know what I mean? But I can't just take that whole philosophy, "Do you if you want blue hair," and then tell you, "Well, if it's a bottle of pills that helps you escape and the doctor didn't prescribe it and you know you're addicted to it, just do you, whatever gets you through the night". So, what we're challenging ourselves in is this idea that the true you is the new you. A lot of times, even if something is nicer when it's new, at first I don't like it. Growing into our relationship with God looks like this.

Let's go back to verse 14, and let me break it down. This sermon today is called Permission to Quit. "Oh, I know where this is going. You're going to tell me to keep trying and march around the walls. I know how this is, man. O God, it's going to be one of those sermons. You're going to make fun of me because I joined the gym and only went twice and it's only January and tell me I've got to get back in there". Stay with me, because I think you might be surprised where the Lord is leading us this week. Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 14: "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of [cable news and] teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming".

Trying every diet, trying every religion, dabbling in this, dabbling in that, doing it six weeks, remembering what it used to be like in your old life. He said that's not going to happen anymore. Verse 15: "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will…" My favorite phrase in this whole passage. "…grow to become…" That's so anointed. I'm going to grow to become a better man. I'm going to grow to become a better dad. I'm going to be a great dad. If I was a great dad last year, wait till you see me this year. I'm going to be a greater dad this year. I'm going to be a better preacher. I'm going to be a better teacher. I'm going to be more honest. I'm going to be more vulnerable, no less powerful. I'm going to get up in here and say what God gave me to say without the interference of the fear of man. I'm going to stop pulling back when God gives me something. I'm growing to become it.

"I'm going to be a good wife". "Are you married"? "Not yet, but I'm growing to become it". When I become it, God is going to be sure I have the experiences I need to fulfill the calling he has given me. I'm growing into this. Don't memorize me right now. If you meet me again in a month, I'm going to be more like my maker, because that's where I'm headed in this life. Don't take a snapshot of me and then criticize me. "You've changed". I hope so. If I ever stop changing, cremate me. I've got to do this. I've got to become what God said I was. Don't curse me out because I'm an acorn. "I thought you said you were an oak tree". I am. Let me get in the right environment. Let me get the right water. Let me get the right time.

Come on. I'm growing to become. This helped me, because I have a hard time striking a balance between contentment, which I know the Bible says is good, and ambition, which the Bible also instructs me to have. Grow to become like God? That's a pretty lofty goal. When I realized, "Oh, God is calling me to grow to become…" Not to be all at once, but to grow to become. Now, this process works itself out in the following way. "…we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together [eGroups] by every supporting ligament…" You are out of joint, out of socket when you're not connected with the right people. He says, together, if you're going to do the new you, don't make an idol out of your individuality. One of the ways you're going to grow to become is by getting around others who challenge you, who encourage you. So then, as the body builds itself up in love, each part is doing its work.

Verse 17: "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility [vanity] of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts". This phrase, hardening of their hearts, calls into mind linguistically when a bone is broken and resets but the callus that grows is hard. Isn't that what happens to us in our lives? We get broken in relationships, broken through experience, broken through trials, broken through temptations we can't overcome, and then there is a hardness, if it is not reset correctly, that keeps us from receiving from God what he wants to give us to grow us into who he made us to be.

But God is not going to leave you broken. God is not going to leave you with the bone broken and reset so that your heart is harder. He is going to bring you through this brokenness better than when you went into the brokenness. He is going to bring you through this brokenness. "I'm going to be better after I was broken. I'm going to be better after they fired me. I'm going to learn things from this failed relationship. When God resets me, the God of resurrection is going to call me forth into a glorious future for the praise of his name, because I'm growing to become". So, he says, "Don't live like these Gentiles who…" Verse 19: "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity…"

Do y'all ever look around and think just when you think they can't invent any new sins, they make a new one? You know, they had the industrial revolution. I feel like we are living right now, in this time, in the impurity revolution. We are making new ways to be screwed up. It's all the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, but the flavors of it, y'all… We have some creative flavors of sin. I'd better get back to the Bible. Y'all are looking at me strange. Maybe not in your zip code. It's fine. It's just something I've been noticing. He says they give themselves over to it. Now follow me. When he says they give themselves over to it, that is very different than saying they get caught up in it. There's a big difference between giving yourself over and getting caught up. Everybody can get caught up. If you haven't seen the person sitting next to you get caught up in sin, you just haven't followed them to the right places yet. You haven't seen them in the right moments yet. They just haven't shown you yet.

We can all get caught up in different ways, different varieties, different prescriptions, but there's a big difference between getting caught up… "Oh, why did I say that"? Because you're human! There is grace for your humanity. There is grace for the moments. "Why did I explode on my wife five minutes after church"? You're human! But do not let your humanness and the grace God gives for your humanness become an excuse for your hypocrisy. Just because I struggle with it doesn't mean I have to surrender to it. There's a big difference. I mean, there are some big guys in this room right now, and I'm sure many of them, if they took me and dragged me off this stage, could get me off the stage, but that's a big difference than me getting on their back piggyback, isn't it? Is there a big guy?

We should illustrate this. I need somebody bigger than me. I'm about 170 so you have to at least have me by 30 pounds. Come on. I need a big guy. Mait is here? Where's Mait? Get Mait up here. That's a great idea. Mait the Great. It's not my fault he bench presses 505 pounds. He has that 24-year-old anointing. Are you too injured to do this illustration? I don't want to hurt you. He just went through an injury. We can't hurt him. But imagine this. (I'm not even going to do the full illustration. I care more about you than my illustration. I'm selfless.) If he wanted to drag me off the stage, he could do it. It would just be a matter of time. That's really different than if I jump up in his arms. I just want you to see that. (It would have been cool if I could have done it, but I don't want to do it. I don't want to hurt him.)

When you look at what God is doing… I really haven't read the Scripture I want to preach from yet, but that whole thing right there helps me make a critical distinction in my life as to whether I am still struggling with sin. The writer of Hebrews said, "You have not yet struggled with sin to the point of shedding your blood". I guess he's saying when you say, "I've done all I can do. I can't change it…" Did you do all you could do? Rarely. Then when grace comes in, some people take that grace, and they don't really receive it as power. They receive it as permission to keep living in stuff that makes them miserable. Why would you want permission to be miserable? You can. Who's going to stop you? But this is what the Bible says in verse 20. Now we're getting into it really deep here. "That, however…" The impurity, the greed, the sensuality, the indulgence. "That, however…" Just talking nasty. Because you felt mad, you talk nasty. Just because everybody else is so mean to each other, now you're just mean too.

Now you're hardened, because the bone that was broken didn't reset in the hands of the healer. Paul says, "That is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ…" I don't care if everybody else does it. That is not me now. It used to be. Yeah, but not now. God has done too much for me. Not now. "I dropped out of church for 18 years, but not now. I used to think it was more important to wash my car on Sunday than be in the house of God, but not now, because I need God to wash my soul every Sunday so I can go forward into my future uncontaminated". There is power in the Word of God, and there is permission in the Word of God to do it differently. That is not me. That is what I used to do. That is what all of my friends have been doing. That is what I saw growing up. That is what was done to me, but why would I take what was done to me and carry it into the future God has for me? That stays there because this is my then.

Let me make a sandwich really quickly. Verse 14 says, "Then…" Verse 20 says, "That…" Verse 14 speaks to a point of maturity where you say, "I'm no longer just going to be driven by circumstances. I'm no longer just going to wake up and see how I feel and act like I feel. I'm no longer just going to wake up and see what I think and follow my thoughts until they lead me right off the edge of the cliff. I'm no longer just going to trust everybody who makes me feel good so I can get what I want in the moment. No more beans for birthright". God says, "When will your then finally come"? When will it be enough of you getting the same result from repeating the same behavior? When will your then come? The decision to grow up; the decision to come into communion with God; the decision to say, "Lord, I want to put this brokenness in your hands".

Then something pretty awesome happens. He said, "That is not you". The moment you make a decision then, "I'm growing up," that no longer has control over you. That. It would get really uncomfortable if I started listing specific thats in the room. The categories don't really make you cringe…impurity, greed, lust. "Oh yeah, I watched that Bernie Madoff documentary…greed". How about me always wanting more and never giving much? How about me always thinking somebody needs to encourage me, but who am I encouraging? See how this works? That is not me. I'm going to do a list next week that I'll give you where I'm going to teach you "The new me is not…" We're going to list some of the things you are not anymore if you name the name of Christ. We're going to wage war against those things, because we've been accepting them too long as normal. Just because it's natural doesn't mean it's normal.

Watch this. "That is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ…" Faith comes by hearing, right? How many know that Scripture? "Faith comes by hearing, hearing the word of God". Faith comes by hearing, but freedom comes by habit. That's why it is possible for you to know more about God than you are bringing into your current experience. That's why it's possible for you to drag around deficiencies and dysfunctions that Christ died to help you deal with and then start justifying things Jesus wants to set you free from. We're going to get free in some areas of our lives this year. If you don't want to get free this year, don't come hear Furtick preach, because Furtick is trying to get free this year of some childlike behaviors that are coming around in a grown man's body. I want to be less petty, less prideful. I want to be stable. I don't know what winds and waves are coming my way, so I want to be more attuned to worship. I want to be more tuned into the voice of God. I want to be like him.

Say it. "I want to be like him". Okay. "You were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires…" Y'all remember Tricks Are for Kids from last week. I know you do. I know if you missed last week, you caught the podcast first opportunity, because no way you would miss a sermon from the Word of God. You wouldn't do that and watch Netflix or Hulu. Not you. Verse 23. This is the goal. "…to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness".

So now I'm looking at my humanity, and I'm looking at God's holiness (wholeness, changing me, who I really am), and I'm making decisions daily about which one to choose. You know, in this church, I think it can be said that you can bring somebody who is hurting, somebody who is addicted, somebody who is living in a lifestyle that is way far from what the Bible describes, and they will hear and feel that God loves them, that they are welcome, and that they can come back as many times as they want to come back even if their life never changes. I hope you know that. I hope you know that. It doesn't matter how loud I yell. I'm not mad at you. I'm not yelling because I'm angry. The thing I'm angry at more than anything is the devastation I see in the lives of people I love because they are loyal to lifestyles that lead them to death.

One time a guy was kind of fussing at me very early in the church, where he said we don't preach about sin enough. He might be right, because, honestly, if we really preached about all the sin that's represented in this room, y'all wouldn't make it to work Monday morning. I could just do my own life, and we could get at least to Tuesday. This is interesting. Listen to this. He goes, "I feel like when you preach about acceptance and grace and the love of God… When you do that, it gives people a license to sin". Now, I had heard that before, so I had a comeback ready for it. I said, "A license to sin? Most of the people I preach to are doing just fine sinning without a license". I mean, what is sin, an 18-wheeler, like you need a license to do it? What is sin, a single-engine plane, like you need a license all of a sudden? What is sin? Like sin is hunting, like you need a license to do it. You're doing just fine sinning without a license.

As a matter of fact, do you know what your sin license was? Your birth certificate. You got here knowing how to be selfish. Everybody who doesn't agree that your birth certificate is your sin license hasn't had children, hasn't even looked at themselves. What I wanted to say to the man was, "I appreciate where you're coming from. I understand that God has a standard, but I need people to know that the same God who gives the standard will also give the strength". As long as I only tell you, "This is how you're sinning"; as long as I only tell you, "This is how you're missing the mark"; as long as I only tell you, "These are the 15 ways you could have been better yesterday"; as long as all of our focus is on that, what do we do? We continue in what we reinforce. A license to sin.

I've never met a single person yet… I've pastored all kinds of people…southern people, northern people, black people, white people, men, women, old people, young people. I've never met one who needed a license to be stingy. I mean, come on. Over half the church doesn't tithe. Where's your "not tithe" license? Where do they give those out? Even if we get past the big behaviors, like, you get all of these external things and all that… If we get down into the things people don't see, like how sometimes you use your kids as a backdrop for the image you want to present rather than raising them according to who they are… That's a sin, and you don't need a license for it. In my experience, more often than not, people don't need a license to sin. They need permission and power to quit.

Now, you never thought, and I never thought, a message would come from this pulpit called Permission to Quit, because if there's one thing I believe, it's you have to keep going. I was so happy when it was pouring down rain when I came to church today, because I was like, "This is great. The room I'm going to be preaching in… The weather will be nice in other parts of the world, our eFam, and all that, but the people I'm preaching to are the people who came anyway". I was so glad. I was like, "This is the perfect message for these people, because they know you don't just get to not come to church because you might get wet going out to the car". "Oh, that's a shower of blessing God is bringing. The rain of the Word of God is about to hit the seed of my potential. There will be a seat today. I'm going".

Like, clear out all of those complacent Christians who only come once a month. You know the type. Get the real ones in here. I really did. I thought that. You're here because you didn't quit. There was a period in our world where you couldn't come physically gather in church, and you didn't quit. You watched online. Everybody was screaming in the background. You know it wasn't a really good experience immersively for you to do it that way. I mean, if you have to do it, do it. But now here you are. You're sitting here, and you don't get to quit, because the Bible says, "Let us not give up the habit of meeting together as some are in the habit of doing". I don't get to quit and live in victory. I don't get to quit. If you have the faith to say it, say, "I don't get to quit".

Now put it right there in the comments. "I don't get to quit on what God called me to do". I don't get to. Moses didn't. He didn't get to quit leading the people even though he wouldn't get to go into the Promised Land and eat grapes with them. He still had to appoint Joshua as the successor to the bitter end. You don't get to quit. Even if you don't get to do the thing you thought you were going to get to do, you don't get to quit. You have to help somebody else do it. You don't get to quit. You still have to have Isaac even though your body is as good as dead, the Bible said about Abraham. You still have to try again even though it's not… What do they say? "I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was". You have to go in and try. You and Sarah have to try this again because God still gave you the seed. You don't get to quit.

Let me stay in this for a moment because it might be pivotal. You don't get to say, "This is as much like Christ as I'm ever going to be. This is as free as I'm ever going to be". You don't get to develop little systems and workarounds for all of the things you know God wants to work on in your life. You don't get to quit. "What are you going to do about it, Pastor"? I don't know. Slash your tires? I'm going to do something. I'm not just going to stand up here and let you quit. I'm not. I'm not going to let you just quit on joy. "Oh, I'm just melancholy. I took a personality test. I took three personality tests". If it's your personality versus God's purpose, and God says you're something and you say, "No, I'm not…" God is not wrong.

Can we all agree that in the beginning was God, and God said, and it was? If the God who, before you got here, said that it is and that you were and that you can and that you must… Did you notice Paul's language? That got me excited. He said, "You must no longer live this way". We never get to the new self because we keep saying, "I might". "Are you going to join one of those groups"? "I might". "Are you going to do that thing"? "I might". "Are you going to get…"? "I might. I might. I might". How many "mights" are you going to drown in before you get a "must" in your spirit that says, "If none go with me, I still will follow"? I must. Why? Because God called me to it, and if I don't do it, I'll be miserable, and then I'll self-sabotage, and I'll fall apart, and I'll take it out on people, and I'll spend stupid amounts of money trying to cover the fact that I quit on what God called me to do.

I'll dress up my failures in flesh and call it success, but deep down inside, I'm just struggling with the same stuff with more money. I'm just struggling with the same stuff in a little bit older body. I'm just struggling with the same stuff with the same friends who struggle with the same stuff. So we all get together, and we pass it around, and we smoke on it and suck on it and talk about it and comfort each other, but it's not grace, because grace will give you not only the command to change; grace will get up inside of you and give you the power to change so you can know that what you didn't do before you can do now. I feel it in my spirit right now. You can quit.

"Wait. I thought you said I couldn't quit". Yeah, I'm saying if God called you, you don't get to quit, but if it is keeping you from being what God called you… As of this moment… I'm not talking about last week. I'm not talking about in three years when it gets easier. I'm not talking about when we see about this recession. I'm not talking about anything that's going to happen, anything that did happen, but right now, anything that is keeping you from being what God has called you to be you have permission to quit. Like the neighbor who told y'all, "Y'all can't fish in this pond. Don't you see the thing? No fishing allowed". But the other neighbor also is on the pond. He said, "Tell those boys they can fish anytime in my pond. It's my pond too. They can fish there". So you can fish there because somebody who owned property gave you permission.

Now, if the first man said, "You can't fish here," he was right, because it's not your property, but when somebody who does own property adjacent to the pond gives you permission… This is why all of our attempts to change in our human strength are short-lived. We keep trying to do it in a place where we don't own property. See, until I come to Christ and really receive his power in my life and his Spirit in my mortal body, I can't do it, because I don't own that spot. I keep trying to step up to it, and I fall short from it, and then I'm stuck in it, but God says, "Wait a minute. I have a piece of property". Are you ready for this?

"When I went up a hill called Calvary, and when I established the real estate of salvation in your heart… When I said, 'This is my throne inside of you…' You need to understand that not only did I come to give you my presence. I came to give you permission. What you couldn't do in the law, what you couldn't do in yourself, what you couldn't do in your past, what you couldn't do under the guardian and tutelage of the law of Moses…" God said, "I'll do it for you. You can lift your hands in here because I give you permission to praise me. I give you permission to come boldly before the throne". Do you feel that? God says, "You can fish here. You can worship here. You can try again here. You can forgive here. You can move forward with your life here because I own this spot".

You have permission to quit, yet the sad reality of the message I'm preaching today is that most of us are more loyal to our old self than we are excited about our true self. We really are. We still want to play Nintendo, Sega Genesis. The Lord has an Xbox 12, and I'm like, "I don't know how to work the controls. I'm going to play this Nintendo". The question I really came up here to ask you… I want you to talk about it to somebody today before the day is over. Are you more committed to your limits than you are to your potential? Are you more loyal or committed to your limits than you are to your potential?

Based on the way a lot of us speak and what shows up in our language, because our language will always be a great lie detector to see things we still say and how it affects the way we think, and it leaks out in our language… The moment we begin to basically defend the way we've always been… Not acknowledge it. I think that's awesome. "Here's where I am. Here's what it is. Here's what I did. Here's what I learned". There's a lot of healing in that, because as I mentioned, when the bone is broken, if it grows back calloused, then that's going to be worse in the end. So, I am not talking about the fact that you don't acknowledge it, but a lot of us go far beyond acknowledging. We actually become advocates of our own weaknesses.

I don't mean facing the fact that at 5'4" and 47 years old you're probably not going to play in the NBA. I think that is a wonderful limitation for you to embrace in your life. I think your family will be happy and you will put food on the table by acknowledging certain limitations. That's why I didn't get on Mait's back when he came up here. I thought, "Oh no. I forgot he was hurt". Now, somebody over there was sending you up like a lamb to the slaughter, trying to get you re-injured, but I'm your pastor. I care about you. I realized in that moment, "Oh, no, no, no. This is not wise". That's good. Every time I preach about permission to quit, somebody goes and gets a divorce. I'm telling you, if God told you to march around the walls and not say a word, you have to walk around the walls again.

If God told you to go check again, and there's a cloud up there, and you can't see it, you have to keep looking for it. That is not the advocation of a lack of persistence. What I think happens to us is when it sounds really good, "Get rid of the old self," it's much harder than it sounds, because the old self really helped me through a lot. My anger has been a good friend to me in certain situations, so to abandon my anger and choose in moments to be a peacemaker… "It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday". Let me see if I get a copyright strike. "And I'll take with me…" I know all of the parts of that song. I know the feeling. I know the sentiment. I have stuff in my closet I sing that to. "It's so hard…" Three holes in the sweatshirt. "…to say goodbye". It's so comfortable. I don't know why we shout so much as we do over "Say goodbye to the old self".

Do you know how painful that is to make a break with a way of life? In many ways, it feels like a betrayal of yourself to change. Now you're surrounded by a bunch of dummies and blowhards who say, "Do you! Your husband doesn't have to know. Do you". Do you have any idea who you could become if you would make the decision in this moment to receive the permission of the Holy Ghost who lives inside of you who was sent to help you and enable you to get up from what you've been staring at? I read a quote that gripped me. The lady's name was Phipps. I don't know anything about this lady, but she said something so powerful. She said, "If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them". I'm going to send Phipps an offering once I find out who she is. She's right. If you argue for your limitations… "I just have a temper". Then you get to continue to burn through perfectly good relationships and keep the people in your life from loving you like they could because you have a temper.

"Oh man, I just can't. Money is tight. I can't be generous". Well, the world of the generous gets larger and larger. The world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. You are shrinking yourself with every limitation you defend. Should I do a few more examples? All right. Let me see what I can think of. I didn't plan this part out. "I'm not a vocal person, so I'm not going to speak up about this. I'm not going to say anything about this". So now you're just going to suffer in silence until you eventually explode, and it's going to be way worse than if you'd learned how to say, "Hey, I need help".

I love it when we get creative about defending our deficiencies. If you would reinvest the creativity you put into defending what you can't do… If you would reinvest that, you could be the next Walt Disney as creative as you are. You invent limitations that aren't even there, limitations that might be, limitations that could possibly, who might not possibly like you. "Well, I would go, but, you know, there's probably going to be already somebody there". It hasn't even happened yet! We used to tell my oldest son Elijah all the time something that everybody told me. They'd go, "You ought to be a lawyer one day as much as you love to argue".

I have a lot of friends in the church now who are lawyers, and they don't stand in court and argue all day long, so I now know that was a flawed philosophy that if you like to argue, you should be a lawyer. But you know what? When it comes to the limitations in your life, some of you ought to be a lawyer. Not only will you argue with people when they try to tell you you can do better. Not only will you argue with the evidence in your life that you can overcome and keep on going back. You will argue with almighty God about who you are. He will send signs and signals to you that there is more in you, and he will show you things you can do, and you get up in the face of God, talking about, "Well, I can't, and I didn't, and they didn't". You are a defense attorney for your limitations.

If you argue for those limitations, you get to live in them. See y'all next week. Or… I'm going to finish the quote. I don't know what Phipps said next, but I know what I want to say next from the Bible. Are you ready? The first part was Phipps. The next part is Furtick. Part one: If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them. But if you agree with God about your potential, you get to outgrow them. If you get with God and say, "I see what the situation is trying to say about me. I see what my past has been so far. I know the patterns of my past suggest I will never be more than this. I know that last January I was sitting in church feeling ambitious too. I know this has happened so many times in my life that I feel like I'm a slave to it, but now I am making a decision in this moment to take off everything God did not put on me, to strip it away".

Now, I'm not going to just get to do this once. I'm not just going to get to do this one time. "Okay, God. The old self is gone". No. Paul says every day you wake up, every time you feel it come back, every time that limitation squeezes you… You know the limitation I'm talking about. You know the thing you think, "I can't help it. I just always do it. I'm always going to do it. I can't be that kind of person". When that comes, instead of arguing with God who says, "I've given you my grace, my power; it's more than enough," try just agreeing with him. "All right. Maybe you think I do have what it takes, and that's why you put me in this situation". Or be like the spies in the book of Numbers. "We can't go in. We're too small. We're like grasshoppers. They're bigger than us". Guess what they got. They had a grasshopper self-image, and they lived in a grasshopper situation for 40 years.

If you argue with your limitations and challenge them, you get to see what God can do, but if you argue for your limitations… Do you do this? Do you ever do this? Do you defend what you cannot become before a God who has said you already are that? It reminded me of when they found a woman in John 8. I didn't know why this Scripture came to my mind, but I thought about that man who said, "You're giving them a license to sin". I'm like, "O Lord, I don't need a license to sin. I need power to change". Do you feel that way? I really don't need anybody throwing rocks at me for something I'm already beating the crap out of myself about while I'm at it. Jesus was… You can look this up later. He was teaching one day in John 8, and they dragged this woman to him. They were like, "We caught her in the act of adultery".

First of all, you're creeps. How did you…? Secondly, last time I checked, adultery is two people. Where is he? Now Jesus has to make a decision, because the law of Moses says, "Stone her," and they have their rocks ready. Now, maybe you don't feel like anybody is throwing rocks at you. Maybe you do. A lot of times, we victimize ourselves of other people who are thinking this about us, and they're not thinking about us. They're thinking about lunch. The main thing that set me free in preaching was realizing no matter how good or bad I do all you're thinking about is Chipotle five minutes after I'm done. See, it's not really those people you have to worry about, is it? It's the stones you throw at yourself.

"Now I'm confused, because I think this preacher is telling me, 'Do better or I'm going to… God is going to…'" No, no, no. I didn't say any of that. The people Paul was talking to in Ephesians were already saved, but their situation didn't reflect their new self, so he wanted better for them. This woman is standing there with her clothes torn, no doubt, and dusty from being dragged through the streets, and very well aware of what she did with no defense to give. She was caught in the act of adultery. Jesus makes this move that I think reflects everything I've been trying to talk to you about. He starts writing in the dirt. I kind of think he's going back to where we came from to begin with to remind us that he knows we come from the dirt. Whatever he wrote in the dirt, it must have been really weird, because the Bible doesn't say, but he made a statement. "Let the one who is without sin throw the first rock at this woman".

Then he starts writing. It has been suggested, although it cannot be proven, that maybe he was writing their names and listing certain stuff they did that maybe they don't want to get caught in. Maybe it wasn't the fact that they didn't sin. Maybe they just didn't get caught. Now self-righteousness has no place, because we have a God who's writing in the dirt with the only hands that never sinned. He's showing us something about heaven touching humanity. Whatever he wrote, the Bible says they began to leave one by one. Are you ready for this? The oldest one left first. They left in order of how long they had had to screw up their lives. "O God, he's writing that about her? Oh, I've got to get out of here right now. How would he even know that? It's like he's God". Whatever he wrote is not what I want to leave you with today. I want to leave you with what he did.

In verse 10… This is so beautiful. Jesus straightened up and asked the woman… Because they're all gone now. All of the rocks are laying there in the presence of the only righteous one. He asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you"? Verse 11 touched me because she said, "No one, sir," and he said, "Then neither do I condemn you. But I do want to change you". That's the gospel. I don't know how to give it to you any plainer than this. "I don't condemn you. There's no rock in my hand, but there is healing there. If you want to be different, you can". I know how we read the Bible. We read it in the wrong tone. We read it like this angry God we were taught about that isn't really who he is. We read it from the wrong mountain, like Mount Sinai. We don't read it from Mount Calvary where Jesus purchased your life with his blood and said, "You can be forgiven. You can be healed. You can be cleansed. You can have a future. You can have a new beginning". He said, "I don't condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin".

They wanted to give her punishment. He wanted to give her permission. God sent you this word to give you permission. Go now and leave your life of sin, for the sinless one (his name is Jesus) has given you a new identity and longs to give you a new beginning. Do you know what you keep saying? "But, God, it's too late now". Are you really going to argue with him when he says, "I've given you a hope and a future"? Do you think he didn't know how much time it would take for you to get to this point, the God who made you? Are you really going to argue with the God who created you to be like him? Or would you agree with him for a moment?

"Maybe I am who God says I am. Maybe I'm not what I did. Maybe I'm more than the sum total of my behaviors and my personality traits and my genetics and what I saw modeled. Maybe I'm wrong and God is not. Maybe all I am is not an alcoholic. Maybe the third relapse wasn't the last time I need to try. Maybe I'm not always going to suffer from this chronic anxiety. Maybe I'm going to learn a more peaceful way to live. Maybe I'm not going to die alone. Maybe I will love again. Maybe I will make a difference. Maybe I will set a better example and be there for my son".

Whatever he's speaking, I bring you into agreement now. Agree with him. That's the first step. Just agree with God. That's even what the word amen means. It doesn't mean "That's good preaching". It means "I agree. So be it". "If you see it, so be it. God, if you say it, so be it. If you call me it, so be it. If you don't, I'm making a break today, even if it takes me the rest of my life to live in this freedom. Every day of my life, just like I put on new socks; every day of my life, just like I put on a new shirt; every day of my life, just like I put on my shoes, I am committed to follow you in the light of life, for you are the Light of the World".

Go now and sin no more. It's going to be different. It's going to be difficult, but don't give yourself over to a way of life that is leading you to death when the author of life is calling you to live. Jesus, I bring your people before your feet today where there are no rocks to throw, only righteousness to receive. The Spirit of the Lord is working in someone's life in this moment to give your life to Jesus. You have never really given him your life. You went to church when you were little. You heard the gospel. You know some songs about it. You may have even, at one time, been in a better place, but you've never really given him you. Well, this is your moment. This is your permission to stop living for yourself and live for him.

Stop trusting in your own righteousness and trust in his. Stop trying to achieve it and receive it by grace. With heads bowed and eyes closed at every location, if you hear that tender voice of love, that's the voice of Jesus, saying, "Where are your accusers? I don't condemn you, but I want to change you". In this moment, if that's you and God is calling you, I want to lead you in a prayer. This prayer is not a magic trick. It's an expression of your heart to God. For the Bible says if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. It is by grace we are saved through faith. It's not of works so that no one can boast. It is the gift of God. Right now, if you're ready to give your life to Jesus, online, at a campus, or right here at Ballantyne, I want you to repeat this after me. Our church family, repeat this out loud for the benefit of those who are coming to God.

Heavenly Father, I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and today I make Jesus the Lord of my life. I believe he died that I would be forgiven and rose again to give me life. I receive this new life. This is my new beginning.

If you just prayed that, on the count of three shoot your hand up. One, two, three. All over the room, in the chat right now online, our eFam… Come on, lift it up. Don't be ashamed.
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