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Jesus Loves Prostitutes - Luke 7:36-50

Taught on | Topic: Forgiveness | Keywords: prostitution, harlotry, sex, sex trade, Pharisees, love, legalism, judgment, judging, religion, sin, sinner, passion, flesh, self-righteousness, forgiveness, grace

It was Blaise Pascal who noted, "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus." In our text today, we find a woman, the city prostitute who acutely felt the need to have the vacuum of her heart filled. She discovered that Jesus loved her with a wholesome love—the kind of love every woman is searching for.

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4/19/2015
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Jesus Loves Prostitutes
Luke 7:36-50
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
It was Blaise Pascal who noted, "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus." In our text today, we find a woman, the city prostitute who acutely felt the need to have the vacuum of her heart filled. She discovered that Jesus loved her with a wholesome love—the kind of love every woman is searching for.
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Jesus Loves People

Jesus Loves People

Jesus loves people—all people:prostitutes, drug addicts, abusers—and you. This profound truth is at the very heart of the gospel. Jesus loves the unlovable and touches the untouchable, and during His time on earth, He was compassionate and merciful toward people from all walks of life. What would it be like if you personally encountered Him? Join Pastor Skip Heitzig in this series to learn more about God's radical love for you and fall more in love with the living Savior.

Visit jesuslovespeople.com for more information on this series.

FREE - Download Entire Series (MP3) (Help)

Outline

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  1. The Patriarch and the Prostitute (vv. 36-38)

  2. The Patriarch and the Preacher (vv. 39-47)

  3. The Preacher and the Prostitute (vv. 48-50)

Study Guide

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Prostitution is mentioned frequently in Scripture; the word harlot is used seventy-six times (with primary references in Leviticus 19, Proverbs, and 1 Corinthians 6). Two prostitutes even appear in the genealogy of Christ: Tamar and Rahab. Jesus pointed out that prostitutes were among those who repented at the preaching of John the Baptist (see Matthew 21:32), and He shocked the religious leaders by telling them that "tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you" (Matthew 21:31).

Research into modern-day prostitution is heartbreaking. The sex trade is big business; in Miami alone, it's a $235-million-a-year industry. One in ten men in the world have purchased a prostitute. The average age of entry into prostitution is thirteen, the overwhelming majority being girls. Most are recruited or coerced into prostitution and are especially targeted within forty-eight hours of running away from home. It's a deadly job; statistics for job-related fatalities measure 18 deaths per 100,000 for police officers, 70 per 100,000 for airline pilots, and 204 per 100,000 for prostitutes. Over 95 percent have been threatened with a gun or beaten, and over half have been assaulted or raped. Our text tells us of a meeting between Jesus and a prostitute at the house of Simon, a Pharisee. Three distinct interactions occurred that show us the pitfalls of self-righteousness and the power of forgiveness.

First, we consider the interaction between the patriarch—Simon—and the prostitute (see Luke 7:36-38). Most likely, Simon invited Jesus over in order to interrogate Him. However, when a prostitute barged in, the center of gravity shifted. It was unusual for such a woman, a "sinner" (in those days, this word could only mean a prostitute), to be at such a meeting, and only Jesus welcomed her. Weeping, she loosened her hair and kissed Jesus' feet, pouring oil on them. We don't know the depth of her pain or why she became a prostitute, but we can guess why she was there. It's possible that, shortly before this meal, she had heard Jesus preach, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me...and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29). She understood that Jesus was her best shot at a new start. A prostitute once said, "Prostitutes have very improperly been styled women of pleasure; they are women of pain, of sorrow, of grief, of bitter and continual repentance." Ignoring Simon's disdain, this prostitute rushed to Jesus, weeping from remorse and pain, desperate for hope. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. Have you ever been desperate for God's forgiveness and love? How can that experience help you have compassion for someone like this woman?

Next, we see the patriarch and the preacher (see Luke 7:39-47). Simon mistook this woman's act of repentance and devotion for a sexual advance and criticized Jesus in his thoughts. Jesus read Simon's mind and replied to him out loud. The story Jesus then told revealed that Simon had a wrong view of everyone at the meal. In Simon's mind, Jesus was not a prophet, the woman was too sinful and filthy to be there, and he, Simon, was the most discerning person in the room. Jesus' story revealed that Simon's manner was inhospitable, his heart was judgmental, and his sin was invisible (hers was outward, and his was inward—until Jesus called him out on it). Like Simon, when we view life through the lens of legalism, we distort everyone and everything. Jesus rebuked him for not being as broken about his sin as she was about hers. Religion is the world's biggest blind spot in seeing our need for God; religion made Simon inhospitable to Jesus, judgmental toward this woman, and prideful in his attitude. The prostitute's sins were sins of the flesh; Simon's were of the spirit. Hers were overt and known to all; his were covert, known only to Jesus. What Simon saw insulted him, but what he heard should have convicted him. Describe a time when you have been unfairly judgmental. How did God bring you to a point of repentance?

Finally, we see the preacher and the prostitute (see Luke 7:48-50). Jesus was now face to face with this woman whose face was riddled with tears and shame, and He declared to her that her sins were forgiven. How wonderful she must have felt then! Jesus was not put off by her reputation, His knowledge of her past, or even Simon's judgment of her. Jesus knew that her heart was broken, filled with shame and remorse, and that she hated her lifestyle and wanted change. Others in the house were angry because Jesus told her that she was forgiven, but she was not angry—she was hungry. They were self-righteous; she was made righteous. The love she never found in all of her passionate encounters with men she now found in a single encounter with this unique Man, Jesus Christ. She learned that God has a big eraser. Simon's sin got exposed; this prostitute's sin got forgiven. Simon had years of theological training and yet no understanding of grace. She understood it after a few moments in Jesus' presence. Read Romans 5:20-21. What are the dangers of being self-righteous? How big is God's grace? How can you show grace when you meet someone who, on the surface, seems unworthy of it?

Here are three takeaways from this passage: First, everyone sins; face it. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and the worst sin of all is self-righteousness—it's an affront to the cross of Christ. Second, God's business is forgiveness; seek it. This woman knew that she was a great sinner, and she came to Jesus as her great Savior. Finally, God's Word is true; believe it. Jesus spoke a promise to this woman that she was saved and forgiven. Your sin can be forgiven, too!

Adapted from Pastor Skip’s teaching

The BIG Idea We all need forgiveness. God stands ready to forgive any sin, from prostitution to self-righteousness.

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. "Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects"—Will Rogers
    2. The Bible talks about prostitution
      1. Speaks of harlotry seventy-six times
      2. Condemned as immoral
      3. Leviticus 19; Proverbs; 1 Corinthians 6
      4. Prostitutes were among those who listened to John the Baptist and repented
      5. Matthew 21:31-32
      6. Two prostitutes are in the genealogy of Christ
        1. Tamar and Rahab
        2. Hebrews 11:31
    3. The sex trade is a huge moneymaking enterprise
      1. Miami: $235-million-per-year industry
      2. 10 percent of American men buy sex; one in ten men worldwide
      3. Average age a girl gets involved: thirteen years old
      4. One in ten kids aged ten to eighteen run away from home
    4. Prostitution is one of the deadliest professions in the world
      1. Mortality rate of average American worker: 3.5 people per 100,000
      2. Police officers: 18
      3. Aircraft pilots: 70.6
      4. Deep-sea fishermen: 75
      5. Prostitutes: 204
        1. 95 percent are threatened with a gun or beaten
        2. Over half will be assaulted or raped
    5. Before we harshly judge an immoral lifestyle, we need to understand how someone was introduced to it, when they got into it, and what's currently threatening them
    6. Jesus Christ and a prostitute in the home of a Pharisee
    7. The Pharisee and the prostitute were drawn to the compelling person of Jesus Christ
  2. The Patriarch and the Prostitute (vv. 36-38)
    1. We don't know why Jesus was invited to the Pharisee, Simon's, house
      1. Perhaps out of curiosity
      2. Perhaps Simon wanted a feather in his hat by having Jesus over
      3. Simon wanted to trap Jesus
    2. What Martin Luther called "heart water" came from the woman
    3. It was not unusual to have uninvited people at dinners like this
      1. But it was unusual for this woman to be there, a "sinner"
        1. A female in that culture with the title "sinner" meant she was a prostitute
        2. New Living Translation: "a certain immoral woman"
      2. You couldn't get two more different people in one room than Simon and this woman
      3. The Talmud: for a woman to let her hair down in front of another man was grounds for divorce by her husband
      4. The Pharisee would have seen her touch as a sexual advance
    4. Why did the woman come?
      1. Because Jesus was there
      2. She must have heard who He was or even heard Him preach
      3. Matthew 11:28-29
      4. She wanted real love
      5. "I don't know what real love is. I don't know what it looks like, feels like, acts like. The only kind of 'love' I have ever had is the one-way kind, the kind that is paid for in goods and services, and evaporates like dew in the morning, or explodes into violence in the middle of the night. I don't know what it's like to love and be loved"—Laura Schulman
      6. We don't know the depth of pain and remorse this woman was experiencing, or when or why she got involved in prostitution
      7. "Prostitutes have very improperly been styled women of pleasure; they are women of pain, of sorrow, of grief, of bitter and continual repentance"—Anonymous prostitute
  3. The Patriarch and the Preacher (vv. 39-47)
    1. Simon mistook an act of devotion, worship, and repentance for a sexual advance
      1. The word for touching (v. 39) is a strong word meaning a sensual touch
      2. You have to be coldhearted to think that way
    2. Simon had a wrong estimation of everyone in the room
      1. He thought Jesus was no prophet, when He really was the Prophet
      2. He thought the woman didn't belong there with Jesus, when that's exactly where she belonged
      3. He maybe thought things like I wish others were as discerning as I am
      4. When you view life through the lens of legalism, everyone and everything you see is distorted
    3. The name Simon means one who hears
    4. Three things about Simon we get from Jesus' words
      1. Simon's manner was inhospitable
        1. Common protocol was to wash the feet of guests
        2. Kiss on both cheeks
        3. Give them a scented olive oil
      2. Simon's heart was judgmental
        1. Rabbis loved to tell stories
        2. Neither Simon nor the woman could owe the debt they paid to God
        3. Why? Because of his religion
        4. Religion is the world's biggest blind spot when it comes to people knowing their need for God
      3. Simon's sin was invisible
        1. Her sin was outward: a sin of passion; his sin was inward: a sin of pride
        2. Hers was sin of the flesh; his was sin of the spirit
        3. Hers was overt; his was covert
        4. In Western evangelicalism, we have socially acceptable sins: gluttony, greed, gossip
    5. What Simon saw of the woman insulted him, but what he heard Jesus say should have convicted him
  4. The Preacher and the Prostitute (vv. 48-50)
    1. Jesus was not put off by her reputation, her past, or by the judgment of others on her
    2. Others in the house were angry at Jesus promising forgiveness, but that woman was hungry for that promise of forgiveness
      1. They were disgusted; she was delighted
      2. The love she never found in all her passionate encounters with men she found in a single encounter with this unique Man, Jesus
    3. God has a big eraser
    4. Simon got his sin exposed; this woman got her sin forgiven
      1. Simon had theological training but didn't know anything about God's grace
      2. She spent a few moments in Jesus' presence and she knew more about God's grace than most believers today
  5. Closing
    1. Everyone sins; face it
      1. Romans 3:23
      2. We all flunk the righteousness test, but most people think God grades on a curve
      3. The worst sin is self-righteousness because it's an affront to the cross of Christ
      4. "A scab is a scab even if you smear honey over it"—Yiddish proverb
    2. God's business is forgiveness; seek it
      1. Simon was unaware of his need and therefore uninterested in forgiveness
      2. The woman knew that she was a great sinner and that Jesus was a great Savior
    3. God's word is true; believe it
      1. The woman had to walk away believing that what Jesus said was true
      2. The moment she said, "I believe what Jesus said," she became an ex-prostitute
    4. Tina Hoffman; Romans 5:8
    5. We've all fallen short of God's glory, and the only medicine is God's forgiveness; it does no good to keep the medicine on the shelf of heaven

Figures referenced: Will Rogers, Martin Luther, Laura Schulman, Tina Hoffman

Cross references: Leviticus 19; Proverbs; Matthew 11:28-29; 21:31-32; Luke 7:36-50; Romans 3:23; 5:8; 1 Corinthians 6; Hebrews 11:31


Topic: Forgiveness

Keywords: prostitution, harlotry, sex, sex trade, Pharisees, love, legalism, judgment, judging, religion, sin, sinner, passion, flesh, self-righteousness, forgiveness, grace

Transcript

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Introduction: Hello and welcome to this teaching from Skip Heitzig pastor of Calvary Albuquerque. As these messages are shared worldwide our prayer is that God uses them to draw people to himself with his deep love. If this teaching brings you spiritual refreshment, we'd like to know. E-mail us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving. In this series called Jesus Loves People we learn about God's love for all people from all walks of life. Everyone has a God-shaped hole in their heart that they're trying to fill. In this message "Jesus Loves Prostitutes," Skip explains how Jesus' love filled that hole in the heart of a woman desperate for love. Now, turn your Bibles to Luke, chapter 7, as Skip begins.

Skip Heitzig: Would you please turn in your Bibles to the gospel of Luke, chapter 7. Will Rogers said, "Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects." And so I plead ignorance. There's been so many topics in this Jesus Loves People series that I have frankly been ignorant of before I taught them in the Scripture and did research on different lifestyles, and this would be one of those, 'Jesus Loves Prostitutes." I have never met one that I know. I may have witnessed to one on a street, or I may have met someone who claimed to be one at one time, but I've had to do research by interviews, by TV documentaries, etcetera. I know the Bible talks about prostitution. Did you know that seventy-six times it speaks about a harlot or harlotry, it speaks about prostitution? It is condemned in the Scripture. It is immoral.

Book of Leviticus, chapter 19, the book of Proverbs in several places, and the writings of Paul, First Corinthians, chapter 6---all condemn prostitution or getting involved with a prostitute. But did you also know that Jesus said that prostitutes were among those who listened to the words of John the Baptist and repented? And did you know that Jesus shocked the crowd when he said to the religious leaders, "Prostitutes and tax collectors are going to get into the kingdom of heaven before you." How's that for a sermon opener? And did you know that two prostitutes are actually in the genealogy of Christ? Tamar in the Old Testament, who seduced her father-in-law acting as a prostitute; and Rahab, that infamous harlot from the city of Jericho who hid the two spies.

In fact, she is named as an example of faith in Hebrews, chapter 11. Imagine that, a prostitute? But beyond some historical and biblical examples, I have to plead ignorant. And because of that, I've done some research, a little bit of it. I've dug around and what I have found honestly broke my heart. Let me explain what I mean. First of all, prostitution, the sex trade is a huge moneymaking enterprise. I won't bore you with all the statistics nationwide, but let me just give you one city, the city of Miami. Now, it's not even the highest. In that city alone it is a 235 million dollar per year industry. Atlanta ranks higher. And there are several other cities that rank up there. That's just one town. Studies show that 10 percent of American men buy sex. It's one out of every ten.

And that accords with the international statistics that one in ten men in the world have purchased a prostitute. But here's what broke my heart. You know what the average age is for a girl to get involved? Between age twelve and age fourteen. The mean age is thirteen years old. "How?" you say, "How? How does that happen?" Well, they're enticed. They're lured into it. Do you know that there is an incredibly organized and powerful network of people out there that use social media to attract? And here's what they know: They know that one out of every ten kids age ten to eighteen is going run away from home. They will, they know that. They know that most of them are girls, and they know that runaway girls are very vulnerable. They need things to eat. They need food. They need places to stay.

Within forty-eight hours of the child running away from home, they will be approached by someone to lure them into this lifestyle. It's also one of the deadliest professions in the world. Let me explain. There is a mortality rate for occupations. I think you know this. And the way they judge it is they take 100,000 people and they find out how many people die because of doing that job. So the average American worker mortality rate is 3.5 people in 100,000 people. That's the average. But there are certain professions that are riskier. For example, for police officers it goes from 3.5 to 18.0. It's a riskier profession. For aircraft pilots it shoots all the way up to 70---seven, zero---point six. [70.6] for deep-sea fisherman, interestingly enough, it's 75.0. For prostitutes it's 204.

Why? Ninety-five percent of them are threatened with a gun in their face. They are beaten. Over half of them will be assaulted or raped. So, all of that to say, before you and harshly judge the lifestyle that is immoral, granted that, we need to understand how they were introduced to it, when they got into it, and what is threatening them in the current state that they are in. Well, in our story in Luke, chapter 7, it's very interesting actually. It's Jesus Christ and a prostitute in the home of a Pharisee. Talk about tension, all right, talk about a tense meal, and it is a mealtime setting. The Pharisee named Simon, we'll discover, and the prostitute are drawn together by a mutual attraction, not to one another, but to the compelling person of Jesus Christ. Both of them are interested in Jesus.

And I just gotta say that it's stories like this that just make me love Jesus all the more, the way he handles her and the way he handles this Pharisee. So we're going to work our way through the passage and then we're going to make some application as we close. Interestingly, the story, beginning in verse 36, by the way, down to verse 50, it's fifteen verses and it naturally falls into three episodes. There are three encounters with three people. And the first episode is the Pharisee. Let's call him the patriarch, because he is known as a sage. He is a male leader in the Jewish community. So we have the patriarch and the prostitute. Let's read it.

Verse 36, "Then one of the Pharisees asked him [Jesus] to eat with him. And he went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at his feet behind him weeping; and she began to wash his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed his feet and anointed them with fragrant oil." Now, frankly, we don't know why Jesus was invited to Simon the Pharisee's house. We could guess. Some believe it was out of sheer curiosity; he's just so amazed at what Jesus said and he just want to hear more. I don't believe that, even though that is a possibility. You'll see why in a moment.

The other idea is that perhaps Simon, like a lot of people, would love to have sort of a feather in his cap. It's always nice the invite important people, up-and-coming popular people to your place, so you've got conversation the next day. "Guess who I had for dinner last night?" A possibility, but I doubt that. I think I know the reason why and let me explain to you why. Simon invited Jesus not because he loved Jesus, but he wanted to watch him. He didn't like Jesus. He wanted to trap him. He wanted to investigate him further. Now, why would I say that? Because if we look at the broader context of the story just one chapter before, just several verses before this, we are told these words: "The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Jesus closely . . . so they might find an accusation against him."

That's why he's there. This Pharisee invites Jesus to observe him, to interrogate him, to entrap him. And you'll see further evidence of that as we go on. So Jesus comes and he literally reclines. Remember the triclinium? They would recline for a leisurely meal. And as the meal begins, suddenly the center of gravity of this scene shifts dramatically as a woman---a woman of the night---comes in and interrupts and stands behind Jesus at his feet, because he's reclining, and just breaks down. She has an emotional breakdown. Tears of shame, tears of remorse, tears of regret--- what Martin Luther called "heart water"---sprung out and dripped all over Jesus' feet. Question: Why did she come? She wasn't invited. Why is she here?

Well, first of all, let me back up and say it was not unusual to have other people, uninvited people at dinners like this. In those days there were people who were invited to dinner, the dignitaries. They would eat inside in the invited room. But there were a courtyard in houses like this and anybody could come. It was sort of like ancient entertainment to hear what the rabbi says or the speaker says or what the latest gossip is. So people would come from the community. It was not unusual to have a lot of people, even in the perimeter of the room. But it was unusual to have this woman here, because the text says she is "a sinner." And when you gave a female in that ancient culture the title of "a sinner," it only means one thing---to be a notorious sinner as a woman, she was a prostitute.

And that is why the New Living Translation actually translates it "a certain immoral woman" came. Now, you couldn't get two more different people in one room than Simon the Pharisee and this unnamed prostitute. The sage---the streetwalker. The Pharisee---the floozy. The patriarch---the paramour, the prostitute. The man of high reputation, and the woman of ill repute. Something else, according to the Talmud, for a woman to let her hair down in front of another man was grounds for divorce by her husband. That probably wasn't an issue for her. We could presume that she didn't have a husband. But, nonetheless, it was regarded as highly immoral. And on top of that, for Jesus to be touched by this woman like this, the Pharisee would have seen that as a sexual advance.

So why did she come? Well, she came because Jesus was there. She must have heard about who he was. She must have even heard sermons by him, must've heard him preach. They may have even met and spoke before this. It's interesting, if you were to harmonize the Gospels---do you know what that means? It means if you were to give a chronological account of all the events in all four gospel records, you would discover that just before this dinner Jesus gave a message in which he preached these words: "Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest. You will find rest for your souls." I'm sure that woman was on the perimeter of the crowd when those words were spoken, and she must have instantly thought, "If I am ever going to find love and forgiveness and hope, it's going to be from that man."

And so she found that Jesus was in town, she found that Jesus was at this house, and she barged in, in the middle of supper, and had this emotional breakdown. She wanted real love. One prostitute admitted this: "I don't know what real love is. I don't know what it looks like. I don't know what it feels like. I don't know what it acts like. The only kind of 'love' I ever had is the one-way kind, the kind that's paid for in goods and services, and evaporates like the dew in the morning, or explodes into violence in the middle of the night. I don't know what it's like to love and be loved." So we really don't know the depth of pain and remorse this woman in our story was experiencing. We don't know when she got involved in prostitution. We don't know why she got involved in prostitution.

Did she come into it when she was very young? Did her husband die or leave her bereft, penniless, maybe having to raise kids? Some of the research I have done for women who enter the work of a prostitute later on, they will frankly say, "Even though it's still wrong and immoral, I did it to feed my family, to make ends meet." We don't know why. We're not told. One anonymous prostitute said, "Prostitutes have very improperly been styled women of pleasure." She said, "They're not women of pleasure. We are women of pain, sorrow, grief, and a bitter and continual repentance." So she rushes in. She barges in. There's an air of desperation in her approach. She doesn't care about decorum. Doesn't care about protocol. Rushes in, has this breakdown. Tears of remorse, tears of pain, tears of hope---all at the same time.

Now, the camera moves from the first scene to the second scene, from the patriarch and the prostitute to the patriarch and the preacher, the invited preacher, Jesus. Because look at verse 39. Now when the Pharisee who invited Jesus saw this, he spoke to himself"---he didn't say it out loud. He's just thinking these thoughts in his head. He's saying, "This man, if he were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." Those are his thoughts. Nobody knows those thoughts . . . he thought. "Jesus answered and said to him"---did you get that? Jesus answered what? Jesus answered his thoughts. It's ironic, really, because he's thinking, "This guy can't be a prophet because prophets know stuff we don't know and he doesn't even know who she is."

And Jesus knew he thought that. So, he answers his thoughts, and said, "'Simon, I have something to say to you.' So he said, 'Teacher, say it.' 'There was a creditor, a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him more?' Simon answered and said, 'I suppose the one whom he forgave more.' And he said to him, 'You have rightly judge.' Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, she washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss my feet since the time I came in.

"'You did not anoint my head with oil, but this woman has anointed my feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.' "Crawl into Simon's head for a moment. "I know who this woman is; obviously, Jesus does not. I know her reputation; evidently, Jesus does not." Now, here's what I want you to see: Simon the Pharisee mistook an act of devotion, an act of worship, and an act of repentance for a sexual advance. The word used for "she's touching him" is a strong word of sensual, sexual touch to lure somebody into an affair. He mistook a woman's act of devotion for a sexual advance. You know, you have to be very coldhearted to think that way.

You say, "It's an easy mistake." No, it's not, because she's crying, she's weeping, she's pouring out tears. That's not going to attract anybody. That's what I want you to see. You gotta understand that Simon the Pharisee had a wrong estimation of everyone in that room. He had a wrong estimation of Jesus. He said, "He's no prophet." Cha! Duh! He's the Prophet. He had a wrong estimation of the woman. "She doesn't belong here with him." That's exactly where she belongs. And he had a wrong estimation of himself. I think he was thinking thoughts like, "Well, I wish others could be as discerning as I am." And what you need to see is this: when you view life through the lens of legalism, everyone you see is distorted. Everyone and everything is distorted through that lens.

So, after Simon plays "pin the tail on the sinner" in his mind, Jesus speaks up. "Simon, I want to say something." Simon's thinking, "Finally! Good. You know, you ought to defend yourself for letting this happen. You need to rebuke her." That's what he's thinking. Interestingly enough, the word Simon, the name Simon, Shimon in Hebrew, means one who hears. He's about to get an earful from Jesus, and Jesus tells him the story that we read. And this is what is amazing, because we don't get the full story of what happened until Jesus talks. And when Jesus talks, now we get the full picture and we understand from Jesus' words three things about Simon. Fact number one, Simon's manner was inhospitable.

Did you know in that day, the ancient culture, there was a protocol if you come into somebody's house, the first thing you do is either get a servant to wash the feet of the person who has been invited in, or you give the guest water to do it himself. That didn't happen. Second, you, as a host, embrace and kiss on both cheeks as a formal greeting that person who has come to dinner. That didn't happen. Third, is you give them a scented olive oil to sort of set the tone for the evening. That didn't happen. None of it happened. The common courtesies, the common protocol for anyone being invited into a home did not happen. That's why I say he didn't invite Jesus because he loved Jesus. He didn't invite Jesus because he was curious about Jesus. He wanted to trap him.

Because Jesus said, "You know what? You didn't even treat me with the common courtesy of a regular guest. Your treatment of me has been discourteous and insulting." So that's fact number one. Second fact we learn about Simon is his heart was judgmental as seen in the little parable that Jesus gives. It's a very simple story, and you gotta know that rabbis love to tell stories, and people love to hear stories. So in a very typical and engaging way Jesus tells a story about two guys who both owed a debt to one person. One debt was five hundred denarii. That's about a year and a half's worth of a wage. So let's say---let's just put $100,000 on that person; and the other, oh, ten times less than that, so $10,000. You got a $100,000 sinner and a $10,000 sinner, debtor.

The creditor comes along and goes, "You know what? Both of you are unable to pay this amount. Your debt is forgiven." Now, that's---that's monumental. If you couldn't make your car payment this month, you called the bank and the bank said, "Don't worry about it. In fact, we will send you the pink slip in the mail. It'll be yours in a week. You'll own the car free and clear. We're just forgiving the whole debt." That would change your life. That is mon---that's an event you'd never forget. This is an incredible little story. One owed a hundred grand, could never pay it; one owed ten grand, could never it pay it. The guy forgave them both. Which of those two do you think is going to love the guy who forgave the debt more? Easy answer: The guy who owes more.

And he got the answer right, but he's not connecting the dots. Because what Jesus is saying is, "You know what, Simon? Those two debtors are you and her. She's a $100,000 sinner, but you're a $10,000 sinner. Both of you cannot pay the debt you owe to God even though you're not as bad as she is." So Simon's heart was judgmental. Now, why? Because of his religion. Hear me clearly---religion is the world's biggest blind spot when it comes to people knowing their need for God. Ask a person, witness to a person, "Do you know Christ? Do you want to go to heaven?" "Huh, let me tell you something---I've gone to church all my life, young man." They don't tell me that anymore. [laughter] "Old man, I've gone to church all my life. I've been religious all my life."

This man's religion made him inhospitable to Christ and judgmental toward this woman. So we learn two things about him: his manner was inhospitable; his heart was judgmental. A third thing we know from Jesus' words is his sin was invisible. Oh, it was there, but you couldn't see it. Her sin was outward, it was a sin of passion; his sin was inward, it was a sin of pride. The prostitute's were sins of the flesh; the Pharisee's were sins of the spirit. Her sin---well, her sin was overt and everybody knew. His sin was covert and nobody knew . . . except One and his name was Jesus. Now why do I bring this up? Because I think we likewise have blind spots in Western American evangelicalism. We have sins that we would consider socially acceptable. You know, we just---"not a big deal," we say.

Other sins are a big deal. But they're so big we'll picket against them, we'll have signs against them, we'll vote for legislation against them. They're bad, bad, bad sins. But other sins . . . gluttony, that's a sin. That's overeating. Socially acceptable. "Eat up, man. Clean your plate." Greed, "Come on, this is America, be an entrepreneur. Make more. We applaud you." Gossip, socially acceptable. "Oh, it's just a prayer request she's sharing with 50,000 people." There are certain sins that are socially acceptable, but others that are not. Well, what Simon saw insulted him, what this woman did, but what he heard Jesus say should have convicted him. Let's go to the third and final episode; and that is, the preacher and the prostitute. Now, finally, they are alone in this conversation.

Verse 48, "Then he [Jesus] said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' And those who sat at the table with him began to say to themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?' Then he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.' "Now, there is Jesus standing eye to eye with a woman whose face is reddened with tears and who is riddled with shame. One little sentence, "Your sins are forgiven." Oh, the sound of those words to those ears. Now, notice that Jesus is not put off by her reputation. Oh, he knows it. He is not put off by all of the years of her sinful activity. He knows her past. He's not put off by the judgment and the gossip going on by the religious elite in that room. He just says to her, "Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace. Your faith has saved you."

Jesus knew. He knew that her heart was breaking. He knew that she was filled with shame. He knew that she was full of remorse. He knew that she wanted to leave that and have change. You know, I read a very interesting testimony this week about a woman who said she got involved in prostitution by watching a movie. She saw the movie Pretty Woman. Some of you will remember that. It was a famous movie some years back with Julia Roberts. This lady said, "I watched the movie Pretty Woman and I was like, well, gosh, look at her. She's beautiful, she's making money, she's meeting guys, and she fell in love with this guy. And she's living in this nice hotel suite and has everything she wants and she's fallen in love. That's what I thought, and so that's what I did. But I experienced nothing like Pretty Woman.

"It's totally, totally different. I have been held hostage at gunpoint, I have been raped, I have been robbed, I have been strangled, I have been beaten up, everything, by customers." When I read that, I thought, "Oh, what it would have been like for her to have heard the words of Jesus, after a repentant heart, to say, "Your sins are forgiven." Now, the others in that house, they were angry at Jesus promising forgiveness; but that woman, she was hungry for that promise of forgiveness. They were disgusted; she was delighted. Why? Simple, the love that she never found in all of the encounters, the passionate encounters she had with men, she found in a single encounter with this unique man, Jesus. And she walked away that day knowing that God has a big eraser.

That's what she discovered. "God has a big eraser. He cleaned the blot of my sin away." So, Simon, Simon gets his sin exposed; this woman gets her sin forgiven. Think of all the theological training Simon had as a Pharisee. He poured over books and scrolls and had talks with theologians and mentors. All those hours, all that time in the presence of brilliance, and he didn't know about a God who can forgive. He didn't know anything about God's grace. She spent a few moments in Jesus' presence and she knew more about God's grace than most believers today. Wow! Okay, that's the story. Let me give you three quick applications, takeaway points. Here's the first: Everyone sins---face it. Everyone sins. Everyone, even Pharisees. Everyone sins---face it. "All have sinned," Paul wrote, "and fallen short of the glory of God."

Here's the deal: on God's test, you all get an 'F'. So do I; we all get an 'F'. In the righteousness test, we all flunk, and God doesn't grade on a curve. And, yet, most people I meet think God does grade on a curve. They think if they get a little religion and a lot of sincerity and work really hard at being a good person, they're going to somehow merit heaven because of that. Do you want to know what the worst sin of all is? Some of you have thought it's some of the lifestyles we have mentioned in this series: "Oh, that's the worst sin." You know what the worst sin is? Self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is the worst sin. You know why it is? Because self-righteousness is an affront to the cross of Christ.

It is telling God, "I'm really not that bad that blood would have to be shed for me. I'm good enough, thank you. I am self-righteous. I'm a self-made person." That is the worst sin, because it's so blinding. There's an old Yiddish proverb that says, "A scab is a scab even if you smear honey over it." Oh, Simon could see her scabs, they were apparent, but he had his own scabs smeared with the veneer of honey. So, everyone sins---face it. Here's the second little truth: God's business is forgiveness---seek it. Now, please notice the contrast: Simon is unaware of his need, and therefore he is uninterested in forgiveness like most religious people. They're not aware of their need; they're not interested in forgiveness. This woman is very aware of her need and so she is very interested in forgiveness.

This woman knew two things: number one, that she was a great sinner; number two, that Jesus was a great Savior. It's a powerful combination. Do you need forgiveness? Goes without saying, doesn't it? Seek it from him. Here's the third truth and I close with this. God's Word is true---believe it. God's Word is true---believe it. Jesus gave to her a single promise in two parts: "You're forgiven," and "You're saved." That's the promise he gave her. [applause] Now, she had to believe that promise. She just had to walk away believing that what Jesus said was true. She didn't wait there for some overwhelming feeling. "I have to have a gushy feeling in my heart before I really believe that what that promise is, is true for me." No. She just had to believe it.

She didn't wait around to get that affirmed by the people in the room. Good luck with that crowd. She just simply had to believe the promise. And listen to this. The moment she said "I believe what Jesus said," that moment she became an ex-prostitute, once she just connected by faith with the promise that Jesus gave. Let me close with this. I found a testimony by a woman named Tina Hoffman. He was an ex-prostitute. She said one night she was in her hotel room. She was waiting for her next customer. He hadn't come yet, so she thought she would smoke a joint and wait for him to come. So she didn't know what she did with her marijuana, so she looked around and she couldn't find it. And she looked ever everywhere and she couldn't find her joint.

So she opened up the drawer in the bureau. And what's in the top drawer in hotel rooms? God bless the Gideons. There's a Gideon Bible there. [laughter] She pulled out a Gideon Bible and he actually thought, "Maybe my marijuana cigarette fell in this Bible somehow." So she's kind of paging through. [laughter] This is what she said. She opened up to a text of Scripture. She said the words "leaped off the page." Those were her---"they leaped off the page and into my heart." And here's what she happened to turn to: "God demonstrated his own love toward us," Paul writes to the Romans, "in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." She said, "At that moment I said 'I believe that.' "And she said, "I left that room a forgiven and changed person."

Now she said, "As I was leaving the room my customer was coming in. I said, 'Have a good day.' "And she walked out never to see him or that lifestyle again, [applause] and so did this unnamed prostitute in the story, and so can any of you, whether you are $100,000 sinner or you're a really wonderful $10,000 sinner. We've fallen short of God's glory and the only medicine is God's forgiveness. And it does no good to keep the medicine on the shelf of heaven when God says, "I will dispense it to you to cure you of your disease called sin."

Father, we bow in humility to your sovereignty, to your promises. We are in awe of the way you handled this woman of ill repute and how you handled this man of great repute, both of them debtors, both of them sinners, both of them in need of forgiveness that they could never earn and to get rid the a debt they could never pay. All of us have a debt we cannot pay, but Jesus paid a debt he did not owe. Because of those two truths, there can be forgiveness for every single human being who takes the medicine, and I pray for some more to take it today. I pray for those who have gathered here in this room or are watching by Internet or IP television or listening by radio, whatever means.

The most important thing is not that a lot of people are hearing this message, as much as those who are hearing it are responding correctly. And, Father, we pray that those who have gathered here would say yes to you. And if you're here today and you're not sure about where you stand with God, you do need to be sure. Is your heart right with God? And it is only right with God, not if you have a little religion and a lot of sincerity and a few good works sprinkled in there, but you're right with God if you say, "I have come to a place where I have admitted that I need him, I've admitted that I've sinned against him, and I've taken his remedy that is only found in Jesus."

If you want to do that this morning, whether you have gone to church all your life, whether you've never done it, whether you have done it once before but you walked away from the Lord, but you are seeking his forgiveness, our heads are bowed, our eyes are closed, but mine will be open. I want you to raise your hand up in the air. Just raise it up and say---and keep it up for just a moment, so I can acknowledge you. God bless you, and you; toward the front; and in the middle; and toward the back. You're saying yes to him. You're saying, "I'm going to ask God to forgive me. I'm going to invite Jesus"---God bless you, and you to my right. Raise it up. Don't be afraid. Don't be ashamed. Anyone else? And you, yes, ma'am. God bless you; two hands right over here on the left.

Anybody else? Please just raise those hands up. Say, "Yes, I want to receive Christ"---in the family room, God bless you. I see two in the balcony; in the middle on my right; in the last row, a couple of you guys, thanks. And in that back little pocket, God bless you. Thank you, Lord. We love this part. We love to see this and hear this. Thank you. I pray for these people. Oh, how you love them. And some are just now coming to grips with the truth of how deep your love is for them and how all-encompassing and forgiving, gracious it is. Would you please change the hearts, the lives of everyone who has raised those hands and made their admission of their need known. You already knew it, Lord. I simply acknowledged it, as they did.

And I pray, Father, that after today everything for them would be different, there would be a hope and a joy that they have never experienced, but that they will continue to experience as they follow you, in Jesus' name, amen. I'm going to ask you all to stand and very simply, as we play this last song, please, if you raised your hand a moment ago, I'm going to ask you to find the nearest aisle and walk up here to the front where I'm going to lead you in a word of prayer. Why am I doing this? Jesus called people publicly, and I have discovered that it helps you when you are willing to make a stand and say, "I'm following Jesus. This is the threshold moment for me. This is the epiphany moment." And you are saying, "I'm going to confess my sins and ask for forgiveness."

So as we sing this last song, no matter where you're seated, even in the balcony, we will wait for you to come down the stairs. We want to pray with you here and now. As we sing, you come. [worship music playing] Awesome! The younger, the better. God bless you guys. Please come. No matter what age, no matter what background---if you sold yourself, if you sold your body, if you bought sex---Jesus bought you. He paid the price for you with his blood. That's how much he loves you and is willing to redeem you and wipe that away. [applause] Church is not for good people. Look at us. Church is for sinners saved by a good God through a good Savior. That's who it's for. [applause] Anyone else?

You might be, "Well, I'm sort of stuck in the middle of a row." You'll part the row. You'll part the Red Sea if you just said, "Excuse me," whoosh, everybody will get out of your way or stand with you even to encourage you. Don't be put off by where you're standing right now or what you've done. Or if you're in the family room, you can come join us if you have made this decision. If you haven't already, you just come through those doors. Anybody else? Well, a whole bunch of you have walked forward and I'm so glad that y'all did. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to say these words of this prayer out loud after me. I want you to say them from your heart, say to them to the Lord, okay? And if you can, try to just tune every one of us out. This is just you and God.

So let's pray, say: Lord, I give you my life. I'm a sinner and I know it, and I am sorry for my sin. I believe in Jesus, that he died on a cross for me, that he shed his blood for my sin, and that he rose from the grave for me. I turn from my sin; I turn to Jesus as my Savior. I want to follow him as my Lord. Help me to do that, in Jesus' name, amen. Now let's get excited. [cheers and applause]

Closing: When we surrender our lives to Christ, we can rest in his love and forgiveness. How have you seen this truth in your life? Let us know. Email mystory@calvaryabq.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for listening to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque.

Additional Messages in this Series

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1/25/2015
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Jesus Loves People
Mark 10:21;Philippians 1:8-10
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Welcome to our new weekend series, Jesus Loves People! For the next many weeks, we will observe how Jesus' love for people was displayed and conveyed to a cross section of society. We will see Him as He loves the most religiously devout folks to the weak and doubting, from the prostitutes to the priests, from the bewildered to the brokenhearted. We will marvel at His love for thieves, murderers, and atheists. In each message, we will consider how we as God's people can show authentic love to people within each group.
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2/1/2015
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Jesus Loves Doubters
Matthew 11; John 20
Skip Heitzig
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Jesus never turned away the questions of a sincere searcher. I have personally wrestled with issues of faith and doubt on a number of occasions. Oswald Chambers quipped, "Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong; it may be a sign that he is thinking." Today we will see how Jesus loved two doubters—both of whom were friends of His.
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2/8/2015
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Jesus Loves the Broken
John 5:1-16
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Just about everyone who has ever lived has experienced a broken heart to some degree or another. But then there are others who have been affected so adversely by events in their lives that they can be described as broken people. We can respond by questioning why God allows bad things to happen or by loving the broken in His name and thus being part of the solution.
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3/8/2015
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Jesus Loves Homosexuals - Part 1
John 8:1-11
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There is not a hotter or more controversial subject being discussed today in our country than homosexuality. Voices are loud and tempers run hot whenever this subject is mentioned. Although the text before us doesn’t deal specifically with homosexuality, it does show us how Jesus approached a woman caught in sexual sin and what He had to say to those who were quick to condemn her.
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3/15/2015
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Jesus Loves Homosexuals - Part 2
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Skip Heitzig
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Be assured that I didn't select the topics in this series because I am equating homosexuals with murderers; nor am I suggesting that addicts or homeless people are to be seen the same as terrorists. It’s simply that the church has historically been unkind to these groups, and we believe it is time to make the statement that Jesus loves all people. In today’s text, we see it clearly: everyone has some kind of past, and everyone can be freed from sin.
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3/22/2015
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Jesus Loves Haters
Matthew 5:43-46;Luke 9:51-56
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One of the worst things to ever hear or say are the words "I hate you." And since Jesus is the One who God sent to show love to the world, how He handled haters is significant. Today we will explore and hopefully apply two important lessons. Hatred can flow in two directions: hatred towards you and hatred from you. Jesus shows us what to do about both. Get ready by turning to two passages: Matthew 5 and Luke 9.
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3/29/2015
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Jesus Loves Traitors
Matthew 26
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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a traitor as "one who betrays another's trust or is false to an obligation or duty." On this Palm Sunday, I've chosen to consider in contrast the two traitors seen side by side in the New Testament accounts of the Passion of Christ. Though we may see some similarities in Judas and Peter, they are separated by one giant factor—the cross of Jesus Christ, the one thing that still offends most people.
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4/12/2015
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Jesus Loves Atheists
John 18:28-38
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Yes, Jesus loves people who don't believe in Him or who aren't sure what they think about Him. Pontius Pilate was the cynical Roman governor of the district of Judea. He was unsympathetic to religious Jews and religion itself. He had no room for the superstitious claims of prophets, priests, or would-be messiahs. He was a secular pragmatist concerned about Roman order and personal advancement. Pilate also represents how Jesus loved and handled atheists—and how we should.
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4/26/2015
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Jesus Loves Murderers
Luke 23:33-34
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A Jewish proverb reads, "Blood that has been shed does not rest." And yet there is rest that is possible for even the worst murderers of all time—those who killed Jesus Christ—if they would be willing to receive it. In two verses of Scripture, we will examine how Jesus loves murderers, even those who murdered Him.
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5/3/2015
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Jesus Loves Criminals
Luke 23:33-43
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A lengthy seventeen-year study in Washington, D.C. by psychiatrist Samuel Yochelson shows that crime cannot be traced to environment, poverty, or oppression but to people making wrong moral choices. Corresponding to that is another report showing that the lack of proper moral training by parents has a direct correlation to crime, especially to children in their formative years. But when parents and their offspring fail, Jesus can step in to rescue.
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5/17/2015
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Jesus Loves Terrorists
Acts 9:1-16
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One magazine noted that "religious terrorism is the communism of the 21st century, the most serious international threat to human rights." I am aware that the title of this sermon is a strange one, and it's even stranger to think we should be told to love terrorists. Today we consider the stark reality of terror in our world and what a proper biblical response to it is, and we see the conversion of a terrorist who became Christianity's most celebrated cleric.
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6/7/2015
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Jesus Loves Addicts
Luke 4; Matthew 11
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When a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that provides temporary pleasure and then such acts become compulsive and interfere with ordinary life responsibilities, he or she is said to be an addict. Addictive behavior is widespread and is one of the reasons many addicts turn to Christ for help. Jesus has a special message for them and a special plan to help them. As the body of Christ to our generation, shouldn’t the church be part of that plan?
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6/28/2015
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Jesus Loves People, BUT...
Romans 2:1-11
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In this last message of our series Jesus Loves People, we want to bring equilibrium to the series itself. It’s true that God loves people. It’s equally true that He hates evil and the practice of it. Today we want to show how both the wrath of God and the love of God are integral parts of the nature of God Himself. This is crucial so that we don’t distort Him to the world and mislead people eternally. Let’s consider three requirements for representing the God who loves people.
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There are 13 additional messages in this series.