Today on Summit Life with Jiddy Greer. In my opinion, we cannot think about this or talk about this or review this too much because idolatry is the sin behind every sin. What it means to be a rebel against God is that you are an idolater. Have you ever actually repented of your idolatry? Not did you pray a prayer and get your Jesus card punched. Did you repent of your idolatry? Welcome to Summit Life with pastor and author J.D. Greer.
I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Okay, is this you? When you think of idolatry, do you picture a temple like in a jungle somewhere with little golden statues and people bowing down, something like from Indiana Jones? Surely it's something found in other parts of the world where people are not as enlightened as we are, right? But today pastor J.D.
Greer reminds us that idolatry is a much broader concept and it's much more common than you might think. In fact, it's probably right on your front porch asking to come in. Pastor J.D. is continuing our teaching series called Assured. So if you missed any of the previous messages you can catch up online by visiting jdgreer.com.
Now here's pastor J.D. with the second part of a message he titled Assured Because of Your Love of the Father. There's one thing that lays hold of salvation and that is a genuine relationship with God that begins with repentance toward God and faith in the finished work of Christ. And so I have wanted to do this series to help you understand exactly what those things are and to know for sure if you have done them.
You can express repentance and faith in a prayer, that is true, but do not equate a sinner's prayer with repentance and faith because it is possible for you to pray the prayer without actually repenting and believing and it's also possible for you to repent and believe without praying the formal prayer. So that's one reason that I wanted to do this. The other reason is because I know that until you find assurance your spiritual life is never going to take off.
I know that from experience. You will never be able to go to great lengths for God until you are assured of where you stand with God. Assurance is the fuel for everything else in the Christian life. You have a heavenly Father who is crazy about you and is always watching over you, who sees everything that you go through and the last thing that he would ever want is for you to doubt where you stand with him. So a hundred thousand times yes, God wants you to know because it is the knowledge of your assurance that gives you the capacity to actually go places with him. So 1 John, what he does is he gives you a series of ways of knowing that you are saved, tests if you will, that will prove that your experience with God is genuine and today we're going to come to one that is so fundamental, so foundational that if this test is not true of you, if you don't pass this test then there is something seriously wrong down in your heart and it might indicate that though you have been in church for a long time and though you have considered yourself a very religious person, maybe you don't know God at all.
Maybe your experience with God has not been genuine because even if you're very religious, if this has not occurred in your heart, if this test, this is so foundational, if you don't pass this test, it indicates that something in you may have never actually encountered and met God. Here it is, 1 John chapter 2 verse 15, do not love the world or the things in the world. Now watch this, here's your statement of diagnosis. You should never ever in the Bible confuse diagnosis with prescription. Diagnosis, if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
That's a description. If anyone loves the world, that shows that the love of the Father is not really in him. For all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world.
Now first let me note for you and discuss the confusing nature at least of the first part of this verse. What does it mean to do not love the world? Here's what he means. He means the world as it is arrayed in rebellion against God. That's what he means. Do not love the world as it is arrayed in its rebellion against God. He defines his own meaning in the next verse. So look at verse 16. For all that is in the world, that is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, it is of the world.
So that's what he means. Epithumia. And what it means is a craving or a desire that has taken on too much weight in your life. It is a craving that has taken on so much weight that it begins to dominate your emotions and begins to dictate your behavior.
Right? That's what an epithumia is. And it applies to a lot more than sex.
In fact, let's just go through that list he gave and I'll help you hopefully see a little bit what it means. The lust of the flesh. That's when some good thing God has created for the flesh becomes so important to you that you either feel like you could not be happy without it or it takes on such an important role in your life that you are willing to disobey the laws of God to get it. There is a good thing there is there is an obsession with sex that is worldly.
The way our culture teaches girls to dress so that it highlights their sexuality and flaunts their sexuality is worldly. Do not love the world. Don't love the lust of the flesh. Don't celebrate them as ultimate things, as life defining things the way the world does.
Because if you do, the love of the Father is missing from your life. Here's the second one. The lust of the eyes. The lust of the eyes. That's when you see something good in the world that becomes so important that you feel like there's no way that your life could be happy without that thing. You're driven by the lust of the eyes when you can't sacrifice something God tells you to sacrifice.
When you save so much money because you're worried about a rainy day that you don't give God, give to him generously. The pride of life. Here's the the third thing he identifies. That's when your wealth or accomplishments in life becomes something that you take pride in. There's nothing wrong with with your accomplishments, nothing wrong with your wealth. But it's when you take pride in those things which could take a couple of different forms. One, you think that what you've accomplished makes you better than everybody else. So that's how you feel like you kind of you know raise your head up upright is because I've made this much money, I've accomplished this, and I have this talent. Or the other way that you show pride in life as it relates to this is it's it's one of those things about you or your accomplishments that gives you confidence for the future. When you look into the future and you think what's going to make me okay in the future? The place that you go is the money you have in the bank or the talents you possess or the job you have.
Here's a little diagnostic question. When you think about the future, what tells you that the future is going to be okay? What do you look to for assurance that the future is going to be okay?
Your talents, your prospects, your current job, the amount of money you have in the bank? Because if so, then you are consumed by the pride of life and there is something that has displaced God. You are not depending on God and his leadership and his strength and his grace.
You are depending on yourself to take care of your future and so you have the pride of life. John says do not be consumed with these things because if your life is consumed with those things, it shows that the love of the Father is not in your life. God has been displaced.
It's not that these are bad things in themselves always. It shows that they have simply taken on too much weight and God has ceased to be God and something else has become God. Epiphumia means a desire that has taken on too much weight and that is the world's way. In fact, I've told you before the word for glory in the Hebrew language is the word kabod and kabod literally means what?
Weight. It is when you give something glory is when you give it weight. When something has glory in your life, you've given it so much weight that it dominates your behavior and it controls you and that's what he's referring to. Can I prove to you that I think I've interpreted this right?
Okay, I will. Go to the last verse in the book of First John. I'm going to show you something really odd about First John that really puzzles people.
Even commentators get tripped up by this a little bit. First John 5 21, it's an odd little verse. The very last verse, his benediction is this, little children, keep yourself from idols. Now, sometimes people read this and they get confused because they're like why did he just throw that in?
Because he hasn't mentioned the word idols at any other point in the book of First John. So it's like he gives this like farewell that has nothing to do with what he was talking about. It's like he's leaving saying okay, I hope you enjoyed my letter, goodbye. He's backing up. He's like keep yourself idle. It'd be like if I end the series, if I ended this message with go heels, you know, it's like that's great but that's not really what you were talking about for the message.
So did he just throw something in random that he forgot about like P.S.? You know, there's another way that you could interpret that and that is that that last phrase summarizes everything that he has been saying up until then, which I think is the correct interpretation. The essence of conversion, because that's what John is talking about, the essence of conversion is that God becomes God to you again. You cease putting ultimate weight on the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life and God's glory begins to take on the most weight in your heart again. You see the essence of sin, listen, the essence of sin is not lying or drugs or illicit sex. The essence of sin is false worship. All those things flow out of false worship. So the essence of conversion, the essence of repentance is repenting of your false worship and returning to the true worship of God. Here's my question for you.
Has that actually happened to you? I know you prayed a prayer. I know that you went through a ritual where you invited Jesus in your heart but I'm telling you some of you treated that like a fire escape, like you pray the magic prayer and this is your get out of hell free card. But you've never actually repented of your idolatry and come home to the love of the Father. This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer. I think a lot of us hear the word gospel and we immediately remember throwing the stick on the fire or praying the prayer down front at the church service, but it kind of ends there. We received the good news and we're in. Now we just have to live up to the impossible standard of being holy, right? But what we've learned this month is that the gospel message doesn't end when we commit our lives to Jesus.
It actually begins. It shows us not only the path to holiness but gives us the power to follow it each day. It's time to see the gospel for all that it is and we'd like to help. Make these lessons you're hearing on the program personal with an eight session video bible study we simply titled Gospel. This resource makes a great group bible study.
We'd like to encourage you to reserve this curriculum set today by calling 866-335-5220 or visit us online at jdgreer.com. Let me make sure you understand idolatry because in my opinion we cannot think about this or talk about this or review this too much because idolatry is the sin behind every sin. What it means to be a rebel against God is that you are an idolater. Have you ever actually repented of your idolatry?
Not did you pray a prayer and get your Jesus card punched. Did you repent of your idolatry? Let me give you a definition that we use here of idolatry. Idolatry is whenever you love something more than God, you depend on something more than God, or you obey something more than God. That's what an idol is. Or here's another way we say it, an idol is usually not a bad thing.
An idol is when a good thing becomes a God thing and then turns into a bad thing. So what about you? What do you love most in life?
It's probably not a bad thing, whatever you love most. But has it taken on such weight in your life that you love it more than you love God? That you seek it more than you seek God? And they point to the fact that God is not God in your heart. Something else is God. So let me summarize three things that John is trying to teach you from these verses.
Give them to you. Number one, idolatrous love of the world shows that God is missing from your life. Idolatrous love of the world shows you that God is missing from your life. Because if you crave the things of the world, that shows that God is not filling the inner parts of your heart.
Your heart, you see, is created, listen to this, with a capacity for God. And if God is not there, you begin to crave other things in his place because your heart is like a vacuum that is looking for something to worship. The question is not, listen, the question is not if you worship, the question is what you worship. You, by your very makeup, are a worshiper. You will find something to worship.
Let me make this point from a surprising other place. I saw a statement recently by Madonna in Vogue magazine. Here's what she said, listen to this. My drive in life has come from a fear of being mediocre. That's what's always pushed me. So I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being. But then later we'll again feel mediocre and uninteresting unless I do something else. Because even though I've become somebody, I still have to prove that I am somebody.
My struggle has never ended, and I guess it never will. Now, I don't know what you think about Madonna, but that's a very insightful statement. And she just might know herself a little better than you and I know ourselves. Because chances are you got something that drives you to become something so that you can obtain the pride of life or some other thing. Some of you, it's just how you dress. You just keep dressing in different ways because you want people to love and praise you. For some of you, for some of you it's the job that you seek, right?
You are an idolater. We want someone to tell us well done. We want to find some form of ultimate satisfaction. If we don't choose the love of the Father, watch, we will by default always choose the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
You will choose one or the other, and the choice of one will exclude the other. Or the way Saint Augustine said it 1,500 years ago, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you. Could it be that all of your stress, all of your straining, all of your dissatisfaction, all of your worry, all of your envy, all of your jealousy is pointing you toward the fact that you've never repented of your idolatry and you've never come home to the love of God?
Could that be what's actually been happening throughout your life? Could it be, would you be willing to consider that all of your stress in life and all of your jealousy and all these personal problems zero back in to the fact that you've never actually repented of your idolatry and come home to the love of the Father? Number two, the way to overcome the world is by embracing the love of the Father. The way to overcome the world is by embracing the love of the Father. If idolatrous love of the world shows that the love of the Father is missing from your life, think about it, then the way to free yourself from the love of the world is by embracing the love of the Father. You say, well, here's, I'm afraid some of you are going to hear this. You're going to beat yourself up and be like, I don't love the Father enough.
That's my problem. And I got to go here and I got to love the Father, love the Father, love the Father. You missed the whole point. The love of the Father is something that is given freely in Christ. The love of the Father was given not because you earned it, but because Jesus purchased it for you. And you embrace the love of the Father.
That's a free gift. And when you embrace the free love of the Father, that gives you the ability to overcome the world. That's a very important point because most of us think that salvation is given as a reward for us having overcome the world. But in fact, salvation is the power by which you overcome the world. God's love, God's love is a gift that is given prior.
It is given because Jesus died on a cross for your sin and uttered the words that changed history. It is finished. And when he said it is finished, he didn't mean it's almost finished unless you do the rest of it.
He said it is finished, which meant it's done. You just embrace it. And the love of the Father will give you the power to turn off the lust of the world. Never confuse diagnosis and prescription. Diagnosis is you don't love the Father enough. Prescription is not love the Father more.
Prescription is embrace the love of the Father for you. First John, let me show you this. There's some awesome verses in First John.
I'd love to spend like a little sermon on, but I can't. First John 5, 4. For everyone who's been born of God overcomes the world. Watch, watch, watch, watch, watch. This is the victory that has overcome the world. What's the victory?
What is it? Is it our self-discipline? Is it our radical generosity? Is it our awesome Bible knowledge?
No. What overcomes the world? Our faith in Jesus who has overcome the world. And my faith in his finished work is what enables me to overcome the world. Salvation is not the reward for having overcome the world. Salvation is me believing that he overcame the world, and I just embrace it. And then I overcome the world.
First John 4, 19. We love. We love.
Why? We love because he first loved. We love because we have wills of iron because we are morally superior to everybody.
No. We love because we understand he first loved us. It is knowledge of the love of God for you that produces love for God in you. Or go to that last verse in First John 5, the verse right before the idolatry verse. Look at this. First John 5, 20.
We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is, what's the word church? True. True. And we are in him who is, everybody?
True. In his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the, everybody? True God. Do y'all know what the word everybody means?
It doesn't mean like eight people who are paying attention, all right? Let's try that last sentence again. He is the, everybody? True God and eternal life. He, because he is the true God and because he is the real eternal life, I don't need the false gods or the fake eternal life which is known as the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. False security, false pleasure. Finding Jesus means finding something better than what the world offers.
Here's a list I've shared with you before. Jesus is better than money. He's better than money because Jesus is an infinite and loving supplier of our needs and Jesus never crashes or dips below 10,000.
Jesus is better than human love. Earthly marriage was just a shadow of the heavenly love that our souls craved. The tenderness and the affection and the security that we longed for when we saw it in marriage were actually found in his arms. Jesus is better than earthly pleasures. At their very best, earthly pleasures are supposed to function like rays of the sun that shine in your face and warm your face.
And then you look back up along the ray to the source. In his presence is the fullness of joy. In his presence is where the real pleasure is.
And I can know that I have him even when a cloud, even if it obstructs me from the ray of the sun, I got the source of pleasure. He's better than earthly pleasures. Jesus is better than earthly power.
I mean think about it. He holds and sustains every molecule of the universe, every electron and neutron, neutron and moron like me, and protons. He holds them all and he commandeers all of them for his good purposes in our lives. That's power. If I can control all the atoms in the universe, that's power. That's better than earthly power. Jesus is better than popularity. Who cares about a bunch of no account earthlings if you've got the love and the delight of the approval of the creator God. I'm telling you whatever God you compare God to, God wins every time.
Every time. Faith in this, faith in God's perfect love given to you in Jesus, that's what overcomes the world. And when you have found him, the true God, when you have tasted the real eternal life, the perfect love of the father, you won't give yourself to the lust of the flesh and you will be able to keep yourselves from idols. One other point I want to share with you that's really been burning on my heart.
Number three, let me do this quickly. Only by not lusting for the world will you ever be able to love the world. Only by not lusting for the world will you be ever be able to love the world.
Listen, there's a lot of things I want to experience. But what I have right now is the love of the father, which is fine, and what I have is the promise of eternity. When you get this perspective, you'll be able to give yourself away and your life will be characterized by a love that gives and a love that serves. And you know what's going to happen?
Watch this. Missions for you and sacrifice and generosity become joy. Until you get this, missions and sacrifice becomes drudgery.
That's a litmus test to whether or not you get this principle. Is giving and sacrifice and missions, is it drudgery to you or is it delight? Jesus, for God shall love the world that he freely gave. Hebrews 12, 2. Hebrews 12, 2. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross. Jesus was dominated by joy because he wasn't enslaved to the things of the world. He loved the father and he loved us. And if you would love the father and love us and not be enslaved to the loss of the world, you could love the world too. How does this work out for you?
How's this work out for you? What dominates your life right now? Is it the love of the father or is it the love of the world? Have you had a personal experience with God?
If not, you can receive it right now. Embrace it. Don't work up to it. Don't beat yourself up for not loving the father.
Just embrace his love for you and let love for him grow in you. That's the gospel. Jesus is better. He defeats every competitor you could ever put him up to. And when you've truly found him, sacrificing the things of this world won't seem so bad.
So what dominates your life? Convicting teaching today here on Summit Life with pastor and author J.D. Greer. We want to make sure that you know about Pastor J.D. 's latest resource available right now. It's the gospel video curriculum that goes along with our teaching series here on the program. Over eight weeks or sessions, each time begins with a video from Pastor J.D.
The videos are 10 to 20 minutes long. And then based on that teaching, you'll open your study guide and Bible and work through the questions and prayers. For a gift of $50 this month, we'll send you the DVDs and five study guides to get you started. And for a gift of $75, we'll include 10 study guides for an even larger group study.
Is it time for you to exercise this discipline of community right now? Call a few friends and join together. Contact us today and we'll send you your copies when you give generously to support this ministry. Call 866-335-5220.
That's 866-335-5220. Or give online and request your curriculum kit at jdgreer.com. While you're on the website, don't forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter. Get ministry updates, information about new resources and Pastor J.D. 's latest blog posts delivered straight to your inbox.
It's a great way to stay connected with Summit Life and it's completely free to subscribe. Sign up when you go to jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch.
So when the Bible talks about loving your neighbor, what does that really mean? Join us next week when we'll answer that question, right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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