Today on Summit Life, JD Greer explains the danger of religion without submission. God cannot build his kingdom and fill it with a bunch of people like Saul who don't want God to be king. Jesus could only bring the kingdom to earth by creating a race of people that have peace in here because they have peace with God. Jesus put away the Saul in us by dying Saul's death for us. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, JD Greer.
As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. You know, sometimes when I feel distant from God and my prayers don't seem to get any response, I often start to wonder if God is even hearing me or does he just not really care? Today, Pastor JD addresses these concerns as he continues our study in the book of First Samuel titled Search for a King.
If you've missed any of the previous messages, you can hear them online at jdgreer.com. The title of today's message is The Tragedy of Dying Without God. So let's jump into God's word together. First Samuel 28, we're going to begin in verse three.
Now, Samuel, who was the prophet of God in Israel, had died and all of Israel had mourned for him and buried him at Ramah, which was his hometown. Now, Saul had put the mediums, which mediums are people who communicate with spirits. They're the ones who write horoscopes. They're the ones who answer the 1-900 calls. Saul had taken those people and the necromancers, which is kind of a weird word, but it just means people who talk with the dead, he had put them out of the land.
They all lived in a place called Hogwarts now. Saul was the one who had done that. And the point here, by the way, is that that was a good thing that Saul had done.
He'd rid the land of demon worship. When Saul inquired the Lord to what to do in this situation, the Lord did not answer him, not by dreams, not by yerm or by prophet. Saul is being frustrated because God won't answer him. Verse seven, then Saul said to his servants, well, seek out a woman who is a medium or a witch that I may go to her and inquire of her. And his servant said to him, behold, there's a medium at indoor. And two men went with him and they came to the woman by night.
And he said, divine for me a spirit and bring up for me, whomever I shall name to you. Well, the woman says back to him, the irony of this is terrific. She says, well, surely you know what Saul has done, how he's cut off the medium and the necromancers from the land. Why are you then laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?
Can we stop here for a minute and just talk about how ridiculous this is? Here is a woman, what kind of sorceress is this? Here's a woman who supposedly sees the future and she can't even see through the costume of the guy that's right in front of her. I mean, Saul, remember he was heading shoulders above everybody else, which means in a land where everybody's five foot three, he's six foot nine. And she can't even see that this is Saul. Then the woman said, well, who shall I bring up for you? He said, bring up Samuel for me. I'm not sure the wisdom of bringing up Samuel in a situation like this. I thought you were going to conjure up somebody through the dead through a Satan worshiper.
Samuel is not your guy. Verse 12, this is awesome. When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. She's like, she's not used to this working. You saw, there you go, Einstein.
Now you're seeing the present clearly. Verse 13, then the king said to her, don't be afraid. At this point, she had to be like, what are you talking about?
I mean, I got the, I got the ghost of a dead prophet who was known to hack the enemies of God to pieces in front of everybody's eyes. And you're telling me not to be afraid as if I'm afraid of you at this point. You know, she's like, that's not really what I'm worried about. He's like, just tell me what he says. And the woman says to Saul, I see a God coming up out of the earth. He said to her, what is his appearance?
And she said, well, it's an old man and he's wrapped in a rope and he looks really ticked off. And Saul knew that it was Samuel and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage, which has always been Saul's problem, hadn't it? Is that he pays more respect to Samuel than he does to God.
This next part is great. Verse 15, then Samuel said to Saul, why have you disturbed me bringing me up? Saul's like, man, look, I'm really sorry to bother you.
I know you're really busy being dead and all, but I am in great distress. There's a lot of people who wonder why God won't hear their prayers. And it's because of some area of unconfessed sin in your life. They're like, God, why won't you talk to me? And God is like, well, we were having this conversation 15 years ago. And you walked out on that conversation. You've never come back to that conversation.
If you want to talk, we're going to go back to that conversation. You wonder why is it that God is not hearing my prayers? It's because you walked out on the conversation that he's got to have before he'll hear your prayers.
And that is the conversation where you confess trust and surrender to him. Saul walked out. Saul's never repented on that. And that's why God won't hear him.
God, yes, will abundantly pardon, but you got to come to God on his terms. God will not be used as your pimp. I told you before that crisis is not always the best time to see God because here you see that Saul is crying out to God, but he's not crying out to God for God. He's crying out to God to get him out of a jam. He's not coming to God on God's terms. He's trying to use God to get him out of a situation. You see in a crisis, this is why I've told you this in a crisis, you're usually desperate.
You're usually gullible and you'll grab a hold of anything that you think will keep you afloat. You're not necessarily trusting God. You're not necessarily surrendering to his plan. And the proof of that is that as soon as you're out of that crisis, you go back to the way you were before you got into the crisis.
You hear me? I'm not saying you should not seek God in the crisis. I'm just saying you need to ask God why you're seeking him. Are you trying to use him to get you out of a jam or are you realizing that God is God and he's the only thing you should trust in and the only thing that you should give your life to serve?
Write this down. A repentance that would not change you in life won't save you in death either. A repentance that will not change you in life won't save you in death either. Are deathbed conversions real? Some of them, yeah. But a lot of them, no.
Because a lot of them are made because somebody's scared of what's about to happen. And conversion to God is repenting of the fact that you've trusted in yourself all your life and you delight in yourself rather than God. And a repentance that wouldn't change you in life if you got off your deathbed will not save you in death either. There's something that you turn to as your source of security. Something you depend on for guidance.
Something you lean on for happiness and fulfillment. I've explained multiple times here that what you worship is whatever you depend on for life, for happiness, for fulfillment, for security, whatever you could not live without. If that thing is anything but God, that is idolatry of the worst kind. And it's even following Satan because ultimately Satan is the author of all self-worship. See, what you're seeing is it's not an exaggeration. Either God is God with no conditions and qualifications or you're an idolater in the path of Satan.
Is that harsh? The next day, verse 8, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons falling on Mount Gilboa. So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the Philistines, the land of the Philistines to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people.
They took Saul's armor and put it in the temple of Ashtaroth, their primary deity, and they fastened his body to the walls of best shot. That's how the whole book of 1 Samuel ends. That's how 1 Samuel ends. 1 Samuel is the primary account of Saul, the king, that was chosen by Israel because they didn't trust God. Saul, the perfect candidate for king.
Saul, the guy they put all their hopes on, who turns out to be a coward that consults demons in a time of trouble. He doesn't defeat the Philistines. In fact, he loses ground to them and the Philistines come and now live in the Israelite cities. Saul's last act is to watch his own sons die and then commit suicide. Then his armor is stripped and put on display in the temple of a Philistine God, not to show how strong the Israelite God was, Jehovah, but to show how strong the Philistine God was. It is impossible for the Bible to give a more devastating end to a life. This is Israel's key. And what's really ironic is that all this happens in the same geographic location where Saul had been crowned. So much promise, such utter disappointment in the same place where all those promises were spoken. There Saul's body hangs stripped, forsaken by God.
What a tragedy. Saul's problem was never the Philistines. Saul's problem was never Goliath. God could easily destroy the Philistines.
God could take care of Goliath with a leather strap and a rock. Saul's enemy was Saul. Because Saul could never ever defeat the enemy within himself that would not trust God rather than himself and would not delight in God rather than himself. And because Saul chose that path, Saul faced a destitution that he did not have to go to. There are a few things that we need to notice about Saul.
I would encourage you to write these down and think about them throughout the week. Number one, Saul kept up religious practices without ever knowing God. Saul kept up religious practices without ever knowing God. Saul did a lot of good things, did he not?
He purged the land of witches and wizards. He fought God's battles against the Philistines. You're like, well, he didn't fight him very well.
Yeah, but he's at least on the right team. I mean, to put it in our terms, Saul was in church. Saul was not just a spectator in church. Saul was on a ministry team.
He volunteered. Saul gave to the church. Saul went on mission trips. Saul was a good dad. Saul raised Jonathan.
Jonathan would have made any of us proud, have us a son. He was a good dad. He was a good guy. He was religious. He was active in the church, even prayed to God when he was in a gym. There were two essential things that Saul was missing.
Number one, trusting God. He never learned to trust God. And that was shown by his failure to fully yield his life to God. You know, 1 Chronicles is a book in the Old Testament that's a parallel account from Sabah 1 Samuel. And the writer of 1 Chronicles says this about Saul.
Look at this fascinating. Chapter 10 verse 13. Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, but he consulted a medium seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord.
And you're like, well, wait a minute. He did seek guidance from the Lord. Remember the whole Urim and Thummim thing? Yeah, but he wasn't seeking God in those situations. He was seeking a way out of a jam. He wanted to use God. You're listening to a message titled The Tragedy of Dying Without God here on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. We'll rejoin this teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to tell you about a daily email devotional available from Pastor J.D. Listen, I know the busyness of life can quickly choke out any joy that we feel in our walk with God. So why not infuse each morning with a word from the Lord? The devotionals even follow along with our current teaching here on the program so you can stay plugged into the teaching regardless of your schedule. To sign up for this free resource, visit us at jdgreer.com resources.
That's J-D-G-R-E-E-A-R dot com slash resources. Along with this daily devotional, you'll also find other free resources meant to help you in your walk with God. Now, let's get back to the conclusion of today's message here on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. Got him Larry Crabbe, Christian psychologist said, our problem is that we don't want to find God to know Him. We want to find Him in order to use Him to make our lives work.
How many people am I talking to in church because they don't want to go to hell and they think God is somehow instrumental in, A, keeping them out of hell, and B, making your life come together and you're like, in order to have a strong family, in order to be a respectable person, I gotta be in church, I gotta walk with God, I'm a college student, I know that if I'm gonna get where I need to go in life, I need God as a part of my life, and you're using God to try to get something from Him, God will not be your pimp. You have to seek God for God. You have to come to Him because He's trustworthy. You have to come to Him because He is life's most valuable possession and you yield everything to Him and you surrender to Him fully with no conditions, no reservations. Saul didn't trust God. That's the first problem. The second problem is very much like it and that is he didn't, he wasn't satisfied with God.
Saul always needed something else beyond God. God sovereignly tells you no in something that you really want and you say to God, no, no, I will be married. I will be successful. I will be famous. I will be rich. And if you're not gonna give it to me, I'm gonna get it myself. One of the sure signs that that's what you're doing is you start to have jealous feelings toward whoever plays David in your life.
David is simply somebody that God has given all the things that you want. God has given them to them, but not you. And so you start to hate that person. You're jealous of them.
You're obsessed over them. And deep in your heart, if you look, you know it has nothing to do with them. It has everything to do with you that you're just not satisfied with what God has chosen for you.
And so you look at somebody that has what you want and you hate them and you resent them. Do you know, listen, all of your spiritual problems, all of them, all of them, go back to one of two sources. Either you don't know how God feels about you or you don't value that enough. Either you don't know how God feels about you or you don't value that enough. That is the source of any anxiety, any fear, any stress, any jealousy, any rebellion.
All of it goes back to one of those two problems. That's why we say the gospel is the remedy for rebellion. Because in the gospel, you see how God feels you and you see what a treasure that he is. And if you would ever get your mind around the gospel, it would release you from all the fear and anxiety that you live with. And it would snap the rebellion that you can't seem to shake.
It's always religious. He didn't know God. Here's number two tied very closely to it. Saul did not know how to repent. Saul didn't know how to repent.
Saul looked like he had repented. He said he was sorry. He cried. Remember from chapter 15, he cried.
Oh, he cried. He did religious stuff. He never really repented. He just went through the motions.
Here's the tragic part. He thought he'd repented. And we know he did, because every time that God won't respond to him, he's surprised. What's wrong, God? Well, the fact you're hunting David down, that's what's wrong. Yeah, well, what's wrong really?
What's wrong? He thought he'd repented. He was self-deceived.
That ought to scare you, to at least wake you up. Saul went through the motions of repentance, confession, prayer, religious activity, but he never dealt with the real issue. And that is, he didn't fully trust God enough to fully surrender to him, and he didn't value God enough to be satisfied in him. He didn't know how to repent.
Here's my question. Do you know how to repent? Do you know how to repent? I'm going to give you five signs that I see as a pastor, five signs that would tell me you're not repenting. Five things I can watch for, and if I see any one of these five, I know you haven't repented.
Number one, rationalizations or blame shifting. Yeah, I do stuff wrong, but it's not totally my fault. I mean, if you had any idea the hand I've been dealt in life, of course I don't tithe.
I haven't gotten near the money that I thought I'd always get in life. If you had any idea how bad my marriage was, that would justify my bad attitude toward my husband. If you understood how bad my marriage was, that would justify how I'm doing stuff outside of my marriage. If you had any idea how rough my life was, that would justify my selfishness. Yeah, I'm not really active in the church or serving God. That's because of my life's really busy, and I don't even know enough about God yet to really feel like I can serve him.
That's why I never respond to any of the calls that you give to get active in serving him. Rationalizations. It tells me you've never repented. Here's the second one, unchanged behavior.
Unchanged behavior. Real repentance is not shown. Real repentance is not shown in an emotional catharsis.
Real repentance is shown in a changed life. Your mouth says you believe in Jesus. Great. What does your life say?
Your baptism says you believe in Jesus. Great. What does your life say? The little card in the front of your Bible that your pastor put there telling, what day you receive Christ, that says you believe in Jesus.
Awesome. What does your life say? Because if what your mouth says is different than what your life says, God looks at what your life says. Because the only reliable way to know whether or not you've truly believed in Jesus is to look at what your life says. And if your life has unchanged behavior, that means you haven't repented. Where there's been no change, there's no Jesus. There's no repentance.
Unchanged behavior. Number three, the absence of godly sorrow. The absence of godly sorrow. Paul, 2 Corinthians, chapter seven, makes this statement. He says godly grief, godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret. Whereas worldly grief, worldly grief produces death. He's talking about crying tears over sin that don't lead to salvation.
I see this all the time as a pastor. People sit in my office and they just weep over what their marriage is like now and the mistakes they made to get it there. I can tell you how many men I've sat with that just cried their eyes out because their marriage had fallen apart because of the stupid things they've done and they wept over their mistakes. I've been with people who cried over regret over things they've done, worldly grief. There's a lot of reasons you can be tearful and cry. It may have to do with regret. It might have to do with the sorrow of being caught, guilt, shame, self-pity, embarrassment. None of those things are repentance toward god.
None of them. Confession is not repentance. Just because you confess your sins doesn't mean you've repented of them.
You might just be getting something off your chest. Godly sorrow is sorrow about what your sin has done to God, how wicked it was and a resulting change of behavior. Godly sorrow results in a change of attitude toward God and a permanent change of life. Do not measure godly sorrow by the strength of the emotion. Measure godly sorrow by the effect of the change. Number four, conditional obedience is a sign you haven't repented.
God, I'll do this but this is what you got to do. God, I'll follow you but I ain't going there and don't tell me to do that. Number five, partial compliance. Partial compliance. You start obeying God in one area but not all.
Okay, I'll start being generous with my money but I'm not going to obey you in these other areas. God, I'm going to start going to church but I'm not going to obey the call that you put in my life. I'm going to mask my rebellion with religious activity and I'm going to be partially compliant but not fully. That's a sign you've never really repented because there's no such thing as partially repenting to Jesus' Lord. He's either the Lord of all or he's not Lord at all. Small rebellion, even small rebellion is a complete rejection of Jesus' lordship.
You're either fully surrendered or you're fully in rebellion and there's no middle ground. Saul didn't know how to repent. Saul did not know how to repent. Do you know how to repent?
Right this down. Repentance is full trust in God and complete satisfaction with God that leads to unconditional surrender to God. Repentance is full trust in God and complete satisfaction with God that leads to unconditional surrender to God. Last lesson of Saul's life.
Number three. Saul died the sinner's death. Saul died the sinner's death.
In fact, first name of 31, hear me, is every sinner's death. You see, just like it was with Saul, it was only through death that real salvation could come. The resurrection of Jesus was like David's ascent to the throne. At the resurrection, Jesus was crowned king of the universe and he offered salvation to us all, but the only way that could work was by Jesus dying the sinner's death, Saul's death for us. For David to take the throne, David, who was God's hope for Israel, Saul had to die. For Jesus to take the throne, who was God's hope and salvation for us, he first had to die Saul's death for us. Jesus was killed like Saul so we could reign like David. The real problem in the world is not the Philistines.
The real problem is not any kind of Goliath, the Goliath of famine, or the Goliath of poverty, or the Goliath of nuclear weapons. Listen, the real problem in the world is the heart of Saul that is in each one of us. Jesus had to come and put away the spirit of Saul that is in each one of us, otherwise there could never be peace on earth, no matter how good the government was or how ample the provisions were. What Dr. Ehrman and the rabbi want is another Saul, but God cannot build his kingdom and fill it with a bunch of people like Saul who don't want God to be king. Jesus could only bring the kingdom to earth by creating a race of people that have peace in here because they have peace with God.
Jesus put away the Saul in us by dying Saul's death for us, which was our death. When we receive his death for us, that gives us peace with God, which gives us the hearts of the kingdom. We have peace first with God, then with each other, then with ourselves, then with our stuff, and love begins to replace jealousy. Contentment begins to replace selfishness.
Generosity begins to replace stinginess. Mercy begins to replace hate. Before the world could be saved, you and I had to be saved. Before Jesus could solve the problems out there, he had to solve the problems in here.
Before David could sit on the throne, Saul had to die. Before Jesus could literally reign on earth as the prince of peace, he had to bring peace to us, and the way that he did that is by killing Saul in us on the cross. He will bring the peace and prosperity we've always been hoping for, but first he has to end the rebellious, Saul-like spirit in each of us that are in this room. Have you ever received his peace in your heart? He died your death and paid your price and offered us a gift to all who will receive it. He has given himself to you so that you could know that you have peace with God, that there's nothing that causes God's displeasure to come at you because Jesus paid for it. He has shown you that he's trustworthy. He's shown you that you can give him his life. He's shown you that he's the most valuable possession that you could ever possess on earth. Have you stepped out in faith and given God your life? He's strong enough to handle everything, and he's worth every sacrifice. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of J.D. Greer. To learn more about Pastor J.D.
and Summit Life, go to jdgreer.com. What we'll celebrate this Christmas, God coming to earth, was always a part of God's plan. Throughout scripture, God changes everything for the people he meets, and it can change everything for us too. During the Advent season, God uniquely invites us to meet with him to sit in his presence and remember his faithfulness from the beginning to today. So we're offering you a 25-day Advent guide to help you prepare your heart for Christmas.
It's called He is Here. For your gift of $35 or more today, we'll send you a copy of this new resource as our way of saying thanks for your generous support. We couldn't do this ministry without you, so give us a call at 866-335-5220, and remember to ask for the book titled He is Here. That number again is 866-335-5220, or you can give and request the book online at jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vitovich, encouraging you to join us tomorrow when we'll learn the meaning of gospel centered worship. See you Friday here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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