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The Tragedy of Dying Without God

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
November 2, 2022 9:00 am

The Tragedy of Dying Without God

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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November 2, 2022 9:00 am

Lots of people go to church every week but still feel distant from God. So how can we be sure that God has accepted us?


today on Summit Life with JD Greer. You wonder why is it that God is not hearing my prayers? It's just because you walked out on the conversation that he's gotta 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 gotta come to God on his terms. God will not be used as your pimp. Welcome back to Summit Life with JD Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. You know, lots of people go to church every week and read their Bibles and even serve in Sunday school or lead a Bible study, but they still feel distant from God. They might even worry about whether or not they're even saved.

Have you ever been there? Today, Pastor JD dives into the story of King Saul to discover the security and confidence that comes from true faith as opposed to surface-level religion. Remember, you can always reach out to us at or give us a call at 866-335-5220. Now, let's get into our teaching today. Here's Pastor JD with a message titled, The Tragedy of Dying Without God. If you have your Bible, I want you to take it out. I want you to open it at the first Samuel.

We're gonna begin on Chapter 28. For the last several weeks, we've been in a series called The Search for a King, which has been a study through the life of David. And one of the things that we're gonna look at this weekend, a theme that is recurring throughout the Bible, and that is the question about whether it is possible for you to be very religiously active, to be very active in the church of God and to not really know God at all.

Now, I want you to hear exactly the way I said that. I don't mean that is it possible for you to come to church twice a year at Christmas and Easter and to be a general hypocrite throughout the year and not know God. I mean, is it very possible for you to be active in the church, like part of the ministry team? Somebody who comes every week, somebody who gives sacrificially, is it really possible to be very active in the kingdom of God, but not really to know God at all? And that question may not make a lot of sense to you until you stop and just think about it. I mean, is it possible to be married and to live with somebody for 40 years and never really know them and love them at all?

Yeah, you know, just walking through a maternity ward automatically make you pregnant? No, all right, I mean, walking through that doesn't mean that you have the reality of many of the people that are in there. And one of the things, one of the surprising things that the Bible brings up a lot is that religious people often don't know God at all. In fact, here's what's really surprising, is that sometimes it's much harder for religious people to know God than it is for non-religious people. That's all through the Bible. And that's what you're gonna see today. And I really want some of you to wake up and pay attention to this.

It is very possible to be very religious and to not know God at all. And we're gonna see in graphic detail today exactly what that looks like. And we're gonna see the tragic end of it. And we're gonna see something in the life of Saul that really ought to scare us to death.

First Samuel 28. Now, let me tell you this, a lot of times people who aren't Christians, you don't normally come to church, feel like what we Christians do in church is we all get together and we all talk down to everybody else who's not in church. Well, if you're like that, if you're not a person who regularly comes to church, here's what's gonna happen today. You're gonna overhear a family discussion. You just walk in on an awkward family argument where I get to go through a passage of scripture that is directed not at you, but at us. And you get to hear me say something to all of us that you probably always wanted to say yourself. I get to yell at everybody in Jesus name, you probably never said amen in church and you'll say amen this morning as you hear me talk about some of the massive dysfunctions among other believers. So you're in for a treat today, all right? First Samuel chapter 28, we're gonna look at the end of Saul, first Samuel 28 and then we're gonna end the book in first Samuel 31, all right?

28, we're gonna 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. That was a very good thing that he had done.

That's how you should hear that. Verse four, the Philistines assembled had came into camp that shoot him. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. Here you see a recurring theme in Saul's own life and that is fear, fear. Fear is the present reality of every person who is separated from God. Fear of the future, fear of the uncertain, fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of what everybody else thinks about you, fear of going bankrupt, fear of unexpected problems, right? When you have the presence of fear in your life, it means that God's not in the right place. Verse John 4.18 says that perfect love casts out fear. Perfect love casts out fear. When you know God, God loves you perfectly and that drives out all fear because God doesn't know any other way to love him perfectly and completely. And so the presence of fear means the absence of God. And I'm talking to all kinds of people involved in church. I've been a pastor for eight years. I know this, that people in the church are often dominated by fear.

Fear of what's happening in the marriage, fear of what's gonna happen to their children, fear of what's gonna happen to them tomorrow, fear of dying, fear of what everybody else is thinking about you. And Saul is dominated by fear and that is like smoke from a fire that is pointing you to a massive problem, a fire in your relationship with God because the presence of fear means the absence of God. Verse six, when Saul inquired the Lord to what to do in this situation, the Lord did not answer him.

Not by dreams, not by Urim or by prophets. And they're like, wait a minute, what is Urim? Urim is the Old Testament equivalent of the magic eight ball.

All right, just to put it bluntly. Urim, what scholars tell us is that Urim and Thummim were two rocks, Urim and Thummim. And on both sides of both rocks, on one side was written yes and the other side was written no.

And when somebody wanted to hear from God, they would go to the priest and the priest would take, the high priest would take the Urim and the Thummim and he would throw them down. And if both sides came up yes, then that meant that God was telling you, yes, absolutely get on it. But if both of them came up no, it meant, no, don't do this.

If one of them came up yes, one of them came up no. If it said yes, no, that meant there's no clear word from God. And then if they came up no yes, that meant there was no clear word from God.

And so what it means is that Saul had gone to the priest and said, what is the word from God in this situation? The priest threw down the rocks and it said yes, no. Then no yes, then yes, no.

Then no yes, no yes, yes, no, yes, no, yes. And finally Saul's like, how come he's not giving me an answer? Supernaturally, God is not answering. It's like when you shake the magic eight ball and all you get is that little ask again later. Has that ever happened to you? You shouldn't do the magic eight ball for guidance, but you know what I'm saying, right?

Ask again, and you do that 300 times in a row, you might think something's going on. God is supernaturally not giving Saul an answer to this Urim and Thummim. Some of you, your life just changed right now because you're like, where can I buy the Urim and Thummim, right? We only sell them at the Saturday night service, which is why you gotta go to that to get those, okay? Just throwing that out there.

No, for real. This is not, this is an Old Testament thing that doesn't carry over into the New Testament, so do not go home and get you a couple rocks and write yes, no on them, and think God's gonna lead you that way. That was an Old Testament provision, though there's no New Testament reality, all right? 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 Saul was like, indoor, indoor.

Isn't that the place where all the Ewoks live? And his servant said, yes. And he said, well, let's go. And so Saul disguised himself as a Jedi warrior and put on other garments and went, if you read Hebrew, you would see all this, written right in there. 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 head and shoulders of 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.

This stuff is always fake. You ever watch this stuff online, like at night at like 1.30 at night, these 1.900 calls, they call into these. You ever watch that?

You probably shouldn't, but if you ever do, it's always, it's the most ridiculous conversations. It's like, you know, Brian Regan talks about, he's like, you know, the sorceress is like, you know, would you, have you ever had a grandparent? Yes.

How did you know? Well, you know, did they die? Yeah. Did they die of natural causes? Well, actually no, he got shot in the face.

Well, naturally he's dead, you know? And you're like, seriously, this is like, you know, telling the future, this woman is a fake. She's a fraud.

It's like all these people are. The Saul is there in front of her and he says, okay, I swear to you by the Lord as the Lord lives, no punishment shall ever come upon you for this thing. I was gonna make a joke about this, but this horror of this, here is Saul trumping God. Don't worry about it. Don't worry about the punishment for witches.

I got you covered. Don't worry about it. Verse 11, 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 gonna 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 not used to this working, right? I mean, she's like, usually I just blow a little smoke and place some in ya, and then I move the Ouija thing around and I make some stuff up. You know, she's caressing her crystal ball and she's like, oh, crystal ball. And you know, Saul and Samuel comes out and Saul's like, what'd you see? What'd you see? And the woman said, to Saul, why have you deceived me? Wait, 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 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. 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 robe, and he looks really ticked off.

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, is that he pays more respect to Samuel than he does to God. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Find out more about this ministry by visiting We'll be right back with more teaching in just a moment. Our prayer through this teaching series that we're currently in is that you would see Jesus as the ultimate king that we have all been searching for. And this month, we have a 25-day devotional guide specifically for the Advent season coming up called He Is Here. Each day, you can expect a short reading from scripture, many times a story from the Old Testament, an accompanying devotion for that day, and an application of prayer or meditation. We're praying that this guide would help you anticipate the king this Christmas. And it comes with your generous gift to the ministry right now, so give us a call at 866-335-5220, or check it out at

Now let's get back to today's teaching on Summit Life. Here's Pastor J.D. 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. For the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me, and He answers me no more. Not my prophets or my dreams or by the little Urim and Thumen thing. Therefore, I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do. So Samuel says, verse 16, let me get this straight, Saul. God has turned away from you, and so you're asking me for advice? God is your enemy?

And rather than reconciling with God, you're looking for favors from me? Now at this point, Saul probably said, well, yeah, but I asked the Lord, and He wouldn't tell me anything. And Samuel said, that's right, because what the Lord wants to hear from you is repentance. See what he says in verse 17? You see, Saul, the Lord took the kingdom out of your hand and gave it to your neighbor, David, because you do not obey the voice of the Lord, and you do not carry out His wrath against Amalek. Therefore, the Lord has done this thing to you this day.

Saul has never really repented of what he has done with Amalek and how he's lived his life. He's just trying to go on and use God to help him get out of a jam while ignoring the fact that he is not really surrendered to God and living out God's will. 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, it's 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 gonna go back to that conversation. And you wonder, why is it that God is not hearing my prayers? It's because you walked out on the conversation that he's gotta 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 gotta come to God on his terms. God will not be used as your pimp. Verse 19, Samuel says, moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your son shall be with me. That is the last thing you wanna hear from a ghost, right?

You're gonna be with me in the grave. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines. Then Saul fell at once full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel. There was no strength in him, freed and eaten nothing all day and all night. Verse 25, then he arose and went his way that night. Saul, repent! Saul, what are you doing? I told you before that crisis is not always the best time to see God, because here you see that Saul's 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 ahold 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. Hear me, I'm not saying you should not see God in a 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? A lot of people go through deathbed conversions because they're scared of hell. I realize that hell and judgment are compelling reasons to seek God, but you can't just use God to get you out of hell. A lot of people go through deathbed conversions, and if they ever got off their deathbed, they would go back to the way they always were, and that is not repentance. Conversion is not just fleeing from hell. Conversion is fleeing to God.

Now, 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 it 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, which is why I say crises and deathbeds are not good times to seek God, because your mind is so muddled and desperate at that point, you might seek God for the wrong reason. Again, I'm not saying don't seek God in a crisis or in a deathbed. I'm just saying you gotta ask, am I doing this because I recognize that God is God, or am I doing this because he's gonna get me out of this situation? He's gonna save me from hell. That's not what God takes into heaven. What God takes into heaven is people who are converted to Him, people who trust Him and delight in Him.

Now, I wanna take you to 1 Samuel 31, and I wanna show you how Saul's life ends the tragic way, but as you're flipping over the three chapters to 1 Samuel 31, I wanna point out something to you. Remember a few weeks ago, I told you that rebellion, even small areas of rebellion are like witchcraft and God's sight, and small areas of compromise are like idolatry. And I told you that many of us have trouble really believing that because we look at the areas of our life where we're not obeying God, and we're like, well, they're not that bad. I mean, yeah, God. I mean, sure, we're sleeping together, but we're adults, we're responsible, we love each other, we're committed. I mean, I don't understand what the big deal is.

It's not that bad. Yeah, God, we're not tithing, but it's not like we're robbing a bank or anything. Here you see that what God said about Saul's disobedience was not a poetic image, and it wasn't just an exaggeration. Saul's small compromises have grown into full orb dependence on the demonic. That always happens. And I know you hear that, and you're like, no, no, no, I've never prayed.

I've never gone to it. Like, you know, I never call away one hundred and a half. You might never pray to Satan, or you might never visit a witch, but something will begin to play the role of God in your life. You see, here's how it works. Small rebellion still separates you from God. It's like the lengths of a chain. If you were being towed by another car via a chain, not you personally being dragged on the ground, but your car was being towed via a chain. How many of those lengths need to break before you're completely separated from that car?

One, right? So one small act of rebellion removes you from the assurance and the security of walking with God. And what that does is it creates a void in your life, and into that void, something will begin to play the role of the supernatural. Something always plays the role of the supernatural in your life.

Something is always ultimate. Now, you're like, well, not me, because I'm not really religious. I mean, you know, I don't worship anything. Maybe you're not religious, but something in your life will always have a God-like quality.

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. Many of you have never gone to a witch or done a séance, but you treat money like a God, right? You won't be generous with it. You serve it. You worry about it. Some of you treat romance like a God. You'll do anything to get it.

You get it. You do anything to keep it. You'll do anything to, you know, you worry and obsess about it, and you're angry at God for not giving it to you. Some of you treat your family like a God. You're like, well, family's a good thing. Sure it is, but now when it becomes a God thing, we have people, listen, I hear this story all the time.

In fact, it's happened recently. Well, we got some young professional in this church who after graduating from college feels like God is telling them to go serve him overseas, and they will go talk to their parents who raised him in church, who were very active in church, who will say to them, no, you are not gonna take you, my child, and your grandchildren one day and live overseas. You will not do that.

Listen to me. Those people are not Christians. I don't care how much they went to church and how much they gave, and if he was chairman of the deacons. He's not a Christian, because he hasn't answered the ultimate question of Christianity, and that is, who is your ultimate allegiance to?

Is it to your family or is it to God? Idolatry is idolatry, whether it's idolatry of a good thing or a bad thing. Right, and he may not be a Satan worshiper per se, but he's worshiping something in the place of God, and that's idolatry. See, what you're seeing is it's not an exaggeration. Either God is God with no conditions and qualifications, or you're an idolatry in the path of Satan. Is that harsh? It's just that there's no middle ground.

None. Let me show you the end of Saul. First Samuel 31, verse one. Now the Philistines fought against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa, just like Samuel had said.

And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchishua, the sons of Saul. Saul watches his army fall apart. Saul watches his sons die right in front of his eyes, including Jonathan.

Parents, make no mistakes. Your children will suffer for your small areas of disobedience and for your areas of idolatry. Saul watches all this happen. Then the battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. Verse four, then Saul said to his armor bearer, draw your sword and thrust me through with it.

Let these uncircumcised come and thrust me through and mistreat me, y'all, to the end. Saul is still primarily worried about what other people are gonna do and say about him. Don't you feel like at this point his mind would be directed to the one that Samuel said had become his enemy? But Saul, his whole life, is more obsessed with what other people are gonna say and do about him than he is about God.

But his armor bearer wouldn't do it, because he was afraid. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. And when his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also took his sword and died with him.

Verse six, thus Saul died and his three sons and his armor bearer and his whole army on that day together. And when the men of Israel, talking about the people that lived in the cities, the civilians, when they saw what had happened, they saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in their cities.

Do you see what just happened? Saul was supposed to drive the Philistines out of the land. Instead what he's done is lost ground to the Philistines. And now the Philistines are living in the cities of the Israelites. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of J.D.

Greer. J.D., we are excited to offer this 25-day Advent devotional that our listeners can pick up year after year. Yeah, you know, Christmas really can be either one of the busiest commercialized times where you just kind of endure it, or it can be a time of real reflection. And we want to give you something that would help you prepare your heart for Christmas so that it is not just a frenzied time, but an enriching time where you commune with Jesus and go deeper in your relationship with him. This little book is called He Is Here, and it's 25 different devotions that are more than just the typical birth stories around Christmas. Most of these reflections come from the Old Testament. These devotionals and these stories are gonna show you how every page of Old Testament scripture was pointing you forward to Jesus in a way that would help you not only understand your Bible better, but also your own heart, and show you how you're Israel. You're longing for a king, a Messiah, just like they were.

And Jesus is the king, the Messiah, that we are searching for, just like he's the one that they were searching for. We'd love to get this helpful book to you. Just go to and reach out to us and you can get it, and I think it'll really bless you this Christmas. Ask for the book titled He Is Here When You Give. Call right now at 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220, or give online at I'm Molly Vitovich. It is always so good to have you with us. Be sure to listen next time as we take another look at King Saul.

We're learning from his mistakes so we can do things differently. Join us Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 16:53:10 / 2022-11-09 17:00:34 / 7

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