Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. Our acts of love are ultimately for Jesus, even if they seem like they're wasted on whomever you're pouring that act of love out on. You see, I would say that that's what's missing from many of your spiritual lives.
I know, I know because I speak as one of you. You do a lot of right things for God, but you really do it without being passionately in love with God. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor and author J.D. Greer.
I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Okay, so what is the measure of a good Christian? Is it because you simply try to imitate God, or maybe it's following the rules to a T?
And these things are good, but the real question might actually be, are you doing it because you adore him? Today, pastor J.D. shows us why, when we experience the beauty of the gospel, we are compelled to walk in love, light, and wisdom, not simply to become a child of God, but because as his beloved children, we can't help but want to be like him. And if you've missed any of the previous messages for our study of Ephesians so far, you can catch up online at JDCreer.com. Right now, grab your Bible and let's join pastor J.D. in Ephesians chapter five.
If you got your Bible, if you take it out and open it to Ephesians chapter five, Ephesians chapter five, and the title of the message this weekend is, Walk This Way. Apologies, of course, to Run DMC and Aerosmith for the shameless 80s throwback there. But first of all, I am a child of the 80s. I wasn't born in the 80s, but I grew up in the 80s.
The cultural pinnacle of music and movies and all things art. And secondly, more importantly, I believe that phrase summarizes perfectly what Paul is trying to say in Ephesians chapter five. In Ephesians chapter five, Paul is going to lay out for us three specific ways that we should walk in light of who we are in Christ. Three different times in the chapter he says, walk this way. Perhaps even more importantly, he is going to show us where we can get the power to walk that way. You see, if somebody's legs are disabled, you're going to have to do more than simply explain to them how to walk. You can't show them videos of how to walk.
You got to first correct what is broken. I got a call about a month ago from one of our staff pastors telling me that another one of our staff pastors was in the emergency room. And I kind of panicked. I was like, why? I mean, he's in his mid thirties. He's really healthy.
You got kids. And they said he broke his femur at which point I was like, you got to be kidding me. I was like, well, what happened?
And it sort of got quiet in the other line. And after a minute, the guy said skateboarding accident. Now at that point, honestly, I don't know what to feel or what to say because breaking your femur is no joke.
You know, a 35 year old man doing skateboard stunts to show off for his kids. I feel like there's a lot of room for joking in that. So I'm just not sure what to do with that. When I finally got Blair on the phone, I was like, so what'd you do?
What'd you do? He said, he said, well, I was trying to show my kids how to do a 180 backside kick flip on the top of a half bike. Well, if y'all know anything about Blair, I can assure you that he shared Christ with every single EMT, every single nurse and doctor at Duke Hospital and wrote them all a thank you note after it was over.
We will probably be able to start a campus there in the femur ward of Duke Hospital at any point now. But for the moment, for the moment, Pastor Blair is not able to walk. His problem, however, is not here. It's not that he doesn't remember how to walk. It's not that he didn't know the mechanics of walking. His problem is here in his leg and his leg is broken. So he doesn't have the strength to walk. So the doctors want to enable him to walk again. They can't just explain to him how to walk.
They got to correct what is broken. And so they've inserted a metal rod there in his leg to help reshape his leg so we can walk again. Well, see, that's basically what Paul does in Ephesians five. He doesn't just tell us how to walk.
He points us to the place where we can find the power to walk again, which is why Paul starts his walking instructions, if you will, in Ephesians five with a very important word. And that word is therefore. Therefore is how the chapter opens.
Therefore. Therefore connects what Paul is about to say with what Paul has just finished saying. And what does Paul just finished saying? Well, for four chapters, he's laid out for us what God has done for us in Christ. He showed us what God has saved us from and who God has predestined us to be. Therefore, in light of all that, he says, be imitators of God. Be like God as beloved children. As beloved children means because you've been made a beloved child. Not in order to be a beloved child, but because you are a beloved child as a gift of God's grace. You see, almost every religion in the world teaches the opposite. Almost every religion in the world teaches you that if you will keep the laws of God sufficiently, then you can become a child of God.
Christianity reverses that and says no. For four chapters, Paul's explained, you became a child of God as an act of adoption by God's grace. He gave you a gift in Christ.
And because of that, because of that, you should love God and you should want to imitate God, not because you have to, to become his child, but because you're so grateful that you are his child. Y'all, the older that I get, the more I often look into the mirror in the morning, I'll suddenly look up and I'll kind of be startled because I see Lynn Greer, my dad, looking back at me. He's not in the house, but I just look, I'm like, I look like, I'm starting to look like him, or I'll overhear myself walking around the house, yelling things, and I'll feel like it's him. Like I'll walk into rooms where nobody is and the lights are on and I'll be like, is anyone in this room? Is anyone in this room?
It sure seems like somebody's in this room because all the lights are on in this room. And I'll turn, because that's what my dad said when we were growing up. And so I overhear myself sounding like him and I see myself looking like him, but that's okay. That is okay because I love him and I've always wanted to be like him anyway. We'll see his children of God who've been saved by the mercy of God. We adore the beauty of God and we want to become like our God. His nature, his character is so deeply beautiful to us because by that beauty and by that character, he saved us.
In fact, y'all, the worst thing you can try to do is try to imitate God when you don't really love God or have God's heart inside of you. I remember one time really admiring this guy for just how much he seemed to care about people. He was one of those guys that whenever you talk to him, you were always the most important person in the universe to him. And he was always interested in what you were saying, remembered details that you told him. And I was just like, man, I really want to be like that. And so I tried to imitate him. I tried to be enthusiastic about every person that I met.
I tried to make him feel special, but after a while, I realized I just don't like people as much as that guy does, I don't think. More than I need to imitate that guy's behavior, I need his heart. And that's where Paul starts because that's where you have to start. Sermons that only focus on the must do of Christianity. And by the way, that's where the majority of sermons you hear, that's where they focus is you got to do this and do that. We call those doodoo sermons around here because we think they stink, right? You focus only on the do part of Christianity and it wears you out.
It wears you out because we're like, do this and do that. And then you think, and then I'll become a child of God. And he says, no, no, you've been made a child of God by grace.
And because of that, it's going to change your heart and you're going to want to imitate God. And when you imitate God, you're going to walk in three different ways, he says. Here are three ways that you can walk in Ephesians 5. The way number one, he says, you should walk in love. That's verses one and two, one and two, and walk in love.
Two compulsions to walk in love. First one is Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. In other words, you need to love others the way that you have been loved. How has Christ loved you?
What words come to mind? Unconditionally, sacrificially, generously, always forgiving, never giving up, those kinds of words. That's how you should love others. That's your first compulsion. Your second compulsion as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God, like an Old Testament sacrifice where you are loving God by doing this thing. You're loving God by loving somebody else. It's like offering a sacrifice. The Christian has two inward compulsions to love.
The first is simply doing for others what Christ has done for us, loving like we have been loved. Let me just ask you, what would your relationships look like if that became the standard for how you related to the people that are in the orbit of your life? Let's take just one small area and let's apply it in one small area, the area of forgiveness, to those of you who are married. What would your marriage look like if you regularly forgave your spouse in the way and to the measure that Jesus forgave you? I think I've told you, I know I've told you before, that several years into our marriage, Veronica and I, my wife and I were having a hard time because we were both so focused on how the other one had hurt or disappointed us. And so I responded to her based on what I thought she deserved according to how she had treated me.
And she responded to me based on what she thought I deserved according to how I treated her. And one day a counselor looked us both in the face and told us that even though I was a pastor and she was a pastor's wife, she said that your problem is that neither of you are acting like you actually believe the gospel. He said the problem is you're both acting like you're righteous people who are being asked to forgive somebody who's wronged you instead of thinking yourself primarily as sinners who have been forgiven of far more than God is asking you to forgive that other person.
Then he taught us a phrase that literally transformed our marriage. And I've given it to you before, that phrase was first sinner, second sinned against. You're first and foremost, your identity is a sinner who's been greatly forgiven by God. Only secondly are you sinned against.
He said you've reversed that. You think that you're primarily sinned against and oh yeah, yeah, you're a sinner too, but you're primarily one that's been wronged. He said if you would change that focus and you would see yourself as a recipient of great love and forgiveness and begin to love and forgive her the way Christ loved and forgave you, you'd find that 98% of these problems in your marriage would disappear. We are to love as we have been loved, that's the first compulsion. For first of all, the second compulsion Paul says is as an act of love toward God, a fragrant offering and a sacrifice like an Old Testament sacrifice. What that shows us is that the one we're ultimately loving when we do these things is God.
Here's why it's important. Sometimes we feel like the person we're being asked to love is not worthy of our love, amen. They don't recognize it, they don't even appreciate it. And I don't know about y'all, but I don't mind loving Veronica like Christ loved the church as long as she recognizes it and long as she praises me to her friends about it. That's her part of the deal. But see, I'm not just being kind to my wife out of love for my wife, I'm being kind to my wife out of love for Jesus. I once knew a woman who said, you know, for so long in my marriage, I just couldn't bring myself to forgive my husband.
She said, because he never seemed to realize how much he'd hurt me and he never changed as much as I thought that he should change. She said, but then one day I realized my husband may never be worthy of my forgiveness, but Jesus is. And so for Jesus' sake first and only my husband's sake second, will I do this thing. What if you look through whomever you were being asked to love, look through them and behind them, you see the Lord Jesus Christ standing behind them. And then you look at whatever you're doing for them as first and foremost for him. How would your giving change if you viewed your giving as a response to God first and foremost to what he's given you in the gospel? I often teach you that our giving should not be first and foremost about meeting a need. Our giving should first and foremost be a response to the gospel. So when I talk to you about giving, I often talk about the importance of giving our first and our best. You should give your first and your best to God, whether you make $200 a month or 200,000.
See, if you're a multimillionaire, you might be able to stroke a check for half a million dollars and not blink an eye. But just because you'd be meeting a need, you still wouldn't be giving your first and your best to God. And so for you, it would be an unworthy response to the gospel. In the same way, if you make $200 a year and you gave a check for $40, that probably is not going to make that much difference in the life of the church or whatever ministry you're giving to. But it might, for you, represent your first and your best, which is what God is calling for.
Does that make sense? In light of what God has given to you, we, as an act of love back to him, should be giving the first and our best of our resources back to him. This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer. We'll get right back to today's teaching in just a moment. But first, let me tell you about our current resource for our Summit Life listeners. The book of Ephesians shows us how God's eternal plans impact our darkest hours. The strength that we need to overcome opposition, obstacles, and spiritual oppression is found in the incorruptible love of God toward us and the unchanging purposes of God for us.
Now, that is good news. To go with our teaching here on the program this month, we have a new study to share with you working alongside us as we work our way through Ephesians. It's called Your Place in God's Plan. It's eight sessions explaining and applying this important book to our lives, both as church members and as individuals. It's great for personal study, but also includes a leader guide if you want to take a group through it.
Whatever this study looks like, we'd like to encourage you to support this ministry today and reserve your study guide by calling 866-335-5220 or visit us online at jdgrier.com. Maybe the best biblical illustration of all this is the woman who comes in the night before Jesus goes to the cross and takes a really expensive bottle of perfume and she breaks it open and pours it out on Jesus' feet. And it looks like kind of a sweet act of sacrifice, but everybody else is kind of aghast.
They're like, that was such a waste. I mean, she could have sold that for several thousand dollars and she could have given the money to the poor. It would be much better used putting food in the bellies of hungry people than it would be just as a fragrance that would appear on Jesus' feet for a few hours and then be gone forever. Yet Jesus was so moved by what she did that he said that everywhere the gospel was preached from that point on, that woman's story would be told because her response so perfectly represented the right response to the gospel, which is love toward Jesus.
If you're taking notes, write it down this way. Our acts of love toward others are ultimately for Jesus, even if they seem like they're being wasted on the person you're pouring them out on. You see, I would say that that's what's missing from many of your spiritual lives. I know.
I know because I speak as one of you. You do a lot of right things for God, but you really do it without being passionately in love with God. Imagine a single mom with one child that she pours her life out for just to see him have a chance at a better life. She works two jobs. She scrimps and saves to keep him clothed and fed. She teaches him industry, honesty, hard work, charity. When he comes of age, she scrapes together her meager savings and she manages to put him through college. He graduates from college, gets a great job and never talks to her again. He sends her Christmas cards, sends her birthday cards, but he doesn't answer her letters. He doesn't go to visit. He doesn't return her phone calls, but he's good. He's good. He tells the truth. He works hard. He cares for the poor, just like she taught him. And he thinks, well, what's the big deal? I'm doing everything that she wants.
I became the man she wanted me to become. Isn't that good enough? What would you say? No, no, it's not acceptable simply to live a good life and ignore a relationship with the one person to whom you owe everything. But see, that's exactly what many Christians do with God. They focus on doing right things for God, but are not passionately in love with God. And so Paul says, if you understand the gospel and if you understand what God has done for you, then you will walk in love toward others as a way of responding to the love of God for you. Number two, he said, you should walk in light. Verses three through 14. Let me jump down to verse eight first, where he first uses the phrase, walk as children of light and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. God has shined the light of his presence and the truth about you and the world into your life. And so you should walk in that light. Try to discern.
That's the language of intentionality. In other words, you need to focus the light of God's word on various relationships in your life to think about whether or not you were living according to the light of God. Sometimes after my wife goes to bed, I try to read and it annoys her when I leave the bedside light on, because it makes it hard for her to sleep with the ambient light or whatever. And so being the awesome husband that I am, I went and bought one of those little LED headlamps things right there. I look like a cave splunker, but it totally gets the job done. But the light is focused wherever you're pointing it.
In fact, it's kind of funny when she'll call my name or something, I look over at her and she's like right there in the middle of the night. But I've got to focus exactly on where I'm reading because it's a really bright light, but only where I'm shining it. What Paul is saying is you got to take that brilliant light of the gospel and then you got to look into various areas of your life to analyze whether you're living according to what you know is true in God and Christ. Point the light of the gospel there. Think about them.
Don't go with the flow and do not assume that your heart because you're a Christian is going to steer you correctly. Y'all I was so proud of my nine-year-old the other day, kind of brag on her for a minute. She went over to some friend's house to watch a movie. It was a Disney movie. And she got back and I was like, well, how was the movie? And she said, oh, it's really good, dad. Except for that stupid theme that is in every single Disney movie that you should just follow your heart because your heart always knows best. We all know where that leads, don't we, dad?
I said, yes, we do. She said, she said like Adam and Eve, they followed their heart and it led to disaster. I said, that's my girl.
That's my girl right there. Paul said, don't follow your heart or your instincts. Paul said, don't do that. You got to think through your life with a gospel lens. And to do this takes effort.
It's not going to come naturally because the current of the world is going so strongly in the other direction. In fact, in verse 14, he intensifies the metaphor a little bit by comparing it to waking up. He's like, wake old sleeper, arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you. You know how hard it is to really wake up from a good sleep? You know, whether it's a nap or whether it's just early in the morning. I mean, I'll fully admit, my wife is awesome at this. I just don't understand it. The alarm goes off like for a half second, matter of, bam, she is up and she is on it and she is out.
Me, I'm like the total opposite. That alarm goes off. I have such glorious plans often for my morning that get ruined by a little teeny tiny button on the top of that alarm clock that they make way too easy to access called snooze. And the alarm will go off and be like, ah, I don't need to go to the gym today. Snooze. God'll forgive me if I don't do my quiet time. Snooze. I'll just go into work a couple hours late. Snooze.
I can always get another job. Snooze. You just snooze, snooze, snooze. Getting up is hard. And Paul says, wake yourself up because the world you live in is sleeping in death. Don't go with the flow.
You got to wake up. And so he highlights in those verses a couple of really specific areas that we need to shine the light on. Now, these are just a couple of examples. He could have chosen out a bunch of examples, but two of them really specific.
The first one, go back to verse three where he starts this section. First one was sexual immorality. But sexual immorality and all impurity, or competition, we'll come back to that in a minute, must not even be named among you as is proper among saints.
Proper means fitting or consistent with what you know from what you've learned in the light. So let's ask the question, why is sexual immorality not proper or fitting with being in the light? Well, the world's attitude towards sex is it's physical desire. And in that way, it's not unlike other physical desires.
You get hungry, you eat. So when you desire sex, it shouldn't be thought of that much differently. And the Bible calls that darkness.
Because the Bible, by contrast, shines a light on what sex is supposed to be. This is great imagery here. When you're in darkness, like think of walking into a dark room. If you walk into a dark room, try to go from one side to the other and can't see anything, I guarantee you, if you're barefoot, your toes are going to find the corner of that table just so you can bang your toes in there.
Because it feels like I should walk this way, but if you turn the light on, you see the way you actually should walk. He said a lot of people are going through life feeling their way through what feels right and what feels right, but they end up in disaster. He said, so God shined his light in this area of sex and said, just because it feels right, doesn't mean it is right. And shows us instead, listen, that sex is a profound union between a man and a woman, a mingling of souls, if you will, an act of love and commitment in which a oneness in your bodies is supposed to be matched by a oneness in every other area. I mean, when you think about it, when you are sexually engaged with somebody, your bodies literally interlock. You become one person physically. And that is supposed to be matched by oneness in every other area, emotionally, spiritually, financially. Your futures are supposed to be united together by covenant. And when you have sex outside of marriage, you're taking physical oneness from that person without giving them the rest of yourself. Now you say, oh, but I do love them.
I'm sure that you do. But the point is you haven't given yourself to them in covenant form yet. And you and I both know that until you do, you can walk away at any point. You say, well, we're just not in a place where we can get married right now.
Fine, then stop having sex. Scripture is clear that God didn't want you doing that until the covenant uniting you for life is in place. Having sex outside of the bonds of the covenant places you in darkness. See verse five, listen to how strong the language is. You may be sure.
There's no question about this. We're not talking about something up for interpretation. You may be sure that who? Everybody who is sexually immoral or impure or who is covetous, again, we'll come back to that, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Let me translate that for you in really plain English. If you're sleeping with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you have no inheritance in the kingdom of God. Do you see that? That's not me making that up.
It's right there. And I know that that's making some of you nervous and maybe even feel a little awkward because right now you're sitting next to somebody you're living with or sleeping with that you're not married to. Is the word of God not clear there? Ladies, listen, if that guy knows Jesus at all, and if that guy is going to be any kind of spiritual leader, then he will heed this. And if not, he is in darkness and he's just going to lead you and your future family into darkness.
And so you need to get out of the relationship right now. Walking in love and walking in light. You're listening to Pastor J.D.
Greer on Summit Life. Ephesians is a spectacular letter from the Apostle Paul to a group of churches living in a cosmopolitan, commercial and multi-religious setting. And Paul's message to them is this, God's eternal cosmic plan to unite everything under Christ has been accomplished by Christ's death and resurrection. We want each person who studies Ephesians to have a better grasp of their place in God's plan. So it's no surprise that the title of the study we have available for you this month is Your Place in God's Plan. And it comes with our thanks when you donate to support this ministry. Ask for the Ephesians Bible study when you donate today by calling 866-335-5220.
Or if it's easier, you can give and request the book online at jdgreer.com. If you aren't yet signed up for our email list, you'll want to go online and do that today. It is the best way to stay up to date with Pastor JD's latest blog post.
And we'll also make sure that you never miss a new resource or series. It's quick and easy to sign up at jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vitovich, inviting you to join us again next week as we wrap up our time through the book of Ephesians. See you then 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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