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A Whole New Kind of Obedience

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 9, 2024 9:00 am

A Whole New Kind of Obedience

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 9, 2024 9:00 am

For generations, the book of Jonah has challenged believers because we see ourselves reflected in Jonah: his disobedience, fear, and reluctance to obey.

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Pastor Phillip Miller
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J.D. Greear
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Pastor Rick Gaston
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Alan Wright

Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. When you see yourself as a recipient of great grace, then God's compassion, listen, becomes his most precious attribute to you.

And when God's compassion becomes his most precious attribute to you, then you become compassionate by nature to others. Welcome to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today we are continuing our study from the book of Jonah. This small but masterfully written book has been challenging us as we catch glimpses of ourselves through Jonah's disobedience, his deliverance, and then finally his decision to reluctantly obey God.

You won't want to miss a single day here on the program, so if you need to catch up, you can find all of the previous broadcasts online at Today Pastor J.D. turns to Jonah chapter four to explain what a whole new kind of obedience looks like.

Let's join him right now. Jonah, our prophet, has a kind of disease. It's a disease that I believe most religious people have, and in this final chapter you're going to see the effects of that disease, and you'll probably, because most of you are religious, you'll probably see some of the symptoms of the same disease in your own life. Now if you don't consider yourself religious, you will still probably see some of the symptoms of this disease in your own life, because essentially at the end of the day we're all people.

We're all made up of the same stuff, whether you're religious or not. Sometimes people ask me, J.D., when you preach, do you preach to seekers, or do you preach to saved people? And the answer is, I preach to sinners, right?

And sinners are people that, you know, when you're saved you still have that sinful heart at work in you when you are a seeker. So we're all made out of the same stuff, so whether you are religious or not, I think that the things you're going to see in the heart of Jonah are going to be true of you if you'll look honestly and soberly enough at yourself, all right? Jonah chapter four, if you remember, real context, real quick, remember God had told Jonah to go to Nineveh, and Jonah didn't want to go because he hated the Ninevites because the Ninevites had been unspeakably cruel to him and his family, so he said no and he got on a ship and went the other way, so God sent a storm. They, you know, they threw Jonah out into the storm, a big fish swallowed him, he was in the belly of the well for three days and three nights, the fish eventually got sick of him literally and regurgitated him, vomited him back on the shore where he now had learned his lesson and he went to Nineveh to preach. He preached in Nineveh a five-word message, yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown. You say, well that sounds like eight words, I told you it's five words in Hebrew, don't doubt me, okay? So he goes and preaches his five-word message, the city as a whole repents and seeks God and God is merciful to them and that's where we begin in Jonah chapter four. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was angry and he prayed to the Lord and said, oh Lord, is this not what I said when I was yet in my country? Isn't this why I made haste to flee to Tarshish?

You hear that, by the way? He's still justifying himself. You see, he might have consented to obey God because he knows that you can't actually fight against God and win, but in his heart, he still disagrees. You know, I've explained to you before that external obedience is like bending a metal bar. You know, I told you if I bend a metal bar up here in front of you on stage without first heating the middle of it and melting it, one of two things would happen.

You know, you would get it down to a point where when I took my hands off of it, it would snap back up into the original position or it would come to a point where it breaks. What you see is that Jonah has consented because of the pressure of the belly of a well. But as soon as those pressures are gone, he's going back to his original heart position and he's justifying himself and he's expressing his hatred toward the Ninevites. Jonah's behavior may have conformed to what God wanted, but his heart is still unmelted. And that's why I've called the difference between Christianity 1.0 and 2.0. And some of you are at 1.0 because you know you can't fight against God and win. But God's not after just obedience. He's after a new kind of obedience, the kind that grows where your heart delights in him and delights in what he delights in. All right, more on that in a little bit.

Let's keep reading. For I knew, Jonah says, that you are a gracious God and merciful. How dare you? Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster. How awful. Verse three, therefore now, oh Lord, please take my life from me for it's better for me to dive and to live.

I love this. Verse four, and the Lord said, do you do well to be angry? This is basically the Lord saying, really, Jonah? Really? Jonah's disease is twofold.

If you take notes, you ought to jot these down. Number one, Jonah is an idolater. Jonah is an idolater. If you remember, I told you, Jonah, chapter two, verse eight, is a key verse in the whole book. And it says that those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. Jonah's behavior is driven by an idolatry. That's the point of that verse. Jonah's idol is that he loves his racial identity.

He loves his status as a leader in a prosperous nation. The Ninevites not being destroyed would threaten that, so he hates them because they threatened to take from him that thing which he loves most. So Jonah will obey God in just about every area except for that area that matters the most to him.

That thing that defines who he is, that soul identity. Let me review for you really quickly what idolatry is because I know that some of you may still have a problem seeing that idolatry at work in Jonah because you're like, well, I don't see Jonah bow down to a gold statue, so I don't understand why that's idolatry. Idolatry is two different things.

You ought to jot these down. Idolatry is first when you build your identity on something besides God. Idolatry is whenever you build your identity on something besides God. We all have an identity, something that defines us. Your identity is an internal dialogue where you tell yourself, I have worth because, and then whatever you fill in the blank with that.

And we all got something that we put in that blank. I have worth because I'm a good mother. I have worth because I am successful. I have worth because I'm good at my job, because I've made a lot of money, because I'm a good person, because I'm successful in school at the top of my class, because I'm a great athlete, because I'm a great friend, whatever. Yeah, I've told you looking back over my life, I see at different stages of my life, I have gained worth from different things. When I was in seventh grade, like almost every seventh grade boy, I defined my worth according to my athletic ability.

That's why it's so important. That's why they're so competitive, because you don't want to be at the bottom of the kickball pool, because that's your worth as a guy, is your athletic prowess. When I got into college and realized that I probably didn't have a future in athletic superstar sports, it shifted, because I was like, well, I may not be the king of the hill when it comes to athletic, but I can do well in school, and that kind of sets me apart from everybody. So my work was based on my academic success.

Then as I get into ministry, it's my worth is now defined in many times by how big or how successful the church is. I heard a speaker the other day, a guy speaking to men, he said, at different stages in men's life, you define yourself according to various things, depending on what stage you're in. He said, for high school guys, it's almost always athletic ability. He says, for college guys, it becomes sexual prowess.

He said, when you get out of college, it becomes earning capacity. So at different stages of your life, men, you have based your identity probably on those three things. Your identity is when you define yourself apart from God. Your identity is whatever the most important person in your life thinks about you.

So whoever is the most important to you, that is how you would define your identity. And when your identity is built on anything other than God's love and acceptance in your life, you become just what Jonah is here. You become fearful, you become hateful, because you see, there's always something about you that makes you worthy. And so you worry about losing that or not obtaining it, or anybody that threatens to take that from you, you hate them, and you resent them. So for example, I've told you, I've often been jealous of people who do the same things that I do and seem to be more successful at it, or at least get more attention for it.

And sometimes I've even delighted when they struggle, or I've delighted when they fail, not because I'm an overly vengeful person, but because they are taking some of the attention that I wanted for myself, and they are taking me from it, which is why I have jealous or hateful feelings toward them. At many points in my ministry, you could ask my wife, I have lived by the stat sheet that comes out on Monday morning at our church, where we talk about what the attendance was like and what the giving was like. And man, if the attendance was good, if it was up, if we had a good offering that week, I'm just on top of the world, I feel like the king, I feel like, man, my life has a point. It comes out, we have a low attendance Sunday, offering's not that good, and you can scrape me up off the floor with a spatula because my identity is tied up in a certain success. Other signs that your identity's based on something besides God, unforgiveness toward people who have hurt you or threatened you in those areas. Or here's another one you see in Jonah, self-pity that people don't recognize your worth. Well, my kids just don't recognize how much I've actually sacrificed for them.

Nobody, nobody really cared. Nobody really knows all the things that I have done. And you walk around with a sense of self-pity, right? You see all of these in Jonah, right? So idolatry is when you define your identity on something besides God, you see that in Jonah. Idolatry is, secondly, when you desire something more than God. When you find happiness and being successful in your career more than you find in knowing God. When you find more delight in being rich, more delight in being married, more delight in the dream of being married. Jonah finds more delight in the prosperity of Israel and the destruction of Israel's enemies than he does in knowing and delighting in God.

Now I've given you several kind of diagnostic questions to help you determine what this is for you. What are you most terrified of losing? What is the one thing that you could not imagine being happy in life without? I couldn't be happy if I wasn't married. I couldn't be happy if I don't have kids. I couldn't be happy if I'm not wealthy. I couldn't be happy if people don't respect me, if I don't get to this position.

The symptoms of the disease of idolatry are what you see in Jonah's life here. Worry, anger, jealousy, hate, unforgiveness. Y'all believe it or not, listen to me, believe it or not, these emotions are precious.

Let me tell you why. Because these emotions are indicators of a much deeper problem in your life. I've compared it before to you with smoke from a fire, right? Smoke that you can trace back down to the fires of your idolatry where you are are worshiping at the altar of a false god.

I'm not a big fan of smoke in my house, but if that smoke will lead me to places that my house is on fire, then I'm grateful for it. These emotions are precious because they are indicators of a much bigger problem. Listen, the problem primarily is not worry and jealousy and hatred and unforgiveness. The problem is what produces all those things. And what produces those things is the idolatry that is the essence of sin. Idols are things that we derive pleasure from more than God and things we seek refuge in more than God. This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. We'll return to our teaching here in just a moment, but I wanted to make sure to introduce you to our current featured resource this month. One of our goals is to equip everyone who listens to Summit Life to become a disciple making disciple and developing healthy spiritual disciplines is an important part of that. One of the spiritual activities we find to be most beneficial and transforming is memorizing scripture. So each year we create a pack of 52 memory verse cards to help you do just that. Committing scripture to memory gives you a great opportunity to share God's truth at any time with other believers. And it also encourages us to all live in obedience, fight temptation, renew our minds and conform more to the person of Christ. Having scripture at the tip of our tongue is one of the most empowering things we can do. So why not commit to it this year? Reserve your set by supporting Summit Life today.

Give us a call at 866-335-5220 or go online to Now let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor JD. They give you the second element of Jonah's disease. Jonah's ignorant. Jonah's ignorant of the grace that God has extended toward him. You see that in verse two, Jonah says, I knew, I knew that you were a God who was compassionate. And Jonah's resentful of that. Now, if Jonah's going to bring up the compassion of God, he should probably not be resentful of it. He should probably be grateful because what character in this story has received more compassion than anybody else?

This is not a trick question. The book is named for him. Jonah, Jonah has been the greatest recipient of the grace of God. But Jonah is resentful because Jonah has, watch this, already ceased to think of himself as a sinner. He's already started to think that his sin is not that bad. That's why he rationalizes in verse two. This is exactly what I knew was going to happen.

This is why I went to Tarshish. It didn't seem that bad to him anymore. That's why he's rationalizing it to God. If you see yourself as a basically worthy person, if you see and you believe that God owes you good things, then generosity doesn't come naturally. You become resentful when God seems to bless people in ways they don't deserve, especially when he's given to them the things that you think that you deserve. Generosity does not come naturally to you. Why would generosity come naturally? When you feel like God's telling you to give away some of your money, you may never say this out loud, but here's what you think.

You're like, why would I do that? This is my money. I earned this money. I worked hard for it. I saved. I'm not giving it to somebody else.

This is mine. You see, those things show that you are unbelievably out of touch with the grace of God. When you see yourself as a recipient of great grace, then God's compassion, listen, becomes his most precious attribute to you. And when God's compassion becomes his most precious attribute to you, then you become compassionate by nature to others. You ever heard that thing that they say where when two people are really in love and they're married to each other, after a while they start to look like each other?

You ever heard that? I'm sure that's not scientifically possible, but I think there's something probably in that because I think what happens is facial expressions, mannerisms, and so they begin to look like each other because they so admire one another that they start to imitate each other. You see, whenever somebody is unbelievably beautiful to you, then you try to emulate that. That's why you dress like people that you love how they dress, or that's why you mimic, or you imitate, or you take on the mannerisms of certain people, because there's something about that person that seems beautiful to you. When God's compassion is so beautiful to you because you've been such a recipient of it, you just become by nature a mimicker.

Is that a word? An imitator of it, and you become compassionate to others. And here's what I would tell you. If you are not naturally compassionate, if you are not naturally generous, if you are not the kind of person who pours yourself out, it's probably because, like Jonah, the beauty of the compassion of God has never really come alive in your heart.

So let me just ask you that question. Which of those two would be truer of you? Which of those two would be truer of you? When you see God bless somebody that you see as unworthy, and you see them get a blessing that you wish that you had, or you think that you deserve, how do you react? Are you like, God, why them? Why is that person getting that blessing? I'm more worthy of it than they are.

Why is that girl getting married? You might never verbalize that, but that's what you think. It just shows that you think you deserve good things. You're totally out of touch with God's grace.

How about this one? How generous are you with your money? If you're not really generous with your money, generous with your money is probably because you don't think that Jesus really had to give up that much to save you. You'll never admit that. You'll stand in here with the rest of us and say, I'll never know how much it costs to see my sin upon that cross. But you don't mean that. If you are the kind of person who just gives a tithe of your money and be like, okay, God, I paid it off.

Now I'm going to go off and do my own thing. How could you possibly have understood the grace of God towards you? Did Jesus tithe his blood for you?

Is that what he did? He give you 10% and say, deal with that? No, he gave all of it. My wife and I, from the time we have been married, not one time, never, have we ever been content with 10% ever.

Why? Because Jesus didn't tithe his blood for us. My wife and I are grateful for the blessings that God has given us. He has blessed us. We bless each other with some of the money God's given us.

We bless our children. But at the end of the day, there's something in our heart that says, you know what? We are saved because Jesus poured himself out for us.

So if I understand it, then naturally I should want to pour out my life, not just 10% of it, but all of it, as much as I can spare of it for others. When you're generous, it's because you understand the beauty of God's grace. If you're not forgiving with your spouse or those around you, then you probably don't understand grace. Now shared with you often about my own marriage, I had a problem with forgiving my wife in our first years of marriage.

I mean, the way I say it is my wife and I have been married for eight wonderful years and three other ones for a total of 11, right? Because those first three years is we held each other with such hostility because there was no forgiveness. And it's because I had really no awareness or I didn't live in the awareness of how much God had forgiven me of. I had a problem with forgiving her because I didn't see myself in the company of the guilty. But when I started to see myself as a sinner, first against God, secondly against my wife, I became much more forgiving. I was not a perfect person who needed no grace. I was an extremely undeserving person that God had given grace to. And so now as a recipient of great grace, extending a little grace to my wife didn't seem like that big of a deal. The phrase that I've used, and I tell you this all the time, first sinner, second sinned against. First sinner means before I'm somebody that has been sinned against, I'm a sinner who has received grace. And because I have first received grace, giving grace should not be that big of a deal. You see, my unforgiveness problems in my marriage were gospel problems. And because I did not understand the grace of God, I did not extend the grace to other people.

Those people who are recipients of great grace become dispensers of great grace. Honestly, Jonah probably saw his sin and Nineveh's sin in two different categories. I mean, he was like, oh, the Ninevites, they're adulterers, they're cruel, they're mean, they kill people, they're idolaters, they take people's skins off and like staple them to the wall.

I've never done that. That's what Jonah's saying. I'm not a bad sinner like them. Let me ask you this, what had Jonah done? What had Jonah done?

Jonah had looked into the face of God and said no. You know what the original sin was, the sin that caused everything else on earth, the sin that led to all the destruction? You know what sin damned the human race to hell? Saying no to God. I mean, the tree of the God knowledge of good and evil that Adam and Eve disobeyed God and partook of, it's not like that act in and of itself was that inherently evil. They didn't have to stomp on puppies to get to the tree.

It wasn't inherently bad. It's just that they looked at God and said no. You look at people and you're like, well, I'm not that bad of a sinner. I mean, I've never been a prostitute, never done drugs, I've never killed anybody.

I don't live like the people on Jersey Shore. I'm just not that bad of a person. Yeah, but you said no to God and in some ways your sin was worse because a lot of these people on Jersey Shore, they did it because they're ignorant of what God wants. You knew, you knew and you said no. Jonah's sin and your sin was blasphemy of the highest order. It's like I've told you, you're never farther from God than when you're close to him and you say no. Each of you in this room have looked at God at some point in your life, you said no God, I am not doing that and that is blasphemy of the highest order. Jonah doesn't understand that. You and I don't understand that which is why we don't understand how much grace God has given us.

Write this down. A spirit of unforgiveness and a lack of generosity is the indication you are out of touch with the grace of God in your own life. At this point you should be writing that down or looking at me with an extremely pained look on your face.

You should not be smiling at me right now. A spirit of unforgiveness and a lack of generosity is the indication that you are out of touch with the grace of God in your own life. So that's Jonah's disease, idolatry and ignorance. By the way, and all of this after, after he is consented to do God's will.

Right? I mean by Jonah 4, Jonah's no longer directly defying of God, is he? He's doing exactly what God wants. He's not even doing part of what God wants.

He's doing all of what God wants. That is the picture of most religious people. Religious people are like well I don't want to go to hell and I don't want to be in the belly of a whale so I'll do what God wants. But that doesn't mean that you've come to delight in God or become forgiving like God. Delight in God, being forgiving like God, loving like God, those things cannot be produced by the fear of the belly of the whale or the fear of hell.

Delighting in God, becoming loving like God, those things can only happen in you by a deep and profound experience of grace. So that's why the messianic reading, that's why the messianic reading of Jonah is so important. Because in the messianic reading you begin to see that Jesus is the one who suffered all the consequences for your disobedience.

And when you begin to see that, that should produce love and generosity in your heart. That's again what I'm calling the difference in Christianity 1.0 and 2.0. 1.0 is where you're like hey I don't want to fight against God, that's stupid, it is stupid, and I'm going to do what God wants.

2.0 is when you begin to love and delight in God. God is not just after obedience, church. Listen, he's after a whole new kind of obedience, the obedience that grows from the passions of the heart. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. God wants the kind of obedience that aligns your desires with his will.

I'm sure we'd all love to follow Jesus like this. You're listening to Pastor J.D. Greer on Summit Life. Just in case you've missed any part of this series called Cast Away, you can find the whole series free of charge at While you're there, you can also browse Pastor J.D. 's extensive blog to find answers to many of your most pressing questions on all kinds of subjects. All these resources are free because of the generosity of listeners like you who donate to support this ministry.

We are so grateful for your partnership. This month, we'd like to send you a set of 52 scripture memory cards as a thank you when you support the ministry of Summit Life. The cards are made small, similar in size to playing cards for quick reference and easy handling. You can put them on the fridge or even stick them in your wallet.

Pin them to a bulletin board or mirror for extra encouragement. Scripture cards remind us of God's steadfastness and his unchanging promises now and in the days to come. The Lord calls us to take a step of faith and then another and another. The only way to walk in step with him is to know him more and more each day. Going over the ones that you've learned and adding to the number weekly or monthly will ensure that God's word is being stored both in your mind and your heart. Believe me, having scripture on the tip of your tongue is one of the most empowering moments you can experience as a believer.

The very power of God available to us. We're so grateful for you and your partnership as we begin a new year of ministry together. Ask for the scripture memory cards when you become a gospel partner or when you give a single gift of $35 or more. Call 866-335-5220 or you can give online at I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to join us again Wednesday as Pastor JD concludes this teaching on true heartfelt obedience. Don't miss Wednesday on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-09 10:10:31 / 2024-01-09 10:21:40 / 11

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