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Anxiety-Free Living, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 11, 2022 4:00 am

Anxiety-Free Living, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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July 11, 2022 4:00 am

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Anxiety-free living is part of what the Lord offers. It's part of the gospel message. It is what we have who are in the Kingdom if we want to take it. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Maybe today you're struggling with sickness, job loss, or you're watching a loved one battle cancer. In circumstances like those, worry can move in. The danger is worry can quickly control you if left unchecked.

How do you keep that from happening? Get biblical strategies today as John begins a study that can help you experience anxiety-free living. That's the title of our series. And now, John, you're about to touch on a problem every one of us has faced at one time or another. To set the stage, talk for a moment about emotions. Emotions such as fear and anxiety and how objective truth factors into the equation. In truth, some fear and anxiety is justified. If you've done something wrong and you're afraid to be caught, that's sensible fear.

If you're a hypocrite and you're hiding some secret shame, that's a sensible anxiety. So fear and anxiety, God will activate if there's something wrong in your life, something that needs to be addressed, something that needs to be confessed. But if you're just looking at life in its normal course, there is no reason for fear and anxiety if you are a child of God. Because even the difficulties are working together for good to those that love him and are called according to his purpose. As a believer, you do not need to be a victim of circumstances.

Again, let me say this. It's legitimate to have fear and anxiety if there's sin and shame in your life. But in terms of looking at life and seeing all that could go wrong and all the troubles and struggles of life, there is no reason to be anxious about that. That's why the Bible says, be anxious for nothing.

Because God is in control of absolutely every detail. We're going to have four wonderful days of study in Luke 12, and we're going to be talking about anxiety free living. I want this series to show you God's love, show you his provision, show you his power and his purpose in such a way that you do not have to be anxious. You're going to be armed with encouraging truth that will still your own troubled soul, and you can share it with someone else as well. Stay with us. Right, friend. Whether you are struggling with financial pressure, health issues, or strained relationships, you can face all of life's circumstances free from fear and worry.

John's study on anxiety free living will show you how. So with today's lesson, here again is John MacArthur. We're going to look now at Luke chapter 12 verses 22 to 34, Luke 12, 22 to 34. This portion of Scripture contains some things that you're going to find familiar to you. And that's because much of what Jesus says here in Judea months before His death, He said also in Galilee long before this in what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, the passage in Luke 12, 22 to 34 is a direct parallel to Matthew 6 verses...well about verse 19 on down to the end of the chapter, verse 34. So you'll find a very, very close parallel to that text in Matthew chapter 6 which you can compare on your own.

We're not going to bounce back and forth. This then is sort of at the heart of Jesus' familiar teaching which He no doubt not only had recorded in two places in the Scripture, but no doubt preached on many occasions in many different places. The key to understanding the passage before us which you will find familiar to you, things like be not anxious for your life, consider the ravens, consider the lilies, seek the Kingdom and these things will be added to you, where your treasure is, your heart will be also, those are familiar things.

But as we pull the passage together, the thing that ties it all up is a statement that Jesus makes three times essentially. Verse 22, do not be anxious. And then verse 29, do not keep worrying. And then verse 32, do not be afraid. And so I've entitled this passage worry-free living, or anxiety-free living, or stress-free living. The Lord Jesus in Scripture at least twelve times is recorded to have said, don't worry, don't be anxious. And He explained why on the occasions in which He said that.

And a number of times He said, don't be afraid, and explained why. Anxiety-free living is part of what the Lord offers. It's part of the gospel message.

It is what we have who are in the Kingdom if we want to take it. I understand why the world is stressed out. I understand why people are anxious. I understand why they worry. I understand why they have panic attacks. It's frightening to be dangling in this inexplicable universe and feeling all alone and not being able to figure out why you're even here and where you're going.

I understand there's a certain cosmic fear. I understand why people take drugs and drink and go on eating binges and shopping binges and wild adventures and all kinds of things to fill their minds with other thoughts. We are living in an anxiety-ridden culture. And the amazing thing about it is, this is the most indulged, the most lavish society ever.

This is the most comfortable society ever. This is the society that has the most, but it seems to be the most angst-ridden, anxious, stressed out, panicked culture ever. The goal in the society we live in is managed anxiety, how to somehow get rid of the panic, the stress, the anxiousness that you feel because you are dangling in the midst of a cosmic universe that's inexplicable to you and there are inordinate and underlying subliminal fears and anxieties that rise to the surface very often.

And it gets to be pretty serious with many people. About twenty million in America, twenty million adults are annual subjects of the mental illness world, about 42 billion dollars a year in government costs. They come with anxiety disorders that are given names even though they are often engaged in what's called comorbidity which means they overlap and intermingle. It's not as if you just have sort of one area of anxiety.

There are several categories. There's what's called general AD which is general anxiety disorder and I suppose you could throw almost everything in there. And then there's obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorder which means you do really weird things like wash your hands a hundred times a day or pull your hair out or rub your nose away or some other inexplicable compulsive kind of behavior. And then there is panic disorder in which you go into a high level of panic, rapid heart, palpitation, extreme fear and there's no real circumstantial reason for it. There is post-traumatic stress AD which is some level of panic that you feel after something that you just went through. And then there is specific AD, specific phobias about...some people go into anxiety if they see a rat, or some with a snake, or some have anxiety over a storm.

Some people literally have a phobia with closets, agoraphobia, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, heights, etc., etc. This is huge. And, of course, the medical business is huge to deal with it, or to attempt to manage it. And the drug companies, of course, are the main player in how that is managed. According to Ohio State University, the goal of any treatment is to make anxiety a manageable part of daily existence. The best the world can offer you is to manage your anxiety. Jesus offers you to eliminate it.

Does that sound like a good deal? Get rid of it altogether? Stop it? In fact, you could basically translate verse 22, stop being anxious, verse 29, stop worrying, verse 32, stop being afraid. The world will offer you cognitive behavior therapy or a long list of drugs, but our compassionate God offers a far better solution and that's the elimination of your anxiety altogether. Stop being anxious, stop worrying, stop being afraid. Worry is a pretty deadly thing. Roche said, worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained. You may start with just a little worry and it can engulf your whole life. I read this some time ago.

I don't know why I read some of the things I read, just curious, I guess. But I was reading about the Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C. and they set all kinds of standards. And there was one little paragraph in there that said this, a dense fog covering seven city blocks...you with me?...a dense fog covering seven city blocks, a hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water, divided into 60 thousand million drops. Not much there, the paragraph said, but it cripples the whole community. Well that's what can happen in worry.

You can have something the size of one glass of water cripple a whole community. The word worry actually comes from an old German word, the English word worry, the old German word is wergen, it means to choke or strangle. It's talking about mental strangulation through fear and anxiety and stress and worry. Now there are only two realms in which you can worry. You can worry about the physical world or you can worry about the spiritual world. You can worry about what is immaterial or what is material.

You can worry about what is earthly or what is heavenly. And so that is precisely what Jesus says you don't need to worry about. In verse 22 He says, don't be anxious for your life. And by that He means what you eat and your body, what you wear.

Stop worrying about that, the basics of life. And then down in verse 32, don't be afraid on the spiritual level for your father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom. You're left with nothing to worry about, nothing to be anxious about, nothing to be stressed about, nothing to panic over. So we conclude that if you do worry as a Christian, worry is a sin. But it's a sin that rises from a failure to understand God, a failure to understand His sovereign love, a failure to understand His sovereign care, a failure to understand His sovereign resources. So that's what Jesus unfolds here. Jesus does offer anxiety-free living. When you come into His Kingdom, God takes care of you and your worries really are ended so that what defined your life, worrying about everything, is eliminated. Now you have to understand the promises of God and you have to understand the purposes of God to come to this worry-free, anxiety-free living.

So let me help you with that. In these verses, as they unfold down all the way to verse 34, there are several points that I want to unpack for you, six of them. And they show that worry rises from a failure to understand something about God.

First of all, let's look at the first one. Worry is a failure to understand divine priority. Worry is a failure to understand divine priority. Let's go back to verse 22. And He said to His disciples, for this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life as to what you shall eat, nor for your body as to what you shall put on, for life is more than food and the body than clothing.

It's not hard to understand and yet there's some things below the surface there that I think are going to open up a deeper understanding of this. First of all, He said to His disciples, remember now, He's talking to the disciples which would include the Apostles as we note in verse 41 when Peter says, Are you addressing this parable to us, or everyone else as well? I mean, the Apostles were learners, but not just the Apostles, there were others who had believed in Him and there were other learners, which is the word disciple, mathetes, who were still trying to decide. He's talking to those who have decided or are trying to decide and He's explaining to them what life in the Kingdom is.

The crowd is in the tens of thousands and mingled in that crowd are those who are still open to His teaching while the majority of the crowd are hostile toward Him. But to those who are still interested, He defines the Kingdom and He says to His disciples, picking up after the interruption, remember in verse 13, a man interrupted Him by telling Him He ought to say to his brother, Give me my share of the inheritance. And Jesus gave the wonderful parable of the rich man who built bigger barns to keep everything for himself and the Lord said tonight, Your life will be required of you. And then Jesus said, you know, you should lay up treasure in heaven, you should be rich toward God and not selfish. And that's how that story ended in verse 21.

After answering that young man's plea with that parable, he resumes his teaching but he connects the two together, as verse 22 says, For this reason I say to you...what reason? The reason that I've just stated, verse 21, you make a choice in life as to whether you lay up treasure for yourself or are rich toward God, which is just another way to say lay up treasure in heaven and that's how He said it in Matthew 6, 19 to 21. So you make a choice. Either you are selfish and materialistic and keep everything or you lay up treasure in heaven. That's the choice you have to make. In Matthew 6, 24, Jesus said, You can't serve two masters, you'll love one and hate the other.

You'll hold to one and despise the other. You can't serve God and money. And the picture of slavery made that pretty clear. Being a slave was not like being an employee. You didn't go to work at eight and finish at five. You can do that in our society.

Then you can go to work somewhere else at seven and finish at two in the morning. You can serve two masters in our culture, you can have two jobs. But you couldn't in a slave environment because you were owned by the master. And there was no way a slave could serve two masters. It's impossible. He would hate someone else giving him orders than the one that he belonged to. He would despise an effort on the part of someone who didn't own him and support him and feed him, commanding him to do things.

It was impossible. And so in the spiritual realm, you either serve God or money, you're either rich toward God, or you indulge yourself and that's the point he makes. Now he says, for this reason I have something to say to you.

That's the transition. Because here's what they would be thinking. The question would come to their minds, they're sitting there thinking, well Jesus is saying we ought to be rich toward God and not save money and build bigger barns and store up money and make ourselves wealthy and all of that and ignore the poor and ignore the needy and ignore the purposes of God. But if we give it all to God, what about us? What's going to happen to us? Who's going to take care of us?

I mean, we live in a dog-eat-dog world, right? Who's going to take care of us if we don't take care of ourselves? If I don't build bigger barns, if I don't take care of myself, if I don't stockpile, who is going to take care of me? I don't want to depend on somebody else.

I don't want to depend on somebody's perhaps transient compassion. Well the answer, of course, that the Lord gives here is this, that God's going to take care of you. God's going to take care of you. God is the one who feeds the birds. God is the one who arrays the grass in the field. God is the one who knows what you need. God is the one who will give you the Kingdom. You just came under the care of God. First Peter 5, 7, casting all your care on Him, He cares for you. So if He asks you to give up everything, like He did the rich young ruler, sell everything you have, give your money to the poor.

Not on your life, He said. He turned around and walked away for He was very rich and He wanted His money and He didn't want to give it away and depend on God. But on the other hand, Jesus said, if you want to come after Me, Luke 9 23, you have to deny yourself.

You have to lose your life. In other words, salvation is for people who are desperate enough to say, look, I don't care what it costs me, if you want everything I have, I'll give it. If you want nothing, that's fine too.

Whatever it is, I'll give it. And even if you don't ask, like Zacchaeus in chapter 19, the Lord gives the gospel to Zacchaeus and Zacchaeus says, I'm going to pay back everybody I ever extorted anything from in multiples. This came out of his heart. If you respond to the truth and you come into the Kingdom, then you become His to care for. And in the words of the Apostle Paul, he said this, chapter 4 of Philippians, verse 11, I learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means. I also know how to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I've learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, of having abundance and suffering.

What's a secret? Trusting God. Sometimes you have a lot, sometimes you have a little, but you always have enough.

Why? Verse 19, my God shall supply all your...what?...needs. Do you trust God at that point? You come into His Kingdom and you can trust Him to meet your needs. Now this is an issue of divine priority.

Let's go back to the text and I'll show you how this works. Do not be anxious for your life. Now what do you mean by life? Your physical life. He explains it, meaning what you eat.

Don't be anxious about your body, what you're going to wear. Now this deeply concerned people in Jesus' day. I mean, they basically lived to survive. There were no fast food places and no stores to go buy the endless elements of clothing that are available to us. If you wanted to eat, you had to grind it out yourself and cook it yourself and do all the preparation. And if you wanted clothing, you went somewhere and you bought thread and you made it on a loom and you made the fabric, or you bought the fabric and you made the garment. And if you were poor, you had a real struggle for your food and struggle for your clothing. I mean, 1 Timothy 6 says, with food and covering, be content. And that was what life was about.

It was about getting enough meals each day to survive and the clothes you needed to stay warm and to be protected from the blazing heat of the Middle Eastern sun. But he says, look, don't worry about your life. Don't worry about what you're going to eat to support your life.

Don't worry about your body, what you're going to put on. Verse 23, for life is more than food and the body than clothing. Here's another way to say that. You exist for a higher reason, okay? You exist for a higher reason. Life is more than food and you have a body for more reasons than just clothing. In other words, God didn't make you so that you could be like an animal. You're not just an eating machine. You're not just the ultimate end of the food chain. You're not the final product of evolution. And your body is not designed as something that's just supposed to be clothed for its environmental protection.

It's really not about that at all. You're not an eating machine in a mannequin. You know, it's hard to convince our culture of that.

Food and fashion...food and fashion, OD'd on restaurants and clothes. But without God, you are an eating machine and a mannequin. But God didn't give His people life for that reason. I'm not here just to exist. It's in God that I live and move and have my being. But God has a purpose for my life.

I'm under divine priority. The simple idea is this, folks, get it, for those who are in the Kingdom. If God gave you life, and He did, if He wants you to live and He does if you're alive, if He brought you into His Kingdom and He has, then He has a purpose for you to fulfill in His Kingdom to His glory and so He will sustain you to that fulfillment. Okay? I mean, it wouldn't make any sense for God to say, I will save you and I will give you eternal life, I'll give you spiritual life and I have a purpose for your life and a destiny and a plan and a purpose and I've gifted you and I've called you and I've laid out circumstances and man, if you can just keep yourself alive to fill this deal out, this will be really good.

No. In all honesty, the people who are not in God's family come and go and live and die with no contribution to the divine Kingdom. But those of us who are His are fulfilling divine purpose. And that's why you can say with the psalmist, the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not...what? He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.

He leads me through the valley of the shadow of death and out the other side. The earth is the Lord and all that is in it, the psalmist says. So if God gave you life and He did, if God redeemed you and He did, if God has a purpose for your life and He does, then He will provide what you need to survive. So be rich toward God and you will have the promise that as you're rich toward God, He'll be lavishly rich toward you. As long as He has that unfolding plan in your life, He will sustain it.

We have a life, we have a body for the purposes of God, to live to His glory, to fulfill His will, to fulfill His plan. And as long as that plan is operating, He will sustain us. You don't have to build bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger barns to take care of yourself, to protect yourself. Be wise, be faithful, don't be foolish, be a good steward, do some planning for the future. But you're not the one who has obligated Himself to your care.

God has. No need to hoard so that you can survive in the future. You will be sustained by the Creator until His purpose for your life ends.

He'll feed you till the very, very end. You could divest yourself of everything...everything you have. That wouldn't change God's commitment to sustain you until it's your time to enter into His heaven. So you have to understand the priority, right? And the priority is spiritual purpose. If you understand that, if you understand God's gifted you, He's called you, He's regenerated you, He's put you into His family, He's put you into a place of witness and ministry and service and all He wants you to do is live to His glory. And He will take care of your life. Your life is not about food.

Your life is not about clothing. It's not about making sure you can survive. That's God's commitment.

That's the priority. And friend, to help you really dig deep into biblical truths that will show you how to deal with worry, John's written a book called Anxious for Nothing. It shows you how to attack stress at its roots and how to fully trust our all-powerful, all-loving Creator. To pick up the book Anxious for Nothing, contact us today. You can call our toll-free number at 800-55-GRACE or go to our website, gty.org.

When tragedy hits, when you're tempted to worry about relationships, health, finances, or what the future holds, Anxious for Nothing can help you find profound strength. To order a copy for yourself or maybe for a friend who's struggling, call 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. And while you're online, download any of John's 3500 sermons, including every message from his current study called Anxiety Free Living. You can get the audio or transcripts of John's sermons, and all of it is free. Our website also has a blog where John and fellow Grace To You staff members cover issues that affect churches today, perhaps even your church. Or you can download the Grace To You app for access to all of John's sermons wherever you take your tablet or your phone.

All of those resources and many more are free and available right now at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for starting your week off with Grace To You and be back tomorrow when John continues to lay out a biblical blueprint for a life free from worry. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-26 05:06:40 / 2023-03-26 05:16:53 / 10

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