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Shortcut to Disaster

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
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September 24, 2021 9:00 am

Shortcut to Disaster

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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September 24, 2021 9:00 am

When you hear the word, “sin,” impatience probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But Pastor J.D. explains that a lack of patience is at the root of a lot of sins.

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Matt Slick
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J.D. Greear
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John MacArthur
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Alistair Begg

Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer talks about temptation. The kingdoms of the world are exactly what Jesus had come for. Satan is offering him a chance to have it through a shortcut, to avoid the pain of the cross and the plan of God, to walk on a path parallel to the plan of God, but not in the plan of God. This is the temptation to compromise. Welcome to Friday here on Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author and theologian J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Let me ask you a question. When you hear the word sin, what do you picture? For some of us, it's something along the lines of a wild party or an adulterous affair. It's watching the wrong movie or saying one of the forbidden words when we stub our toe in the dark. I think it's safe to say that impatience probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But today, Pastor J.D. explains that a lack of patience is at the root of a lot of sins. Do you struggle with impatience?

Many of us do. So let's get to the bottom of this insidious quality and learn how to combat it. Our message today is titled Shortcut to Disaster, and it's part of a series called The Whole Story. So let's dive on in with Pastor J.D. Matthew four, Matthew four, we pick up on the event in the life of Jesus that happens directly after his baptism.

And that event is the temptation of Jesus. And while what we are going to learn today from this passage is going to apply to everybody, I do agree with Andy Stanley, who says that the lessons from this passage are especially pertinent to a certain kind of person, namely those who are uber driven. I'm talking about the 13 year old who, when you ask her what she wants to do with her life, she pulls out a flow chart and she talks for the next 15 minutes. You've known somebody like that?

I have. The man who always finds himself looking back at the end of every day to evaluate what he accomplished that day and how much he accomplished. And if he accomplished enough, he is addicted to progress, or it's the woman who gave up on corporate America to be a mom, but now tries to dump corporate America into her kids. These kinds of people are usually addicted to efficiency. Everything's got to run on schedule because they got their day organized to take advantage of all the opportunities for progress.

And I don't want you messing that up. You know some of these people, don't you? They're the kind of people who schedule their downtime, and they get stressed out when things don't go according to plan on their downtime because they're not going to be able to accomplish all the things on their downtime they had planned on accomplishing. These people are usually supreme multitaskers. Since I began the sermon, you have already sent four emails and paid three bills because you're like, you know, I do want to hear the sermon, but the introduction is usually fluffy.

And so I just felt like I can get some other stuff done and I'll check back in when you get to the word, brother. Here's what I know about these people. A lot of times these kinds of people don't really care that much about money.

It's sort of a misunderstanding people have about them. What they love is creating and conquering. What's the next benchmark I can achieve? What's the next company I can turn around?

What's the next level that I can get to? They feel driven, almost called, almost called to get to the top. If that's you, there are two things that I want you to know right off the bat. First, God created you that way. I would say it's part of the image of God in you because in many ways God himself was like that. But one day God was like, you know what?

I'm tired of nothing. I'm going to create everything. And he did. And when danger threatened it, he could not rest until he had turned it around. But second thing I want you to know, the second thing I want you to know is being that way comes with some unique challenges. And Jesus, who I believe in many ways was that way himself, shows us in this passage how to address those particular challenges and how to overcome them. I'm going to walk you through this passage and then I'm going to show you the three specific temptations that Satan threw at Jesus and why they're especially pertinent to certain ones of us in here. I will tell you on a personal level, this is one of the most illuminating and helpful passages of scripture because if you did not pick up on it, I am definitely included in that group that I described above. Chapter 4, verse 1. Then Jesus, then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

And after fasting 40 days and 40 nights, he was hungry. The word then. If you underline stuff in your Bible, I would underline that because it is probably the key to understanding the whole thing. Because it's not just meaning that this happened next, like then this happened. It's showing you that what happens in chapter 4 is directly connected to what happens in chapter 3 and that what happens in chapter 4 flows out of what happens in chapter 3. And what was that that just happened? Well, Jesus had just been baptized and at the end of his baptism, chapter 3, verse 17, the voice of God from heaven had declared, this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Now, talk about a spiritual high.

God himself from heaven in front of everybody says, you're my boy and I am proud of you and I love you and I'm really pleased with you. That's a spiritual high if there ever was one. Then the devil. Because see, this is how Satan works. Spiritual highs are followed by spiritual lows. You hear a voice from heaven that is almost always followed by a voice from hell. New levels bring new devils. Think of the baptism as a place of celebration and friendship and joy.

There is water there, a river, lush vegetation. It's followed by a time of isolation and a dry, cracked and parched desert. The area that Jesus is wandering in is called Jeshimon, which literally meant in Hebrew, the devastation. This would be a horrible place to spend 40 days, six weeks alone without food with the devil and not even some JV demon either like El Diablo himself. Whenever God does something great in your life, listen to this, you can count on it.

Satan will be right behind him to pull up the seeds that God has planted. Some of you are going through that right now. Some of you were about to go through it and I want you to recognize it for what it is so that you don't panic when it happens.

Then be like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, what went wrong? God, you seem so close. Your voice was so clear. Was it all an illusion?

No, no. It's that times of revelation are always followed by times of testing. The voice from heaven is followed by then the devil. The fact that you go through a time of temptation and struggle doesn't mean you're a bad Christian.

Does it mean that what you experienced at the baptism wasn't real after all? Jesus was tempted severely right after this spiritual high and so will you be. When God starts to do something in your life, you can count on it, then the devil. So if I were you, I would take out a pen. If you haven't done it already and I would star that word, circle it.

If you don't have a pen and a tube of lipstick, you can smear it, prick your finger, dab it in blood. Whatever it takes, you need to understand that these kind of spiritual highs are immediately followed up with times of spiritual drought and attack and him coming after you with everything that's in him. Second, notice the reality of Satan. Many people in our culture think it is naive or unsophisticated to believe in Satan. They're like, seriously, man, with the horns and the pitchfork and the red spandex, you really believe in that guy? No, not the horns and the red spandex, but a supernatural being that works in the world for evil and destruction.

I mean, think about it. If we believe there's a God, the idea that there is a supernatural being that also works for evil, that's not that much of a stretch. Jesus certainly did not think it was naive to believe in a devil.

Neither did Peter or Paul or John. Satan is mentioned, in fact, 250 times in the New Testament, which works out to almost once per chapter. I would say that it's actually naive not to believe in Satan. If you think that all that was behind the Holocaust was simply Hitler or all that was behind slavery was just economics and racism, I think you're naive.

If you think that the primary factor in your problem with pornography is that you just got some issues with self-control, I think you're naive. If you think all the distractions at work in your family that make it hard for you guys to keep God at the center and for you to stay involved in a local church, that all results from a demanding schedule and a very fast-moving culture, I think you're naive. If you think all that's at work in the discord in your small group or the trouble in your marriage is simply conflict between difficult personalities, I think you're naive. If you think the bitterness creeping up in your soul just comes from the frustration of being misunderstood, I would say you're naive. Because there is an enemy, Jesus said, whose sole goal is to kill, to steal and to destroy, that he literally prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Paul said, you don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. And if you don't know who you're fighting against, you're not really going to know how to fight.

Satan doesn't care if you believe in him or not. You're most vulnerable to an enemy when you won't even acknowledge the existence of that enemy. And Jesus understood it, which affected how he approached the situation.

Watch what the enemy does first. Verse 3, the tempter came and said to him, if you are the son of God now, what had just happened at the baptism? Do you remember how the baptism ended?

Chapter 3, verse 17, this is my beloved son in whom I'm well pleased. And now Satan's like, if that's true, write this down. Satan puts question marks in your life where God has put periods. Satan's goal, his go-to tactic is to break the hold of the word of God over you.

You can see that from the very beginning, right? The very first situation in the garden of Eden, how does Satan open up the situation? Did God really say that? Are you sure God has your best interest at heart?

I think God might be holding out on you. Jesus told a story about a farmer who went out to scatter some seed, the seed representing the word of God. And he said that some of the seed falls on soil and before it can take root, this bird comes along.

The bird represents Satan and picks up the seed and gets rid of it before it can actually take root in your heart. And what he is saying is that Satan is as much in the distractions that he gives you to the word of God as he is in making you doubt it. You see, he can sometimes not make you doubt it, he just makes you forget about it.

What that means is that it's not always the big difficult question. Sometimes it's just like to get you to think about something else. His whole goal is just to keep you separated from the word of God. And he'll do that in whatever way possible.

Doubt, distraction or ignorance, it doesn't matter to him. Verse three, if you're the son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. Now, at last we get to the specific temptations.

Here we go, number one. But he answered, it is written, man should not live by bread alone by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Temptation number one is to prioritize the gifts of God over God himself. To prioritize the gifts of God over God himself, there was nothing wrong with bread. God created bread, bread's a good thing. But it was simply not God's will for Jesus at this time. Because God had led Jesus, the Spirit had led Jesus into the wilderness to fast. I cannot tell you how significant it is that the first temptation of Satan is not to do something blatantly immoral. It is simply to get Jesus to go after something good that is not in God's plan yet. Satan's not out there in the words of Tim Keller, tempting Jesus with booze or breast, he's choosing bread.

Satan's primary strategy is to take a good thing, a good thing like bread or a job or marriage or companionship or children or respect, and to make it so important that it drives all your decisions because you think I've got to have this more than anything. So you think, well, I can't be single. I can't be happy being single. And God is just not working fast enough, so I'm going to have to take matters into my own hands. We just got to have more money.

I mean, our family cannot really be happy with this level of income. I got to get ahead. And God, you're moving too slowly. I got to have the approval of my friends. I've got to be the best.

I've got to be recognized. And that desire, almost always a good desire, it begins to dominate your emotions and it begins to control your behavior. What is Jesus's response after 40 days of no bread? He quotes a verse from the book of Deuteronomy. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by the word of God. In other words, there's something more important to me than even bread. And that is fellowship with God. Physical bread is good, but my soul finds its completeness in God. There's something more sustaining to me than even physical food. And that is God's declaration over me that I am his beloved son. Yes, I love bread. And at some point I will go back to bread. But right now in this time, if I have to choose between bread and God, then I'll take God because God's word is more sustaining to my soul, even than physical bread. Temptation number one is to prioritize the gifts of God, a good thing over God himself, to turn a good thing into an ultimate thing, to do a God thing and to replace God with it.

You ought to be really personal. I've told you before that I know Satan wants me to be driven. He wants me to be driven by being a good preacher or successful pastor. Nothing wrong with me wanting to be good at what I do, but I know that that means that sometimes he's the first one, when I come down off the stage, to tell me how good of a sermon that I just preached. Now, if you give me encouragement afterwards, I'm not going to call you Satan. So I understand that there's nothing wrong with encouragement.

We ought to give it to him back and forth to each other. But, but see, he wants me to base my happiness and my identity on how successful I am as a pastor. He wants you to base your identity on how good of a mother you are or how other people look at you or how good you are at your job. And it's a trap because he knows that the next time I preach, if I don't do as well, or just not enough people tell me how good it was, then I will feel unsettled and unhappy, which will make me vulnerable to all the other temptations. See, if you live by success, that means you'll also die by success because success cannot sustain you. Success is not bread for the everlasting soul. But if you live by fellowship with the father, that means when you're in a wilderness or when you're in a time of plenty, your joy will not change because you have a source of joy and life that is never ending and is so much better than physical bread.

So the first temptation is to replace the giver with a gift. Verse five, we heard the second one. Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple. Verse six, and said to him, if you're the son of God, there it is again, there's the doubt, throw yourself down as it's written. He will command his angels concerning you. That's a verse from the Psalms.

Oh, and there's one more. And on their hands, they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against the stone. That's a verse from another Psalm. Satan quoting scripture. Listen, y'all, he knows his verses and he knows exactly how to use them. So could I just stop here and say this before I get to the second temptation? Just because you find a verse for something doesn't mean you're using the Bible right.

People have given me over years, the most jacked up interpretations of scripture you could ever imagine. Well, you know, the Bible says that God wants me to be happy somewhere. And this marriage is not making me happy. So clearly it's God's will for me to leave this marriage and go after somebody else.

And don't argue with me about it because I got a piece about it. Oh, sorry. You know, I just quit my job and liquidated my retirement and put it all into this magic bean business because Philippians 4 13 says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Who strengthens me. Poor Philippians 4 13. I mean, if that verse could come alive when he gets to heaven, it's going to just like be kicking rear ends and taking that verse has been more abused. You see two wrestlers about to wrestle each other. Both of them have Philippians 4 13 tattooed to their back. I'm like, now this is interesting. The power of Jesus versus the power of Jesus.

How's that going to go down? That's not what that verse means is that you can make all your foul shots or you're going to score a touchdown every time. One of the reasons we encourage you to be in small groups here is that you're much less likely to interpret scripture wrongly when you read it in community. When other people can say, I'm pretty not sure that's not what that verse means. The last thing that you want is to end up being Satan to somebody else because you read the Bible in a lazy way, right? So you got to know what it means and not just that you can quote verse seven. Jesus said to him, I'll see your two scriptures and I'll raise you one, but I'll interpret it correctly. You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.

All right, what's going on here? I think the key word here is the word test. Satan is tempting Jesus to test God for God to prove that God will take care of him.

The logic goes like this. You know, Jesus, if you really are the son of God, if that's true, then then if you did this over here, then he would take care of you. So why don't you do this over here to see if he takes care of you? Because if he does, then you'll actually know that you're his beloved son. And what does Jesus respond with? Why would I need God to prove what he has already declared? Temptation number two is to interpret God through your circumstances rather than his word.

It is so easy y'all to succumb to this one. When life goes good, we think, oh, we must have the pleasure of God. But when life goes bad, we think, well, God must be angry at me if he exists at all. And so you find yourself looking at heaven saying, God, you said you love me. And this, or we start saying, God, what have I done wrong?

God, why are you punishing me? Sometimes I'm not even sure you exist as if you're paying him back for your disbelief. Y'all look at Jesus. He's the beloved son. He is completely pleasing to God. He is completely in step with the spirit. He is exactly where he is supposed to be, yet he is not shielded from pain.

He is in a desert. Jesus said that for those who follow him, the cross would be the center of their lives. And the cross does not mean you wear a little gold ornament around your neck, or you have it tattooed to your ankle. What the cross means is it means misunderstanding.

It means betrayal by your friends. It means suffering, often unjust suffering and sacrifice. Jesus said the servant's not better than the master. And if the master, if I went through the cross, then you can expect to also. When Jesus said, follow me, he wasn't beckoning us, beckoning us to a barefoot walk through a meadow filled with snuggles and rainbows.

He was calling us to pick up the cross where he had gone. When that happens, when that happens, and it surely will happen, when the spirit of God takes you into the desert of financial hardship, the desert of a betrayal by a friend, the desert of an uncooperative spouse, the desert of disrespect or of unappreciated children or of loneliness. What are you going to believe about God in that desert? Are you going to interpret God through your circumstances? Or are you going to see your circumstances through the promise of God's word? Because y'all listen, we got something even better than Jesus and all the Old Testament prophets had.

They had the promises of God's word and the prophets. We have the demonstration of God's love at the cross. John Owaton, the Puritan writer, used to say, the greatest insult you could ever give to God after the cross is to doubt his love for you.

What else would he have to do to show his steadfast love for you? And then you turn around and say, I need something else beyond that. It reminds me of a hymn we used to sing when I was a kid.

And I don't think we sing it anymore because it's got one of these goofy tunes to it. But I need no other argument. I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died and that he died for me. Enough for me that Jesus saves. That ends my fear and doubt. A sinful soul, I came to him.

He did not cast me out. I need no other argument. I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died and that he died for me.

Or there's one we sing now that's more current. When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see him there who made an end to all my sin. In other words, I am assured of the steadfast love of God, not only because he declared it, which should be enough, but also he demonstrated it through the cross so that I know that whatever valley I'm walking through, if he didn't leave me there when it was my sin that was crucifying the life out of him, he's not going to leave me now.

And if God raised Jesus from the dead, he is certainly working in my circumstance in front of me. Now let's look at the third temptation again. The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, all these will I give to you if you will fall down and worship me. And then Jesus said to him, be gone Satan, for it's written, you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve. Temptation number three is to pursue a good thing in the wrong way.

Let me tell you why this temptation was so powerful. The kingdoms of the world are exactly what Jesus had come for. They are what God had promised to Jesus.

And they are what Jesus believed that he was entitled to. Satan is offering him a chance to have it through a shortcut. To avoid the pain of the cross and the plan of God. To walk on a path parallel to the plan of God, but not in the plan of God. This is the temptation to compromise. You really, really, really want to get here.

And here is a good place. And you think it's what God wants, but God doesn't seem to be getting you here fast enough. And so you say, well, I think I got to get there my own way. I heard a comedian one time say, he said, you know, for years, when I was a kid, I prayed every night that God would give me a bicycle. And then I figured out that God and all of his infinite wisdom wasn't going to work that way.

And so I just stole the bike and asked for forgiveness. That's the temptation to compromise. The temptation to take a shortcut to things that you believe you're entitled to that are good things. It's the temptation, for example, to sacrifice your integrity or your family responsibilities or your family responsibilities so that you can get to that next level.

Your wife or your husband tells you you're working too much and your family's suffering and their kids need their dad or their mom. And you're like, yeah, I understand, but I really need us to get there. There's such a good place. And once we're there, there things will be so much easier. And it's not like when I get there, I'm going to be an atheist. I can readopt all my values and I can realign my life and I can get my priorities back in line.

And we'll be in such a much better financial position and life will be stable and I'll be able to give more money. So I'm going to have to shortcut right now my morality or my responsibilities to my family or my involvement in the local church just a little bit. But it's going to get me there faster.

And there is a good place. When you say that, you are in the grip of Satan himself. We face daily temptation to put all kinds of things ahead of God's plan for us. So we have to fill our minds up with biblical truth on a daily basis to help us choose wisely. A cautionary message from Pastor JD Greer on Summit Life. This year, we've emphasized Bible reading and Bible verse memorization in our resources.

And our new resource will actually help you tie all of that together. We're calling them the Books of the Bible Cards. This set of cards will help you as you read to make connections with the context of the original audience. You're welcome to request the cards when you donate today to support this ministry.

It's our way of saying thanks for your essential partnership. Call 866-335-5220 or you can give and request the cards online at By the way, if you haven't checked out Pastor JD's newest podcast, you'll want to do that today. It's called Ask Me Anything. And Pastor JD gives quick, honest answers to tricky questions from listeners like you. Listen at or through your favorite podcasting app. I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to join us next week when Pastor JD continues his warning to us about the danger of taking shortcuts. Enjoy your weekend and we'll see you right here Monday on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-18 03:21:32 / 2023-08-18 03:33:00 / 11

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