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Towers of Disappointment

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
August 11, 2021 9:00 am

Towers of Disappointment

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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August 11, 2021 9:00 am

What do you do when the thing you’ve been dreaming about doesn’t fulfill you like you thought it would? Pastor J.D. addresses that question as he continues our series called, The Whole Story.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Let us build a tower for ourselves, for the glory of our name. And it is from that attitude that all sinful corruptions are going to emanate. Sin's wickedness begins not with the immorality of the act, but with the heart of pride behind the act. Welcome to another day of teaching here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. And as always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. We're so glad you're back with us today. Tell me if this ever happens to you. You start something new, like a marriage or a new career, and there's a bit of a honeymoon phase when all of your dreams seem to be coming true and everything seems just right. But eventually that excitement wears off and you find that it's not as perfect as you initially thought. How are we supposed to handle those disappointments?

What do you do when the thing that you've been dreaming about doesn't fulfill you like you thought it would? Pastor J.D. addresses those questions today with a message called Towers of Disappointment. Grab your pen and Bible and open to Genesis chapter 11, and let's get started. Let me just start by asking you, how many of you speak another language besides English? Raise your hand. Okay.

With some proficiency. All right. How many of you speak two or more languages besides English with some level of proficiency? I know you feel proud. Go ahead. I'm giving you permission to brag. Three or more besides English.

Anybody put their hand up? When I got my PhD, I had to be reading proficient in four research languages, Greek, Hebrew, German, and Latin. Do not be too impressed by that, because if you put sentences in all four languages now in front of me, I could probably identify which language was which, but that is about the extent of what I remember. The only language that I really know besides English is Indonesian, and that has gotten pretty rusty over the years. I lived in Indonesia for two years. I think I've told you before that I had right next to zero language training before they dropped me off in a place where I was 100 miles from the nearest English speaker. When I landed there, I had two afternoons. I kid you not of language training. Those two afternoons meant that I could say, hi, my name is JD. Where's your bathroom?

My house is on fire. That was the extent of my knowledge of the language. The kids taught me the language, which was great because the kids were so patient, and they didn't make fun of me a lot, but it also meant that I made a lot of mistakes because the kids did not give me vocabulary quizzes. So it led to situations, for example, like I was in a restaurant, and I'd sneeze four times, and I was starting to make a mess, and so I needed a Kleenex. I didn't know the word for Kleenex in Indonesian.

That's a rather technical word if you ask me. So I did know the word for sneeze, and so I said to the waitress, who was probably 20, 25 feet away from me, excuse me, I need to sneeze. Barsin, except I said barsina, which means fornicate.

Fornicate. So it's not good in any culture to yell at a waitress that across the restaurant, but it is especially not good in a Muslim context when you are an American. All that kind of confusion, all that frustration, all that humor goes back to Genesis 11. According to the Bible, the multiplicity of languages was God's response to one of mankind's most spectacularly sinful displays.

It's an event that occurred really relatively early in recorded human history on the plains of Shinar, or modern-day Iraq. It was the building of the Tower of Babel. Now, on the surface, when you read Genesis 11, it doesn't look like they've done anything horrifically evil.

They just built a tower. What's wrong with that? But it's going to give you a glimpse into the root causes of sin, and it's going to show you what makes sin sinful. It's going to show you why sin has such power over you. You ever wonder that, by the way?

Why is it that sin seems to control you so much that even when you decide you don't want to do it anymore, it's like you can't stop doing it? This story will give you some of the answers to that question. I'm going to use my friend Matt Carter's title here and call this story Towers of Disappointment, because that's exactly what these towers are. They're towers of disappointment.

If you've ever felt like life was disappointing in any way, maybe it's your marriage that's been disappointing, or maybe it's your job, or this stage of life that you're in, retirement, you thought was going to look different. I think you'll find an explanation for why that is in this story. I hope you'll see that what God was doing here at the Tower of Babel, he continues to do today in your life, which is one of the reasons why Genesis 11 is in the Bible. Genesis 11 verse 1, let me walk you through it here.

Now the whole earth had one language at the time and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plane in the land of Shinar, again modern day Iraq, and they settled there. And they said to one another, come let us build ourselves, if you underline stuff in your Bible, this would be good to highlight, a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.

Now two comments I want to make here. First, the fact that they wanted to stay put in this one area and not go anywhere is itself an act of disobedience. God had commanded them three times in Genesis to be fruitful and multiply all over the earth for his glory. I read that and think, who would not want to obey that? Be fruitful and multiply sounds like have sex and travel.

It sounds like an awesome plan to me. Um, but here's a little throwaway lesson for you. God always pushes his people to look outward, to multiply towards sending and giving and generosity. Sinful man always looks inward toward gathering and building for his security and for his glory. That's kind of a throwaway lesson.

Here's the more important lesson. Second thing, all right, what is it specifically that they want? They want a city.

Think of a city as a home or a place to belong. They want a tower whose top reaches to the heavens. Think of that as significance. They want to do something that matters. They want some level of permanence in their lives, like they're doing something that is going to endure.

A great name. They want to be connected to greatness. These are the three desires that they have. Now, if you've read the book of Genesis up to this point, you know that ironically, God had given them all those things in the Garden of Eden.

A city. God was to be their home. It was in fellowship with him as where we got our sense of belonging.

A tower. We got our significance from doing his will. We were sons and daughters. We were servants and emissaries of the King of Kings.

A great name. The greatness we sought was supposed to come from being connected to God. But now mankind has rejected God, and so having rejected God, they feel this void, this vacuum where they're created for these things that they don't have them. The first emotion that man felt after having sinned, after the sensation, the thrilling sensation of tasting that forbidden fruit, the first sensation that they felt after that was a sense of shame over their nakedness. You know, the irony is they were naked before they sinned, but their nakedness didn't bother them.

Why not? Well, it's because they felt clothed in the love and the acceptance of God. But now having stripped themselves of that love and acceptance, their heart has this gigantic vacuum in it, and so they begin to reach out for other things to replace what God had once played in their heart. Sin is an attempt to find in something or someone else something that you should have found in God. That's what sin is. That's why it says that this tower reached up toward the heavens. They're trying to get back what they'd once had in God. They're going to call this tower Babel. Babel which means literally the gate of God. So there's your first point if you're writing things down. Number one, sin attempts to build towers to heaven.

Sin attempts, it begins as an attempt to build a tower to heaven. Their desires for belonging, for security, for greatness, those desires are not wrong. It's where they're choosing to look for them is where it's wrong. Now here we are several thousand years later.

People haven't changed that much. We still desire these same things, do we not? We want a city.

We want a place that we really feel safe. We want a group that we really feel like we belong to where we're cherished and loved and respected. Isn't that why family is so important to many of us? Or maybe it's why you want so badly to be accepted by the right group at your school. Maybe it's your peers in your career. You really want their respect. Maybe it's the academic community whose respect that you want because you want to belong. You want to be accepted.

You want a city. We want security. We want something that guarantees our safety. Isn't that why insurance is a trillion dollar industry in our country? Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with insurance. I have it, of course, but sometimes you get the idea that people are looking to insurance to remove any possible danger from their lives. I saw a while back that for $118 a year, $118 a year, you can get alien insurance. That's not a joke. You can look it up. Now, I mean, if you have alien insurance, I'm not trying to offend you more power to you, but you get the idea that we're trying to say through insurance, I can be totally secure.

Nothing bad can ever happen to me. We want security. We want our lives to matter. It's why some people stress out so much over their careers or the lack of progress in their career. We want to be connected to greatness. We want to be connected.

I don't care who you are. That's why you name drop whenever you've met somebody famous or you're in the same room with somebody famous. I'll give you one from my own life just to show you. Recently, a friend sent me this picture. You see this? That's Jeb Bush, former presidential candidate. That's me photo bombing Jeb Bush. See that right there?

A friend snaps that picture, sends it to me. How long do you think it took from the time that landed on my phone to the time I tweeted it out for the entire world to see? Seconds is how long it took because I want to be connected to greatness. I want to be important. Now, there's nothing wrong with the desires for security and for belonging and significance and greatness.

It's where we chose to look for them primarily that became wrong. Y'all listen, one of the greatest and most liberating discoveries of my life was realizing that all my life, all my life, I've been reaching out for and yearning for God even when I didn't know what I was looking for. There was this yearning I experienced when I was a kid. I did not know how to articulate it then, but I yearned for something that I tasted in the security of my parents' home and that I tasted in the affections of their love for me.

It was why I was terrified at the thought of them dying or the thought that somehow I'd be taken away from them. I felt this kind of yearning again in my desire to meet that special somebody who would just think the world of me and would make me the center of their world and I'd be the center of or that would make them the center of mine. I sometimes experience that yearning in the adventure of foreign travel. You guys know that foreign travel is never as good as the excitement and anticipation leading up to it. Sometimes I feel that yearning when I'm at a church service and then we'll just be in here and they'll just be the worship and I'll just feel this yearning for something like I'm not quite there yet, like I'm not home or when I see the sunset over the seemingly endless horizon of the beach. These experiences are all great. They're like my favorite things in life, but it's like they're calling out to me, reaching.

There's something beyond them that I'm just yearning for. As usual, C.S. Lewis says it much better than me and you can make an argument that 90% of my sermons are rephrasing of what C.S. Lewis has said somewhere, but here it is. Here's what he said. Look at this.

The books of the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them. It was never in them. It was never in them. It only came through them.

You understand? That's a huge distinction. The beauty that we yearn for was never in the romance. It was never in the art.

It was never in the sunset. It just came through it and what came through them was longing these things, the beauty, the memory of our own past, that cherished memory we have with our parents or one of our parents are good images of what we really desire, but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols. Idol means replacement for God. Dumb means it can't even speak, breaking the hearts of their worshipers, for they are not the thing itself. They're only the scent of a flower we've not found yet. They're the echo of a tune we've never heard.

They're news from a country we've never yet visited. Lewis said that when you experience the blessing of something like romance or he even said good food, he said it's like a ray of sunshine that's warming your face and you feel the warmth and you sense the light and you look back up along the ray to the sun from which it emanates. He said all these things that you love in life are messages to you of a God from whom they emanate.

They're like rays of the sun. He said marriage is the ray. God's love is the ray. God's love is the ocean. A good marriage, that is the stream. God's love is the fountain. A good marriage is a drop. God's love is the ocean.

A good marriage is the shadow. God's love is the substance. I'm telling you, it would absolutely revolutionize your life if you realize that every tower you've ever built in your life, whether your career or the romance, whether your self-image, was an attempt to regain something that God had designed to give you in himself. I recently read that even pornography is driven by this desire to take beauty into ourselves.

Yes, it's just lust, but it's more than that. I want to possess beauty. Sin attempts to build towers to heaven. That's number one.

Let's keep moving. Verse five. So the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men have built. By the way, that's a play on words in Hebrew, because came down, you know, they're trying to build the tower up.

Came down as a very condescending kind of like, it's very like a diminutive term. So it's like the Lord is saying, oh, they're trying to build a tower to heaven. Let's go down and see what the little gerbils are up to. So he came way down to see what the children of men have built. Verse six. And the Lord said, behold, they're one people and they all have one language. And this is only the beginning of what they will do.

And nothing that they propose to do now will be impossible for them. What he's saying is from this, from this heart that is expressed in the building of this tower is going to come every kind of corruption, every kind of wickedness, every kind of evil is going to grow out of this. So there's your second point there. Number two, sin's root. All sins, the root is by my will and my strength for my glory. Sin's root is by my will and my strength for my glory. And again, what they're looking for, security, significance and greatness is not wrong. It's just that they were supposed to get those things through depending on God. But now instead of depending on God for these things, they want to do it for themselves in their own way by their own strength.

And so they get the glory. Let us build a tower for ourselves for the glory of our name. And it is from that attitude that all sinful corruptions are going to emanate. Sin's wickedness begins not with the immorality of the act, but with the heart of pride behind the act. That's why God says this tower is going to become the source of immeasurable amounts of sin. In the book of Revelation at the end of the New Testament, Babylon and going into the battle of Armageddon is going to be the symbol of man's united front against God. And after the battle's over, the angel stands up and says, fallen, fallen is Babylon or Babel, same word, the great. She's become a dwelling place for demons. For all the nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality. Now in Genesis 11, there's nothing about demons or sexual immorality, but these are things, these are demon influenced things, violence, oppression, sexual immorality are all fruits of sin, but it's this heart of pride that is the root of sin. That goes back to Genesis 11.

You tracking with me here? Listen, I know Revelation can be a wickedly confusing book. And some of you've tried to read it before and you got lost in all the locusts and the bowls of blood. I'm a professional, which means I can take you in safely and out so that you don't get left behind. Okay.

That's what I do. But what you got to know is that there's two cities being built in the book of Revelation. One's the city of man, Babylon, by my will and my strength for my glory. And the other is the city that is being built by God.

Okay. So the heart behind all sin goes back to this posture of pride. By the way, Satan himself. How does Satan become Satan?

Here's how Satan became Satan. Isaiah tells you, good question. You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven.

Don't mind Satan. Above the stars of God, I'll set my throne on high. I'll sit on the Mount of the assembly in the far reaches of the North. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will make myself like the most high. Now what phrase you hear repeated over and over and over again throughout there?

I will. Satan didn't become Satan because he, you know, chopped up baby puppy angels and, you know, drink their blood. Satan became Satan because he said, I want to do it by my will in my strength for my glory. So let me just ask you for a minute. What's in the core of your heart? I'm not asking if you're religious. I'm not asking if you're moral.

That's what people always go to. And it's totally the wrong question because it is possible to be very religious and to be very moral and have a heart that is dominated by, by my will and my strength and for my glory. It is possible for you to get really good grades, but do it by your will and your strength and for your glory. And by the way, the straight A student who is very moral, who is doing it by his will in his strength and for his glory is closer to the heart of Satan than the guy that's knocking on the door of the prostitute. It is very possible for you to build a business, a good business, an equitable and fair business in your strength by your will for your glory. It's very possible to be religious in your strength by your will for your own glory. You want to know how you can know that you're dominated by that heart of I will and pride?

C.S. Lewis said that there is one telltale sign for how you can know that there is one litmus test that will every single time tell you that you walk in pride. You want to know what it is? Jealousy toward others because you're always comparing your tower to their tower. Pride is, Lewis says, in its very essence, competitive.

That's why, he said, proud people can never get along. You ever notice that people with other sins and vices like to hang around people who do the same sins? Drunks like to hang out together. Immoral people like to get together and swap stories.

Drug addicts like to hang out together. People who are proud, Lewis says, always hate each other because their pride is always in conflict with somebody else's pride. To pride, it does not matter that I'm smart, only that I'm smarter than you. It does not matter if I'm athletic or good looking. It only matters that I'm more athletic and better looking and richer than you are.

C.S. Lewis says, the quickest way to tell that you have pride is that somebody else's pride bothers you because pride is always in competition. That's why their pride takes you on. It irks you when that person, that other person gets the good grade or they get the new car or their kid goes to school on scholarship because, oh, now you know that they just think they're something and everybody else thinks they're something. And the fact that they think they're something means they're not thinking that you're something and you really want to be something. But the fact that they're something means you're less of something and they've taken their something that's away from you and that takes you off.

Right? You may not articulate it that way, but that's essentially what's going on in your heart is that I really want it to be by my will, in my strength, for my glory. To get at really what's going on in your heart, do not ask how moral you are or how religious you are.

That's completely the wrong question. Whose will are you living by? Yours or God's? Whose strength do you attempt to meet each day with? Do you attempt to meet each day with your strength or God's strength? Whose glory are you more concerned about? Is it your glory or God's?

When I was in Sunday school, I was taught it this way. In every heart, there's a throne and a cross. If you're on the throne, Jesus is going to have to be on the cross. But if Jesus is going to be on the throne, you're going to be on the cross. In your heart, there's only one person that's calling the shots. There's only one person whose strength is making it happen and only one person whose glory is being pursued.

And it's either yours or Jesus' which is it? Let's keep moving. Let's keep reading. Verse 7, come let us go down and confuse their language so they may not understand one another's speech. I mean, imagine when this happened. What chaos? What kind of chaos?

I mean, the words all change their meanings. So verse 8, the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Number three, sin leaves rotting towers of disappointment in your life. It's interesting to me that God does not tear down their tower. That's what I would have done. I'd have torn it down. But God leaves it there decaying, falling apart, rotting as a message. Now, let me ask you a question. This deal here where He scatters them and leaves their towers to decay, is that judgment or is that mercy?

Both. It's judgment, but it's a judgment with a ounce of judgment with a pound of mercy. Because what God is doing is trying to wake them up before they make decisions that they can never come back from and that'll return.

Back from and that are eternally too late. You understand that every judgment before the ultimate judgment is actually mercy. Because what God is trying to do is wake you up off of a path to get you to come back from it before you can't. That would change how you saw a lot of what happened in your life if you started to see that the towers of disappointment in your life were left there by God as monuments to tell you, don't go down that path. That's an important perspective shift. Learning to see towers of disappointment as monuments of warning. If you happen to join the program late today, you can hear the full Summit Life broadcast again online.

Just go to Well, we're just a little over a week into our new study here on the program called The Whole Story, and there's a lot more ahead. We're still in the book of Genesis, but over the next few months, we'll be going all the way to Revelation. Alongside the teaching this month, we'll also be talking with Pastor JD about the topic of prayer.

So let's start off very practically. JD, what has helped your prayer life the most? First, it's just having consistent times for prayer. You know, a lot of people get overwhelmed thinking about like, how am I going to, you know, Martin Luther prayed for four hours, how am I going to do it?

Just start with five minutes. I always pray out of the Bible. We always teach people to read the Bible with the HEAR method, which stands for highlight, examine, apply, respond. Highlight means take whatever you're reading in the Bible that is standing out to you that you feel like God might be speaking to you, and let that be the first thing you respond back to God with. The Bible is a book of promises, more than 3,000 promises.

Don't just read through the Bible, pray through the Bible. I wrote Just Ask to try to help you actualize those promises and turn that into a daily disciplined prayer time. You can check out that book, Just Ask at Yes, be sure to get in touch today so we can get you a copy of that book. It comes as our way of saying thanks when you donate to support this ministry. Summit life wouldn't be possible without the generosity of friends like you, and we're so grateful to call you our partners. Request Just Ask by J.D. Greer when you give a donation today of $25 or more. You can also request the book when you join our team of monthly gospel partners.

It's quick and easy to sign up. Just call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or you can give and request the book online at If you'd rather mail your donation, our address is J.D. Greer Ministries, P.O. Box 122-93, Durham, North Carolina, 277-09.

And make sure you include a note requesting the book. I'm Molly Vidovich inviting you to join us Thursday. Pastor J.D.

explains all the good things in our life that will never satisfy us the way that we think they will. Discover the only true source of security and significance as we continue our series called The Whole Story, Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-17 19:59:09 / 2023-08-17 20:10:15 / 11

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