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Being Strong in God

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
July 29, 2021 9:00 am

Being Strong in God

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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July 29, 2021 9:00 am

A firefighter would never run into a burning building without their gear. Being properly equipped is important! But often as Christians, we enter the spiritual battlefield without any protective gear.

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Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer teaches from Ephesians chapter 6. Paul says, Saturate yourself with this gospel that I'm teaching you because it will become the armor of God against Satan. It will protect you, your marriage, and your family. So Paul gives them two commands, which you ought to know and know well. Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might, the second command is put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. If you played professional football, you probably wouldn't go out on the field without your helmet and pads. Or if you're a firefighter, you wouldn't run into a burning building without both your firefighting tools as well as personal protective gear. But often as Christians, we enter the spiritual battlefield without any protection at all. And it's usually because we don't think it's that big of a deal.

Big mistake. So today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer teaches us how to armor up. It's that simple and it's part of our series called Mystery and Clarity. You can catch up on the previous messages at Now here's Pastor J.D. with a message titled, Being Strong in God. Last words, last words that are given to you if they come from somebody that knows what they're talking about are important. And you really ought to pay attention to them, which is why I think it's really important to notice what Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians with. He ends this letter by talking to them about spiritual warfare. And it's very important because he is going to conclude all that he's been talking about by going into this.

And because it's his last instructions, it's very important for us to pay attention to. Now for the Ephesians, this was already a very relevant issue to them as I've explained to you. Ephesus was a very spiritualistic city. There was lots of occult activity everywhere in Ephesus. Plus everybody in the church knew that story that I told you a few weeks ago from Acts 19 about the demon beating the pants off the sons of Sceva.

Nobody wanted that to happen to them and they wanted to know how to prevent that. So when Paul started talking about demons and spiritual warfare, they all would have sat up and started to pay attention. Because nobody wants to walk through town and have a demon take their clothes off. Now I know it's a little different for us and probably nobody in here has ever been beaten naked by a demon or knows someone that has been beaten naked by a demon. In fact, most of you in here would probably say you haven't had any direct encounter with a demon. And many people in our culture don't even believe in the concept of demons anymore. But I would say to you, as I said last week, that you most certainly have encountered demons. And probably a lot more frequently than you realize.

They just appear today a lot more subtly than they did back then. Because after all, what Satan is after, what Satan is after is not your recognition. What he's after is your destruction. He didn't care if you recognize whether or not it's him that's doing it.

He didn't care about that at all. What he wants to do is destroy you. And if he can destroy you, you knowing that it's him, that works for him.

You know, Tony Campallo says this, and I quote, He is the one who is appearing in our movies telling us that romantic love and sexual pleasure are the keys to fulfillment. He is the one behind an economic system that teaches us that money is the key to success and happiness. He is the one who sits in the psychologist chair offering ultimate hope in life apart from God.

He is the one who works in and through governments that coddle people into thinking that government help is the answer. He is the one teaching from our pulpits that life is about you. That God wants to make you rich. That hell is not for real.

And that the standards of the Bible are for a different time and different place. He is the one who whispers to you that it is a ridiculous idea to believe in him. He is not after your recognition. He is after your destruction. Now, I hear some of you say, well, wait a minute, JD, you know, you're kind of begging the question. I mean, how do you know that demons are actually real?

I explained to you last week for two major reasons. Number one, Jesus believed in him. His entire ministry was built on conflict with the demonic, and I feel like he would know, okay? Number two, the reason I told you I believed in him is because there's really no other plausible explanation for the intensity of some of the evil in the world.

So whether you believe in him or not, there is an enemy whose names, primary names are Satan, the deceiver, or Abaddon, the destroyer, whose sole goal is to convince us to join him in rebellion against God so we can accompany him to hell. So what Paul says to them about the spiritual armor is as relevant to us as it was to them. And I beg you to pay attention to what I'm about to teach you. Here's the big point that we learned from last week, and it's very important. In giving the spiritual armor at the end of Ephesians 6, Paul is not introducing some new theme to them that he hasn't covered yet in Ephesians. You know, some kind of P.S., like, oh, yeah, I almost forgot to cover this. So, you know, this is like, you know, I forgot to mention this, this is sort of an auxiliary strategy or some kind of special ops training for a certain, you know, type of Christian who are going to get into exorcism.

No, it's not new at all. Each piece of the spiritual armor that he's going to give you is simply a way of applying the gospel that he has taught you for the last six chapters to your life. That's what those pieces of armor are, simply taking the things that he's taught you in Ephesians 1 through 6 and say, now let's apply it to every different part of who you are. Because the gospel, listen, is the power of God in your life. The gospel is the power of God in your life.

Where do you get spiritual power? It is the gospel that is the power of God in your life. And it is the way that God reverses the corruption of sin, it is the way that God repels the power of Satan from you. The gospel is the antidote that keeps death from corroding your life. The gospel is the force field that keeps Satan from manipulating who you are and using it for your destruction. I use force field for you Trekkies, okay, just so you can have something to track with. So Paul is urging the Ephesians to take the things he's taught them about God and to cover every part of their lives with them.

If you write stuff down and you write quickly, you should jot this down because this is sort of the main point. The way we keep the corrupting influence of the enemy out of our lives is by establishing every part of our lives, our hopes, our dreams, our failures, our worries, our fears, our relationships, our pleasures, our disappointments, all of us on the gospel. The flip side of this is that whatever part of you is not established in the gospel, whether that's your marriage, your job, your dreams, whatever, whatever part is not saturated in the gospel is subject to manipulation of the enemy against you.

I don't care how long you've been a Christian, how much you come to church, how many verses you know, how good of a person you are. Whatever part of you has not been established on the gospel, whatever part of you you don't see through the lens of the gospel, whatever you don't have the power of the gospel saturating in your life, that part is subject to manipulation of the enemy against you. Remember last week we asked the question, can a Christian be demon-possessed? Can a Christian be demon-possessed?

And I told you that I'm not going to answer that question because it's a bad question. Because the word demon-possessed is not actually found in the Bible. It's a mistranslation of a Greek word when we translate it demon-possessed. Demon-possessed is not in the Bible, demonized is in the Bible. The answer to that, can a Christian be demonized, the answer is absolutely. Whatever part of you is not saturated in the gospel, fortified in the gospel can be demonized.

If you are a Christian, then no, you cannot have the core part of your life taken over by a demon because Jesus lives there. But whatever part of you, whatever part of your life is not saturated with the gospel, that Satan can manipulate and use against you. For example, in Ephesians 4-27, Paul told the Ephesian believers that unresolved anger and bitterness in their life could be used by Satan to destroy their relationships and them. We know that Satan used Peter's fear to move him to betray Jesus. We also know that Satan used King David's pride to trick him into counting the armies of Israel which God had forbidden. Now in none of those cases could that person say, well, the devil made me do it. Because the devil took what was already inside of them.

But what he did was take that thing that was inside of them and blow it up until it destroyed them and their lives. So Paul says, saturate yourself with this gospel that I'm teaching you because it will become the armor of God against Satan. It will protect you, your marriage, and your family. To be saturated with the gospel, the mind of Christ, is to be filled with the Spirit and thus resistant to the attacks of Satan. So Paul gives them two commands which you ought to know and know well. Verse 10 is the first one, be strong in the Lord. And in the strength of his might, the second command is in verse 11, put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. So let's look at both of those briefly and then I'm going to walk you through quickly the different pieces of the spiritual armor.

Here is the first command, verse 10, be strong in the Lord. You see, we all want to engage in the battles in life from a position of strength. It's not hard to see life in the metaphor of a battle.

I mean, whether you're spiritual or not, you're going to see life as a battle. And so when you approach life's battles, you want to think about them from a position of strength. For example, when you think about your future, we want to have a thick 401k and we want to have a good job so we are strong financially. So when we think about the uncertainty of the future, we feel better if we're in a position of strength.

When you think about your future, if you're a student, you would feel better if you were strong in talent or you had a strong GPA. If you're needing to make a decision right now, you want to be strong in your ability to figure out the right decision and make it. If you're trying to rear your children, raise your kids, you want to be strong in your abilities to guide and shape them.

Does that make sense? What the gospel teaches you is counterintuitive because it teaches you not to be strong in yourself but to be strong in the Lord. To let him be your strength and power and security in all those areas. The gospel is the opposite of being strong in yourself. A great example of this in the Bible that Paul uses often is Abraham.

It's like his go-to example. God told Abraham that he was going to make his descendants number in the millions. Well, the problem with that is that when God told him that, Abraham didn't have any kids and he was 90 and his wife was 75.

And even the miracles of modern medicine are not going to fix that problem. Because he was weak physically, he had to be strong in God. He's called the father of faith because that's what it means to have faith in God. To stand where you are weak covered in God's strength.

And you won't do that unless you are convinced of your own weakness. You see this starts at the beginning of the Christian life with our own sense of righteousness. What makes us acceptable to God?

Because we are sinners. You see the only way we could ever be good enough to stand before God is for God to give us his righteousness as a gift. Christians call that gift righteousness. It means that I don't stand before God because I've earned it.

I stand before God because God gave me his righteousness as a gift and credited it to my account. The good news is is that gift is offered freely to anyone who will receive it. The bad news is most people will never actually receive it because they don't really think they need it. They are strong in their own sense of their righteousness. When you really get down to it, they think they're good enough. I mean, I know they're not perfect, but you're like, you know, if God grades on a curve, which he's got to, I'm going to be in the upper, you know, I'm going to get at least a C plus.

Right? They're good enough to earn God's favor and that sense of strength, that sense of strength keeps them from receiving the gift that God offers. On the other hand, if you are weak in your righteousness, then you helplessly look to God and you become strong in his righteousness given to you as a gift. It's why we say that what keeps most people out of heaven and what sends most people to hell is not their sin. It's their goodness. What keeps most people out of heaven and into hell is not their sin.

It's their religion. Well, see, once you start the Christian life that way, you begin to apply that same mentality to every other dimension of your life. For example, if you're worried about your family, you're worried about your kids turning out right, you're worried about your marriage, do you feel weak in that? Congratulations. You are eligible then for God's strength. Maybe you got a huge decision in front of you and you're not sure what to do. In other words, you feel weak in your abilities to make the right decision, congratulations. You are eligible for the strength of God and you can trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding of your ability to make the decision. You can be strong not in your abilities but in your confidence in him. Are you worried financially about the future, about your ability to make it, about your job security?

Congratulations. That's a place where you have a chance to be strong in God. Here is the truth. You cannot be strong in yourself and strong in God simultaneously. It is only where you sense your weakness that you will be strong in God. Give you a very important and very simple truth about Jesus' life but it's quite profound. All of Jesus' miracles, all of them, no exceptions, all of them started with a problem. None of Jesus' miracles were him like levitating or turning Peter into a pink bunny or pulling something out of a hat, you know, catching bullets in his teeth, none of his miracles were like that. All of his miracles started with a problem.

You know what that means? It means you're here this morning and you've got problems, good news. You are eligible for a miracle, all right?

You guys that come in this morning without any problems, bad news, no miracle. No access to the power of God, okay? You can't access the power of God because you don't have any problems. So the question, where do you feel strong right now? That's where you are the weakest because that's where you're least likely to depend on God's power and you are no match for Satan.

On the flip side, where do you feel the weakest right now? Because that's an invitation and a place for you to trust God. Those who look to themselves for strength will quickly find it in short supply but those who are mighty in their confidence in God will find that his willingness to help and his power to do so are a deep, deep well that never runs dry. That's why the prophet Isaiah chapter 40 verse 28 said, even the young men, even the great athletes, even the strong ones will one day grow weary and stumble but those who wait upon the Lord, they will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and never become weary, they will walk and never faint. Trust in the Lord and be strong in him. Now look at the next command, verse 11, put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Again, watch this, if you miss this you'll misinterpret. Paul is not giving them a new command, he's simply restating the other command because to put on the armor of God is the way of becoming strong in the Lord and to put on the armor of God means that you are going to be weak in yourself and strong in him in these things he's about to list. So putting on the armor of God means you recognize your weakness in an area and you put on his strength.

You catch that? Okay, so let's walk through these different weapons of warfare, we'll go through them, we won't have time to exhaustively talk about any of them but let's go through them and I'm going to show you what I mean. The first one, verse 13, take up, he says, the belt of truth. The belt of truth. At the core of who you are, at the core of who you are, put on God's truth. You see, all of us have a way that we try to determine what is right or wrong. For many of us, it's popular opinion, right, whatever is kind of everyone else around us thinks that's what we end up thinking. You might be the kind of person that when you're the only person that believes a certain thing you start to feel weak and you start to feel weird and you find yourself slowly conforming to what everybody else thinks around you. Popular opinion. Others of you, because of a personality difference, you could give a rat's behind what everybody else thinks.

In fact, what everybody else thinks actually makes you think something different, right? Because what you are guided by is your own instinctive sense of right and wrong. Your instincts are what guides you. And what Paul tells you is both of those, both the opinion of the majority and both your own internal sense of what is right and wrong can be and will be manipulated by Satan.

That's why when some over-eager student tells me, I'm following my heart, I'm like, for God's sake, don't do that. Don't follow your heart because that is exactly where Satan can use and manipulate and destroy you. Paul is saying the only way to escape the deception of the enemy is to let the word of God interpret reality for you and for you to be strong in it. Satan will bombard you constantly with lies. From the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, Satan's strategy has been to make God's people doubt his word. So Satan's first question to Adam and Eve is, did God really say that?

And it's the same thing he does in every generation. He tries to get people to do one of two things, to either doubt God's word or to neglect God's word. And for most of you in here, I would say probably you're going to fit more in the latter category of neglect than you are in the category of doubt. Sure, some of you have trouble believing different things that God says, but I'd say for the majority of us in this room, it's that we neglect it. That's what I fear for so many of you at this church.

Not that you doubt the word of God, it's just you don't know it. You really don't, and I don't know any other nice way to say it. You don't know it really, and you're not teaching your kids to know it either. For most of us, a public school gets our kids eight hours a day.

Right? There's nothing wrong with that. I'm just telling you, giving you reality, school gets our kid eight hours a day, then they get to the time they watch TV, and you compare that to how much time we get fortifying their hearts and souls in the word of God. So you've got to know that truth deeply. I know most of you believe the Bible's important, I really do. I know it.

In fact, I could prove it to you by asking you a question. If I were to bring onto this stage Richard Dawkins, the world's most famous atheist, he's kind of angry about it too, right? And he were to stand up here, and he were to say, I will offer anyone in this church three million dollars, right now, in cash, for one condition. Is you can never hear, never read, never look at, never memorize or quote the word of God again, ever.

Not only that, you can't teach it to your kids. You can't ever put them in a place where they hear the word of God. Now you're sitting out there and you hear that, three million dollars, your whole life will be set financially. Is there anybody, any Christian in here who would say, yeah, that sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Three million dollars, never touch the word of God?

Absolutely. No, I'd say probably there's nobody in this room that's a Christian that would take me up on that offer, take him up on that offer. So does it make sense then, the lazy way that you study it, that you learn it, the lazy way that you teach it to your kids?

You see what I'm getting at? I'm not telling you to believe something new, I'm just telling you to think about what you already believe. The word of God is the only thing that keeps you from the deception of Satan, you know it's valuable, you wouldn't take any amount of money for it, why don't you devote yourself to it?

Why don't you as fervently desire the education of your kids and the Bible as you do the education that will take them into a good college? The most important dimension of this belt of truth is the truth about Jesus. Jesus himself said, I am the way, I am the truth.

In other words, it's not just I don't want to teach you some things about life, it's you've got to know me. Paul repeated that, he basically quoted Jesus in Ephesians 4 21, he said, the truth is in Jesus. You see, in Jesus you learn the truth about it yourself, that you were created for God.

And that's why you know that there's nothing in this world that ever satisfies you because you were created to know him and to love him. You learn the truth about who you are and what your purpose is and why life works the way it does. The truth is in Jesus. In the cross of Jesus, we see that we are sinners who separated ourselves from God. We see that we stand condemned. We see why the world is the way it is and why our hearts are so dysfunctional because we're separated from God. We see that we deserve God's wrath because it was given to Jesus on our behalf. In the cross, we see the truth about God. We see that God loved us so much that he took that punishment for us in our place because he would never give up and he wanted to reconcile us to himself. And I'm telling you, when you see those three truths—that you were created for God, that you stand condemned before God because of your sin, and you see that God loved you so passionately that he would never give up on you—when you see those three truths, it changes your life.

Being Strong in God. That's the title of our message today on Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. To listen again or to catch up on any of the previous messages in our study of Ephesians, visit us online at This is the final week to reserve your copy of our nine-part Bible study called Mystery and Clarity, the book of Ephesians. And JD, I know that you have a specific aim in mind. So what do you hope that listeners will take away from this Bible study?

My hope is that this study is going to take you deeper into something that you can never really even get anywhere close to the bottom of. I mean, Peter says that angels still long to look into the things of the gospel. They stare with wonder at it. How do you impress an angel?

I mean, think about all they've seen. But they still stare in wonder at the immensity of the gospel. That love is something Paul has just enraptured with in the book of Ephesians. And like I've said in other places, if there were ever a book of the Bible where you could benefit from some tools that would slow you down and take you a little deeper, it's the book of Ephesians. So every session of this nine-part study is going to slow you down and take you deeper and help you take these transforming truths and root them in your heart. Every session includes a new component for us, and that's scripture memory, along with commentary, study questions, personal application, and a prayer guide. That might be the most important part as you pray these things into reality in your life.

You could do this personally, just in your own personal time with God, or you could do it one-on-one with somebody you're discipling, or you could use it in a small group. We'd love for you to reserve your copy. You can access that today at Even though God loves to blow our minds, He also loves for us to see Him, to know Him, and to feel His presence daily in our lives. You can request your copy right now and start saturating yourself in the truth of God's love for you. We'll send you a copy when you donate to support this ministry at the suggested level of $25 or more. You can also help us continue reaching your fellow listeners by joining the team of gospel partners who make this ministry possible. As a token of our thanks for your regular monthly gift, we'll send you monthly resources, including the current resource, Mystery and Clarity. We'd love to have you join the team, really join the mission today.

Give today and be sure to ask for your copy, titled Mystery and Clarity, the book of Ephesians. Call 866-335-5220, that's 866-335-5220, or go online to If you'd rather mail your donation and request for the study, our address is J.D. Greer Ministries, P.O.

Box 122-93, Durham, North Carolina, 27709. I'm Molly Vidovich, and I am so glad to have you with us. Be sure to listen again Friday for the conclusion of our series called Mystery and Clarity 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 18:19:22 / 2023-08-17 18:30:37 / 11

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