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Life is War

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
July 21, 2021 9:00 am

Life is War

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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July 21, 2021 9:00 am

Our culture tends to portray Christianity as bland and uninteresting. But Pastor J.D. reveals that the Christian life is far from boring. In fact, it’s an all-out war!

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. If you want to survive spiritually, you've got to drive the gospel down deep into your heart, so that every single part of you has been transformed by the gospel, so that your dating relationships, the way that you handle anger, the way that you dream, the way that you handle everything has been transformed by the gospel. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Bitovitch. Have you ever noticed that our culture tends to portray Christianity as bland and boring? Like, if you want an interesting life, the last place you're probably going to look is the church, with its stuffy liturgy, uncomfortable seats, and long-winded sermons, right? But today, Pastor J.D. reveals that the Christian life is far from boring. In fact, it's an all-out war with plenty of action to get involved in. We're studying through the book of Ephesians, and if you've missed any of the previous messages in this series, you can listen again by visiting us at

Now, here's Pastor J.D. with a message from Ephesians 5 that he called Life is War. Tuesday, June 6, 1944, 6 30 a.m., about five, a little over 5,000 ships carrying 175,000 allied troops approached the southern beaches in France for the largest invasion in modern history, what we now refer to as D-Day. Some of the men who survived the invasion said that they remember the steady stream of messages and exhortations being broadcast over the ship intercoms in those final few minutes as that fleet of 5,000 ships approached the French beaches. Fight to get your troops ashore. Fight to save your ships. And if you've got any strength left, fight to save yourselves. Another went, we shall die on the sands of France, but we will never turn back. Another one, this is it. Pick it up.

Put it on. You've got a one-way ticket, and this is the end of the line. The two messages that the survivors most remembered was the clear call that rang out on all of the ships at about 6 20, away all boats, and our father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Over 12,000 Americans died that morning in a span of about 15 minutes. As the boats reached the shores, the disembarking soldiers literally had to crawl over the bodies of other soldiers to be able to make it onto the beaches. That is an image that I realize that is not pleasant. It is sobering.

Makes you grateful. But I share it because the men that approached the beaches of Normandy that day had no delusions about what they were going into. They did not think that they were going to the beach for a vacation. They understood exactly what they were walking into. They knew that there was a vicious enemy who wanted to destroy them, and they knew that many of them would die.

The book of Ephesians pulls back the curtain on the mysteries of life and shows you and I that we are in the midst of a battle that is no less stringent with an enemy that is no less fierce, and quite honestly, the tragedy is that many of us have no idea that we're even in a battle. We approach life as if it were a vacation and not a war. We live life as if we were on a playground and not on a battleground. But it's not.

It's not. And you can wish all day long that it was. I do sometimes. I wish that life were a vacation. I wish that life were rest.

I wish it was a playground. But that doesn't change the fact one bit that this is a battle, and unless you wake up to that fact, you are going to waste your life. And even worse, you and those you love might be casualties. How stupid to show up at Normandy on D-Day with a beach towel and a ducky.

Right? But that's how many of us are showing up for a battle no less intense. For those of you that are familiar with the book of Ephesians, you may be used to thinking of Ephesians 6 as the passage on spiritual warfare, and it is. But the theme of battle pervades, really, all of Ephesians. And I want to show you that today from Ephesians chapter 5. So if you have a Bible, I would invite you to take it out and open it. Through Ephesians 5, we're going to begin about halfway through the chapter where we left off last week. Ephesians 5. Today, this morning, I am going to show you why many, many, many, tragically many people, honestly, don't make it as Christians.

Matthew 7, Jesus speaking to a group of religious people, and he made a statement that if you grew up in church, you're familiar with the statement. He said, broad is the gate, and easy is the way that leads to destruction. And many there are who go in that way. But narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way that leads to life.

And there are only a few who find it. Broad is the gate, easy is the way that leads to destruction. Narrow is the gate, difficult is the path that leads to life, and only few find it. I guess what's really sobering to me is when you consider the fact that he gave that statement not to a mass audience of people that's represented all the Gentile nations. He gave that statement to a group of religious people. And he's saying that even in religious circles, broad and easy is the way that leads to destruction.

And many there are who start down that path that they end up on the path of destruction, and only few actually enter into the path of life. Jesus told another parable where he basically said the same thing. He told the story about a sower who went out to sow some seed in the soil. He says that some seed fell on soil that when it hit the soil, it sprang up quickly. It had spiritual fruit. There was an immediate response. People were sincere. They wanted to follow God. He said that because the sun came out, it withered up these plants that had sprung up so promisingly at the beginning, and dried them up because they had no root. It said others were choked out by the cares of this world, by the weeds of temptation, the weeds of materialism, because they didn't have roots that go deep enough to give them the ability to withstand the other weeds and the sun that was shining on them. He's saying the same thing.

He's saying that there are a lot of people who begin with God. There are a lot of people who just don't make it, just don't make it because they've never got the concepts that I'm going to talk to you about this morning. I hope to warn some of you today. I really do. I know this is kind of like you're like, I wish you'd start out funny. Yeah, okay. I can't. I'm hoping to warn some of you today, and in a roundabout way, I'm actually hoping to comfort some of you because some of you have wondered why this Christian life is so hard for you.

I know I've talked to you in the last few weeks. You're like, I just became a Christian here a couple months ago, and I feel like it's supposed to be easier than this. I mean, maybe I'm not cut out for this kind of life.

I mean, I look around at people at church, and they're always, you know, walking around with their Bibles with the sheep on the front, and they get a little gleam in their teeth when they smile, and I just don't. It's not me. I'm struggling. It's difficult.

I don't know if I'm cut out for this. I think something might be wrong with me. Yes, something is wrong with you, but something's wrong with all of us, and that's the point. There is something wrong with all of us, and that's why this is so unnatural for many of us.

I'm going to show you that today. And I hope in a roundabout way, kind of ironically, it comforts you to show you that you're not unnormal, however you say that word. You're not weird.

You're not weird. This is something that all of us deal with because of the world that we live in, and I'm going to show you why that is, all right? Ephesians chapter 5. The context of Ephesians 5 is that the world we live in is not a friendly one for growing spiritually. There's several different metaphors at work in Ephesians 5. Verse 8, verse 8, the world is a dark place. Verse 14, the world is a grave. Verse 16, the age that we live in, the days we live in are evil. Into that world, Paul gives a number of commands that tell us to fight against the current, to struggle, to do things that feel almost unnatural for us. The point is, if you coast, you are going to drown.

If you coast, you're going to drown. Here's what I mean. Verse 8, in the midst of a dark world, he says, walk as children of light and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Try to discern it. I almost get the image here of trying to read in the dark. You ever do that? You ever try to read in the dark and you got to get the book right up close to your face and see if you can make out what the words are? You got to concentrate on it? Sometimes when we go to bed, my wife and I, I like to read after, you know, that's the last thing I do before I go to bed, and it really annoys my wife when I turn the bedside light on because she can't sleep. So, being the great husband that I am, I went out and bought one of those little cave head man lamps, the lamps that go right here, where there's this big flashlight that's shining out. And the thing is, when you're using that to read, you got to focus right on where you want to look at because you can't see anywhere else in the room except where that light is shining.

What's really awesome is when she says something to me and I turn to look at her, it's like, you know, right in her face. But the point is, you got to focus, you got to focus on what you're looking at because only what you're staring at intently are you going to be able to see. That's the image that I get from this.

Walk as children of light in the midst of darkness and try to discern, try to discern. The other image I get here is, or maybe a memory of when I was in calculus class. You know, in calculus class, you're watching the teacher go through this series of steps. And you guys, if you remember this, when you were in calculus, you just remember, like, you're watching this thing and if you doze for one second, I mean, if you get distracted by a bird out the window, you come back to that thing and you're like, what just happened?

We're here to there and there's all these squiggly lines and numbers and these images, I don't know what's happened. You got to focus intently on it because the natural current of your brain is not going toward calculus. The natural current of your brain is going toward moron land, right? And if you want to be able to master these concepts, you got to focus intently.

That's what he's saying here. Focus and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord because it's not the natural current. Verse 14, jump down there. Therefore it says, awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.

This is a great one. You know how hard it is to get up from a good sleep? Can we all just quit being like really, you know, responsible and spiritual and just admit, I don't know if you're like this, maybe, you know, I never feel like getting up. I always feel like, man, five more minutes would change my life right now. I never come closer to bursting into the gift of tongues than when I recall after waking up that glorious blessed invention called the snooze button, right? And you're like, oh, I don't need to go to the gym today. Snooze, right? I can take another day off work. Snooze.

If someone fires me, I can always find somewhere else to work. Snooze. I mean, you just get this image of it's difficult to wake up.

And that's what he's saying. He's like, wake up. That's not easy because the world's asleep.

Get up. Notice verse 15. Look carefully. Or in Greek, it's actually diligently strive on how you walk, not as unwise but as wise. Verse 17, therefore do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Verse 16, go back there. Making the best use of the time because the days are evil. In other words, the tempo and the rhythms of this world are not in line with God's purposes. The world has different values and different priorities and if the rhythms of your life are set by the world, you're going to completely waste your life. The point of all these, all these different metaphors, all these different commands is one thing. Christian life is struggle. And if we are going to make it, we have to declare absolute war on the gravitational pull of the world.

A world which is sleeping, a world which is in the dark, and a world that is in the grave. Remember in Ephesians 2, 4, if you were here several weeks ago when we studied chapter 2, Paul talked about the course of this world. That course is completely anti-God. That course prioritizes the lust of the flesh, which means it prioritizes the fulfilling of sensual desires above obeying the will of God. You've got to get this, you've got to find it, you've got to make yourself happy.

If it feels good, this is what you should probably be doing. It prioritizes the lust of the flesh. It prioritizes the lust of the eyes, which is coveting what other people have, wishing that you had their job or lived in their house or drove those kind of cars.

It prioritizes the acquisition of stuff. Thirdly, it prioritizes the pride of life, which is exalting self above God, being focused on yourself, thinking that you are the point, wanting to make your glory and your purpose is the point. The world that we live in, the course of this world, the music of this world is that.

The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. But not only that, our own flesh is tuned to that music. Paul has taught us in Ephesians that our sinful flesh gravitates toward the anti-God course of this world like a moth to a flame.

And if you don't realize that, then you are in deep trouble. That's the way your heart goes. We are like a car that is severely out of alignment. You ever have that happen? You run over a pothole, you're driving through a parking lot and you don't see that little cinder block thing there in the middle and you bam, hit right over it. So the next time you drive your car, you know, you take your hands off the wheel and it just veers left as fast as you can get it into a ditch.

Anybody had that happen or am I just talking about my wife? Okay. Or me, okay. You're like a car severely out of alignment so the moment you take your hands off of the wheel, it veers into lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And so if we're going to make it, you've got to declare war and that means if you're not fighting actively, you're losing. John Owen, the famous Puritan said it this way, we are either actively killing sin or it is killing us. That means at every point, one of two things is happening. At every point, you are either actively striving to grow in godliness or you are having the sinful tendencies of your heart and the world around you kill you. At every point, that is happening.

Going through this this week has made me realize how unaware most of us, including me, are to that. I was just going, in this message, going back through, looking at how this past week, how I have flirted with different sins, how I have flirted and entertained different desires. And inside, there's this internal monologue saying to me, yeah, it's not that bad. It's not really hurting anybody.

You're not actually going to do that. So this, you know, kind of fantasizing about this pride right here, kind of letting this coveting thing go in there, indulging a little bit in the lust of the flesh. That's not that bad because it's not really hurting anybody, not realizing that this is a war where at every point sin is killing me and unless I am striving to grow in godliness and unless I'm striving to grow in the gospel, it is killing me and overtaking me. And again, the tragedy is most of us have no idea that this is going on. So how do we engage in warfare? That's the question.

How do we engage in this type of warfare? I count at least six different commands in these verses that we read. And a couple more that we're going to read after this at the end of chapter five.

Six different commands. If you've got a pen, I would encourage you to take it out and either circle these in your Bible or write these down, okay? Number one, Paul says you ought to look carefully on how you walk.

Look carefully on how you walk. That's verse 15. Try to discern what God wants. Strive to understand his will because it won't come naturally. Yo, when I first became a Christian, I thought that escaping sin was more like a decision that you made one time for all time.

I thought, you know, okay, so you've got two choices here. You can follow the sinful ways or you can follow Jesus. And as long as you choose not to follow the sinful ways, I'm not going to go to where they get drunk, get plastered.

I'm not going to go where everybody's sleeping with everybody else. I'm going to be a Jesus guy. And so I'm going to put on the Jesus t-shirt, wear the Jesus bracelet, listen to Jesus music, right? I'm going to go on the Jesus mission trips. I'm going to do Jesus stuff. That's what we do. That's what Christians do. We do Jesus stuff. And so I got all involved in Jesus things and filled up my calendar with Jesus things. I even did the ultimate Jesus thing, which is go be a missionary.

That's like varsity, Navy Seal level for me. Like, man, you're going to be a missionary, right? I want to be a missionary in a Muslim country.

And here's what I found. That same sinful heart that had led me into sins before I became a Christian was the same sinful heart I carried over with me on the mission field. And suddenly walking on the mission field didn't make all those things disappear. I just found a Christian way to indulge all those lusts of the flesh. I was still the same greedy, apathetic, proud, lazy, non-self-controlled person that I had been before I became a missionary. And what he's saying is you've got to drive the Gospel deep into your life so that every different part of you, you see through the lens of the Gospel.

Every part of you. So that your relationships, your hopes, your dreams, your desires, your fears, your anxiety, all of it, the Gospel has gone deep and changed those parts of you. You have to strive to understand what the will of the Lord is in every situation. It's not just going to come naturally.

You hear that? Remember that parable I told you at the beginning that Jesus used about the seed falling on the soil? And how some of the stuff springs up quickly? God in D. Martin Lloyd-Jones had a great way of applying this. He said, The only seeds that made it in Jesus' parable were the seeds that went down deeper than where the roots of the world could touch them. Which means if you want to survive spiritually, you've got to drive the Gospel down deep into your heart so that every single part of you has been transformed by the Gospel so that your dating relationships, so that what you are, the way that you handle anger, the way that you dream, the way that you handle everything has been transformed by the Gospel.

That is the only seeds that survive and that is an active pursuit. The other analogy I use here quite often when I'm talking about this, I actually thought I used it too much, but then last night at the Saturday service, everybody acted like they'd never heard it before. So I'm going to assume it's kind of depressing and encouraging for me because depressing means that you guys don't remember like 85% of the stuff that I tell you. The encouraging thing is I can keep using the same stories over and over again because y'all are not going to remember that I told them. The image that I always get as of a movie I saw back in the early 90s called The Rock with Sean Connery and the most underrated actor of our generation, Nicolas Cage.

And yes, indeed, I'm the preacher, don't argue with me. So there in this movie, the general gist of the movie is that you've got the bad guys want to destroy San Francisco with these balls of green nuclear gas. And if you get in the presence of the green nuclear gas, you remember this?

You kind of nod your head. If you're in the presence of the green nuclear gas, it eats your face off. And the only hope that you have of surviving in the presence of the green nuclear gas is to take a needle that's like that long and to stick the antidote in your heart and that's the only way to survive. So at the climax of the movie, Nicolas Cage is fighting a bad guy and he takes one of these balls of green nuclear gas and he shoves it in his mouth and he punches him in the face. And this ball of green nuclear gas breaks open and it eats the guy's face off and then Nicolas Cage, always one of the smartest guys ever, figures out I'm in the presence of the green nuclear gas.

I'm going to have my face eaten off. So he turns and he starts to run, right? And the green nuclear gas follows him, you know, in the room. And he goes up to the hall and he turns and runs down the hall and the green nuclear gas turns and follows him down the hall. And he goes into this room where there's no doors, no windows and he can't get out.

Here comes the green nuclear gas. And so he reaches in his backpack and he pulls out this needle. He unsheathes the needle. He holds it out in front of his chest and for just a minute he hesitates. And you're watching this movie and you're like, don't do it.

Don't do it. It's better to get eaten by the green nuclear gas than it would be to put that thing into your heart. But then at the last second, right before the green nuclear gas gets there, he puts it in his heart and shoves the antidote in and he's fine. That's pretty much the end of the movie, right? And if you're like, bro, you totally spoiled that for me.

It's 17 years old. Get over it, okay? I've always thought that that was a really good image, though, of how we survive in a toxic world like the one we live in. The only way is to get the gospel so deeply into your heart that every molecule of your body responds to the lens of the gospel. Every single relationship, every single emotion, every single temptation, all of it has to be saturated in the gospel, otherwise it will die. So the first thing he says about engaging in warfare is look carefully, strive to understand in how you walk. Number two, be intentional with your time, he says. Be intentional with your time. That's verse 16. Make the most of it because we live in an evil age.

Can I tell you guys a little secret? I don't always feel like seeking God. You know, I'm not the kind of guy, and maybe this disappoints you, but I don't get up in the morning like playing a harp, singing Chris Tomlin tunes in my head, thinking, man, I can't wait to spend four hours with God. I get up, and I'm telling you, when I get up, the first thing on my mind are a list of things I've got to do when I get to the office. And it's just about every morning I'm hearing this little voice say, you know, you ain't got time to spend time with God today. You've got to understand, you've got to get there and return some of those emails.

You've got like a list of meetings that you've got to get to. There are so many things that you need to do, you don't have time to do that this morning. Or you need to work out because if you get out of shape and, you know, that's not going to be good, and so you don't want to die, so you better go ahead and work out and not spend time with God this morning. Or here's one, you know what, the best thing you could do is you could get another 30 minutes of sleep because then you're going to be better for your church and your family if you're refreshed. So don't spend time with God, spend that extra 30 minutes sleeping. Anybody else have this monologue going on inside of them? And then when I get home at night, I'm like, oh, I'll spend time with God. Damn, I get home, I'm like, my whole mind's shot now. It's not going to do any good to spend time with God, so I might as well, you know, watch TV because that's pretty much all my mind is good for. And then I'm going to go to bed, I'll do this tomorrow, and then I get up in the morning and the same monologue is going on, and here's the whole thing. If I don't intend, if I don't set times, if I don't make the use of the time, the natural direction of my heart is not toward godliness, it is toward tedium. That's what he's saying there. Make the best use of your time. You've got to choose to do it.

You've got to be intentional with it. Okay, JD, I might guess that Ephesians is one of your favorite books in the Bible based on how frequently it comes up in your teaching. So tell us, why are you so drawn to Ephesians? Paul writes it a bit differently than some of his other letters.

Romans might be the most impressive of Paul's letters, but Ephesians is eloquent. The clear division of the letter into two halves right at the end of chapter three. Four verse one starts a whole new section and each section is almost equal in length. It shows you, it gives you a picture of the Christian life. Chapters one through three are doctrine. It's your gospel identity. Chapters four through six are practical.

It's what difference it makes and what you do as a result of who you are. That very pattern alone, Molly, makes this a great book to walk through in a study. So not just listening to the message, but actually pressing deeper into the verses. You'll want this Bible study resource that we've created for you.

It'll help you take the book of Ephesians a little more slowly and make sure that you are getting out of its verses the promises that God wants you to have. You can grab your copy right now today. Just go to You can request your copy today of this new Bible study working through the book of Ephesians. And we'll send it your way when you donate to support this ministry at the suggested level of $25 or more. Call 866-335-5220 or give and request the book online at

I'm Molly Vitovich. Join us again tomorrow as Pastor JD reveals the only true cure for our broken and hurting hearts. Listen Thursday to Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-17 17:15:06 / 2023-08-17 17:26:28 / 11

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