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The New Life

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
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July 15, 2021 9:00 am

The New Life

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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July 15, 2021 9:00 am

For a lot of people, Christianity seems like just a list of rules. But is that really all it is? Does Jesus just want us to live by a certain moral code?

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Give you a definition of biblical change. This is the whole thesis of Ephesians and this is the whole strategy of how we try to teach the Bible here. Biblical change. The Spirit of God using the story of God to make the beauty of God come alive in our hearts.

It is only after saturating yourself in the Gospel will your heart see and know God and be changed. For a lot of people, Christianity seems like just a list of rules. Thou shall not do this and thou shall not do that. And quite frankly, it seems like all the fun stuff is also off limits. But is that really all it is? Does Jesus want us to live by a certain moral code and preach that to others?

There's got to be more to it, right? Pastor J.D. Greer addresses that question today on Summit Life as he continues our study of Ephesians called Mystery and Clarity. If you'd like to catch up on previous messages, you can find them at Now here's Pastor J.D.

with a message aptly titled The New Life. I want to present you today with a question that many of you have had at some point. It is specifically this.

In Ephesians 4, verses 25 through 32, Paul gives you a list of behaviors that he tells the Ephesians that they ought to be practicing. Now here's the thing. He's describing Christian behavior. Here's the thing.

On the surface, there's nothing particularly remarkable about the list. In fact, take a look at it real quick. Verse 25, he tells you to tell the truth to each other. Verse 26, he tells you to don't steal and to get a job. Verse 28, he tells you not to lose your temper. Verse 32, he tells you to be kind. Just about every religion in the world tells you those things.

So a lot of people see that kind of thing and they're like, see? All religions basically are the same. I mean, the point of all of them is be good.

It doesn't matter what brand name you use, it's the same product. And some of you have thought this. You're like, if the point of religion is to turn bad people into good people, well, this Hindu guy I know is like one of the nicest guys I've ever known. He already does all these things. So why do I need to tell him to become a Christian? Well, I know a Muslim and he believes and practices these things. Even an atheist.

And he's good like this, so they're already good. So what's the point? Here's the question then I want us to consider. Is there anything distinctive about Christian moral teaching?

Or is it really all the same? I want to try and show you that there is something distinctive, something that is fundamentally different than what is put forward everywhere else. To do that, we're going to rewind eight verses and go back to verse 17. Paul is going to give you an eight verse theology lesson before he mentions these ways for you to behave.

And here's what we're going to do. I'm going to teach you that lesson as best I can, which is really, by the way, a summary of all the book of Ephesians up to this point, and then show you how the moral commands that grow out of that eight verse theology lesson in verses 25 through 32 are of a different sort than what every other religion teaches. Verse 17 is where we start. Verse 17, Now this I say in testifying the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do. When Paul says Gentiles here, he is not referring to people of a certain race, he's referring to anyone who doesn't know God. Through the Old Testament, God had revealed himself to the Jews, and anyone outside the covenant that God made with the Jewish people are referred to as Gentiles. So by Gentiles here, Paul means every person who hasn't met Jesus. Now he's about to give you a description of what those people are like and what we were like before we met Jesus, and I want us to work through it backwards.

So let's start at verse 19, because that's the end of that description, and then we'll work back backwards back up to verse 17. Verse 19, he says, They have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That's the language of craving.

Greedy, greedy. I have to have these sensual pleasures. I'm hungry for them.

I need them. So I've given myself entirely to them. These are people who feel enslaved to their desires.

It's the guy who can't say no to pornography. The desires are just too strong, and it's more than just lust for him. It's an escape. It's a way to add excitement to his life. It's a way to find comfort. Or a person who turns to drugs or alcohol for some kind of refuge. That's more than just a thirsting of the body for something to drink. It is a crave.

You crave the feelings and the security and the safety that alcohol or some drug gives to you. Greedy lust, is what Paul says. In another one of Paul's letters, he uses a different word that means essentially the same thing. He says the heart of sin is, here's your Greek word for the day, epithumia. Epithumia. Epithumia is a word that we often translate into English as lust. Now, when I say lust, everybody thinks sex. But epithumia is not just about sex.

Epithumia means soul lust. A craving, a yearning, a greedy desire. Something about which you say, I have to have that. Because without that, I can't imagine life being okay.

Without that, I might as well be dead. Even the thought of not having it produces despair in your heart. Don't just think lust for bad things. It's something, anything about which you feel like you just have to have it for life to be good. For example, for some people, it's not drugs, it's the security of money. The thought of not being financially secure produces all kinds of anxiety in your heart. So you say you save and you stress and you're stingy because an abundance of money is what you feel like you have to have for you to feel secure and for you to feel satisfied.

Just ask yourself, what is the one thing you feel like you have to have for life to be good? Again, it may not be a bad thing. And for some middle-aged ladies, it's the desire to have their family around and everybody get along. That's good, of course, but this thing goes beyond normal desire for family. It's a craving.

Life could not be good and has no point if the family is not close and everything is in perfect harmony. So any disruption of the family to these types of people, these ladies, is devastating to them. This is the condition of people apart from God, Paul says. They have craving, greedy hearts. Now, where does Paul say that these cravings come from?

Okay, let's work backwards. Look at this, verse 18. They come because we are alienated from the life of God. These cravings arise from the absence of God in our lives. You see, the Bible teaches that we were created for God. And when we were one with God, get this, our hearts were satisfied and they were filled. When we rejected God, we lost that essential, life-satisfying, soul-replenishing relationship.

We found that our souls were starving. Again, this is review, but the first condition we found ourselves in is that we felt naked. We felt naked, like something's not right, there's something wrong, there's something missing. And I've asked you before, what do you do when you feel naked, if you're normal? Are you trying to cover yourself? Are you taking a shower in a hotel and suddenly you realize that there's a window right next to your shower and there's like 95 people looking in off the street into your shower, you're not like, hey, this shampoo is great right here, I love you.

You don't do that, you're just thinking, how do I get covered? Well, that's a picture of humanity, is something's not right, something is missing, something is, I feel naked, I feel empty, I feel ashamed. We know we're missing something, we may not even realize what it is or how we got to this place, but we know we're searching for something and what we're searching for is him. His affirmation, his presence, that's what we lost. In his absence, our hearts are restless and naked. And so we fill our lives and cover ourselves with cheap substitutes. Here's the next question, all right, where does this alienation from God come from?

And why do we stay that way? Watch this, verse 18, they are alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them. We stay alienated from God because we're ignorant of him. We, here's what it means, we can't see God's beauty, we don't sense his glory or his majesty or his lovingness or his all satisfyingness, if that's a word, but you know what I mean, we don't sense any of those things, we're ignorant of those things. That's why we stay alienated from God because we don't even know that that's what we're looking for, right? But there's more, that ignorance itself is caused by something.

What causes that ignorance? Again, verse 18, that ignorance is, look at this, due to their hardness of heart. You see, it's not that God is not there or can't be seen, it's that their hearts were too hard even to see him.

For many of us, even though his glory is all around us, we can't sense it, we can't feel it because our hearts are hard and dead and our spiritual eyes are blind. By the way, that is why, and college students, I say this especially to you, that is why two smart people look at the same set of evidence for whether or not there is a God and come up with two completely different conclusions. You see, it always bothered me in college, it's my professor, looked like a good guy, he was smart, smarter than me, and he says that clearly the evidence points toward there being no God. But then I know other people, you know, and I respect them also, they seem to be smart, and they look at the same evidence and they see God in it. I'm like, well, which one's smarter?

That's got nothing to do with which one's smarter. Whether or not we see God has nothing to do with the quality of the evidence but the state of our hearts. Even my favorite atheist, Friedrich Nietzsche, said this, right, in his book Beyond Good and Evil, he says, quote, the idea, I love this, the idea of objective human beings who are just disinterested seekers in truth is crazy. The human heart is too insecure to ever be able to handle the truth. Cue Jack Nicholson here, you can't handle the truth. Did that sound like Jack Nicholson?

I don't think so. You know what I'm talking about. He says there is a natural hatred and fear of the truth. And I'll summarize this next part. He says we revise our memories to fit the story of ourselves that we want to believe.

Oh, there's no way I could have ever done that, says our pride. And it's not long before the past we remember is the past we wish were true. Now everybody knows that different cultures do this.

Every culture rewrites its history so that it fits the story of themselves that they want to believe. But Nietzsche is saying that individuals do that too. We mold the truth to fit our preferences and we do it with the truth about God. We see God not as He is but as we want Him to be, including sometimes wanting Him not to be there. You see, the strangest thing happens when God softens you up and opens your eyes to Him. You suddenly start to see Him everywhere. The skeptic says I can't see God and some of us look around and say how can you not see God? You don't always understand Him but you see the evidences of Him everywhere and you sense His presence.

So there we are. Paul has described the problem because the human heart is alienated from God. It craves sin and it can't see God or sense Him or know Him because it is too hardened or deadened or blackened by sin. Now that's not to say, by the way, that Gentiles are not religious people. Mankind in every nation has always been very religious but the religious tendencies of the human heart are not born out of a love for or a delight in God.

More often than not our religion is an attempt to use God. Here's a story I've told you before to illustrate this. The story of a very poor farmer who lived in medieval England back eight, nine hundred years ago. In his poor little dirt farm he runs he grows a carrot that is the largest carrot he has ever seen.

It's like six feet long. He takes one look at that carrot and he thinks that is a carrot that is fit for a king. He loves his king. His king is fair, his king is kind and loving and he thinks I want to take this as a gift to the king because this belongs only to my king.

I just want to give this to him and show him my love for him. So he takes this carrot down to the gets the audience for the king and says king this is the biggest carrot I've ever grown I want you to have it. The king is is moved by this gesture and says that is very that touches me. He says you know I happen to own all the farm around all the land around your farm. I'm going to give you that in response just as a gift just as you love me I love you I want you to have this this extra land. Well one of the king's officers was standing there in the background and thought dang if that's he didn't really say dang but that's what he thought he said he said if that's what if that's what the king would give for a carrot imagine what he would give for a real gift like a horse. And so the king's officer leaves the court overnight goes and gets a horse big old majestic horse brings it in the next day it's like oh king you're my favorite king ever I love you oh king and I just want you to have this horse to demonstrate your majesty and the king who was also very wise sees through the whole thing and says yesterday that farmer was giving the carrot to me today you're giving the horse to yourself. You see that's a description in many ways of what religion is for most people it's something that is done because we receive something back from God for it is entirely self-interested you give to God because God will reward you he'll bless your life take you to heaven that's that that's what you're after and so you serve God as a means to that in Paul says verse 24 that what God is after look at this is true righteousness and true holiness people who do righteousness watch this for the reasons that God does it you see where it says created after his likeness God does righteousness not because somebody is making him or God doesn't do righteousness because it's a means to an end God does righteousness because it is his nature and he loves it that's why he does it okay we caught up all right so our problem is we have an ignorant dead heart that doesn't really want God well then what would the solution be what would the solution be if our problem is that we have an ignorant dead heart that doesn't really want God what's the solution this is so obvious okay we need two things solution part number one we need verse 21 a new knowledge of God so we're not ignorant of him and verse 23 we need a renewed heart to delight in that knowledge so we can receive that knowledge we can grasp it we need a new in other words we need a new vision of God and then we need new eyes to see that vision with so where does this knowledge of God and where does this renewed heart to see it come from two different places verse 21 this is so good verse 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him as the truth is in Jesus commentators catch this this is your commentary moment for the day commentators point out that when Paul refers to Jesus Christ he almost always uses the term Christ or Lord Jesus Christ when Paul uses the term Jesus by itself he is referring specifically to Jesus as he lived on the earth the Nazarene baby who was born in Bethlehem who lived as a carpenter worked miracles and died on the cross in other words the new knowledge of God comes to us through the story of Jesus the new knowledge of God comes to us through the story of Jesus in the story of Jesus we see the beauty of God and in seeing the beauty of God revealed in the story of Jesus we are changed it is a story with such beauty and drama in it that when you get swept up in it it changes your life not just by correcting this or that but by changing you fundamentally temptations lose their power because you've seen greater beauty now you know what purpose is and you know how much power in the universe is available to you the love of God shown to you in that story transforms you into forms you into the kind of person who loves righteousness and holiness and forgiveness and goodness so our ignorance is overcome by encountering the beauty of God in the story of Jesus but there's something else we need there's 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds we need a spiritual renewal that's why Paul prays for them twice in Ephesians God has to give you eyes to see a blind man can stare in the direction of the rainbow all day long but he won't ever see it until he's been given eyes to see so number two our hearts perceive the new knowledge by renewal of the spirits so here's your summary give you a definition of biblical change and by the way this is the whole thesis of Ephesians and this is the and this is the whole strategy of how we try to teach the bible here biblical change the spirit of God using the story of God to make the beauty of God come alive in our hearts the spirit of God using the story of God to make the beauty of God come alive in our hearts that's why listen church that's why these prescriptions come in chapter four not in chapter one it is only after saturating yourself in the gospel that Paul has driven you into in chapters one to three and only after the spirit of God that he has prayed for has renewed your heart will your heart see and know God and be changed so now let's answer our question how is Christian morality fundamentally different than the morality that other religions teach i'll give you six axioms of biblical change right they're gonna go quick so jot them down i'm gonna i'm gonna help you see them and explain them six axioms of biblical change that make Christian morality unique and throughout this i will show you how this shows up in those moral prescriptions that are given to you in verses 25 through 32 number one gospel change is fundamentally a change of desire gospel change is fundamentally a change of desire you do truth because you love truth you see one of the biggest substitutes for true gospel change catch this is what we call moralism morally here's a definition of moralism moralism is teaching people that external behavior matters more than internal disposition moralism moralism is teaching people that external behavior matters more than internal disposition for example how do you motivate a kid to quit lying all right here we give you a couple ways we try to do it we tell a kid don't lie because if you don't if you lie you're gonna get caught and you're gonna get in trouble or other people are gonna think badly of you if you get caught lying so what you create in him is a fear of punishment or of rejection and he becomes honest because he doesn't want to be punished and he wants to be accepted by others here's another way we try to motivate a kid to not to lie you're like don't lie because you're better than that you're a Greer Greer's don't lie you don't want to be like all them other people if you're dishonest you're going to lower your standards so that you're just like everybody else what are you doing there you're motivating him to change by creating a sense of superiority in him now you can give Christian versions of both those things if you lie God's gonna throw you into hell or you can be like hey if you lie you're not gonna be like Jesus you won't be like Jesus don't you you don't be like all the other people non the non-christian liars and lying non-christians and all the other religions you want to be like Jesus Jesus people are better than people in the other religions see what you've done that's why most of us by the way don't lie it's either a fear of being punished or a fear of losing face or out of a sense of pride that says we're better than everybody else the problem is neither of those make us love the truth neither of those motivations make us desire to do truth just because that's what we love that's not verse 24 true righteousness or true holiness the gospel motivates us differently it creates in our hearts a love for truth like God whose image we've been made in the likeness of we love truth and we do it because that's what we love to do like I told you God does not have anybody over him saying you better tell the truth you don't tell the truth I'm all you're gonna be in trouble God does it because it is his nature he loves it in his core you might get people you see to change through moralism but you can't really change them in their hearts in order to achieve gospel change we have to desire something different something new that's the first axiom of biblical change make sure you join us tomorrow for the rest of the list you're listening to summit life the bible teaching ministry of pastor author and theologian jd greer to hear this message again or to view the full transcript visit us at so jd we're not quite there yet in our study through the book of ephishians but chapter five might be one of the most cherished parts of this book we'll get there next week and it has a lot to say about relationships right you know every time i've preached through ephishians specifically chapter 5 what i realize it's that our vertical relationship with God when that is in order our horizontal relationships with each other begin to make a lot more sense that's why we keep returning to this passage of scripture as an anchor it's a foundation a pattern for all of our other relationships in fact i would tell you chances are if you got horizontal disruption whether it's with your spouse or whether it's with friends or anybody in your life chances are you're going to find the the antidote the answer to that embedded in ephishians 4 and ephishians 5 when we seek from relationships what we can only find in God then you end up disappointed unfulfilled but God is that he's the missing piece he's the one that will never fail you this is just one of the topics that you can dive deeper into with our new bible study that will help you slow down and work through the book of ephishians and and let its truth saturate your soul this is a nine-part study that's now available to anybody who makes a donation of 25 or more at it's easy you can go there and we would love to connect with you and we'd love to be able to put this this bible study into your hands we'd love to get you a copy of that new summit life study called mystery and clarity the book of ephishians the nine-part bible study is yours with our thanks when you donate today at the suggested level of 25 or more your gift helps us expand so we can reach even more people with gospel-centered bible teaching just like today's program and we're so grateful and when you give remember to ask for your copy of mystery and clarity call 866-335-5220 that's 866-335-5220 or give online at i'm molly bidovich inviting you to join us friday as pastor jd answers the question how is christianity different from other faiths join us for the rest of the list right here on summit life with jd greer today's program was produced and sponsored by jd greer ministries
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-17 16:34:33 / 2023-08-17 16:44:27 / 10

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