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A Weak Man, a Strong Man, and the Stronger Man, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 20, 2022 9:00 am

A Weak Man, a Strong Man, and the Stronger Man, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 20, 2022 9:00 am

It can be frightening to think about battling the “rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers” of this world—Satan’s demonic forces that are at work all around us. But Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Luke that as believers, we have nothing to fear.

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Today on Summit Life with JD Greer. If you are on the throne of your life, that means Jesus must be on the cross. There is no neutral ground.

There's no third territory. Christianity is not about self-improvement. It's about surrender. So see, the only question is, are you fully surrendered?

That's the only question there is. You're either fully surrendered to team Jesus or you're still on team Satan. I don't care how many times you come to church or how good of a person you think you are. Welcome to another day of Christ-focused teaching here on Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch.

It feels too great. But Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Luke that as believers, we have nothing to fear. As strong as Satan is, he's no match for the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within us. We're rejoining Pastor JD in the middle of a message we began yesterday. So grab your Bible and a pen and let's listen in as he continues teaching in Luke chapter 11. Jesus is the stronger man that overpowers Satan and plunders all his possessions.

Now, important. In this parable, who are you? You are the property who was first owned by the strong man, but then liberated by the stronger man.

man. The implication is, and this is so important, you are either going to belong to one or the other. You cannot be free of the strong man until you are under the control of the stronger man. You see what he says in verse 23?

Look at it. Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters. Neutrality toward Jesus is not an option. And so if you are not actively pursuing and serving Jesus, you are against him because you are still under the control of the strong man.

Do you see that? We'll come back to that, but first let's finish the parable because Jesus is going to make this point even more clear. Verse 24, when an unclean spirit comes out of a person, it roams through waterless places looking for rest and then not finding rest, it says, I'll go back to my house that I came from. Turning, it finds the house swept and put in order. Jewish law demanded rigorous cleaning techniques after you've gotten rid of any kind of disease or defilement. It even applied to your property. For example, if you had a mold problem in your house, you couldn't just clean that area with soap and water or a bottle of Clorox.

The book of Leviticus said you had to remove that whole section of the wall, and if the mold came back, you had to burn the whole house down. Jesus uses this as a picture of the person who tries to use the law to clean their life up. So they make a bunch of resolutions. They get rid of their bad habits. They bring their addictions under control. They get rid of bad relationships and they turn over a new leaf.

They are serious about change. What happens? Verse 26, then that unclean spirit goes and brings seven of the spirits more evil than itself and they enter and settle down there.

As a result, the person's last condition is even worse than the first. They're worse after they got rid of the demon than before they got rid of him. The demons don't mind this cleanup.

In fact, they kind of like it and it certainly does not stop them from coming back in much bigger numbers. The use of the number seven, by the way, is meant to imply completion. That's what the number seven usually indicates in Hebrew. It's like saying the last state of that man is infinitely worse than the first. Listen to me. I want you to hear a pastor in a church say this. Religion and self-improvement apart from Jesus opens the door to more deceptive and more dangerous demons. Religious change, I don't care how eloquent or good-looking or multi-million dollar the person that is peddling it to you is.

Religious change or self-improvement is often accompanied by pride and judgmentalism and a sense of self-sufficiency and those things are infinitely worse than alcoholism or a bad temper. Tim Keller uses this as an illustration. He says, say you got a little boy who falls down and scrapes his knee and let's say that he's really being overly emotional about it.

So his dad comes over and his dad says, son, get up. Be a man. You don't want to be a little pansy in your life, do you? Stop crying. Okay, here's the question. Can that motivation help that little boy stop crying?

Yes, it can. His dad's words help him sweep his house, tame his emotions, get some control, but what's happened now? The little boy didn't just take himself back from being overly emotional. No, now he's given himself to a new master and that master is the fear of looking weak and let's just say that that becomes a driving force in his life. Never look weak because weakness makes you look deficient as a person, so cover any weakness at all costs. Now I want you to imagine this guy's marriage. You cannot have a healthy marriage if you're always scared of looking weak or you refuse to be vulnerable or you despise your wife when she does. So yes, through that dad's motivation, the little boy was freed from being overly emotional, but he did so by giving himself to a new master, a worse master.

The medication had worse side effects than the disease. You conquered alcoholism, but you developed a judgmental and an arrogant spirit. Seven more demons. You overcame your insecurity by becoming a driven, domineering, and self-sufficient person. Seven more demons. You avoid conflict by retracting inward and shutting yourself off and just not having friends anymore. Seven more demons. You avoid pain by never committing to anybody.

Seven more demons. By the way, we see the same thing politically. People on the left will say, well, the problem in our society is the institutions of capitalism. They serve the interest of white supremacy or the patriarchy, so let's tear them down and redistribute all the wealth.

So you do that, but then guess what you're left with? People still have the same sinful heart of greed and exploitation who will use whatever power they have to subvert the weak around them. That has been the history of every Marxist country in history.

Seven more demons. People on the right say, no, no, no, the government is the problem itself. Just make everybody free and that will take care of it. And we might agree that power distributed amongst a bunch of corruptible people is less dangerous than power isolated in the hands of a few corruptible people.

But even then, you haven't dealt with the problem. Selfishness and greed and corruption still fill the heart of man, and Satan still finds those things and uses them to create the despair and loneliness that comes from materialism and self-sufficiency. Seven more demons. You see, the point is whether you're talking individually or politically, Jesus is the only master who can free you from your demons and make you whole again. It is ironic, but freedom in the Christian life only comes from giving yourself fully to Jesus.

Let me say that again. The irony is this freedom only comes from surrender. So again, let's ask what does this passage teach us about change? What does it teach us about how to bring change both in ourselves and in others? Jesus teaches us in this passage that there are two conditions for real spiritual power. Number one is in verse 23.

I'd encourage you to write both these down. Number one, total surrender. Total surrender. Again, verse 23. Anybody who's not with me is against me and anyone who does not gather with me scatters. Until you are under the full possession of the stronger man's authority, you are powerless to fend off the domination of the strong man who is Satan.

Clean up or self-reform or pledges to do better are not going to do it. You're either all in with team Jesus or you're still on team Satan. And to be on team Jesus means that you've surrendered 100% of who you are. All your hopes, all your dreams, all your ambitions, all your ideas, you've given them all to him.

Now you're like, hold on, hold on, hold on. No way. I may not be a fully committed Christian, but I don't belong to Satan. Yes, you do. Your argument's not with me. Your argument's with Jesus.

He who is not actively pursuing me, actively serving me, still belongs to Satan. When I was a student pastor, my first chapter of ministry, we used to do this illustration. I actually tried to recreate it for you here. I thought about getting people up and then it's thought too complicated. I'm just gonna do it all by myself.

I'm a one-man actor here. So I would always, you'd always put somebody here on this set of chairs. This represents a fence, okay? And on this property, this side of the fence represents complete and total devotion to Jesus. And this side of the property represents, I'm just giving myself to Satan. And so what would happen in this, when I do it for students, is you'd have people come out from the different sides to represent, you know, the different teams. And so somebody would come out from team Satan and they were like, hey, we're gonna go party and get drunk and do all kinds of illegal stuff. And you wanna come with us? And the person's like, no, I'm just not, you know, I'm, I try to, I believe in God. I try to be a good person.

So I'm not gonna do that. Another person comes out on the other side representing team Jesus and they're like, you know, something like, hey, let's, let's read our Bibles or let's be involved in the church. Let's do ministry. And no, I'm not really a Jesus freak. I'm not really a Bible banger. I'm not really all in that way, but you know, I'm not really comfortable there either.

And so you have three or four people that come, you know, representing one another person from the side says, hey, let's, let's get rid of the belief in the Bible. Let's just throw this off. It's freer.

It's better with that. No, I don't wanna do that. I still wanna hold on to my beliefs. And this represents kind of where the majority of, especially Christian teenagers or teenagers in churches are where they're like, I'm not really going with the world, but I'm also not fully devoted to Jesus.

I'm just kind of here on the fence. Well, at the end of the little thing, you know, somebody would come out representing Satan or a demon and they're there to collect all their people. And an angel comes out to take all the people that who are on team Jesus. And you know, the kind of last moment, the demon comes up and grabs this person on the fence and starts to pull them their way.

And this person starts to object like, no, no, no, no, no. I never, I never threw off my belief in Jesus. I never, I never wanted to be on team Satan. I never got rid of my faith.

I never really plunged wholeheartedly saying I kept my morals. And the last thing that this demon says is what you don't understand is that the devil Satan owns the fence that you're standing on. Luke 11 23 makes it clear that if you're not actively serving Jesus in that field, the fence that you're standing on still belongs to Satan. The point is whatever part of your life is not surrendered to Jesus. It's still under the domination of Satan. You're either fully surrendered to him or you're still his possession.

He didn't care if you recognize that you belong to him. You still do. You say, well, I wouldn't be like those religious rulers who called Jesus the Lord of dung and crucified him.

Yes, you would. There's only two teams. It's like we often say here at the Summit Church in every heart, there is a throne and a cross. In every heart, there's a throne and a cross. If if Jesus is on the throne, well, see that means that you gotta be on the cross.

Vice versa. If you are on the throne of your life, that means Jesus must be on the cross. There is no neutral ground.

There's no third territory. Christianity is not about self improvement. It's about surrender. So see, the only question is, are you fully surrendered?

That's the only question there is. You're either fully surrendered to team Jesus or you're still on team Satan. I don't care how many times you come to church or how good of a person you think you are. It reminds me of CS Lewis's analogy where it's like we come to Jesus like people whose houses are in disrepair. Man, it's dirty and it's smelly and the carpet is old fashioned and worn out. So we hear that Jesus can fix those things and so we come to him and ask him to help us clean it up.

And he does. But then Jesus starts knocking down walls and you're like, wait, wait, wait a minute, Jesus. I just wanted to clean up. I want a little help tidying up my room, help tidying up my marriage, my habits, my career, wanted purpose.

I want you to help my kids. Jesus says, I can help you with all those things, but to get that help, this house has to belong entirely to me. I didn't just come as your divine servant to help you become a more and better you. I came as the owner. I'm not here to take requests.

I'm here to take over. And so it means that if you come to Jesus, the only way to come to him is in total surrender. The only way is to come and say, Lord Jesus, all that I am, all that I have, all that I ever hoped to be, I now and forever offer to you. We don't come to God, CS Lewis says. We don't come to God as bad people who need to be made into better people. We must come as rebels to lay down our arms.

He's either Lord of all or he's not Lord at all. You don't come to Jesus to turn over a new leaf. You come in surrender to receive a new life. Total surrender. Amen.

Write down number two if you're taking notes. Write down prayer. Now real quick, the second way to access this divine power according to this chapter is through prayer.

Earnest, unrelenting prayer. We didn't read it, but in the passage right before this one, the first 13 verses of this chapter, Jesus had been teaching about the power of prayer. And he told a story about a man who had unexpected visitors late one night and he needed some bread to feed them.

So he goes over to his neighbor's house in the middle of the night and he knocks and he knocks and he knocks and he knocks until his friend finally gives up and gets up and gives him the loaves that he's asking for. And this, Jesus says, that is how you should pray. And then he concludes that whole teaching by saying, listen, how much more if a friend would respond to your persistent knocking and if parents would respond to their children when their children are are crying out in need, how much more will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit, the stronger man?

You see the context? How much more will he give the stronger man to those who ask him? Then Jesus tells the story about the demons. If you want the power of the Holy Spirit, if you want the Spirit of Jesus, the stronger man in and through your life, you get it not only through surrender, an act of surrender, you also get it through desperate, urgent, unrelenting prayer. Jesus reinforced this in another place, by the way, Mark 9. There was a man who brought his son who was afflicted by a demon that caused convulsions, brought him to Jesus' disciples, but the disciples couldn't cast the demon out. And so they brought the father and the boy to Jesus and Jesus cast the demon out. And after the incident was over when they were debriefing the day, the disciples are like, hey Jesus, why couldn't we drive him out? Why wouldn't the ball go in when we shot him?

What's wrong with us? And Jesus told him, he's like, this kind can come out, Mark 9, 29. This comes out only by prayer.

Some manuscripts add the words, add fasting, prayer and fasting. God unleashes the power of the stronger man into the lives of others through desperate, urgent, unrelenting prayer, and only that. Listen to me. What's your friends and what your kids, what your spouse needs is not your sweeping and cleaning efforts in their lives. What they need is the presence of the stronger man. Your cleaning efforts cannot expunge the demonic activity from them. It takes the power and the presence of the stronger man, and that comes only through prayer. So why, Summit Church, why do we spend so much time thinking about how to talk to people about God and so much time thinking about how to talk to people about God and so little time talking to God about those people? You bring your friends here to let them listen to me for 45 minutes, talk to them about God.

How often weekly do you talk to God about them? That's the reason that we've begun this year with 21 days of fasting and prayer. We want to see the finger of God in our community.

Amen. We want to see it in our church. We don't want to see what a group of talented people can do. We want to see what God can do. We want to see the finger of God in our families. You want to see that? Do you want that in your own family?

Do you want it in your life? That comes out only by fervent, unrelenting prayer. The good news is that this strong man, Satan, more powerful though he may be than us, is no match for the power of the stronger man. Do you see verse 22? But when one stronger than he attacks and overpowers him, he takes from him all the weapons that he trusted in and divides up his plunder.

It's a route. Jesus plunders him. He humiliates him. Listen, I both love and kind of resent a little bit how the book of Revelation depicts the last battle. I'm a little disappointed because it's anti-climatic.

Can we just say that? You ever read Revelation? You got all these battle forces arrayed against Jesus and his people and you think you're in for this kind of epic Lord of the Rings style battle? Then Jesus walks onto the scene and just speaks and all his enemies basically evaporate.

I kind of wanted a little more action, but the point is their power is no match for his. He's the stronger man. He's the finger of God. The good news is that God has called you and I to bring the power of the stronger man into other people's lives. Again, verse 22, when the stronger man takes over, he divides up his plunder. What is Satan's plunder? It's the souls of people around us that Satan holds captive. It's your children. It's friends that are headed toward destruction. It is friends in decimated marriages. They're held captive by the strong man. We want to bring them the power of the stronger man.

Hey friend, have you figured this out yet? Jesus wants to do more than help you survive and endure the Christian life. He wants to use you to plunder Satan's kingdom. He didn't come just to give you peace like a river and your soul or warm fuzzies on a cold night. He wants to use you to plunder the works of the enemy around you, but when one stronger than he overcomes, he attacks and overpowers him.

He takes from him all the weapons that he trusted in and divides up his plunder. If you, right, if you respond to those requests from people you love, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit, the stronger man, to those who, to those who ask him? Missionaries at work in places all around the world where Satan holds people captive under earthly governments that keep people in bondage from hearing the gospel. This promise is for you. I know some of you are listening to me this morning. For those of you who are at work in our city in places where there's poverty and injustice in pregnancy centers where women consider what to do with a precious unborn baby that Satan wants to destroy, this promise is for you. To parents who are discouraged by the influence of the world on your children, to husbands concerned with what is happening in the life of your wife or vice versa, this promise is for you. To those of you who know somebody that is in one sense afflicted physically, emotionally, spiritually by our enemy, this promise is for you.

He's ready to use you, but these kind go not out but by prayer and fasting. I want to repeat this again. Are you ready to surrender? Are you ready to surrender? I want you to bow your heads if you would.

Everybody at all campuses, bow your heads. Are you ready to surrender? Right now, even if you're by yourself in front of a computer, I want you to do this. If you're like today, I'm giving myself to Jesus fully. I believe he died for my sin. I believe he's the only one that can save me and I'm giving myself fully to him. Right now, raise your hand. You're like, I'm by myself at my computer.

I don't care. Just raise your hand. Today, I am giving myself fully to Jesus. Raise your hand and hold it up. Obviously, I can't see. I can't see everybody.

I see some of you, but I can't see everybody. Father, I praise you. I thank you for those people who have hands raised indicative of the fact that they know religion can't help them. Reform can't help them.

Getting better can't help them. Jesus, you alone. Thank you, God, for those who raise their hands in faith and surrender.

Here's the second part of the invitation. Who do you need to pray for? Who in your life do you sense the presence of the strong man in? And you just want to say, I'm going to give myself to prayer. And this today may mark a new desperation, a new consistency in my prayer. The two conditions of real spiritual power are total surrender and prayer. Have you surrendered your life?

That's first. And then who do you need to pray for? Those are not two things we just do today. We must live lives marked by surrender and prayer daily. You're listening to Summit Life with pastor and author J.D.

Greer. If you missed any of this message, you can always catch up free of charge at jdgreer.com. Pastor J.D., we're always looking for new ways to help others integrate the truth of the Bible into their everyday lives.

Can you tell us about our latest resource? Yeah, one of our goals here at Summit Life is to is to equip people who who listen to Summit Life to become a disciple making disciple. And God's word and His power, the Holy Spirit, they're the only ones that can actually produce that kind of change in your heart. But He uses tools as gateways for His power. You can't manipulate the power of God, but you can create the channel for Him to work in your life. It's kind of like I've heard it described like like a wire that you would connect to an electric outlet.

The power is not in the wire, but the wire connects the power to what you need it to be in. These spiritual disciplines are like the wire that connects us to the Holy Spirit's power. And one of the most effective tools is scripture memory. That's why we've been offering this pack of 50 scripture memory cards that that make it easy to memorize scripture. It goes about the rate of one per week, a promise, a warning of scripture, something about the character of God that that the Holy Spirit can use once you memorize it to activate His power to change your thinking and to release His power in your heart.

If you'll go to jdgrier.com, you'll see how you can get a copy of these. I think they'll be extremely helpful in your spiritual life. Scripture memory is one of the most life-changing things I've done and one of the things I'm most thankful for that my parents and my teachers early on in life made an essential part of my of my Christian discipleship. We'd love to send you this exclusive new set of cards today. If you want to carry God's promises in your heart, our new Summit Life Memory Verse cards make it easy to memorize scripture. They're perfect to use as a weekly resource throughout the year or as a daily encouragement. These scripture cards remind you of God's steadfastness and unchanging promises and then can help you commit them to your mind and your heart.

Ask for the Rejoice Always scripture memory cards when you give today by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or give online at jdgrier.com. Before we close, let me remind you that if you aren't yet signed up for our email list, you'll want to do that today. It is the best way to stay up to date with Pastor JD's latest blog posts, and we'll also make sure that you never miss a new resource or series.

It's quick and easy to sign up at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vitovich. Be sure to join us again tomorrow as we continue our study of Luke. Pastor JD teaches us about a defining feature of those who follow Jesus. They care for the vulnerable, the weak, the helpless, and the forgotten. We'll see you Friday on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-21 11:55:39 / 2023-06-21 12:07:30 / 12

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