Today on Summit Life, J.D. Greer talks about the true purpose of fear. Fear is a reality. It's given to you as a gift because you have a sense that you need to run away from something.
But you need to know what to run to. You need to run to the perfect love of God. You've got a sense of punishment. That's right, that's God gave you that.
But Christ has absorbed that punishment, and so there's nothing to fear. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D. Greer.
As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever felt like a deer in the headlights, you know, paralyzed by fear? Anxiety has an unbelievable power over us emotionally and physically.
It can trigger heart palpitations, panic attacks, or even asthma. But worse than its physical effects, fear can actually paralyze us spiritually. Today, Pastor J.D. explains that the cure for this kind of fear is learning to fear the right things. To help him in this discussion, he's invited his wife, Veronica, to join him.
If you missed the beginning of their joint teaching, catch up at jdgreer.com free of charge. But right now, let's join them in the book of 1 John. 1 John 4.18, listen, there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment.
Whoever fears has not been perfected in love. There's two things that are going to make this talk this weekend unusual. The first is that I'm going to teach you a few truths from this verse, and then I'm going to spend the majority of our time applying it specifically to marriage and singleness. The second reason this is a very unusual time this weekend is because I'm going to have my wife help me do this. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to try to help you define fear for a few minutes. That's what we'll do. And then I'm going to show you two ways that we fear in marriage, and on the second of those ways is when my wife is going to help me out.
Here you go. If you take notes, here's a good thing to write down. We fear something when we think it can really damage us. And so what you try to do is you try to control your environment so that you avoid these things, which leads me to the second thing I was going to point out here, and that is that fear is usually a type of worship. You worship something whenever you give something weight, and you're thinking, I've got to have this for happiness.
I've got to have this for security. And so you fear the loss of that thing. That's why, by the way, the Bible so repeatedly tells you to fear God.
So let me be clear, though. The goal of this sermon is not that you don't fear at all. The goal of the sermon is that you fear God. Three, third thing I want to point out about fear from this verse here, and that is that fear comes from a sense of punishment. When you are afraid, you know you want to run from something.
But see, the issue now is we don't really know what to run to. We are under the punishment of God. You see, before Adam and Eve sinned, they were naked, but it didn't bother them.
I've explained this to you because they were clothed in the love and the acceptance of God. Three important things about fear. Now, let me give you two ways that fear affects our marriage. Number one, we think our spouse holds the key to our joy, our security, and our significance. So we fear them letting us down. The second kind of fear that ends up coming into our marriage is the sense that we're unable to maintain control of something that matters to us. So write this down, number two, we feel powerless to control the future. This is the point where I feel like I've probably already said too much, and so I'm going to ask my anointed, eloquent wife to come up here on our stage, and I'm going to ask her to just let you women have it, okay? So, Ronica, if you'll come up. It is really ironic that I'm up here to talk to y'all about being afraid because I'm terrified.
So if that's not some rich irony, I don't know what is. Anyway, like JD said, fear really is something that can take over every aspect of your life and dominate it if you let it. Both the fear of things you can't control and the fear of people letting us down.
So I'm going to talk about that first one first and then the second one. When God says in the Bible, most of you probably heard that He says that or read it, in Philippians do not be anxious, in Matthew do not worry, in Isaiah do not be afraid. It wasn't just something that was a rhetorical flourish that He said because He didn't know what else to say in that awkward moment. He said it because He knows our weakness and He knows how we're made. And He knows that not just women, men too, tend to operate in our lives as if we have the responsibility and the power to control our lives and we don't. And that is the source of true deep anxiety. Women definitely have a tendency, more than men for sure, to let our imaginations run away with us.
Here's a great one from Spurgeon on this. Many of God's people are constantly under apprehensions of calamities which will never occur to them and they suffer far more in merely dreading them than they would have to endure if they actually came upon them. In their imagination there are rivers in their way and they are anxious to know how they shall wade through them or swim across them. There are no such rivers in existence but they are agitated and distressed about them all the same. They stab themselves with imaginary daggers, they starve themselves in imaginary famines and even bury themselves in imaginary graves.
Women, you have got to reign your imaginations in first. And second, when you are actually called to endure a great trial, when, not before, realize this one truth that will save you. God's presence, His very actual Spirit will be with you through it and even make it to turn out for your good. Romans 8 28.
In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. When we are afraid of things that we think would be too much for us to bear, it is because we have put our hope in something that was never meant to withstand the weight of that hope. And when you get just a taste of that presence of God, the smallest taste, you are able to see how you can go forward without fear.
Let's lead me to that second point that Jada's been talking about. We call it the fear of man because that's what the Bible calls it in a few places. Y'all, this is where I live. Oh man, this is kind of embarrassing actually, but I feel like it's been the title of my life sometimes. I like to call it people pleasing, but that is just a euphemism, kind of like I like to call my kids high spirited.
It's just a euphemism. When I first came back to God, my first year of college, my church asked me to sort of tell him my story. And so I did. And after I did, after I finished telling him about how what had finally brought me to my knees and back to God was realizing that I didn't have to please everyone around me and try to make them like me and be this person for them and all this stuff, that God already knew who I was.
He knew how bad I was, exactly how bad I was. And He approved of me because of Christ, no matter what. And so it was this like the most freeing, there's no words for it, the most freeing experience of my entire life. And I found it easier.
I felt like I was flying through my life, walking on air. This man comes up to me afterwards, this great elder in my church, very revered for a long walk with God. And he said, thank you for sharing.
He was very encouraged. And he said, but I want to tell you something. I just want to caution you after years with the Lord, one thing. I said, okay. So he says, don't think that just because you've won this victory this one time that you can put it behind you forever.
The fear of man will probably pursue you and you will probably have to fight it again. Well, thanks dude. You were like seriously killing my buzz, but okay. I really didn't believe him.
I remember thinking he's wrong. I will never go back to trying to please man again. Well, two years later I found myself with an exercise eating disorder, stemming really all from this desperate need to please the people around me and make them like me and think that I was pretty or whatever it was. So won that battle again. Thank you, Jesus. Three years later, I found myself miserably married to JD.
Miserable, probably more miserable than I ever been before. And it really was coming. The Lord helped me see. The turning point was when I began to see that it was this fear of man.
Because no matter what JD did or didn't do, if I ever felt like he was disappointed in any way in me, then I was crushed. Can go on. So when I began to see that, that was when things began to change for us. I also complicated things in that though, I will tell you this, was that I was afraid to even ask for help or tell people because I thought what will they think of me if they find out we're not like skipping through meadows together hand in hand.
So that also complicated. It was still that fear of man. There's this quote that I want to share with you before I go.
And it's by Angela Thomas. And she says, here's one thing I can say with great confidence. The man that you love is just a man. He may be studly and funny and surprising and strong, but he will never, not in a million years, not if he goes to therapy twice a week and keeps every promise ever written, be enough to fill your soul. He wasn't made to be enough. He couldn't even if he tried. He is just a man and he can only give and love as a man.
He was not designed to fill the depth of a woman's longings, anticipate every need and jump through every hoop. Those deep places inside you were made for God. You're listening to a message titled Fear here on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. We'll rejoin this teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to tell you about a daily email devotional from Pastor J.D. that's delivered straight to your inbox. Couldn't we all use encouragement first thing in the morning to remind us of God's love for us? Maybe you're looking to establish a daily routine of spending time with God.
And if that's you, we've got the perfect free resource for you. These daily devotionals follow along with our current teaching here on the program so you can stay plugged in regardless of your schedule. Make the decision to carve out time with the Lord each day by reading and studying with us here at Summit Life.
Sign up for this free resource right now at jdgreer.com slash resources. Now let's return for the conclusion of today's message on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor J.D.
Greer. Told you we were leading up to first John 4 18 and so I want you to look there because I wanted to show you that the two things that we fear most in marriage or the lack of marriage are the things that the gospel addresses. Here's the gospel answer. First John 4 18. There is no fear in love. Not our love for one another because there's plenty of fear in that. There's no fear in God's love but perfect love.
That's the only perfect love. Cast out fear. For fear has to do with punishment.
Whoever fears has not been perfected in love. Fear has to do with punishment. Our fear goes back to this sense you see of being vulnerable.
Right? We have this sense of nakedness. This sense of of exposure. And so watch when somebody rejects me. The reason that hurts so badly is because it reminds me of that sense of rejection that I sense all the time because my soul is naked before God.
And it's punishment. It's this sense of being rejected before God that causes that to be so so devastating because what what happens is is that other person's approval of me for a while is like a covering. It's like well they approve of me so I don't feel naked.
And then all of a sudden when they don't approve of me perfectly, guess what? That's when all of a sudden that's stripped away and I start to feel naked again. When things in my life start going not according to plan.
I start to feel here's what happened. You start to feel alone. You start to feel abandoned. You start to feel like nobody's my life is spinning out of control and things aren't going to work out right. I'm being forsaken. That's that feeling that you have.
My life is is hard. You know that you can go through pain. If you know that there is a good and loving person standing beside you that is directing what's happening. I mean if you had to go through a very painful surgery. If you know that you're in the hands of the best surgeon there is in the world. It may seem it would be painful but you're you're confident in the midst of that.
You're not in despair. The reason we feel the reason that we get so worried about these things that are theirs because we have this sense of punishment. We have a sense that we've been abandoned and that we've been forsaken. Perfect love. You start to feel the perfect love you see cast out for you. God's love is perfect for us in at least four ways. You ought to jot these down and think about them.
Maybe discuss them in your small groups throughout the week. Number one, God's love is perfect in its intensity toward us. God could not love us more than he did when he gave Christ to absorb the wrath of God for our sin. God gave us love beyond anything that anybody had ever known.
It's certainly nothing that Celine Dion or Barry White's ever sung about. It's God's intense love for us. It was it was perfect in its intensity. Number two, it was perfect in its security because Christ removed any threat of God ever taking away his love for me. Everything that God could have held against me.
Everything that could separate me from God's love Jesus Christ absorbed on the cross. God's love number three is perfect in its ability to satisfy us. You were created for eternal love. You were created for the love of God. Now I've explained this to you before but those arms that you were seeking in marriage those were his arms.
You didn't know it. That security you were looking for, that significance you were looking for, that was found in knowing God. Number four, God's love is perfect in its oversight of all things in our lives because we know that the God who controls all the universe loves us will never leave us and is controlling every molecule in the universe according to his good plan. There is nothing that could be greater or more complete than the love of God for you. There's no way that God's love could be any stronger.
There's no way it could be any more secure. There's no way it could be any more satisfying or any more at work in our lives and if you ever believe that that would drive out fear. How could it not drive out fear? I have the greatest gift of the universe and I know that God is directing all things according to his love. With God's perfect love what else is there to be afraid of?
That's why first John four, if you look back up a few verses, verse four, John says greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. There's nobody that can damage you. There's nothing that could happen that God was like oh I didn't know about that. What's going to happen there?
No, of course not. There's nobody that could interrupt the outworking of God's perfect plan for you. All things as my wife mentioned Romans 8 28 are working together for good to those who love God.
I love this verse. This is what God said to the children of Israel before they they when they wouldn't go into the promised land because they were scared because they're like oh the people like giants and the other thing that we know about the Canaanites is that they were all in a witchcraft. They're big time into spells and you know it was demonically powered so a lot of it worked and the people were like oh I can't believe Lord Voldemort lives there and you know they have stronger curses than our curses and our little you know God went there his little stick and they're firing the green things and he's going to blow us up and so numbers 23 23. There is no sorcery that can succeed against Jacob. It's what God says to him.
He's like oh yeah they got Lord Voldemort all you gotta do is quote that verse and he'll roll over dead. There's no sorcery there's no no power that can interrupt God's plan. Psalm 56 11 in God I trust I shall not be afraid.
Why? Because what can man actually do to me? What can man actually do to me? Do you trust that God is all powerful and that he's right now perfectly directing all things in your life and that nothing is outside of his loving control? If so you'll stop being dominated by fear because when you really fear God you can stop fearing everything else. Again let me make sure you understand that. When I say fear I mean when you recognize that God's love is so weighty and God is so significant and he is really the one that you only need to depend on.
He's all that you need when you really put God in the right place and then you are assured that there is no condemnation for you in Christ. That is when fear evaporates. That's why I told you listen that the goal of this message is not that you don't fear the goal of this message is that you fear the right thing.
Right? I mean my kids are good example they fear all the wrong things and don't fear the right things. They're afraid of the closet monster but they're not afraid to play in traffic.
I'm like there is no closet monster but stay out of the road. They're afraid of flies but not afraid of snakes. I'm saying a green mamba could slither through our yard and they could try to pick it up but then a little fly lands I'm like oh you know like no be afraid of the right things. Some of you fear all the wrong things. You fear singleness. You fear marriage.
You feel that litany of things that I listed. You fear men. You fear women. You fear things.
No. It's like one of our pastors told me he said you know he said when I was in college is when God brought me to himself. He says one of the things God used is I started to think about the fact what if I died single? He said I'd be okay. What if I died poor? I'd be okay. What if I died without Jesus? I would not be okay.
He said and that totally changed everything because when Jesus came into the right place and all the rest of it began to fall into lying. You see fear is a reality. It's given to you as a gift because you have a sense that you need to run away from something.
But you need to know what to run to. You need to run to the perfect love of God. You've got a sense of punishment. That's right. That's God gave you that. But Christ has absorbed that punishment and so there's nothing to fear. There's no condemnation to those of us who are in Christ Jesus.
I am convinced Paul says that nothing can separate me from the love of God. How deep? How wide?
How long? If God is for me who can be against me? Let me show you the real beauty of all this. Okay. When you find that kind of security then you can start to be real and authentic again in relationships. You can start to open up yourselves in intimacy. I've explained this to you before but the human quest is to be known and loved. Known and loved. Because to be known but not loved is rejection. But to be loved while not really known.
Well that's sentimentality. You want to be known and loved but here's the dilemma. When people really get to know you they find so much in you that's not worthy of love. So you keep yourself at a distance and you don't want to let them see the real you but when you have experienced the love of God because Christ knew you fully and loved you through those things.
Loved you greater than you could ever be loved. All of a sudden that gives your soul a security so that I can deal with your rejection of me because I have God's approval of me. That's what the gospel is.
I've explained this before. The gospel is that you are simultaneously more you are simultaneously more wicked than you probably ever imagined and more loved and accepted by God in Christ than you ever dared hope. At the same time that's what the gospel is is that you are more known and more loved at the same time and when that happens see then I can start to open up myself and I can trust you know I can trust somebody again because even if they let me down that doesn't shatter my soul because my soul is anchored in God and I can deal with your approval not being perfect with me I can deal with my wife letting me down and she can deal with me not letting her down because neither of us have our souls anchored in one another anymore they're anchored in God. See I can begin to open up myself again. Write this down if God's love is perfect then everybody else's love doesn't need to be.
See that's when you go and you start writing it down all right. If God's love is perfect then your spouse's doesn't need to be. If God's love is perfect then life doesn't have to be.
See you're looking for perfection in your spouse you're looking for perfection in life you're never going to find it the only perfect thing is the love of God. So anchor your soul in that and then you'll say Psalm 56 11 and God I trust he is my rock and my refuge I shall not be afraid because what can man do to me. Give you one more verse here first John one just to show you how John talks about this so much in John talks about this so much in first John I love this if we live in the light as God is in the light we can share fellowship with each other. The world here's what's ironic the world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark right God says no it happens in the light we tend to use darkness to hide our hurts our faults our fears our failures and our flaws but in the light we bring them all out into the open and admit who we really are that's the gospel the gospel is that you are more wicked than you ever imagined and more loved and accepted by God than you ever dreamed and so you bring out your flaws you are known and because you're secured in the love of God that I can trust again I don't have to be obsessed about everything having control of everything I don't have to lay the weight of my soul on my wife and say you're my source of approval significant security and happiness probably because those things are given to me in God.
So what I hope you see in this it's a point I make just about every week without apology and I'll make it if you come here to church for the next 50 years I'll probably have this in the next 50 years worth of sermons there'll always be some kind of version of this point fear is a signal fire for unbelief in the gospel fear is a signal fire of unbelief in the gospel fear means you're running from something but the greater question is what are you running to fear is letting you know that your soul has not been covered in the perfect love of God because perfect love casts out fear and the one who fears has not been perfected in love he doesn't understand how much God loves him or doesn't understand how valuable that is or he doesn't understand that God is lovingly in control of all things and working it all out for his plan how could you fear if you had the perfect love of God as the confidence in the anchor of your soul fear is a signal fire of unbelief in the gospel so we know what you're running from what are you running to you're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer and today we had the special treat of hearing from J.D. 's wife Veronica if you missed any part of this teaching you can catch it again online at jdgreer.com so J.D. okay we've been at this for a while now can you tell us why it's so important to you for us to bring this gospel-based bible teaching to the radio our podcast our website essentially everywhere you know we say it all the time the gospel is the message that transforms the world and it's not just for unbelievers it is the entrance into eternal life it's the gate the narrow way the door by which somebody can experience forgiveness of sins and abundant life in Christ and eternal life with him forever but it's not just for unbelievers it's also the life for us as believers we say it around here we say the gospel is not just the diving board off of which you jump into the pool of Christianity the gospel is the pool itself we don't want anybody anywhere to miss that so I want to bring solid bible teaching straight to homes and cars and people running and and jogging and listening everywhere so that nobody misses the opportunity to know Jesus when you give to summit life that's the mission that you're supporting and when you give to this you are you are enabling us to be a part of the preaching and teaching that transforms lives this month we're inviting you to join our gospel partner program as a monthly contributor I like what is that about go to jdgrier.com check it out it allows us to have a special relationship with you you pray for us we pray for you get access to some promos and you just become a part of this this ministry team so go check it out at jdgrier.com we thank the Lord continually for our faithful partners because we truly couldn't do this without you as always you can visit us at jdgrier.com or give us a call right now at 866-335-5220 that's 866-335-5220. I'm Molly Vidovitch reminding you to listen again tomorrow as we continue our series on relationships called Home Wreckers. Join us Friday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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