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How the Fall Affects Us All, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 9, 2023 9:00 am

How the Fall Affects Us All, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 9, 2023 9:00 am

It’s easy to look at the sins listed in Romans 1 and think, “What was wrong with those people?” But the gospel teaches us that the same idolatry in the hearts of people throughout history still exists in us today. In this message, Pastor J.D. continues to show us in Romans that, while we all stand under judgment of a righteous God, he is also a merciful God who spares us through his grace.


Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. The core sin for all of us is I want to be God. I want to be in control. Repentance is the same for all of us. I surrender my right to do that and recognize that you are the Lord. The good news for you, no matter who you are, is that Jesus Christ came to save sinners. And it doesn't matter what kind of sinner you are. It matters what kind of Savior he is. Welcome to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, it might be easy to look at the sins listed in Romans chapter one and think, what was wrong with those people? But the gospel teaches us that the same kind of idolatry found in the hearts of people throughout history still exists in us today. And Pastor J.D. shows us that while we all stand under judgment of a righteous God, thankfully, he is also a merciful God who spares us through his grace. Now, this message contains teaching from scripture with some mature content.

So if little ears are listening, you might consider catching up online at or pop it in your earbuds. But right now, let's rejoin Pastor J.D. for part two of this message that he titled How the Fall Affects Us All. Every Christian I know who's struggling with same-sex attraction is dealing first and foremost with the question of why God did not answer their prayer to change them. Which means that people with same-sex attraction really ought to be first and foremost recipients of our compassion. That doesn't make same-sex behavior any less sinful, any more than it would make outbursts of temper or envy or materialism less sinful.

It just means that we don't always get to choose our weakness or our corruption. And see, that means that gay and lesbian people are not worse sinners than other people. They're not a different kind of sinner than the rest of us. They just got affected with a different dimension of the curse, and that changes how we think about it and how we talk about it. You see, there are three ways I see us really going wrong with this in the church at large.

Three ways we can go wrong. Number one, we believe that God doesn't really care about this. We believe that God doesn't really care about this.

He does. He is crystal clear in this passage as well as at least five other passages in the Old and New Testament. Passages like, for example, 1 Corinthians where, honestly, he could not get any clearer. Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers. Anybody who willfully and obstinately says, this is who I am and what I'm going to do, these people will not inherit the kingdom of God. Somebody says, but I was born this way. I don't dispute that. And some of us were born with a propensity towards selfish ambition or maybe a raging temper.

The Bible's message is that we all need to be born again. You understand that possessing a desire innately doesn't make it right, right? You know, if I were to approach my wife and say, you know, sweetheart, you know what? After being married to the most beautiful woman I know for two decades, sweetheart, sometimes I still find myself occasionally attracted to other women. So I feel like the only conclusion that I can come to is that I was born polygamous and I just got to be true to myself, sweetheart. And so I'm off to have these relationships with other women.

Veronica would say, well, I'm going to have to be true to myself and smack you upside the head with a two by four, right? Because just because that desire comes from within you doesn't mean that it is a right or healthy desire. The fact that we possess these desires innately just shows that we have corrupt hearts and we need to be born again. And that's Paul's whole point. You can't reform your way into heaven.

Religion and law doesn't have the power of God. You've got to be born again from above. The gospel is a resurrection power that you don't have in yourself. That's why you and I are hopeless without Jesus. I've got desires I can't overcome.

You've got desires you can't overcome. Jesus is the one who overcomes. Therefore, you must be born again. The gospel message is not let the gay become straight. The gospel message is let the dead become alive.

And that is impossible apart from the power of God, which leads me to the second way that I see us going wrong here. Number two, we think it's the worst sin. Paul lists homosexuality as simply one corruption among many. Again, look at the rest of the list.

Here's a question. When I read that list, do you think of deceit and boasting as equally depraved? Do you think of greed as equally depraved as homosexuality?

How about a rebellious attitude against your parents? Do you see that as equally depraved? Paul would. In another one of Paul's letters, Paul even talks about the pride that comes from religion and an obsession to do everything right and be better than everybody else as the same kind of idolatry. Is that equally depraved in your book? People who are judgmental? People who look down on others and try to be a certain kind of good, whether it's a good mom or good husband or good Christian, so they can look down on people. Is that equally depraved, a same-sex attraction?

It should be. It would appear that quite a few other sins are more egregious in God's eyes than homosexuality. Throughout Jesus's ministry and his life, we see him demonstrating great, just incredible sympathy for those caught in sexual sin and great animosity toward the religiously proud. In fact, Jesus one time, not one time, ever said that it was difficult for the same-sex attracted to go to heaven. He did say it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it was for a religiously proud or materialistically successful person to enter into the kingdom of God. That is not to say that same-sex behavior is not sinful, just to say that we often present it differently than the Bible does.

The worst sin, the core sin, the sin behind all the other sins is one that we are all alike guilty of, and that is replacing God's rule with our rule, replacing ourselves at the center where he belonged. Only when we grasp this truth will we become ministers of the gospel, when we understand, like Paul did, that we are the worst sinner that we know. Only when you understand that will you understand that if Jesus came to die for you, that there is nobody he didn't die for. And when you finally realize that in your soul, you'll stop being a judgmental, pharisaical dispenser of the law, and you'll suddenly become a gospel witness. You'll start loving your neighbor like somebody made in the image of God and feeling compassion for them and their weakness. You will begin to treat them first and foremost like people who deserve compassion, not scorn or judgment or a political voting block that we need to marginalize. When you understand that, then what that means is that you become a person who will, for example, stand up and be among the fiercest advocates for the preservation of the dignity and the rights of LGBT people, because we recognize that gay and lesbian people are essentially just like us, people made in the image of God like us and deserving of all the dignity and respect that we desire for us or our children. There is no them. That's what Paul is saying.

It's just big old weak. That means you ought to see in the face of every sinner a reflection of the corruption that afflicts your own heart. You ought to see in their face the fruit of the rebellion that you have participated in. Is that how you read Romans 1? Here's the third way that we go wrong. Number three, assuming it's hard for LGBTQ people to get to heaven. Let me say something really, really clearly here, okay? Homosexuality does not send you to hell.

You know how I know that? Because heterosexuality does not send you to heaven. What sends you to hell is refusing to allow Jesus to be the Lord and center of your life, regardless of how that manifests itself. It might manifest itself in your refusal to let Jesus be Lord over your sexual life, yes. But it might manifest itself in your refusal to let Jesus be Lord over your money. It might manifest itself in your refusal to let Jesus control your career. It's not where you express your rebellion that matters.

It's the fact that that rebellion exists in your heart. Rosaria Butterfield, whose story I've shared with you before here, she was a practicing lesbian, very outspoken professor of literature and women's studies at Syracuse University, a culture warrior on the far left. She said it was Romans 1 that brought her to faith in Christ. The pastor who led her to Christ refused, she said at first, to argue with her about her lesbianism. He told her that according to Romans 1, the real issue was who got to call the shots in her life. It was Romans 1, Rosaria explains, that revealed my heart to me. In Romans 1, she said, Paul showed me that all of us go through the same thing that Eve went through in the Garden of Eden. In the Garden of Eden, Eve suddenly found herself asking, who has the right to declare what is good?

Rosaria said, I had to realize I had to do the same exact thing. I had to decide, is it my desires that determine what's good or God's design? Who is the Lord of my life? Is it my desires or God's word? She says, homosexuality is not the core of our rebellion against God.

A desire to be God is. She says what that means is that repentance for the gay or lesbian person looks fundamentally the same as it does for the straight or the religious person. Repentance means saying, God, I'm sorry for elevating my desires over your will. I am sorry for attempting to try to define my identity apart from your design for me. I am sorry for taking on myself the authority to decide what is good in my life. I am sorry for seeking satisfaction and self fulfillment rather than from giving glory to you. I recognize Jesus as the Lord and so I turn over control to him. That's what repentance looks like for a gay, straight, rich, poor, young, old, Jew, Gentile, black or white person. We all come to Jesus in the same way. The core sin for all of us is I want to be God. I want to determine what's good.

I want to be in control. Repentance is the same for all of us. I surrender my right to do that and recognize that you are the Lord and then salvation looks the same as all of us because it's Jesus washing away the stain of our sin and filling our hearts with resurrection life that gives us the ability to begin to wrestle with these corruptions. The good news for you, no matter who you are, is that Jesus Christ came to save sinners and it doesn't matter what kind of sinner you are.

It matters what kind of savior he is. Bottom line here, bottom line here, Paul's approach to homosexuality is neither what we in our culture would call classically liberal or classically conservative. He lists it as one of many examples of the corruptions that come from a society that has rejected God and replaced ourselves and our desires at the center where he belongs, a rebellion in which all of us have alike participated equally. So I just want to say, listen, I want to make this very clear. If you are here and you are somebody who struggles or possesses same-sex attraction, I want you to understand very clearly that God loves you as much as he loves me. I want you to understand that as his representatives, I know we're a very poor reflection of him, but as his representatives, we love you and we love you regardless of the way that you feel, the way that you feel like you are. We do not believe that your sexual identity defines you. We believe that you are first and foremost a child of God created in his image. That is what the gospel says to people in whatever place we find ourselves. We find that ultimately there's one kind of center and one kind of savior. This is Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Before we dive back into today's teaching, we want to let you know about an amazing resource we've been telling you about that's available to you 24-7. It's a podcast called Ask Me Anything, where Pastor J.D.

takes your toughest questions and answers them in about 10 minutes. Whether you're struggling with doubt, confusion, or just looking for some practical wisdom, Ask Me Anything is the perfect resource for you. Every week, Pastor J.D. answers questions on topics ranging from theology and biblical interpretation to practical Christian living and hot topics. You can listen to this podcast on your morning commute, during your afternoon workout, or any time you want to hear honest questions and quick answers from a biblical perspective. To listen to the Ask Me Anything podcast, visit slash podcasts or search for it on your favorite podcasting app. Now let's get back to today's teaching with Pastor J.D.

Greer here on Summit Life. Paul gives us one more verse, and it's got some very important kind of implications in it, so let's hit that, verse 32. You see, although we know God's just in it, so those who practice such things deserve to die. In other words, we all know in our hearts there's a right from wrong.

We know that God is against the wrong, but not only do we do these things, we even rationalize and sometimes even applaud those who practice them. You see, what we begin to see as we look back through history, we see that idolatry has produced the most horrendous sins throughout history, sins that we look back on now, and we can clearly see how corrupt they were, yet at the time they were institutionalized and they were applauded. It was corruption in them that we can see clearly now, but they couldn't see then. It was idolatry, for example, that we know drove some of the most brutal conquests in history. At the time, these conquering warriors were not treated like depraved people. They were treated like heroes. They were mighty, victorious heroes. We look back on these epics of history and we say, what's wrong with them? You can't just march into somebody's land and steal their stuff and rape their women and take their children and take everything that belongs to them.

That's depraved. We see that now, but they didn't see that then because they were blinded by their idolatry. It was idolatry in our own country that led, for example, to the unfair treatment of indigenous peoples, or it was idolatry that fueled our nation's horrendous history on slavery and oppression. You go back and read our founding documents. Thomas Jefferson and our other founding fathers, they knew it was wrong.

They knew it, but they rationalized it because it was good for the economy and they didn't want to upset the status quo. We know, for example, that some of the first slaves who arrived on American shores on the East Coast at Jamestown were brought by a Dutch trader. The English there, in the early 1600s, refused to take them into slavery.

They're like, one of these people are made in the image of God like us. We can't take them as slaves. Instead, what they did is they put them in this indentured servanthood program where eventually they could buy their own freedom. Now, that's not a great economic system, but it's better than slavery.

Within 50 years, the same English, in one generation, had now changed their thoughts on the image of God in the African and decided that they really were okay to buy and sell as slaves because, historians say, they figured out how much slavery could lead to economic gain. In other words, we knew. We knew. But we didn't know because we didn't want to know.

Martin Luther King Jr. was clear that he was not introducing into American culture some new truth. He was calling us to reckon with what we knew instinctively already to be true, what was in our very creed as Americans, that all men are created equal and all are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, words that were written by a man who owned slaves. So we know. We always knew, but we didn't know because we didn't want to know because of our idolatry, and so we practiced it and approved it and applauded it and institutionalized it. In many ways, at the bedrock of the pro-choice agenda is a commitment to protect idolatry. I want to be the one, instead of God, who determines the life or death of the baby based on not his design, but how it affects me. In fact, I went to the Planned Parenthood site, Planned Parenthood website, and I pulled off their explanation of their commitment to abortion, elective abortion. They said, and I quote, everybody has their own unique and valid reasons for having an abortion. Some of the many different reasons people decide to end a pregnancy include, well, they're not in a relationship with somebody they want to have a baby with. Well, it's just not a good time in their life to have a baby, or they just don't want to be a parent. By the way, I realize that there are a number of you that very likely might be struggling with this right now. I know that we have women in this church who have had abortions. I know that some are currently experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, and I know that you were hurting, and you were confused, and maybe you felt like in the situation you didn't have any other options, and there were all these pressures that were on you, and you didn't know what to choose, and I don't want to make this any harder than it is.

I genuinely don't. We are here for you to walk with you in that. And so I understand why you're conflicted when I get into something like this, but I want you to think about this. The most important question that we have to consider, and this question, and any question of this type is this. Is the baby inside the womb a human life? Is it made in the image of God?

And if so, what are the Creator's designs for that baby? And is it ever right to willfully take innocent human life? I've always believed that women and men should have control over their bodies, which is why I have to be against elective abortion, because it destroys an innocent female or male body without their consent. People say, well, what about rape or incest? Listen, that is a tragic and unspeakably painful situation, but here's what you have to ask. Is the child at fault for how they got there?

Are they not still innocent human beings? When people ask that question, what they usually mean is, well, this baby came to me through one of the most painful and tragic events of my life. Should I be forced to bear the burden of something that just reminds me of that pain?

And that certainly is a heart rending situation. But again, here's the most important question. How does a civil and just society treat innocent human beings that remind us of painful events?

By killing them? People say, well, what about those babies that we know are going to be mentally disabled or have some kind of significant deformity? Are they not still made in the image of God? If so, then they deserve our protection. Who gets to determine whether a baby lives or dies? Is it the Creator's design, which is that innocent people made in the image of God deserve our protection?

Or do we get to deny that when it's inconvenient for us? By the way, even if you're unsure, you're like, well, scientifically, medically, I'm not sure when the baby actually becomes a human being and you have all these questions. Even if we just suspended that question for a minute, I actually think it's pretty clear, but if you suspended it, and you say, we're not sure if it's a human being. The way I think about it is like this. If you go hunting with a friend, and you and your friend get separated, and as you're out there hunting, suddenly something rustles on the bushes and it might be a deer or it might be your friend. Do you just go ahead and take the shot, just unsure which one it is on the chances that it might be a deer? No, if there's any chance at all it's a human life, you don't take the shot.

If there's any question about is the baby a human being, then you side on the side of preserving human life. Now again, I realize that I know some of you got in what felt like an impossible situation. I need you to understand that there is forgiveness, there is healing, there is not judgment coming from us.

We do not consider you a worse sinner than any of us, and you can experience forgiveness like any of us. I'm just trying to show you that this whole discussion is undergirded by an unwillingness to trust God and do things His way. Rejecting God's way just is gonna lead to regret and more corruption like it always has. Idolatry always led to corruption. We can see that clearly in history.

When we do it, it's also going to lead to corruption in our lives, whereas trusting God leads to life. Last year, around this time of year, just made a few comments about our commitment to love with the unwed mother and to care for her as well as the human life that she is carrying and urge people to trust God and do things His way. Well, didn't know this, but there was a girl on one of our campuses who had an appointment that afternoon to go to Planned Parenthood to have her baby aborted.

She wasn't a Christian, and she says I really struggle with it. And she said, I didn't know what to do, but I just decided I was gonna cancel the appointment and I didn't go through with the abortion. She puts the baby up for adoption and in the providence of God, there's a family that is connected to our church that adopts this baby. Well, all of a sudden, about six weeks ago, there's an appointment on my calendar, and I don't recognize the name. So the person comes in, and it was this couple that I'd never met before, and they're carrying this child here.

And they said, we just want you to know that you're a part of this girl's story because when her mother decided to not go through the abortion of her for adoption, we were the ones that received her, and this life now is a part of the world. Y'all, this is God's design right here, okay? This is God's design. And people ask me, they're like, why would you talk about this? It's controversial, it's political. It's not political. This is a human life.

That's why I talk about it. And because this is not, this is what God's design is. Verse 32, although they know God's just sentence, they not only do them, they even applaud those.

You practice them. The chief wickedness is not abortion. The chief wickedness is not slavery, as wicked as that is. The chief wickedness is not homosexuality. The chief wickedness is replacing God at the center of your life with yourself. You and I cannot fathom how wicked and guilty that is when you say to God, you will not be in charge, I'll be in charge. You don't declare what's good, I declare what's good.

I don't live for your glory, I live for my own. That is the chief sin. And it led not just to all these sins, it led to hell itself. Where Paul is headed is Romans 3, 10.

We're not there yet, but this is where he's headed. Romans 3, 10, there's nobody righteous, not even one. Not even one person has ever responded to God like they should. There's nobody who understands. There's nobody who seeks God, nobody. All have turned away, all alike have become worthless.

There's no one who does what is good, not even one. Their throats, our throats are open graves. We deceive with our tongues, we gossip, we tear down vipers. Venom is under our lips. Our mouth is full of cursing and bitterness and slander and all kinds of unkind things.

Our feet are swift to shed blood. Ruin and wretchedness are in our paths. For all sin, Paul says, and all of us fall short of the glory of God, we all stand under judgment.

Not just certain kinds of sinners, but all kinds of sinners. And so the only hope for us he's gonna explain is gonna be in the blood of Jesus. The greatest truth of Romans, I've told you, the greatest truth of Romans is that the righteousness of God is not just a standard by which he judges us. The righteousness of God is a gift that he gives to those who admit that they have no righteousness of their own and that Jesus earned it in their place. The gospel that Paul is pointing us to is itself the power of God. It is the power that has the ability to cleanse us from the deepest sin and begin to heal the worst kind of corruption. It is not religion that you need.

It is not reform that you need. It is new life in Jesus Christ that Jesus Christ alone could do for you. That is the glorious gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that he came not to reward the righteous. He came to save the sinner. And so you and I have all participated alike in this rebellion. We're all experiencing the corruption, but Jesus died for all of us, and all of those who call upon his name can be saved. Thank you, Lord, that I'm forgiven by the blood of Jesus. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. J.D., we're covering so many important questions in this series, and one of the biggest ones is, will religion fix us? What Paul tries to show us in the book of Romans is that religion will not fix us for a couple of reasons. One, we can never pay off our sin debt to God.

Number two, external conformity, forcing ourselves into right behaviors won't change our heart, and that's where the problem is. He shows us how the gospel does what religion cannot do, because the gospel is Jesus paying the debt for our sin so that we can be justified in God's sight. And then the gospel is also the power by the Spirit that actually transforms us into the kind of people who want to obey God from the heart. That's really what all these messages that we're doing here on Summit Life in the book of Romans, that's really what they're about. It's what essential Christianity is about. Whether you're an unbeliever who needs to meet God or whether you're a believer who knows God but needs to continue to be transformed into Christ's image, the gospel, the gospel as presented in the book of Romans, that's the answer.

I think along with these messages through Romans, I think essential Christianity will help you deepen your grasp of the gospel and enhance your abilities to share it with others. So we would love to get a copy to you. Just reach out to us at Get a hold of your copy today with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry by calling us at 866-335-5220. Or you can give online right now at I'm Molly Bidevich inviting you to join us Wednesday as we continue through the book of Romans right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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