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How to Bring a Good Man Down … and Back Again, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
September 29, 2023 9:00 am

How to Bring a Good Man Down … and Back Again, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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September 29, 2023 9:00 am

Though it’s rarely pleasant, honest introspection is an important part of life. It’s essential to regularly search our own hearts, to see if there’s any secret sin we might be ignoring.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Solomon was the man who literally had it all. God gave everything to him. He gave Israel a taste of the blessing that he wanted to pour out through him. He was the wisest, most successful man who ever lived, but a man whose wisdom and success could not keep him from destroying himself. Solomon was just a dim picture of a much greater son who was coming. Happy Friday, and thanks for joining us on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovich, and I hope you're headed toward a relaxing and enjoyable weekend. But before we get there, are you ready to do some honest introspection? Because today we're taking a good, long look at our hearts to see if there's any secret sin we might be ignoring.

It's an important exercise to regularly take part in as we seek to follow more closely after God. Today's teaching is the conclusion of our series called The Man Who Had It All. And if you missed any of the previous messages, you can find them at JDCreer.com. So grab your pen and a Bible for the conclusion of our message titled How to Bring a Good Man Down and Back Again. First Kings chapter 11, let's read it together.

I'll read it to you here. Verse 1, King Solomon loved many foreign women in addition to Pharaoh's daughter. He loved Moabite women and Ammonite women and Edonite and Sedonian and Hittite women from the nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 17, 17, you must not intermarry with them and they must not intermarry with you because they will turn your heart away to follow their gods to these women. Solomon was deeply attached in love.

He had 700 wives who were princesses and 300 who were concubines and they turned his heart away. When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods. Solomon followed Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sedonians and Milkom, the abhorrent idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the Lord's sight and unlike his father David, he did not remain loyal to the Lord. At that time, Solomon built a high place which was just a place where they would worship from.

For Camosh, the abhorrent idol of Moab and for Milkom, the abhorrent idol of the Ammonites, he did the same for all of his foreign wives who were burning incense and offering sacrifices to their gods. The Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel who had appeared to him twice. Now when you're reading this through in the story of Solomon, this chapter seems to come out of nowhere. I mean you're rolling through the story of Solomon and you're reading about glory and wisdom and devotion to God and success and then suddenly, chapter 11, disaster. So what I want to do is I want to use this story to highlight for you the things that would bring a good man, even the world's wisest man, things that would bring him down and this is the story of how it happens.

You may not have the same things going on in your life that Solomon had in his, but these same patterns, five patterns, are going to exist in your life. Number one, we see from this story that a good man is brought down first by disbelief in God's promises. Like I pointed out, Solomon's first problem was not out of control sexual lust. His first problem was that he didn't trust God enough to fully rely on him. In fact, if you want to think about it this way, 70% of his problem was unbelief and only 30% of his problem was lust because of his 1,000 wives, 700 of them were political marriages, not sexually motivated.

Now that is almost always the case. The root core of all sin is unbelief. If you peel back the layers of any area of sin or compromise in your life, there you're going to find the core, the sin of unbelief. The question that I have for you is what happened to Solomon?

Is it happening to you? The root cause of all of Solomon's problems was not sexual lust. The root problem was he felt insecure and felt like he needed to hedge his bet by not letting God have control of an area. Where is that happening to you? Where can you not trust God? Where are you hedging your bet through small areas of compromise and not letting go of things that God's told you to let go of?

Closely tied to this one is number two. A good man is brought down by disregard for God's word. Disregard for God's word. 1 Kings 11, 2 that we read shows you clearly that God said not to multiply wives. Again, that's Deuteronomy 17, 17 if you're taking notes.

He probably thought, well, his commands are not that important. It's not like I'm breaking one of the 10 commandments. But the danger of sin, listen, the danger of sin is not in how wicked or immoral a particular act is. The danger of sin is in the presence of the God you drive out through your sin. You see, when you reject God's commands, no matter how small you put yourself outside of his protection, and that one area of compromise becomes the gateway through which the enemy can pour all kinds of destruction into your life. Where is he bringing spiritual death into your life because there's an area that you just haven't brought into conformity to God's word. Number three, we see from Solomon's life here that a good man is brought down by disobedient friends.

Disobedient friends. Verse 2 tells us that when Solomon grew attached to these wives, it was them that turned his heart away. Probably the single most important factor in your life in determining whether or not you will make it all the way with Jesus. Listen to this, is who you choose to surround yourself with.

And of course, y'all, there's probably no more important and influential friend you're ever going to have than your spouse. You know, when I see a Christian intentionally pursue a romantic relationship with somebody who's not a Christian, I just wonder, I'm like, do you know what you're doing to your future? Learn from Solomon. I mean, scripture is clear, equally clear with you, right? Second Corinthians 6 14, do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Unequally yoked means you're not in a relationship with them that's exclusive like a romantic relationship. It's very clear that believers should only marry in the Lord.

I know what you say back to me, Eli, but I know couples where this has worked. She wasn't, she was saved and he wasn't and then she led him to Christ. Yes, God's grace is amazing. But I'm going to tell you that you cannot willfully flout God's rules and then look to him to fix everything. That is mocking him, not trusting him. And God will not be mocked.

And by the way, just on a practical level, do you really want to gamble with the rest of your life this way? Now I'll tell you now as a dad with four kids, the most precious and important things in the world to me are my four children. And the most important thing about them is their relationship with God. So why would I intentionally have the biggest influence in their life beside me who is going to affect whether or not they come to know God? Why would I ever intentionally choose to have someone in their life that has that kind of influence that doesn't share the most important thing in my life? Now by the way, if you're already married and the person you're married to is not a believer and you became a believer after you were married or something like that, that's different. You can trust God's timing and you can look to him to work in the lives of your kids despite the fact that you're kind of all alone in your pursuit here. But my point is to those of you who are single, do not mock God by saying, I will intentionally do it my way and then I'm going to expect God to fix it.

God will not be mocked that way. And really quick, let me say something because I know that we've got several people in here this weekend who are not Christians. But you're dating a Christian and I just made things really weird for you right now. It's just awkward, uncomfortable. Understand this, I'm not trying to insult or demean you, I promise.

Just on a practical level for you, let me just talk to you. I would advise you, if you're not a Christian, that if you are not a Christian you shouldn't date one unless you plan to become one. Let me tell you why I say that. Because the Christian that you are dating right now really wants to convert you.

They do. They're not satisfied with you the way that you are. You want me to prove that? They brought you here this weekend.

Right? This wasn't your idea to come, it was their idea to bring you. And that's why everyone saw they're cutting their eyes over at you to look at you and see if I'm connecting with you. They're looking for that little tear in your eye to let them know that it's being successful. The point is they don't accept you as you are, they want you to change.

Let me tell you something else. Their mom and dad don't like you either. And right now they're not happy that their daughter or son is dating. And right now they're all praying for you. They know you're at church right now.

They do. And they're praying for you right now. Lord, please change their heart. Let them get saved so they don't mess up our family. I'm just being honest with you.

I've seen this for many, many years. They're not going to be happy until you become a Christian. So my advice to you is if you don't plan on becoming a Christian, just don't marry one.

Back to the point though, the main point. A good man is brought down by disobedient friends. A Solomon counsels us in counsel that he would disobey and ultimately destroy himself through. Solomon counsels us. The righteous man is cautious with his friendships. He's cautious with his friendships, especially his marriage. He's saying your most intimate acquaintances ought to be believers because you will inevitably become like them. Now I know what you're saying real quick. You're like, well, Pastor JD, are you trying to say that we shouldn't have any friends who aren't Christians? No, not at all.

I would go against so many of the things that the Bible says. But here's the way we describe this. I think I get this from Andy Stanley.

I can't remember originality, the ability to forget where you got it from, so I can't remember. So I'm just going to say I made this up. But basically in your life you've got three circles of friends. Let's call it the circle of intimacy. These are your closest friends. Obviously your spouse would be in that one. But these are friends.

You only got room for like three or four in that category. These are friends that are just so close to you that they know everything that's going on in your heart. Those, Solomon is telling us, those need to be people who share the ultimate convictions that you have and that walk with God like you because you're going to become the average of whoever's in that circle. Number two is a circle of influence. Solomon would tell us that most of the people here ought to be Christians. These are people that you're involved in their lives and they're involved in yours and you're influencing them and they're influencing you.

Maybe not all of them but at least most of them should because that's your community. Then you got another circle of friends and these people are genuinely friends. You care for them and they care for you but they're not the kind of people that you would say I'm walking through life with and I'm becoming like them.

What I'm saying is all three of these circles are genuine friendships and for some of you, you've got people in the circle of intimacy that really ought to be in the circle of care or influence and you need to just think about your friendships and be wise with them because your friends are the future you. Solomon knew that but he didn't obey it and ultimately it destroyed his life. Number four, from Solomon's life we see that a good man is brought down by degrees, not all at once.

Chapter 11 feels like it comes out of nowhere but it really doesn't. If you're paying attention in Solomon's life, you've seen the seeds of this all the way through. In fact, that was the very first passage we looked at. Chapter three is where Solomon has his dream and the dream where God appears at the beginning of his reign and says, ask me anything and I'll give it to you and Solomon asks for wisdom. Right before that story of Solomon getting the dream, we find this verse right here. Solomon made alliance with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, by marrying Pharaoh's daughter.

Solomon brought her to the city of David and he finished building his palace and the Lord's temple. It's right after this that he has this dream. You know what that means? That means the seeds of his destruction were present in his life from the beginning. Now in one sense, hang with me, in one sense it's actually encouraging to me. You know why? Because it means that God chose Solomon even when his life was kind of messed up and when he was a compromiser.

You know why that's encouraging? Because that means that God can work in the life of somebody messed up and compromising like me. God didn't choose Solomon because he was perfect. Solomon had problems when God chose him. And what God was doing, watch this, God was inviting him to leave these things behind and follow him fully. But you know what Solomon did? Solomon took God's blessing for granted. And he thought, well, these things haven't hurt me yet, so I won't deal with them. I'll just keep going with them because if it hadn't hurt me yet, it probably won't hurt me in the future.

Listen to this. Nothing is more dangerous in the Christian life than sleeper cells of sin that you haven't dealt with. And you think you're fine because God has blessed you like he blessed Solomon. And he's blessed a bunch of you and it's sincere blessing. That blessing is an invitation for you to turn away from those simple things and come to him.

But you take it for granted and you don't deal with it. And it's just a matter of time before that web gets all the way around you and those sins harvest and destruction comes in the way that it came into Solomon's life. It is always a joy to walk through the word with you each day. But before we continue, let's give a big shout out once again to our gospel partners as we round out the week. These incredible folks are the heart and soul behind our daily broadcasts, and they're fueling the mission to spread the gospel nationwide. We seriously could not do what we do without their support. To say thank you, we send a featured resource each and every month.

And this month we've got a special treat lined up for them. A brand new eight part study of Psalm 23 written by Pastor JD called Goodness in the Middle. Want to dive into this study and become a regular part of our Summit Life family?

Just give us a call at 866-335-5220 or drop by jdgrier.com and we'll send you a copy right now with your gift of $35 or more. This ministry is dependent on the faithful giving of God's people, so we thank you in advance for partnering with us. Now let's return for the conclusion of our teaching series. Once again, here's Pastor JD.

C.S. Lewis describes sin like a cancer that never stops growing in the background. It grows invisibly until suddenly you realize that it has eaten away all of your desire for God. Where is that happening in your life right now? Maybe it's the sin of exaggeration.

Maybe small lies that you tell that get you out of a jam. Maybe the problem is fear of man. You just are always changing your viewpoint based on who is around you. Maybe you have an out of control temper. Maybe it's lust that manifests itself in pornography.

The book of James, which is kind of like Solomon in the New Testament. James 1.15 says, Be warned, sin starts as a wayward desire, a fantasy. Then that wayward desire turns into a guilty pleasure. Then that guilty pleasure turns into something you crave and feel like you can't live without. And finally that turns into a habit you can't shake. And then it turns into something that consumes you and destroys you.

The fire that starts small in you but left unchecked will eventually burn the whole house down. You have got to take sin seriously in your life. John Owen the Puritan, he said, You've got to be killing sin or sin will be killing you. At any given point, one of those two things is happening. You are killing sin or it's killing you.

And I don't know what it is for you because for every one of you it's something different. Fear of man, pride, lust, materialism. It's just growing until it has the moment to manifest and destroys you. Where are you just letting it ride and taking God's blessing for granted?

It's like a ticking dime bomb. That ties very closely to the last insight I want to give you here before I kind of wrap things up. Number five, a good man is brought down by deceptive overconfidence.

He's brought down by deceptive overconfidence. Solomon had a life of nearly unbroken success. He had unmistakable spiritual gifts. I mean the kind that people knew around the world knew about his spiritual gifts. He was the most successful king that Israel ever had.

And all those things made Solomon lower his guard. He just started to take it for granted. He bought into his own hype and assumed that his role as God's chosen one meant that he was unique. Few things destroy you faster than success, especially spiritual success. Because success makes you forget how desperately you need grace. I had a chance recently to talk with a guy named Paul Tripp, who is a Christian counselor, written a lot of books, probably the best out there on these things. And I was with him and I asked him, I said, there's all these pastors of large churches who in the last five years have just went up in flames.

They're just burned out of ministry or moral failure or something. And I asked him, I was like, what's the common denominator in all these? I'll never forget what he said.

I've shared it with our staff. He said, number one, he said, none of these guys had true peer friendships. They were usually extroverts. So they had people in their lives all the time, but nobody that could look them in the eyes and say, I'm concerned about this area of your life.

Everybody that was around them, they were kind of a superior and they were inferior. He said, that's number one, because things that grow in a secret garden always grow mutant. He said, number two, ties in closely to it is they'd all forgot the power of indwelling sin. That ultimately, even though God had blessed their churches and they'd grown really large, they'd forgotten that they were made out of the same stuff as the people that they're preaching to. And he said, if you ever become, you ever cease to be a participant of grace and become only a preacher of grace, you are headed for absolute disaster because the enemy loves for you to forget how desperately you need God's grace. And then he told me, reminded me of something that John Newton, the writer of Amazing Grace said, John Newton said, when we say growth in grace, typically we think I'm going to grow to the point that I don't need grace. He said, growth in grace is primarily growth in your knowledge of how desperate you are on God's grace. That's the sign that you are growing in grace is every day you become aware, you become aware that I am so desperate on God's grace.

Y'all, you show me a Christian, you show me a Christian whose dependence on grace is not greater than when he started, and I'll show you a Christian whose growth is artificial and fragile and who is about to fall apart. Solomon was the man who literally had it all. God gave everything to him. He gave Israel a taste of the blessing that he wanted to pour out through him. He was the wisest, most successful man who ever lived, but a man whose wisdom and success could not keep him from destroying himself. So I want to end part one of this series with just a couple of quick reflections on Solomon and show us the bigger lesson that Solomon is supposed to teach us in the Bible. And these are probably more important than anything we've talked about in the last four weeks.

Here they are. Number one, lesson one, Solomon shows us that you need something more than wisdom. Hey, you need to hang up that you're going to be smarter than Solomon. This is not about memorizing the book of Proverbs and becoming wiser than Solomon. Solomon had more wisdom here than you will ever have in your life.

His heart turned away from what his head knew to be true. The problem with most of us, listen, is not that we don't know the right thing to do. The problem is we lack the desire to do the right thing that we know we ought to do, which leads me to the second thing that Solomon shows us. Number two, Solomon's wisdom is fulfilled in a suffering savior, not a teaching king. Is that what we needed? Somebody wiser than Solomon? Do we need a better teacher? We need somebody who would come, maybe be a little funnier than Solomon and maybe say things in a more pointed way, more tweetable. Is that what we really needed? No. We needed something altogether different than what Solomon was.

You see, listen to this. The people of Israel thought that Solomon was the one that had been promised. God had promised David that one of his sons would bless the world, would bless Israel, would build a temple as a place to meet with God and would bless the nations through them. And they thought, that's Solomon. It's got to be Solomon. But then they were bitterly disappointed because Solomon couldn't even rule himself.

See, that's where the beauty of the Old Testament really kicks in. Solomon was just a dim picture of a much greater son who was coming. When God promised David this son and Israel assumed that it was Solomon and then figured out it wasn't, they were left with this big question, who is this son? Who is this wise son who is going to make us wise and bring us blessing? Well, see, when you leave 1 Kings and you read through the rest of your Old Testament, you'll find out that centuries later another son of David is going to show up. And that son possessed all the same wisdom that Solomon had, even more.

People came from far and near to hear him. But the center of this son's life was not wise teaching. The center of this son's life was not a glitzy temple. The center of this son's life was him dying in shame in the place of sinners. And he would say that he was going to suffer for our foolishness so that he could forgive us and then put his spirit of wisdom into us so that we would not only understand the wise thing that we're supposed to do, but we would have the resurrection power to actually do it. You see, unlike Solomon, Jesus wasn't admired around the world for his wisdom and success.

Jesus was hung up in shame where he was mocked as a fool. But because of that, he can restore wisdom to those of us like Solomon who've messed up our lives with foolishness. You can see this right there in 1 Kings 11.

You don't know how to read it, but it's there and it's beautiful. 1 Kings 11, since you've done this, Solomon, you didn't keep my covenant and my statutes, which I commanded you. I will tear the kingdom away from you.

In other words, there's a consequence for what you did. And I will give it to your servant. However, I will not do it during your lifetime.

This is awesome. For the sake of your father David, I will tear it out of your son's hand. Keep going. Yet I will not tear the entire kingdom away from him. I'll give one tribe for your son for the sake of my servant David, for the sake of the promise that I made to David. By the way, David, who was himself an adulterer and murderer, I'm not going to give you, Solomon, what you deserve.

I'm not. For the sake of my servant David, I'm going to leave one tribe for your son and for the sake of Jerusalem that I chose. And that one tribe was called Judah. You see, centuries later, another son would be born to the tribe of Judah.

And it was Jesus Christ, the son of David of the tribe of Judah, who was Christ the Lord. And he would come as the wisdom of Solomon. He would come as the riches of Egypt.

He would come as the greatest thing that had ever come. God said, I am going to, even in the midst of all your foolishness, I'm going to give you somebody who will not just teach you, but somebody who will save you. And so when you mess up your life in foolishness, which you inevitably will, hope in him. The point of Solomon's life is not to get wiser than Solomon and then you'll succeed. Solomon had more wisdom than you ever will. And he still failed. The point is you need something more than wisdom.

You need Jesus. And when you realize that he ran the race for you, lived perfectly for you, and you chose to receive him, he'll give you the strength to become wise. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. If you missed any part of this series, you can find all the messages free of charge at jdgreer.com. Today we wrapped up our short series on the life of Solomon called The Man Who Had It All. And Monday we'll stick with Solomon for a bit longer with a teaching series called Full of Nothing, straight from the book of Ecclesiastes. And our featured resource this month ties in perfectly with all the wisdom literature we've been studying lately. It's an eight-part study through Psalm 23 called Goodness in the Middle. We wrapped up a teaching series sharing that same name last week.

And this study expands on those lessons and helps you apply them directly to your life because we are all in the middle of something. We'd love to send you a copy of Goodness in the Middle with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry. To give, call us at 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220. Or you can give online at jdgreer.com. By the way, if you haven't signed up for our email list yet, you will want to do that today. Stay up to date with everything going on at Summit Life, including Pastor J.D. 's latest blog posts and information about other resources available. It's easy to sign up at jdgreer.com. That's jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Venovich, and thanks for joining us today.

Have you ever been in the middle of a crisis and you started to question if there's really any method to the madness? Discover the true meaning of life when you join us Monday for a new study in the book of Ecclesiastes here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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