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Therefore, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
October 13, 2023 9:00 am

Therefore, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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October 13, 2023 9:00 am

Do you want to know what the will of God is for your life? Pastor J.D. continues in this message from Romans 12 to talk about the two things that summarize what Christianity is all about.

Summit Life
J.D. Greear

Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Welcome back to another day of solid biblical teaching here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Okay, now, I'm sure you've asked yourself this question many times. What is the will of God for my life? It always seems so elusive and mysterious, but today we'll learn why the will of God is not so much the choices we make or the direction we choose to take, but more of a way of thinking that informs those choices and how. As we become the kind of person God wants us to be, we'll instinctively do these right things, which then is his will.

Does that sound confusing? Well, you've come to the right place. Let's rejoin Pastor J.D. in Romans Chapter 12 here on Summit Life. You see, religious sacrifices in those days, particularly pagan ones, were done to gain something from God, forgiveness or blessing or whatever. Well, Paul spent 11 chapters telling you you've already got that as a gift in Christ. It's impossible to be more forgiven or more blessed than you already are in him. So in response to that sacrifice, Paul says, why would you not want to offer your life to him? You're not doing it because you need favor.

You're doing it because he gave it to you. And in light of that, shouldn't you want to offer your life to him? I mean, ever think about it? Where would you be without Jesus? If the gospel you believe is true, what would your prospects be without Jesus?

It would be nothing except for pain and misery in this life with no hope and then eternal condemnation in the next, right? What Paul is saying is in light of what God has actually saved you from that I've told you for 11 chapters, how would you not want to just offer your life back to him? And speaking of that, why would you even trust anybody else with your life? I will never understand how somebody could believe that God did what he said he did in the gospel and then not trust him with their relationships. If he's trustworthy with your soul and eternity, he's trustworthy in your marriage today, or he's trustworthy in who you date today or in your finances today. You can trust him with everything.

Can you trust him with what you are and what you believe and where you're going? I was reminded this week of the story of a guy named C.T. Studd, who was a professional cricket player, which doesn't mean that anything to you. It's not impressive now. But back in his day in the early mid 19th century, that was the sport of choice. So all the cool kids played and he was on England's national team. At the height of his professional career, he just said he started to wrestle with a thought that his life wasn't counting for anything eternal. So he resigns at the height of his career.

This would be like Drew Brees or LeBron James just backing off and saying, I'm not doing that anymore. And he gave his life to go into the obscurity of, in those days of China and India and different parts of Africa where he would live until he died. And whenever he would come back to England, people would say, why did you do this?

Why would you walk away from so much for so little? He came up with this great little line that is an answer that I think summarizes the Christian life. He said, if Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to ever make for him.

He deserves the offering of my life because I understand what he did. So that's the Christian life as living sacrifice. Now Paul says, you're going to do this as an act of worship. It's your true worship.

He says that at the end of verse one, this is your true worship. That word true, by the way, that word true in Greek is the word logikos, which is where we get our word logical. And really what he's saying there is it's reasonable. It's eminently reasonable. It just makes sense that this is what you would do.

It's reasonable. As the creator, Paul explains, God could demand your worship, but as the Redeemer, he definitely deserves it. Here's the thing about worship. When you really worship something, seeking it and trying to please it doesn't feel like a burden. You just crave it.

It's just so important to you that you want more of it. Nowadays, people think of worship as an exclusively religious word, but you worship, we saw in chapter one, whatever you think is essential for the good life. To worship something means that you think it has ultimate value, ultimate worth. In fact, I gave you last week a definition of worship. Worship really is from the word worth, worthship.

You give something such worth that possessing it becomes essential to a happy life. One of the words in Hebrew for worship is the word kabod. Kabod, we translate that word as glory. In Hebrew, it literally means weight. To give something glory, to worship it is to give it weight in your life. So here's the question. What is it that carries that kind of weight to you?

What has such weight in your life that without that thing, you don't think life would even be worth living? In chapter one, Paul says the core of everybody's sin is a worship disorder. The original sin was a worship disorder, which seems odd maybe to you, because you're like, well, I don't in the Garden of Eden, you don't see Adam and Eve bowing down to a statue. But when you understand worship is weight, well, then you understand what he's talking about, because Adam and Eve gave more weight to the freedom promised by the tree than they did the relationship with God. And because they thought that that was more essential to a happy, successful life, they traded their relationship with God for that. So it is, Paul says, that with all of our sins, it starts with a worship disorder. You decide something, usually a good thing, has more weight in your life than God, and so you prioritize possessing it over knowing and obeying God. So let's just stop for a minute and just ask, what is that for you?

What in your life do you feel like has such ultimate worth that it is essential for a happy life and you could not be happy without it? Let me do this. I'm gonna try to do as quickly as I can.

Let's do a little idolatry detection test. Well, I'll just ask you a few questions, like a diagnosis, and I want you just to be honest with your answers, okay? Because I want to show you something about it at the end. I'm not gonna judge you. I'm not turning these in. Don't write down God as the answer to these questions, okay?

Because that's not true. Here it is, ready? I'll just put it over here. The thing I'd be most worried about losing is, what's the first thing that pops into your mind? The thing I would be most worried about losing is, what goes in that blank? My family, money, respect, success. Again, I'm not judging you.

I just want you to be honest about it. Fill in this blank. The thing I'd be most worried about never attaining is blank. Is it riches?

Maybe for some of you it's fame. Remember this old movie called The Natural with Robert Redford, where he's driven to be the greatest baseball player ever, and this woman in the movie asked him, like, why do you work so hard at this? And he has that lie. His character is named Roy Hobbs.

He says, I want to walk across the street one day and overhear somebody, just overhear somebody talking behind me and say, hey, there goes Roy Hobbs, the greatest baseball player who has ever lived. That's what drives me. Is that similar to what drives you?

I really want to be recognized. Maybe it's your kids turning out well, your kids get into the right schools. So if one of your kids starts doing poorly, you take it personally.

You start questioning your own worth, right? I mean, you want some insight into my wife's life and our struggles. For me, the thing I've always been most worried about is never attaining some stature of success.

Like many mothers, for hers, it's hers tied to being a good mom. So a lot of my worries end up centering around not succeeding in my career. And if I'm a failure in my career, I feel like I got no reason for living, which is why my moods go up and down based on how the church attendance was the previous week, and why when I preach a bad sermon, I feel like I don't have any value at all, right? But when I preach a bad sermon or when the church is not doing that awesome, it doesn't bother Veronica that much. I mean, she wants the church to do well, but it's not going to devastate her.

But if one of our kids is not doing well, well, that's a different story to her, right? Because it's that that defines life. If you're single, maybe that thing you're worried about is never attaining companionship.

You think life will be pointless and meaningless if you don't get married. I can't be happy without that. It's got so much kabod. It's got so much weight that I can't be happy. Fill in this blank. If I could change blank about myself right now, I would change it. What would it be? Your career?

Your looks? Your living situation? Your spouse?

Don't write that down if that's what you were putting down. Your marital status? There's probably nothing wrong with some of your desires for change, but I just want you to see something.

Here's one. Throughout your life, what have you been most willing to sacrifice for? Worship and sacrifice always go hand in hand, right? You're willing to sacrifice and gain the favor of whatever it is you worship. For me, not surprisingly, I sacrifice for success.

Why would I have a propensity to overwork and damage relationships? Because I want to be successful. Why? Because one day I want to walk down the street and ever hear somebody talking behind me and say, there's J.D. Greer.

He's the greatest preacher that ever lived. That sounds dumb when I say it. By the way, if you see me at the mall, do not come up and say, there's J.D. Greer, because I will not be onto you. What's made you the most bitter in life?

What got taken away that you just can't get over? You got passed over for promotion. You didn't get selected for the team. The ex-spouse kept you from the family you deserved.

You never really got recognized for the awesome person you are. Your husband doesn't see it. Your kids don't appreciate it. And that makes you bitter. Bitterness almost always points to something that has great weight in our lives that we feel like we missed out on.

Here's a similar one. What can't you forgive? You know you should forgive, but you can't. You know you should forgive, but you can't. The Christian counselor, David Pauluson, says the inability to forgive is almost always connected to an idol that you think somebody robbed you of. And that's why even though you know all the things you're supposed to do, you can't, because that thing was so essential for living for you. You just can't let it go. You can't forgive. Here's another one. What are you willing to lie for? Usually when you lie, it's not because you're just a dishonest person. It's because you're protecting an idol. Your reputation, your prosperity, your comfort.

Years ago, I was preparing to teach on this, and I wanted to illustrate. I think it was for you. It may have been somewhere else, but I was trying to figure out how many of my sins connected to my root idol. So I asked Veronica, my wife, to help me come up with a list of sins that I struggled with most to see if we could determine I have a pattern.

For the record, by the way, that is a mistake. My wife started rattling off sin. I'm pretty sure she pulled a little list out from beside the bed.

It was like, we don't need to ask. And we just start going through them, right? And I thought, next time I do this, I'm doing this by myself with a journal and a cup of coffee, and that's it, okay? But I already talked about how worrying and overworking were connected to my need to succeed. We also figured out that even my propensity to sometimes bend the truth, which I will do, was connected to this desire to succeed and at least succeed in your eyes. I'm tempted to lie sometimes because what do I do? I want to exaggerate my accomplishments.

I pastorally round up, right? Or I want to minimize my failures, make them not that bad so that you will think that I'm successful, right? Or the other way that I lie is I don't want to disappoint you. So if you want to, can I come over to your house? I'll be like, I got a thing, an appointment or something, because I don't want to let you down, right? And I want you to like me because your approval is something that just is very significant to me. And so I'll bend the truth to make sure that I don't upset you or make you think less of me. You're like, well, man, you really got a problem. Are you sure you should be a pastor?

No. But I'm the same as you. I just got the courage to stand up here and be honest about it. Of course, the reason I'm doing that is so I'll, maybe one day I'll be walking across the street, they'll say, there goes JD Greer.

He's the most honest pastor I've ever seen in my life. It all goes back to where do you turn for comfort? When something, when things go wrong in your life, when you really get criticized, when things fall apart, what do you turn to to say, it's going to be okay? You turn to kind of your talents. Well, I'll pick myself back up.

Or I got enough money in the bank, we can weather this. For me, not unsurprisingly, it's in my successes. I'm like, well, I don't know, this went wrong, but I've built a great church, so I'll be okay. All right, what is it that you turn to? Maybe you turn to the comfort of food or drink or even pornography or shopping. And you're like, well, as long as my body feels good, I can be happy. That's why we always say that idolatry is often a factor behind these addictions.

I'm not saying it's the only factor, but for some people it's a factor because you depend on the comfort those things give to be happy and you get addicted to it. Whose approval do you seek? That's the last quote. Be honest with yourself. There's somebody, some group from whom you want to hear well done, good and faithful servant.

Who is that? Is it your friends, is it your husband, your wife, your dad, your team, who is it? There's nothing wrong with anything that you wrote down, but if you wrote it down two or three times, there's a real chance that thing has got ultimate weight in your life. You've displaced God, and that's why it leads to misery. Thanks for joining us today on Summit Life. We'll get back to today's teaching in just a moment, but first I wanted to tell you about our featured resource this month. It's a Bible study through the second half of the book of Romans called In View of God's Mercy, written by the late Tim Keller. Pastor Tim was one of JD's biggest ministry influences, and we are honored to be providing this study to you. It's a great way to get an even better perspective and understanding of one of the Bible's richest books, and it would make an incredible study to do with a friend or even a whole group. Each of the book's seven studies walks you through passages of Romans, along with application questions and prayer prompts. You'll see Paul teaching about the gift of being right with God and what being righteous means for your future. To get ahold of your copy, just give us a call at 866-335-5220 or visit to give today. Now let's get back to today's teaching from Pastor JD right here on Summit Life.

Paul said the gospel should show you that the only one worthy of your worship, the only one you can lean your soul on and find satisfaction from, that that's God. Romance is not going to do it. Romance breaks your heart. I've told you this before, but lonely, insecure single people, lonely, insecure, unhappy single people, become lonely, insecure, unhappy married people. Because it's just not designed to cure that in your heart. Marriage doesn't cure unhappiness.

It usually just makes it worse. I mean, it's been a while since, I don't do a lot of weddings anymore, but I used to tell couples, when the premarital counseling thing, I was like, if you would let me, on the day of your wedding, after you put on all the makeup and do your hair and get on the tux and everything, I would take a Sharpie and I would write on your forehead for each other, will not support the weight of your soul. That's a little sign, like on one of those bridges that you can't drive a big heavy truck on, like you can't do it.

That much weight will crush this bridge. If this person is, you're looking at them to make you happy and fulfilled, you're going to be unhappy for the rest of your life, because problems like loneliness and insecurity are not cured by romance, you're only cured by God. Money and success won't do it. I remember an interview with Tom Brady on CBS, right after he won his third Super Bowl, where he was like, you know, and I quote, why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me?

I mean, maybe a lot of my people would say, hey man, this is what it is. I reached my goal, my dream, my life, but me, I think, God, it's gotta be more than this. Of course, you know, he's an unhappy man, leaving his pregnant wife for some new fling, but that's what idolatry does to you.

He climbed, as I often say, to the top of the ladder of success, wanting to figure out it was leaning against the wrong building. Fame's not going to do it for you. Just last month, I saw Katy Perry post on Instagram, 100 million digital singles and still insecure.

I'm like, well, at least she recognizes it about herself. King David, he just said, he said, nothing else has ended up sustaining me. When my father and my mother forsake me, which I don't know what's behind that, but some hurt, even there, God held me. I got nobody in heaven but you, and you're the only one I'm going to depend on.

You're better than success in my career. Blaise Pascal famously said, the human heart is a vacuum. And we spent all of our lives trying to figure out what goes into it, but God is, that vacuum is in the shape of the love of God. God is the missing piece in your life. The arms you searched for in romance were his arms.

The security you sought in money was found in him. And approval that you want from other people, from your friends, I can tell you where that is, that's found in your heavenly father saying, you're my beloved son or daughter in whom I'm well pleased or well done, good and faithful servant. Your soul was created for God. And the gospel proves that to you.

Again, just think of the word logicos there. Paul is inviting you to stop and reason. If you believe the gospel, that you have a heavenly father who after you rejected him, came after you, that's the God you're searching for.

And you should be able to trust him. So that's Paul's summary of the Christian life. Daily present your body as a living sacrifice to God as an act of worship. And the way that you'll learn to do that is by, verse two, renewing yourself constantly in the truth of the gospel. Remind yourself constantly of God's goodness. Press deeper, go deeper into it. Remind each other of it.

That's why we have small groups. So when you're not in it, I can push you in it. And when I'm not in it, you can push me in it. And Paul says, when you start to do that, I gave this real quick.

I just wanna introduce this for the next three weeks that we spend in chapter 12. Because then you'll be able to discern what is the good and pleasing and perfect will of God. Again, real quick, what you should note there is that the will of God, watch, is not so much a particular choice as it is a way of thinking in response to the gospel that will lead the right choices.

I draw that distinction because for a lot of you, when we say will of God, you start thinking, okay, which career should I take? And where should we live? And who should I date?

And what college should I go to? Like you got three doors, A, B, or C. You're like, oh God, which one is your will? And one of them's gonna lead to awesomeness. And one of them's gonna lead to nothing.

And I just don't know what to do. I guess God will guide you. But in scripture, that's not how the will of God is usually talked about.

You understand that? The will of God is almost always presented as something you become. And when you become the will of God, then you'll do the will of God.

This is not exact, but 99.9% of the will of God is fulfilled in learning to worship God above everything else in your life and learning to offer your life as a living sacrifice back to him. Stop looking at it like the will of God is like this magic eight ball where you're trying to figure out what you're supposed to do. What would your life look like if all your life you were driven not by a desire for money, because you trust God with that, not by a desire to get the acclaim of people because you don't really, is that you just, what would your life look like if you started to look at your talents as something given to you by God for the service of others, the way that Jesus served you?

Let me tell you what would happen. The will of God would start to become crystal clear to you. You would just see it the right way.

See it the right way. I point this out because a lot of you are obsessing about the will of God without going through those two doors. If you want to know the will of God, you become the will of God. And when you become the will of God, then you would just start to look at it the right way. That's what God said. He said, I'll guide you, yes, but you focus on putting me in the right place and offering your bodies a living sacrifice and you'll figure it out. Now, the will of God is more about having the right posture of worship and surrender than it is figuring out some mystical code.

God's goal for you is to become the kind of person who just thinks like him. That's just what you do. And when you think like him, he says, you'll do what you're supposed to do.

Anything about it. If you're a boss, aren't the best employees those who don't need constant instruction? The ones that just kind of like, I know how the boss thinks here. I'll do what he or she wants me to do. My kids, my goal for them is not to be the kind of person who grows up and calls and asks me about everything. I already have to drive me crazy now. I'm like, just figure it out.

Do it yourself. Yeah, I always want them to consult me when they need it, but I want them to become the kind of people who just see things like I see them and make the decisions that I would make without me having to tell them. That's what God wants from you is he wants you to be that kind of person. So he's like, if you learn to respond to gospel in the right way, then yeah, you can still look to me for guidance, but most of it, you're just going to know because you're going to realize that I gave you these talents for my kingdom and to bless others. You don't find your satisfaction in anything else.

You find it in me. St. Augustine probably said it best. You want to know the will of God? Just love God and do what you want because if you really loved God, then what you wanted would be what he wanted.

That's how you see it. Just love God, respond to the gospel, then begin to do what you want. That's God's goal for you. Over the next five chapters, he's going to start to unpack for you what that looks like in various situations. But for now, I just want to leave you with that question. That question that was in verse one. Are you responding to the gospel in the right way with God in the right place? Is your body, is your life a living sacrifice to God in response to the gospel? Can you say, as you have been to me, that's how I'm going to be to others? And is God the thing that you really are worshiping and seeking after? Because that's what the gospel, that's what this whole thing has been about, is getting you to that point. Why don't you bow your heads. Bow your heads and let's just think about that, okay? Hey, friend, have you ever fully surrendered your life to Jesus?

How many of you have prayed a prayer, been in church, walked in an aisle, but been a small group? Have you ever just opened your hands to him and said, hey, all that I have, it's yours. I surrender all of it to you. I surrender all of it to you. For some of you, you've never done that. This is the weekend you're going to do it. Lord Jesus, I surrender.

No more limits, no more, don't talk about that, don't touch that. Just you, here it is, all of me. You ready to make him the thing that you worship? God, I'm going to seek you. I'm going to seek you with all my heart. For that prayer that you would become what we worship and you would show people listening to me right now, what real surrender looks like. I pray in Jesus' name.

Isn't worshiping God a logical response? Knowing the will of God is ultimately about the posture of your heart and then responding to God's leading. You're listening to a teaching series through the Book of Romans from Pastor JD Greer on Summit Life. If you'd like to catch up on previous messages, or if you want to read over the transcripts, you can find them online free of charge at There is so much to soak up in the Book of Romans, and that's why we want you to get as much spiritual growth as you possibly can out of this book as we teach through it here on Summit Life. To help you do that, our featured resource right now is the second part of a two-part study through the Book of Romans written by Pastor Tim Keller. To get your copy, simply give us a call at 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220. Or you can give online at And if you missed the first part of this study, be sure to ask for it when you reach out. Your support is essential to our mission, and we're so grateful for every contribution. While you're on the website, don't forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter. Get ministry updates, information about new resources, and Pastor JD's latest blog post delivered straight to your inbox.

It's a great way to stay connected with Summit Life, and it's completely free to subscribe. Sign up when you go to That's J-D-G-R-E-E-A-R dot com. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Hope you have a great weekend of worship with your church family, and be sure to come back Monday to hear Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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